|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.|