How many of you tennis fans out there have actually made it out to Roland Garros in Paris? If you’re like me, you probably have a special place in your tennis heart for this tournament that goes by simply “Roland” to locals. It’s where it all started for me back in 1984, the year after Noah beat I think Vilas to take the title in ’83, correct me if I’m wrong. I was out in Europe for 6 weeks with my brother and we decided we’d go over to the stadium and scalp a couple of tickets. We scored to cheap tickets up in the boonies, but decided heck we didn’t come this far to sit all the way up here, so we decided to make our way (sneak) into the lower level and found two seats that were empty and slipped in. The match playing was none other than Yannick Noah vs. Matts Wilander I believe it was the second semifinal of the day. Well the tennis gods were on our side and no one ever came to kick us out of the seats, it was unreal. We watched Wilander take out Noah in 5 sets, 5 unbelievable sets, and from there on I knew that Roland Garros was going to be a part of my life.
At Roland Garros, you’ll find an atmosphere where the refined bourgeoisie and quasi french celebrities canoodle, tan, dine, and comment on each others latest fashion statement from their exclusive loge box seats. Through their scandalous reflective sunglasses they watch their favorite tennis titans fight for survival on courts fit for gladiators. The roar of the crowd on Philippe Chatrier Center Court will send a chill down your spine, it’s electric. Every year you get a one or two lower ranked guys out of nowhere who makes a run in this tournament. A lot of your traditional top ten players will be shown the door early on in this tournament, it’s just how it goes. The clay can cause havoc, and you get to see it happen in slow clay court motion.
In the years I’ve been going out to the tournament, which is every year since 1984, the tournament has consistently been carried by the fiercest competitors. Some of the Champions that really stand out in my mind: Chang, Brugera, Muster, Agassi, Courrier, Keurten, Moya, and now Rafael Nadal, el toro de Mallorca, has outclassed everyone, his fellow spanish brethren, and recently many vocal fans of Roger Federer who at times seems to be as lost as a kid in Toys”R”Us when faced with this Spanish advertsaire surreal talent on clay who has for the past 4 years had an answer for everything thrown at him. Only 3 players have been able to win on all 4 surfaces that the Grand Slams are played on, Andre Agassi, Rod Laver, and Roy Emmerson. Sampras was never able to make it to the finish line with the Coupe de Mousquataire nor has Federer. This will be Federer’s thorn in the foot of his career if he can’t get through most likely Nadal to win Roland Garros, and time is running out. Borg who won Roland Garros retired at the ripe age of 25 after having lost to McEnroe on Wimbledon. I highly doubt you’ll see Nadal retire should he get beat by Federer, but that would be quite interesting. Comparing these two Champions who ruled Roland Garros for long stretches I think Nadal has a better all round game than Borg did, despite the fact that Borg was so smooth on Grass, a surface that Nadal has just recently conquered, I’d have to give the nod to Nadal seeing he’s taken the Australian and the competition is much, much, deeper than it was back in the 70’s. Ok, I’ve rambled enough….I can’t wait to be walking around with a mouth full of cherries in Paris. And if you see me going for another Nutella Banana Crepe just remind me that you got to be in tip top shape to take Roland Garros.
I’m going to be training for Roland Garros in my dreams…….. A bientôt, Mike
If you need some tickets or a Package to the French Open, we still got tickets and we’d be happy to help you out.
Featured image credit: johanlb .
Michael Bernstein is president of Championship Tennis Tours. He may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or visit www.tennistours.com.
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