By Alberto Amalfi
Photo Credit: Costantini/Internazionali BNL D'Italia.com
(May 27, 2010) Aravane Rezai rips shots with the force of a woman intent on separating the felt from the ball with every swing of the racket.
The 15th-seeded Rezai can counter-punch effectively off court when necessary.
Asked her response to fellow French woman Marion Bartoli's suggestion that Rezai has received too much attention in the French media, Rezai said Bartoli is a "difficult girl", who "has difficulties" getting along with other players.
"Marion is a difficult girl. She already attacked me two years ago when I reached the final in Istanbul," Rezai said. "So it's a bit strange she says that, because okay, if she has a problem with me, I don't know, because I did nothing. That's a bit of a shame, but that's her education. I mean, she attacked me many times in the press. I don't have the same education as the one she has. I think I have respect for players. I do what I have to do. I get on with many people. But with Marion, it's very difficult. She has difficulties getting included with the other girls."
Both woman have been coached by their fathers, who have taken unconventional approaches, at times, to their training and both have sparred with the French Tennis Federation in the past. But while Bartoli operates outside the French Tennis Federation's domain (she lives in Switzerland), Rezai has taken steps to mend past rifts with the FFT. She played her first Fed Cup match for France last month and helped the team score a 3-2 win over Germany.
"It's a shame she says that, because I'm a French player, just like her," said Rezai, who trains at the Mouratoglou Academy outside of Paris. "So that kind of behavior is a bit of a shame, because I never had any bad behavior towards her. I always showed respect for the other players, and I think players that deserve to be spoken about in the media, well, it's because they deserve it. But today I'm on the Fed Cup team, I'm part of many things. I try and get included to many things, and if she's not happy, she is not that much in the media. I guess she has to make efforts just like I did. Then she has to see what she wants to say."
The pair are unlikely to settle the score in Paris. The 13th-seeded Bartoli is in in the top quarter of the draw along with World No. 1 Serena Williams, four-time French Open champion Justine Henin and former No. 1 Maria Sharapova. Rezai is in the bottom quarter of the draw and takes on two-time semifinalist Nadia Petrova, the No. 19 seed, next.