Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten, freshly-crowned Hamburg Masters Series champion and a hot tip to do well at Roland Garros, is known for his sunny disposition and has been a crowd favorite since emerging from nowhere to win the French Open in 1987.
But the image has taken a knock in recent days with ex-girlfriend Vanessa Schutz taking a dig at the player and deriding the 23-year-old as a 'macho.'
"Guga is very nice and amusing but his jealousy undermined our relationship. He stopped me working, going out with friends, going shopping and wearing revealing clothes," Vanessa, a 19-year-old model, told Rio daily O Dia.
The pair have now split up after two years together.
In an article headlined "the other side of the racket" O Dia quoted Vanessa as saying she had not been allowed to go out on her own while Kuerten was playing at an event.
"I'd had enough of video games and listening to CDs," she said.
"I accepted his orders because I loved him and was expecting us to have a future together."
Kuerten has refused to comment on the interview.
The Orange Prize, traditionally awarded before the French Open to the player who has had the most open relationship with the press, has been given to American Lindsay Davenport.
The choice was made by a group of 80 tennis journalists, including 18 from overseas.
The Lemon Prize, given to the player who has sour relations with the press, was given to Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov, whose graceless responses to questions in press conferences have become notorious.
Previous winners of the Orange Prize include Steffi Graf and Stefan Edberg, while moody Chilean Marcelo Rios has been a regular recipient of the Lemon Prize.
ANDRE AIMING TO MAKE HISTORY
Andre Agassi is aiming to become the first man to successfully defend his Roland Garros men's singles title since Spaniard Sergi Bruera did it in 1994.
Only nine players have successfully defended their men's singles titles since the event became international in 1925. They are: Frank Parker, Jaroslav Drobny, Tony Trabert, Nicola Pietrangeli, Jan Kodes, Born Borg (twice), Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier and Bruguera.
WAYNE SHOWS HIS CONSISTENCY
South African Wayne Ferreira is playing in his 38th straight Grand Slam event at Roland Garros - a record among active players.
Stefan Edberg holds the record for the most consecutive Open Era Grand Slam appearances at 54, so Ferreira still has some way to go to pass that mark.
The slow red clay of Roland Garros isn't made for everyone. Just ask Pete Sampras, whom while despite a record equaling 12 Grand Slams has never managed to land the French Open.
As Andre Agassi prepares to defend his crown five men appear best armed to dethrone him.
SARGSIAN IN THE DARK
French Open organizers were surprised to receive a call from top Armenian player Sargis Sargsian on Saturday - attempting to learn who he would play in the first round.
The Armenian was calling from Madagascar where he was playing for Armenia in a Group 4 Davis Cup tie. After assisting his team in advancing Sargsian had to fly to Paris - where he was to play Dutchman Sjeng Schalken in the first round.
PUERTA MAKES HIS SECOND VISIT TO ROLAND GARROS
Mariano Puerta of Argentina should be looking forward to his second visit to Roland Garros as he is currently has the most successful win-loss record on clay this year.
The 21-year-old left-hander has posted a 25-7 record to date and won the title in Bogota for his second career success, as well as reaching the Mexico City and Santiago finals. He now has to show he can travel well and transposes that form to Europe – (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)