The French Open is a great place to come to watch tennis, with a ground ticket in the first week truly great value for money. Any number of superb matches can be found on the outside courts and with the slower clay lending itself to longer rallies and therefore longer matches, fans can pick and choose from some great tennis. Unlike at Wimbledon, where getting tickets for the main courts, in particular, is more restricted, getting a ticket to Roland Garros is as easy as clicking on to the website and paying your money. Or you can just get them in person.
That all being said, then, it is a crying shame that the early matches on Court Philippe Chatrier, which is the main stadium court here, are almost always played in front of a crowd that can only be described as “sparse”. It is a running joke that the French don’t really show up until about 3pm, when they have finished their lunch and three or four glasses of red. But it is a shame for the players and looks bad for the sport and on TV to have an empty stadium for some of the world’s best players.
Well, I’ve got a suggestion for the French Tennis Federation. Perhaps they could show some innovation and make the first match open to holders of a ground pass before making the rest of the day all-ticket.
One thing the French do very well is support each other. Guy Forget, the Davis Cup captain, seems to be at every match where there is a French player in action, male or female. How he does it is beyond belief – are there underground passageways between the courts at Roland Garros?
Forget was on hand again on Thursday to present Arnaud Clement with a trophy in honour of his years of service to French tennis, and the sport in general, which was richly deserved. Clement is one of the sport’s good guys and at 34, he was the oldest player in the men’s draw. Amelie Mauresmo may be working with women’s world No 1 Victoria Azarenka at the moment but the former world No 1 is also a regular fixture in the stands whenever one of her own is doing well. But, lest we think it’s just a French thing, Mauresmo also found time to see Andy Murray battle through back pain to beat Jarkko Nieminen in round two. Now that’s commitment.