7 June 2019

Roland Garros: Feeling the full force of the action

Local Tennis League player, Simon Wood was very excited to go to his first French Open at Roland Garros this week, but got much closer to the action than he expected 

Having been to the other 3 grand slams I was super excited to complete the final piece of my Grand Slam puzzle and spend two days at the French Open.

Win a Roland Garos TowelMy first impression was how much smaller it felt compared to the other  venues. There isn’t much open space to sit and relax watching a big screen, as there is at Wimbledon  and the organisers have recognised the problem. As soon as the tournament finishes on Sunday the bulldozers will start demolishing Court 1 also known as the ‘Bullring’ (which sits right next to Philip Chatrier). Instead, they will create landscaped lawn to be known as ‘Place des Mousquetaires’ (Muskateers Place) where the on court action will be screened to fans.  My first day, Sunday, was brutally hot so assuming shade is provided this new addition will be very well received.

Being the die hard tennis fan that I am, I normally take ground passes for Grand Slams and roam around the grounds watching lower ranked players I have been following all year battle it out.  Sunday was no different. Totally unprepared for the stifling temperatures I resorted to putting a T shirt on my head (not really compatible with the French chic and glamour around me) to get away from the heat as the outside courts have very little shade (being ginger has some advantages I am told, but sitting in 33 degrees watching tennis is not one of them!).

Having watched several competitive doubles matches featuring well know players including Ashleigh Barty, Victoria Azarenka, Jon Peers,Henry Kontinen all of whom are Grand Slam champions, I decided to watch the reigning French Open mixed doubles champions Latisha Chan and Ivan Dodig on Court 7.

Taking cover in the only slither of shade available, created by a wall at the far end of the court to the right of the umpire’s chair, I settled in for a great match.

Engrossed in a tight first set, I watched yet another sweetly struck Chan forehand from afar.

This time, however, the ball came flying towards me at 80 mph, hitting me straight in the face and knocking me from my chair! Slightly damaged pride was quickly replaced with the problem of how to cope with the blood streaming from my nose. My partner was quick to run off in search of tissues. Chan’s coach, who was sitting behind me, offered me a very fluffy white towel.

The next thing I knew, the umpire was running over to see if I was ok with more tissues. Latisha quickly followed offering her apologies and some water. Her partner Ivan Dodig also offered his condolences. I couldn’t bring myself to use the ultra white towel, so mopped up with tissues and on we went.

Chan and Dodig now find themselves one win away from defending their title. Maybe I could be their lucky charm!

UPDATE: Simon was... Chan and Dodig won!

Pictures: Leonardo Guzman