Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2017

A dream come true: la Decima

Check out the story of Sarat who came all the way from India to watch Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros.

I have been a fan of Rafa since the match he beat Guillermo Coria in Rome in 2005. So, it was a dream for me to even think about watching him play at the French Open! I started thinking about it only after he won the Monte Carlo Masters since he hasn’t been very consistent in the last couple of years due to injuries and breaks.

By the time I tried to book the tickets online, ALL AFFORDABLE tickets (from Round 1 to the Finals) were SOLD OUT. This was in mid and late April. So my first and foremost advice to anyone who wants to get affordable tickets: be ready on your laptops, mobiles and tablets on the sale day. I would strongly recommend that multiple people (friends or family) also be ready on separate devices since one of you can get a better position in the queue.

I guess it would be quite difficult to get tickets for the men’s semifinals and finals even on the sales day. It may need some good fortune.

Not getting tickets earlier made my ticketing journey very adventurous: all I wanted to do was to watch Nadal’s matches. However, you can only buy tickets for a particular court for a particular day. French Open is also not rain-proof. That makes the whole situation complicated.

In order to get tickets for QF, SF and Finals, I tried my luck in the resale. Resale tickets are rare to get but not impossible. For a period of two weeks, all I did was to sit in front of my laptop or on my mobile and keep refreshing the link every 5 seconds. It was a period of frustration but it finally paid off. I got tickets for all the QF, SF and Finals despite not having bought them on the opening day of sales. I’d not recommend this to anyone but in case you are reading this in 2018 and are depending on the resale to get tickets for the tournament’s second week, do mail me on [email protected] I can give some insightful tips.

If you are willing to spend 1000 EUR or more per ticket, you can get any of the tickets any time you want. But I was trying to buy the cheapest ones (85 EUR for each QF, 160 for both the SF and 160 for Finals). Ultimately, I got the desired QF tickets, 200 EUR SF tickets and 310 EUR Finals tickets. It was expensive definitely…but it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience so I decided to go ahead.

Now came the tricky part…I only wanted to watch Nadal mainly (and Federer who had already announced that he would NOT be coming to Roland Garros in 2017). So, I had to sell some tickets I didn’t need. I took the risk of holding on to my tickets till the day the draw was announced. Once I knew which half Nadal was in, I could sell the other QF tickets. It is never so easy because you are always counting on the matches happening as scheduled but the rain can disrupt everything (I think the French Open has finally agreed to get a roof but I don’t think it will be ready by 2018). Fortunately, French Open has a very friendly refund policy; if your ticket gets sold, you only lose 4 EUR worth of service charges per ticket.

Another twist is the choice of the show court- Suzanne Lenglen or Philippe Chatrier? This was a question I did a lot of research on (by observing the past few years’ scheduling). Till the QF, matches happen on both the courts and the French Open schedules the court only a day in advance. There are two major trends I noticed:

a) If a French player is involved, they mostly schedule that match on the Chatrier.

b) If no French player is involved, they schedule the match which involves the better seeds on the Chatrier.

In my case, the two match-ups were (4) Nadal vs (17) Bautista Agut and (2) Djokovic vs (6) Thiem. None of the players were French. So, based on the seedings, I decided to not run the risk of waiting till the court scheduling is done. It seemed obvious to me that Djokovic-Thiem was a more interesting match-up with better seeded players involved. As I wanted to catch the other match (Nadal-Agut), I sold my Chatrier tickets confidently and stuck to Lenglen. However, I was proven wrong subsequently. Somehow, the French Open scheduled Nadal on Chatrier and Djokovic on Lenglen. It is probably a testimony to how winning on the Chatrier has become so associated with Rafa.

Anyways, the biggest disappointment was that I could not watch either of the matches. Due to rain, the Men’s QF matches were postponed to the next day. I could only watch Ostapenko vs Wozniacki (also an interesting match) but I was disappointed not to have watched Djoker. Although I had tickets to both SFs, Thiem beat Djokovic the next day. Interestingly, those who had tickets for the next day got access to two Men’s QF and one Women’s QF – so it was like a bonus for them. One consolation for me was that the Ostapenko-Wozniacki match finished in just under 2h (1h 53m) and the French Open refund policy was applicable and I got 100% refund for that day. You get 100% refund less than 2h of tennis happens on a show court in total. Otherwise, many fans (including me) would have felt robbed due to the rain intervention. Nevertheless, 2017, thankfully, was also one of the least rain-affected French Open tournaments I remember. Except for one day of QF matches, all matches finished nearly as per schedule.

For the semifinals, everything went as planned. I got to watch a 5-setter between Murray and Wawrinka and then Nadal demolished Thiem in just about 2 hours. It was a great day. I had a Semifinals Pass which meant I could watch both the matches from the same seat. You can also buy individual SF tickets but it was very risky to predict which SF Nadal would have played. Hence, I held on to my pass. The pass costs 200 EUR. The individual SF tickets for the same seat cost 110 EUR each. So, I saved 20 EUR by having a SF pass. If you need some more help with this, email me on the ID I mentioned above.

The Finals also wasn’t affected by rain. I had flight tickets out of Paris on Monday morning so I was praying the match wouldn’t get postponed. Rafa was at his ruthless best and despite Stan’s best efforts, the match again ended in just about two hours. It was Stan’s first Grand Slam Final defeat. More importantly, it was Rafa’s 10th French Open championship. It seemed everyone was expecting this, especially the French Open authorities. They had a video ready; it showed Rafa’s wins starting from 2005! As the video began playing, I was reminded of the good old days (2005-2010) when Rafa rarely had injuries. I also remembered the struggles he went through later (two major injury breaks and several other issues). Despite everything, here he was…holding on to another Major (his 15th overall) after a gap of 3 years. I was in tears (although I rarely cry). If that wasn’t inspiring, I don’t know what else can 😀 He improved to a staggering 79-2 record at Roland Garros with that win. If you want to watch Nadal at a Grand Slam and not want to watch him on the losing end even by chance, this is where you should watch him. No one was close to beating him. He didn’t drop a set the whole tournament and I think he didn’t even face a break point in the Finals!

So that was my dream coming true – to watch Rafa win at Roland Garros. The number 10 made it even more special but I guess it is the same experience every year.

I obviously could not include many of the ticketing tips here- especially those related to the e-tickets, assigning, refund and resale. You can go through the detailed rules on their website. I might add that the French Open promptly refunded me on all the sold tickets (within 2-3 weeks of the tournament getting over). I was a little bit worried about the refund since I spent nearly three times the money I actually ended up watching. I watched the Semis and the Finals worth 510 EUR whereas I actually spent 1500 EUR due to all the extra purchases and sales. I did get back the extra money spent later.

Do contact me if you need tips for 2018 or later. After my memorable 2017 experience, I can join Ludmilla in giving some tips 😀 Roland Garros (except the rain and open smoking) is definitely worth a visit.

Comments
2 Responses
  1. Carla says:

    Hello. We are interested in spending one day at the 2018 French Open. It will probably be the first Saturday (the Saturday that falls in the middle of the tournament). We’re not interested in spending a lot of money to get tickets for the premium courts, so tickets for the outside courts would be just fine. Is it accurate that we cannot buy any of this type of ticket before the sale day? We would appreciate any tips you (or anyone else) can give us. Thanks so very much.

  2. ludmilla says:

    Hi Carla, yes you have to wait the sale opening around March. Everything is explained here: http://tennis-buzz.com/how-to-buy-french-open-tickets/
    This year’s prices are detailed here: https://fft-billetterie.cdn.prismic.io/fft-billetterie%2Fd0f925d9-8ad9-4295-b871-af6469f52dda_tarifs+rg+17_uk+v2.pdf

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