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View Full Version : The Scene: Roland Garros


ohplease
06-05-2006, 08:50 AM
Trekked over the pond to visit some friends and watch some tennis last week.

Unlike Flushing Meadow or Wimbledon, there's very little information online about buying tickets for Roland Garros. There's a reason for that - it's really easy (at least early in the tournament). You can either wait in the fast moving queues to buy a ticket from the box office the day of, or you can haggle with the scalpers. You can't miss them. They look the same as scalpers in every other part of the world: shifty, streetwise, obviously extra-legal. They certainly won't miss asking you if you want tickets.

We got grounds passes, as did the rest of the known universe. Elbowing out standing room was about as tough as getting an actual seat at Flushing. Grabbing a place to sit on the stairs was much tougher. An actual seat? I have no idea how hard getting one would be, as trying for two together with decent sight lines seemed a fool's errand.

We got a fantastic stair step about four rows up from the baseline during the resumed Henman/Tursunov match. My recollection was that Tursunov has a bit of a streak on Henman, but it didn't show during the last two sets I saw. And this, on red clay. That said, I think there's a lot of things that need to go right for Henman's game to work, in general - and on clay in particular. Still, he managed to squeeze out the third with savvy, veteran, chip & charge bluffs as Tursunov failed to hold to stay in it.

Henman continued his momentum into the fourth, even getting to triple break point. Of course, this being Our Tim, Tursunov ultimately held after many, many deuces. Classically, Henman folded in the next service game.

Tursunov can do pretty much whatever he wants with his forehand - but what impressed me most was his willingness to loft and loop one deep when he needed to defend. I like his game alot, and was surprised at the Nalbandian result the next day. Wish I had been there.

Caught a bit of Fernando Gonzales and Tommy Haas, as well. Both are straight-up jocks, but Gonzo in particular is just an animal, in person. Haas, in contrast, does it more with timing. Gonzo? Lots and lots of muscling the ball. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he sustains an injury of some kind in the near future. Both matches looked pale in comparison to the up & back play of both Henman and Tursunov. A light drizzle had moved in, and ultimately shifted into a steady rain. The weather would eventually end play, but both matches were ugly, grinding affairs - especially the Haas one.

The fans deserve special mention. One Henman supporter insisted on gasping "Ohh-La-La!" during the rally, and pleaded with "Our Tim" every chance he got. He had nothing on the guy I sat next to at the Gonzo match, however. The man was up two sets and a break on a guy I had literally never heard of, and yet mi amigo insisted on a "Vamos Fernando!" after every point, sprinkled with the occasional "Si! Si puede!" Dudes, these are second round matches. Chill.

There's also a strangely nationalistic angle to the tennis coverage in France. All players names were prefaced with their nationalities in the official Roland Garros program, and the tennis magazine I bought had an index, by country, of players in the draw, which I found very strange.

Ran into the crowd around a Yannick Noah appearance on the way out. The man should act in theater. I was easily 10-20 yards away, and you could still easily sense his expressiveness and personality. I can see why he has so many fans.

All in all, a great time. Almost made me forget how weak the US dollar is against the Euro. Almost.

simi
06-05-2006, 09:23 AM
Nice report. Enjoyable to read. Thanks for taking the time to write it up.

devilish_duke
06-05-2006, 09:26 AM
Hey "ohplease" I must've been sitting somewhere close to you. I saw the resumed Henman/Tursunov match too, along with Haas. I took pics, which I'll try to post up when I have time/figure out how.

The French Open was AWESOME!!! I stayed for the first 2 rounds as well as 1 day of the 3rd round. I bought grounds passes for all the days and still took in 4-5 matches each day. The passes are 20.50 euro each, and u should get in line by 8:45 am (doors open at 10, play starts at 11).

For anyone going to Wimbledon, the grounds passes are 17 pounds.

ohplease
06-05-2006, 01:04 PM
Hey "ohplease" I must've been sitting somewhere close to you. I saw the resumed Henman/Tursunov match too, along with Haas. I took pics, which I'll try to post up when I have time/figure out how.

The French Open was AWESOME!!! I stayed for the first 2 rounds as well as 1 day of the 3rd round. I bought grounds passes for all the days and still took in 4-5 matches each day. The passes are 20.50 euro each, and u should get in line by 8:45 am (doors open at 10, play starts at 11).

For anyone going to Wimbledon, the grounds passes are 17 pounds.

You're a much more dedicated tennis fan than I. I didn't actually queue up until after 11, and I don't think I entered the grounds until after noon. Then I killed even more time munching on sausages over frites, which were bizarre, but necessarily strange (and good!). Still, I was struck by how busy it all was on a first week, 2nd round thursday. I've been to a middle Saturday at Flushing, and it wasn't nerely that crowded. I can't imagine what a middle Saturday would be like at Roland Garros.

In any case, good times. That 20.50 euro grounds pass is an absolute steal.

LeftyServe
06-06-2006, 11:20 AM
Was there as well, Monday -Wednesday of last week. Nice report, "ohplease", except I had no trouble getting great seats in the annex courts for such early matches as a first round Ferrero match, a first round Davydenko match, a first round Ferrer match, a second round Gaudio match, and a second round Kiefer match. Sat 15 feet over from Gaudio's coach, and it's amazing the number of times Gaudio turns to him and denigrates himself in Spanish. It's amazing how someone so down on himself could reach the level he has. Gaudio, by the way, has one hell of a kick serve that must be seen live to appreciate.
The women were interesting too. The most striking observation I have was the tremendous jump in quality from the 30th ranked player to the 20th ranked. Sofia Arvidsson, ranked about 30, has solid, solid groundstrokes, but a glaringly weak second serve which she laid in like a lollipop. Still, she handily won the match I saw. Flavia Penetta, ranked just about ten places higher, not only had the groundies, but was moving her opponent like a yo-yo around the court, as well as being solid and dependable on the serve.
Anyway, incredible experience. I recommend visiting a grand slam to all.

skip1969
06-06-2006, 11:30 AM
very nice. thanks.