Roland Garros 2012 - Back in Paris with a "Grand Slam"!

Novak Djokovic playing against Potito Starace in the first round at Roland Garros. Photo credit: Stephane

Stephane and I live within walking distance of Roland Garros, the home of the French Open. His favorite sport, aside from soccer, is tennis. Yet, there we were, fresh off the plane in Paris, without any tickets for the tournament. Standing forlornly outside the stadium on opening day, we wondered what had happened.

Now, I don't want to mention any names, but a certain Swiss man and I exchanged the following emails in February:

MK: [Roland Garros] Tickets went on sale this morning.
Anonymous Swiss man: Yes, but we are not here.
MK: Yes, we are - it's on until the 10th or 12th of June.

In all fairness to Stephane, I should have just gone ahead and booked the tickets because he had a lot on his mind in February. If you're in a similar situation, the good news is that there are still ways to enjoy an afternoon at Roland Garros without purchasing tickets from one of the scalpers lurking outside the stadium.

Novak Djokovic playing at the Philippe Chatrier court at Roland Garros.

Until June 3, two different types of evening tickets are released for online sale one day in advance. The "Outside Courts Ticket" gives access to the outside courts from 3:00 pm, while the "Evening Visitors Pack" allows you to queue for a chance to obtain a seat in one of the three main courts after 5:00 pm, depending on availability. As Stephane and I were feeling lucky, we chose the later option. Arriving shortly before 3:00 on Monday afternoon, we were among the first people in line for a chance to buy tickets. 

Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros. Photo credit: Stephane

In between following the progress of the Djokovic versus Starace match on my phone and exchanging emails with Joseph to find out what was happening on the other courts, Stephane and I debated about whether it would be worth it or not to try to buy tickets for center court to see Djokovic. When the officials opened the queues at 4:30 pm, we jumped in line for center court along with most of the other people because it was only the beginning of the third set and we hoped to catch a few minutes of the match.

Listening to the applause coming from inside the stadium, every second felt like an eternity as we inched our way towards the booth. Finally, tickets in hand, we rushed to center court and waited for a break in Djokovic and Starace's play to take our seats. Phew! We had made it just in time to see the last game and to hear Djokovic promise the enthusiastic crowd that he would only speak French during the next two weeks.

Novac Djokovic at Roland Garros.

Even though I wasn't familiar with the next two players, Ryan Harrison and Gilles Simon, it turned out to be an interesting match because of the reactions of the largely French crowd. Harrison (number 56), a twenty-year old American, electrified the atmosphere when he decisively won the first set against Gilles Simon, a French player who is currently ranked number 11.

The largely French crowd clapping for Gilles Simon.

Unfortunately, Harrison's temper got the better of him when he missed some excellent opportunities in the second set and threw his racket in the direction of a ball-boy. Saying that it had slipped out of his grasp, the American player returned to the court amidst the jeers of the crowd after receiving a warning from the chair. When Simon, whom the crowd affectionately called "Gillelu", threw his racket about thirty minutes later, the crowd gave little notice. There's definitely something to be said about having the home court advantage. 

Ryan Harrison returning to the court after receiving a warning.

Thanks to Twitter, I learned that Jim Courier, Patrick McEnroe and Jay Berger, the head of the United States tennis association, were watching Harrison, one of the players thought to be the future of American tennis. Scanning the crowd, Stephane was able to locate some of the luminaries with his camera.

To purchase Evening Tickets, please click here and follow the link for "Evening Visitors". Another option is to visit the Roland-Garros Ticket Exchange that allows fans to buy and sell their tickets in a legal and protected environment.

Jim Courier and Jay Berger (second row) watching Ryan Harrison. Photo credit: Stephane.


Comments

  1. What an eagle eye Stephane is--nice shots.

    Small correction: Harrison won the first set, not match (as stated above).

    And did you pick up any swag from the vendors and sponsors? Are the straw hats with red bands a giveaway? In Australia and at the US Open one or two vendors seems to always be handing out free hats if you're lucky enough to snag one.

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    1. Thanks for the correction! With my mind not fully awake this morning (jet lag), I had a hard time keeping sets, matches, etc. straight. Plus, I had two workmen here repairing our shutters. Yippee! We need them because it's another hot day in Paris.

      Stephane managed to get some fantastic shots. We just got a new camera with a better zoom so he took some "bursts" of Djokovic.

      The white hats with colored bands are probably swag from whichever company bought tickets for that section of the stadium because almost all of the people were wearing the same hats. I didn't notice them in other sections. We didn't get any swag but maybe that's because we were late arrivals.

      Thanks again for keeping us posted on the other matches while we were standing in line. Stephane said that it would be a good idea for them to install televisions near the queues, although I don't think that they'll be in place when we return to Roland Garros on Saturday! :)

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  2. Wow, you lead an action-packed life! How fun to see a tennis match as soon as you get home. Beats unpacking. :)

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    1. Ha! We'll do ANYTHING to get out of unpacking our suitcases - even if it means going to see Djokovic play tennis! ;)

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  3. It's interesting Stephane loves soccer AND tennis, because they're so different!

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    1. Reading your comment made me realize that I told a huge lie about Stephane. His favorite sports aren't soccer and tennis -- they're soccer, tennis and skiing...and biking. How could I forget?! Actually, he likes most sports with the exception of American football because he doesn't understand it. He has even started to like baseball after making a huge faux-pas during one of the first games that we saw together. In a booming voice heard by all the diehard fans, he said something like, "I don't get what's so difficult about this game. It doesn't look that hard". Before the mob could tear him to shreds, I told him in no uncertain terms that it isn't an easy sport! ;) After all, I played softball when I was a kid!

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    2. Ha, that is so funny! I made several faux pas watching baseball with my husband while we were dating. One time I said, "Why does it take so long to score a point?" I think everyone in earshot scoffed and mumbled "Point?!"

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    3. It's good that your husband still married you! Your innocent and perfectly understandable faux pas could have been a deal breaker for some men! ;) There are some die hard baseball fans out there.

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  4. Looks like your luck in a ticket line is holding up! :).

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    1. True! In between getting last minute lunchtime concert tickets with Denise and you and tennis tickets with Stephane, I hope that I haven't used up all my luck on tickets! ;)

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  5. How wonderful. You are so lucky!! Even though I am in California again I still check back to your blog. It is really nice. Keep having fun,

    Jamila
    http://bumfaced.wordpress.com/

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    1. Hello Jamila! I've wondered how you're doing and how you adjusted to life back in CA after your month in Paris.

      Thanks for commenting and leaving the address for your blog!

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  6. From one tennis city to another, I am most jealous Mary Kay.

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    1. As I am of you during the Australian Open! Cheers!

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  7. How fun, MK! Thanks for the great post.

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    1. I hope that you're able to get an evening ticket to visit Roland Garros. It's a fun event to experience while you're in Paris. Give me a call if you need any more info.

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  8. I'm not a tennis follower myself, but this is a great post to recommend to my Australian tennis friends!

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    1. Even though I didn't pay much attention to the French Open before moving to Paris, I've got to admit that it's great having such easy access to a Grand Slam tennis tournament!

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  9. Welcome home! What a great way to get back into the Paris scene. I can take or leave tennis, i.e. don't follow it, but will watch it if it's on. The atmosphere at Roland Garros must be something else entirely though! Great photos, wish I'd had a camera like that when I went to the F1 practice!

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    1. Thanks - it feels good to be home! With the exception of Wimbledon, I don't usually watch much tennis either but realizing that people travel from all around the world to see the French Open made me think that we should take advantage of it while we're here. When we were at the stadium on Monday, we talked with people who were visiting from Brazil and Japan!

      The next test for the camera is the Prix de Diane (horse race) in June - not as fast as F1 cars but still fast.

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  10. Hope you get tickets! Should be a good tournament, and definitely more interesting in the women's competition now that Serena has been knocked out.

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    1. Thanks, we managed to get some! At least we'll have the excitement of watching some more tennis since we missed Eurovision this year.

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  11. Hello, I am hoping this comment gets read as I need help purchasing tickets but I don't understand how it works. So am seeing tickets here http://www.viagogo.fr/rolandgarros please explain to me how does this work? Is this a real ticket?

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