Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2017

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 sarat.irvenracs@gmail.com. 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.

Rafa and Toni Nadal, Roland Garros 2017

Sponsors, past champions and current players took to twitter to congratulate Rafa for his incredible Decima. Check out a few of their reactions:

Sponsors

Non-tennis champions


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Roland Garros 2017: ten is Rafa

Rafa Nadal dispatched Stan Wawrinka in straight sets 6-2 6-3 6-1 to win his 10th Roland Garros title, his 15th Grand Slam overall. He only lost 35 games in 7 matches en route to his Decima.

To further honor Rafa’s latest record, Nike is releasing commemorative T-shirts and a limited number of pairs of NikeCourt Tennis Classic El Decimo shoes, available June 12 exclusively at Nike Paris Champs-Élysées.

Rafa Nadal shirt la Decima

Rafa Nadal shirt la Decima

Rafa shoes la Decima

Rafa Nadal, Roland Garros 2017
Rafael Nadal’s road to the final

Rafa only lost 29 games en route to his 22nd Grand Slam final. Nadal, aiming to be the first man to ever win a Grand Slam title 10 times, has a perfect 9-0 record in his previous nine appearances in the Roland Garros final.

I have been playing a great event. But Stan is playing unbelievable, no? It will be a super hard final and I will need to play at my very best.

Round Opponent Score
R1 Benoît Paire 6-1 6-4 6-1
R2 Robin Haase 6-1 6-4 6-3
R3 Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-0 6-1 6-0
R4 Roberto Bautista Agut [17] 6-1 6-2 6-2
QF Pablo Carreno Busta [20] 6-2 2-0 ret.
SF Dominic Thiem [6] 6-3 6-4 6-0
Stan Wawrinka’s road to the final

RG_2017_semi_finals 141
Tous droits réservés G. Chazalon

Wawrinka didn’t dropped a set in his first five matches but was pushed to five sets by Andy Murray in the semies. With a win on Sunday he will become the oldest champion in Paris since 34-year-old Andres Gimeno in 1972 and will be only the third man in the Open era, after Laver and Rosewall, to win three or more Grand Slam titles after turning 30.

I think to play Rafa on clay in French Open in a final is probably the biggest challenge you can have in tennis. He’s the best player ever on clay.No one will go on the court thinking he has no pressure. We both want to win the title, and we both gonna give it all on the court.

Round Opponent Score
R1 Jozef Kovalik 6-2 7-6 6-3
R2 Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4 7-6 7-5
R3 Fabio Fognini [28] 7-6 6-0 6-2
R4 Gaël Monfils [15] 7-5 7-6 6-2
QF Marin Cilic [7] 6-3 6-3 6-1
SF Andy Murray [1] 6-7 6-3 5-7 7-6 6-1

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Novak Djokovic, 2017 French Open

Novak Djokovic has recently signed with Lacoste, and during the 2017 French Open, he makes his entrance on the Parisian clay courts displaying the Crocodile of his new Lacoste outfits.

Novak Djokovic’s signature is printed on the left sleeve of the polo shirt whose graphics are inspired by the lines of a tennis court. Varying touches of blue, white and red challenge the plain background in order to bring about a relaxed and quintessentially French style. White or black shorts come to complete the silhouette.

The Novak Djokovic collection is available in Lacoste boutiques.

Novak Djokovic outfit for Roland Garros 2017

Novak Djokovic outfit for Roland Garros 2017

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Novak Djokovic signs with Lacoste

Mansour Bahrami

The Legends Trophy (Trophée des Légendes) founded in 1997 by Mansour Bahrami brings together twenty-four of history’s greatest champions, grouped according to age in the two men’s draws, and twelve former women’s tennis stars. The event is a great opportunity to watch some former champions play in a friendly and funny atmosphere.
The Trophée des légendes is the unmissable event of the second week at Roland Garros.

Extract from Roland Garros Magazine’s interview with Mansour Bahrami:

RGM: How did you manage to set up the Trophée des Légendes?

To be honest, I pissed off Patrice Clerc, the director of Roland Garros (1984-2000) for three or four years before he accepted to let me organize the tournament. At the start he would tell me: “But you know that your rubbish old people’s tournament won’t work…” But we were playing all around the world, on a real circuit, the “Senior tour”, which had been created by Jimmy Connors in 1994. We were just sad to be left out of a great party which Roland Garros is. So I insisted and he said: “Mansour, I can’t take it anymore, you’re getting on my nerves… Let’s do this once, and maybe you’ll stop breaking my balls!” It was in 1997, and we’re now celebrating the twentieth edition.

RGM: Did it take time for you to completely rule in Patrice Clerc’s favor?

No, not really. There was this one first year, at the start, where two Spaniards were facing in the central court – but I can’t remember who exactly – and at the same time, we were playing a Trophée des légendes match on the Court 1 where we could host 4000 spectators. But the attendance numbers just sky-rocketed. As there wasn’t any ticket office, people were standing in the stairs, it was mad. There must have been 7000 people, with people standing outside waiting for spectators to leave. Meanwhile, there were only 600 spectators on the central court.

RGM: How do you explain the tournament’s success?

It’s pretty simple: the Trophée des légendes enables parents to take their children to tennis matches, and to tell them: “You see, Nastase, the player I’m talking about all day long, well, that’s him… he may be a little slower and fatter, but it’s really him.” (1)

RGM: What’s the atmosphere like during the tournament? Is it more a bunch of veterans gathering up to have a good time, or is it a competition like any other one?

It depends. Personally, I’m always, and I have always been relaxed. What’s important to me is seeing people walking out of the court with smiles on their faces. Others, like John McEnroe, are there to win it. If he loses, he’s just as sad as if he had lost the final of Roland Garros.

RGM: In the end, isn’t the Trophée des légendes one of the last tournaments where you can watch old school tennis, which can be fun but sometimes violent, with very strong personalities, far from today’s modern, muted and codified tennis?

Sometimes, Nastase would leave a tournament with less money than he had when he arrived: the price of his fines was higher than his earnings! I also remember Rod Laver, who would jump over the net to congratulate his opponent after a beautiful point… Do you think that would happen today? No. Why? Because we played at a time when there was no money at stake. We played for fun, and at the end of the tournament, we would win a pair of shoes… So yes it’s true, in a way, the Trophée des légendes enables this “free” spirit to live on in tennis. Today, you earn 4 million dollars if you win a Grand Slam tournament. The stakes are different.

RGM: Do you have a hard time organizing the Trophée des légendes?

Yeah, especially with John McEnroe (laughs). I’ll give you an exemple. One year, he told me that he wouldn’t be able to play the opening match. Of course, he told me that the day before the match. Well, I changed the whole program for the next day, and at midnight, he called me: “Mansour, I’ve thought about it, there is no way that I can play the second match, I’m playing the first one.” Obviously, it’s his way or no way. I had to spend the whole night phoning the others, on French, Swedish, Ecuadorian numbers… you name it! Just because of John’s stubbornness. I’ve recently told him that he couldn’t do that again. But I know he will…

RGM: Are there any favorites this year?

In the “young” category, the Spaniards who have just joined, like Carlos Moya and Juan Carlos Ferrero, are really good. Michaël Llodra could also surprise a few, for his first participation. In the category of players who are older than 45, Goran Ivanisevic and Sergi Bruguera are both equally impressive. But to be fair, we don’t really care about the level of the players. We invite players who are loved by the crowd. I’ve sometimes had to reject some guys who were unpopular.

(1) Nastase is not a very good example as he stopped playing the Trophée at least 5 years ago.
(2) We get his point but seriously, Borg, Connors and McEnroe among others were not playing for fun or for a pair of shoes. They were already signing big contracts. And today’s players don’t earn 4 million dollars for a Roland Garros victory.

Photo credit: Roland Garros Magazine

Read more:
Costa, Moya, Enqvist and Gaudio: fun under the sun
Past champions seen around the grounds at Roland Garros 2014
Roland Garros 2015: Clijsters and Navratilova pair to win the Legends Trophy