The final (for now) part of my French Open reminisce pieces will take us briefly back twelve months to my third visit to the Parisian clay, with a fellow tennis fan in one Rob Field alongside.
It was something of a blow-out, an ‘ah let’s just do it properly’ sort of vibe which resulted in two days of tennis, spread across both Philippe Chatrier and Susanne Lenglen courts.
Of course, we were at the mercy of the schedulers, and after being granted the lion’s share on the opening day with names such as Djokovic, Serena, Nadal and Kvitova (albeit from high up in the gods), we were fully prepared to have some less illustrious billings on day 2 and therefore would indulge in some court-hopping.
For us to be granted dates with Federer, Tsonga and (a disappointing in the end) Halep in Lenglen was nothing short of spellbinding.
It was the dream roster of champions, home favourites and iconic players here at the French, and – with Roger’s withdrawal from his first major of the millennium this fortnight – could represent the last opportunity to witness the great man at this tournament.
Away from the stellar on-court pedigree, the two days were as ever a delight. This year brought with it:
- Embarrassing the suits with Rob’s all-too detailed love life on the Eurostar into Paris,
- French toast spotting in the queues (rough and ready was preferred to any prim and propers)
- A particularly laboured visit to The Store as I tried gallantly to justify several purchases for myself and Sophie who ‘has one of those already’
- A hotel which – although nicely positioned – wasn’t quite as described on the interwebs and can safely be remembered as ‘snug’
- The unassuming but quite substantial restaurant we trudged into on the first night, and the exemplary French that my colleague was able to effortlessly roll out. I have never felt so ignorant!
- A cheeky trip to a tennis-decorated Tour de Eiffel, always a bonus and a useful tool in the matchmaking service for Rob I continue to offer on a very occasional basis.