Rezai loses but smiles again at French Open

Aravane Rezai lost in the first round of the French Open to an

obscure Romanian player, but the little darling of French tennis is

sure she will soon be back on track after going through personal

problems that nearly ended her career.

The 24-year-old Rezai, who lost to Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-3

Monday, came to prominence two years ago at the French Open,

reaching the fourth round and conquering the crowd with her

devastating smile and spectacular game.

Last year, she won the Madrid Open for her biggest victory,

defeating three former top-ranked players en route to the title,

and climbed to No. 15 in the WTA rankings.

But her rise to the top of the game was abruptly ended by

serious family problems.

”In January, I was thinking (about retiring) but I finally

decided not to stop because I love tennis,” Rezai said. ”Now, I

know that I will come back stronger.”

At the Australian Open in January, the Frenchwoman had a wild

argument with her father and longtime coach Arsalan Rezai. The

incident was so serious that the WTA opened an investigation and

decided to provisionally suspend Arsalan from attending her

tournaments.

”Every single day, it’s a fight against myself,” Rezai said.

”It means that I need to find a form of peace within myself, to be

positive, to be at ease and not to think about my problems.

Serenity is what I’m looking for every single day.”

The Australian Open scandal was not the first mistake for

Arsalan. In 2006, he was found guilty of using violence against the

father of a rival player, after he used insulting language on the

eve of the 2004 French championship for players aged 17-18. The

French Tennis Federation subsequently banned Aravane from the

national training center.

Severing the ties with her father was all the more difficult for

Rezai because Arsalan was the man who put her on the path to

success. When she started playing at 8, it was he who pushed her to

the limits, sometimes making her train at night under the

headlights of a car.

”Everybody knows that there are problems at the moment,” Rezai

said. ”But I don’t want to think about them. What I want is to be

stronger every day and to find my own landmarks.

Rezai has won four WTA titles but has yet to win back-to-back

matches this season. To help her in her preparations for Roland

Garros, the French federation provided her with coach Alexia

Dechaume, but it’s still unclear whether they will keep working

together

”Alexia was proud of me today,” Rezai said. ”My goal is now

to have a good staff surrounding me and to be all stronger. Now

that the French Open is over, all of us will be discussing the

matter and we will take the best decision for my future.”