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Roland Garros Diary: Sunday 22 May


 

Originally published on: 22/05/11 18:49

Ah Bonjour, here are we in Paris for the 81st French Open Championships at Roland Garros 2011. The first Sunday, or “Sunday Start” still seems a rather strange concept. Of course, since first held in 2006, it generates valuable ticket revenue, not to mention media coverage for the French Tennis Federation, and with a truncated schedule from a media point of view you can ease in gently, with 32 first round matches played on only 7 courts. Even with the other courts used for player practise, it does not feel like the start of an explosive and exciting Grand Slam.  Is fifteen rather than fourteen days a great way to showcase tennis?

On a practical level, the FFT knows that the fifteenth day of competition allows for more leeway in the programme particularly in the case of bad weather, as in 2008.

From the spectator numbers on Court Philippe Chatrier, it seems it doesn’t pack in the crowds. Sam Stosur was first up beating Iveta Benesova 62 63 in a match that started at 11.11 and was all over by 12.19. Not that you can take anything away from Sam Stosur for getting the job done, but as David Ferrer also whopped his way through against Jarko Nieminen 63 63 61, it felt like you were on an outside court rather than the premier court.

But perhaps it is simply a case of the Parisiens waking up late on Sundays. When for the third match, Jo Wilfried Tsonga took to court just after 2pm more spectators finally took to their seats and made some noise as the flamboyant Frenchman came through in straight sets 63 62 62 against the Czech Jan Hajek. The final match on Philippe Chatrier was a rather flat match between Julia Goerges and home-girl Mathilde Johansson. Goerges, who recently won a title in Stuttgart, took the match 61, 64, after both ladies had a series of double faults at the end of the second set. Goerges won the match as Johansson dumped a second serve in the net. “She wasn’t bothered by the gusts of wind.  But I missed a few opportunities, that’s true” commented Johansson after the match about the break she had at 5-4.

On Court Suzanne Lenglen, Alize Cornet was handed the task of opening play this year against Renata Voracova, a task, which she completed, 64, 62

There was an upset on Court 7 where Marin Cilic was beaten in straight sets 76 74 61 by Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, The script for today did not include the Mexican having a victory presser.

Lleyton Hewitt withdrew from the tournament because of an ankle injury so some of today’s stories came out of what was not, rather than what was. Or to be fair, maybe it’s also about what will be – the biggest innovation to come at Roland Garros will be the stadium extension. Having made the decision in February to stay in this location at Porte d”Auteuil, according to Gilbert Ysern, Managing Director of the FFT and Director of the Roland Garros tournament “The choice to stay in Paris was significant. We clearly chose the path of “better” rather than bigger”. The task for the French Open is to “cultivate our point of difference and our difference is a city stadium located at a site with exceptional charm. We want to show that we can be the most attractive whereas everyone else wants to be the biggest”.

So, tennishead looks forward to 2016 when the work to the extension is planned to be finished. The Mayor of Paris commented “The Roland Garros of 2016 will be more beautiful than the Roland Garros of 2010”. Wow, and we like Paris anyway, so we embrace the Mayor’s comment that  “Roland Garros 2016 will not only be something more modern that will be ready to welcome all of the athletes and the publics and the companies also who are supporting these tournaments but it will also make Paris more beautiful”
 
So, on the first of fifteen days of tennis action, tennishead was delighted to have a fairly relaxed day, which meant we could spend the evening, as guests, in the company of our friends at adidas. As one of the official partners of Roland Garros they will be hoping that on June 5th 2011 it will be two of their players celebrating the here and now.

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