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Blaming it on nerves

PARIS: Nikolay Davydenko blew a two-set lead on Saturday at the French Open, then offered an explanation for his suddenly shaky play. Nerves.

“First two sets he didn’t play,” the fourth-seeded Davydenko said. “Then he started fighting a little bit more. That’s when I started to be nervous, started to make so many mistakes.”

Davydenko has played some of the best tennis of his career in recent months, despite an ATP investigation into heavy wagering on a match he lost last August at an obscure tournament in Poland.

He retired in the third set of that match, citing a foot injury. Davydenko says he did nothing wrong and has accused the ATP of dragging out the investigation.

The comeback victory from a two-set deficit was Ljubicic’s fourth.

“It wasn’t physically demanding,” Ljubicic said. “It was more technically mentally demanding, because he was playing unbelievable in the first two sets, and he slowed down a little bit in the third. I smelled the blood, and I said, ‘Well now, let’s try to hang in here.”’

Scottsdale connection

Even with no players from the United States left in women’s singles at the French Open, Arizona still has a rooting interest. Victoria Azarenka is from Belarus but has lived and trained the past two years in Scottsdale, and now she’s in the fourth round at Roland Garros.

The 18-year-old Azarenka even sounded just like an American teen, saying: “I was a little bit nervous, but then in the last two matches I was in the zone.”

Since the start of the year, she has climbed in the rankings from 30th to a career-high 17th.

“This year I improved a lot my forehand, which was my weak shot,” she said. “Now it’s like my weapon, which helps me a lot.”

‘Popeye’ Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic managed to find some humour in a painfully swollen forearm that she hopes won’t hurt her bid for a first Grand Slam title.

The third-seeded Jankovic’s right arm bothered her earlier in the French Open, and it was taped up on Saturday, when she finished off a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Dominika Cibulkova to reach the fourth round.

“It was quite big,” Jankovic said, describing her forearm. “I was like Popeye.”

“I had a lot of pain,” Jankovic said. “I’ve been receiving a lot of treatments the last couple of days, and I’m feeling better and better.” — AP

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