French Open Thoughts Part 1

Published: June 1, 2014

I’ve just returned from a few days at the French Open having watched a good few hours of scintillating tennis. My first impressions were not great, as compared to Wimbledon, Roland Garros is a little worn at the edges.

However the one advantage it has over Wimbledon is that you can buy ground passes in advance; at Wimbledon you have to queue for hours. With the ground pass you get access to all the courts apart from the top three show courts & I was able to watch a host of world class players from the luxury of front row seats.

Watching tennis from this close to the action is totally exhilarating. You can really get a feel for the level of technical expertise, speed & athleticism required to play at the top level. The speed with which the ball is struck is breathtaking. Serves are hit at over 220 km an hour & sound like the snap of a whip cracking. They do get returned but only if players move early & in the correct direction.

Forehands are struck at only slightly lower speeds & are as equally devastating. With such speeds to contend with, you might imagine players would miss-time & miss hit shots, but this is a rare occurrence. Rallies are long & exhausting, requiring supreme levels of fitness & remarkable feats of athleticism ,sometimes, just to stay in the point.

On the first day, I was on Philippe Chatrier court, on the top tier & although the view was good, the experience was completely different. The spectacle is similar but I had no sense of the intensity of the games at such a distance. The speeds don’t look the same & the whole experience is somewhat dulled.

The only problem with the outside courts is that you rarely see the very top players, Nadal, Federer, Murray & Djokovic tending to play solely on the show courts. At Wimbledon I have watched many of the game’s top players from the back of the Centre Court & lesser players from close range on the outside courts & I know which option I prefer.

Nadal v Djokovic is a match I’d love to watch. From the front row of Court 2 at Roland Garros it would be my idea of heaven.