Guest Post: Recap of my day at the 2016 French Open

For my first time at Roland Garros, I wanted to do a recap of my day for Moo’s Tennis Blog. I was pretty excited to discover this place that I had never had the chance to discover before, although i live only 20 minutes away from the grounds. It was really easy to get tickets online. There is a system of reselling tickets on the official website. It’s pretty useful when I didn’t get the chance to purchase tickets when they were released in early March. But obviously, you have to be quick because tickets don’t last for long!

I went on day 5 (Thursday 26th) and bought two tickets for Court 1 for my friend and I. These tickets allowed us to have access to court 1 for the entire day and all the annex courts. There are 4 different types of tickets available; a ticket for the three big stadiums (Philippe Chatrier, Suzanne Lenglen and court 1), and a ticket for just the annex courts. If you buy a ticket for one of the three stadiums, access to the annex courts is directly included.

I arrived around 10:45am. I was really excited because the schedule was great and the forecast was clear with almost no chance of rain (it did not rain at all). When I arrived at the grounds, I didn’t expect such a long queue to get inside! With security increased in Paris, they created three control points for visitors before getting to the gate. But surprisingly it was quicker than I thought.

The schedule on court 1 wasn’t bad especially when I saw that Kasatkina was up third on this court. I was really looking forward to see her play live! The day started with Ivanovic against Nara but my number one priority was to see Bacsinszky – Bouchard ! I have seen a lot of Timea lately, so i would have loved to see her play live. I was just hoping it would not be scheduled on Chatrier or Lenglen, but when the schedule was released, the match was first up on Chatrier 😦 .

I tried to sneak in but without success ahah. I watched the first three game on the big screen just outside the court. Bouchard raced to a 3-0 lead quickly and then I missed the Timea’s big comeback but it was worth it. Indeed, I had the choice to go and see Ivanovic on court 1 but I decided to go see Poots – Petkovic, and I really made the right decision 🙂

The match was under way on court 14. It wasn’t easy to get a seat because the access to the court is free and a lot of German fans were there to cheer for their player. I finally got inside the court toward the end of set 1. Yulia raced through that first set very easily, winning it 6-2. Petkovic only held her serve once.

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The second set started with a very tense first service game for Petkovic. The crowd was clearly supporting the German but it didn’t seem to bother Poots at all. Yulia broke straight back and went on to lead 5-0 very quickly. Petkovic wasn’t playing bad at all, it was just Poots who was playing terrific tennis. She failed to serve for the match the first time. At 5-1, Petkovic saved a match point and played a tense deuce game where she found some magic to get through it. She saved 2 more match points but Poots finally came through on her fourth match point. It was really entertaining to see Poots play live! I really like her attitude on the court. She is a fighter and she never gives up on a point.

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After this game, i decided to finally get to see my seat on court 1. There was no queue to get inside the court and this was a very nice thing! That’s why it is important to have a ticket for one of the three big stadium because you have your seat for the day and you don’t have to queue for getting inside the court. I did get in a few long queues on the annex courts to take pictures of some players throughout the day, and I have to say that it was painful. You have to wait for a free seat and you could wait for hours! I wanted to take a picture of Thiem (Court 2) but his match was already in the third set with him cruising but GGL did make things interesting and forced a tiebreak.

I was at the gate but i had to wait for people to leave and fortunately I was alone and the supervisor called for one person came at 6-5! I waited almost the entire set outside just to see a tie breaker but it was worth it. This kid is really impressive to see live!

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By the way, Court 2 is such a nice place to watch tennis. The atmosphere is so great. It’s really easy to get into a match and is packed and always full. I really enjoyed this court even though it was a short stay. I missed the Cornet-Maria match later on this court. There was drama and I could hear it from way outside.

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So, my day continued with my first match on court 1. I wasn’t overly excited by the match scheduled second (Mathieu-Agut) but my friend is a big PHM fan for years so i stayed with her watching him. It’s always great to see French players in front of their home crowd though. There is always great support and it is entertaining. The match didn’t last very long as Bautista Agut ousted Mathieu in straight sets. The Frenchman did have his opportunity in the first set but was unable to serve out for the set at 5-4 and eventually lost it in a tiebreaker.

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Up next was my MUST see of the day, Daria Kasatkina! She was up against another French player, Virginie Razzano. I was pretty excited to see her play live because she was one of the few teenagers on my radar at the start of year. She didn’t disappoint with high expectation on her. Some good results at big tournaments meant she had risen to number 32 at the start of Roland Garros. She claimed herself that clay is her favorite surface.

The game started with a break of serve for Kasatkina but she was unable to hold it. Actually after this break, she gave up 4 straight games. Razzano played some wonderful tennis to open the match. Kasatkina seemed overwhelmed by the ability of Razzano to spread the court. She eventually got back to 4-3 but then again got broken at 5-3 and Virginie served out to love for the first set.

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I was amazed by the level of tennis that Razzano was able to produce. She came in having reached the semi finals of Strasbourg as a lucky loser last week, so i knew she was in good shape. Nonetheless, I could not see Dasha going out in straight sets. Indeed, She came up with a different game plan, forcing Razzano to hit more balls on the run. It actually worked pretty well as Kasatkina was clinical in the second set facing only one break point to win it, 6-1. With her problem to close out match sometimes, I knew it wasn’t going be easy for her with the crowd pushing behind Razzano.

Kasatkina carried the momentum of the second set into the third by racing into a 4-0 lead very quickly. Razzano looked gassed but she found a way to get back to 4-3 with some amazing winners. With the crowd really getting into it and Razzano giving it all, I started to get worried for Kasatkina. The 8th game was an absolute MUST hold for Kasatkina and she responded very well by giving up only one point in this service game. She followed it by sealing the deal on her first match point. Her best chance was to close out on the Razzano’s serve because if Virginie would have hold her serve, i don’t know if she would have served it out.

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It was a fun match to watch and I really enjoyed it. No way Kasatkina could have lost this one in straight sets to Razzano. She adjusted very well. I want to see more and more of Kasatkina! She is still very young and has a great future 🙂

After this match, we started to get hungry, so we decided to go walk around the alley. There were a lot of different stands to buy food but it’s not really diversified. We just bought a sandwich and keep walking. All of the sudden, I stumbled upon a scoreboard with the name of Kuznetsova – Gasparyan on. I was really excited to have the opportunity to take some pictures and see the wonderful backhand of Gasparyan!

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They won their match in straight sets, 6-2 6-3. I love the atmosphere where you can stand very close to the courts and the players. It gives a very different approach to the game.

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After that, we went back to court 1 to see Ferrer play against Monaco. I had one match circled which was about to start on court 6, Julia Goerges vs Monica Puig. As a WTA follower, I couldn’t miss this match! But it is always entertaining to see Ferrer play (especially live!) and unfortunately he is getting older, so i went to see him play for a set and a half. He is still playing some impressive tennis, catching up with every ball. They were both going at each other with long rallies and it was very pleasant to watch.

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Back with what is more interesting and a complete cracker up on court 6. I really like watching matches on the annex courts. Being so close to the players is really fun. I missed the first set and found my way in during the middle of the second set. My friend left me as it started to get late but I wasn’t going to miss this one! By seeing the scoreboard, it was a very tight first set. Both women exchanged breaks of serve with Puig serving for the set at 5-4, but Goerges found a way to break back and level it up at 5 all. Puig broke straight back and served it out successfully this time.

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By just seeing the scoreboard on my phone, I saw that it was a very competitive match. In the second set, there were no breaks of serve. The set started with Julia having to save 3 break points before getting out of her first service game. Monica looked really solid on her service games. She allowed only 1 break point chance to Julia the entire set! (It was at 5-4 when she served to stay in the set). On the other side, Julia had to work hard on almost every service game. But toward the end of the set, both found their groove and the set was headed to a tie breaker.

As expected the crowd was mostly (…I mean clearly) German sided. When Julia got a set point at 5-4, everyone was going nuts ahah. I knew the tie break was going to be epic and even more with a third set in the balance! Julia found a way to get through it (7-4) and so in the third we went ! 🙂

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It was getting darker but still definitely playable. Puig was serving first and she was still shaken up by losing the second set. She managed to hold her nerve and got through her first service game. Julia got through a difficult first service game as well by saving a break point. Both women were able to produce very solid tennis from the baseline. I was pretty amazed by Puig’s baseline game. When she is on, she just doesn’t miss! Julia hit the deck couple of time trying to catch Monica’s ball ahah!

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With the night falling, there was not a lot of tennis going to be played, so both women raced through their service game without conceding break points. They were both very solid but they had a hard time creating opportunities on their opponent’s serve. Monica was serving first so she was up all set long. It didn’t seem to bother Julia until she was serving to stay in the game at 4-5. Somehow Puig managed to get herself three match points at 0-40. With a very supportive crowd, Julia dug herself out of this big hole with some wonderful tennis.

When Goerges levelled it up at 5-5, Puig couldn’t believe it and threw her racquet to the ground in frustration. I was worried for her that she would lose her composure. Indeed, she had to save two break points in the next game but somehow managed to hold to 6-5. At the changeover, the chair umpire indicated that it was going to be the last game played today. I was pretty sure that Julia would hold and the game would resume tomorrow but Monica had different ideas.

It’s never easy to be in those kind of situation having to serve to stay in the game, especially knowing that the match will resume tomorrow. Julia got to 30-0 pretty easily but then gave up three straight points to set up a match point for Monica… but then again she saved it ! She saved another one right after but on her third try (6 overall) Monica came through to win it.

I was really delighted after the match. It was really entertaining to see those two women playing against each other. The crowd was great and played their role. The last few points were played in a really gloomy atmosphere and it was fun to watch!

It was a nice first journey at the French Open. I really enjoyed it and I have a lot to remember. It was like a dream come true after watching it on TV for all those years! Walking past every court, watching scoreboard with names I am used to seeing on TV is a really nice feeling. The day after, I watched matches at home and the feeling was strange, I wanted to go back so badly 🙂 Live tennis is such a nice experience.

Few things that I noticed:

My experience on the annex courts was really great. Being close to the players gave me a different look at tennis. The crowd is always packed and that really brings something. Everyone is cheering and its easy to get into a match, even if you are shy! 🙂

My favorites were court 6 and especially court 2. This venue is such a nice place to watch tennis! I spent just a few minutes on this court but I knew from what I have seen on TV that it was worth it ! Every year, French players are scheduled on this court and every year something special happens! That’s the beauty of this place 🙂

Court 1 is from my point of view a great court to watch tennis as well. It’s like a old arena and when its full, it is a really great experience. The only bad thing to say about it was the seat. If you buy the cheapest ticket, its not a comfortable seat at all! I mean it’s really painful to stay seated for hours on it. I had to stretch myself multiple times during the changeovers :-P. It’s like a big bench without a back.

But nonetheless, anywhere you are seated around the court, you have a good view to the action. That’s why this court has that certain kind of charm. It is set to be demolished when the plan of rebuilding Roland Garros will start, though.

The area was smaller than i thought. It is pretty easy to go from one side to the other side. Annex courts are really close to each other. For example, you can be seated on one court and have the opportunity to turn around and watch action just behind!

I stayed from 11am to 9:45pm watching tennis! Moving from one court to another 🙂 I did wait in some long queues but overall it wasn’t that big of a deal. It’s really imperative to have tickets for either Chatrier, Lenglen or Court 1 because at least you don’t have to wait to get inside.

That’s a wrap on my recap of my day at the French Open. If you are planning a trip there and have any questions, I would be glad to answer them 😉

This post was written by Marc Tb (@WtaFollow on Twitter). All photos provided by Marc.

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