Funny faces, booming serves winning fans for VerkerkPosted: Wednesday June 04, 2003 11:07 AM
PARIS (AP) -- Think of Edvard Munch's "The Scream."
That wide-eyed, gaping-mouth look -- among other contorted facial expressions -- has gained unseeded Dutchman Martin Verkerk considerable attention here at Roland Garros.
If Verkerk has become one of the best stories at this year's French Open, it is partly because of his booming serve and stunning upsets and partly because of his animated personality.
The likable 25-year-old who upset No. 29 Vince Spadea and No. 11 Rainer Schuettler in earlier rounds calls his journey at Roland Garros "one big crazy thing." Verkerk had never won a Grand Slam match until now.
French newspapers on Wednesday carried a sampling of the facial elasticity Verkerk demonstrated after winning shots in his Tuesday quarterfinal against No. 4 Carlos Moya: the fully elongated mouth; a fist pump accented with arched eyebrows and a crunched-up nose.
"It's ugly," said Verkerk, who faces No. 7 Guillermo Coria in the semis. "But I'm not here to be beautiful. I mean, I'm here to win."
A WORD OF ADVICE: Vitamins might be good for your health, but they could devastate your tennis career, says Guillermo Coria.
And he should know.
The 21-year-old Argentinian was banned seven months from the men's tour and fined heavily after testing positive in 2001 for the banned steroid nandrolone, which he said was the result of a contaminated nutritional supplement.
"Be very, very careful about the vitamin supplements you take," Coria told France-2 television Wednesday. "It's extremely dangerous."
The gifted clay-court player has come back this year despite his time off, reaching the Monte Carlo final and earning his second career title at Hamburg. Coria has continued the success at Roland Garros, upsetting No. 2 Andre Agassi to reach the semifinals.
"I had terrible cramps in the semifinals. They told me I could take something," said Coria, who instead played through the pain. "Even when I'm sick with fever now, I don't take anything."
SHIFTING RANK: Justine Henin-Hardenne's advance to the semifinals has assured that the Belgian will rise to a career-high ranking of No. 3.
Regardless of how Henin-Hardenne fares for the remainder of the French Open, she will replace Venus Williams as third in the women's rankings. Williams was eliminated in the fourth round.
Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters, both contenders in the semifinals, will remain Nos. 1 and 2 when the new rankings come out Monday.
Spaniard Conchita Martinez will return to the Top 20 for the first time since August 2001. The 1994 Wimbledon champion reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros.