My second day at Roland Garros was on court 1 or as it is often referred to, the Bullring. I wanted to try and get tickets for Philippe Chatrier, but only the expensive ones were left so I thought why not court 1. It looks a great court to watch tennis, at least on the TV, and it is set to be demolished in a few years anyway. Our schedule was so-so on paper. I was excited for the two women’s matches which featured Victoria Azarenka and Carla Suarez Navarro, but not so much for the two men’s matches which both featured French players, Benoit Paire and Adrian Mannarino.
Court 1 is situated in the eastern corner of the grounds next to Philippe Chatrier. There are two categories of tickets; the first category is the lower bowl and the second is everything else! I bought the cheapest tickets. Our view was great and I don’t think there is a bad seat in the house. It reminds me a little of courts 2 and 3 at Wimbledon where the court is sunken down. One thing to note is that you don’t get proper seats and it’s just benches. The leg room is good but I found myself struggling to watch more than one match at a time without being in pain!
The first match of the day was between Carla Suarez Navarro and Monica Niculescu. Carla won in straight sets but it was refreshing to see such a different type of match which wasn’t defined by power and hitting the ball hard. I love Niculescu’s attitude and feistiness on court. She mixes up play with her wacky forehand slice and hit a number of excellent drop shots. She also hit some shockers! Against some players Niculescu can be a terror, but for CSN this is a good match-up as it allows her time to set up on the backhand side.
Carla made a few errors, as to be expected in the first round of a Slam, but overall, she played a clean and convincing match. Niculescu looked like she may lose the plot and implode at any moment so I had my camera on her a lot to try and snap some craziness. She kept it together though and seemed to acknowledge she was beaten by a better player on the day. The crowd was respectable for the first match of the day, perhaps half full by the end. The French crowd seem very knowledgable and are always clapping on the crucial points but in truth, there was nothing to really get them going.
I went off for a wander and came back for the third set of Benoit Paire against Gastao Elias. The crowd was pretty much full now and it was hilarious. There was some great points interspersed in between some horrible points. Paire’s attitude frustrates me with this hard done by feeling whenever something didn’t go his way. The crowd really got behind him though. He lost the third set and was arguing with the umpire after it and i’m not sure what about. We opted to watch some tennis on the outside courts after this, but I was surprised that Paire actually won in five sets.
We came back to watch the second set of Victoria Azarenka against Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor. When we joined the match, they were watering the court and Torro-Flor was having a bathroom break. Azarenka was unhappy with the court when they started up again. As she checked it, the crowd started whistling her as the French crowd do. She got the umpire out and Torro-Flor generally looked pissed.
The crowd was pretty lifeless for this match and the start of the second set was dire. Torro-Flor provides absolutely no rhythm, wildly fluctuating between superb winners and nonsensical errors. This match saw much of the latter. Azarenka played one dreadful service game but aside from that, she was in good form and played a very clean match. She has many assets to her game and I fully believe she will be back in the too 5 soon, perhaps by the end of the year. She needs a good draw somewhere. Drawing Serena in the third round was tough.
I do like Azarenka, but she doesn’t exactly endear herself to tennis crowds. I see on Twitter she has lots of fans but she is a very polarising figure and there’s no doubt that much of this stems around her grunting. Personally, this doesn’t bother me. I watch so much tennis that i’m kind of immune to it. One thing i’ve noticed from live Azarenka matches is how after a bad shot, she always demands a ball from the ballkids and hits it down the other end of the court. She did this against Camila Giorgi at Eastbourne and she did here against Torro-Flor, often just as the Spaniard was preparing to serve. Whatever your opinion about Azarenka, there is no doubt she’s good for the WTA tour and a healthy Vika makes tennis so much more interesting.
Overall, I enjoyed my day on Court 1 and it’s an impressive stadium to watch tennis. If I get the chance to go again before they tear it down, i’d probably go for the more expensive seats and give my back a rest 😉