Victory goes to the most tenacious. Roland Garros
By Roger Childs
Entertainment on the orange dust
If Wimbledon is the most prestigious of the tennis grand slams, the tournament in the wonderful city of Paris is the most flamboyant.
There is plenty of colour and style about the French Open with its mix of bands and dancing, colourful tennis gear, stylishly turned out ball kids, the Mexican waves and the vocal spectators, and of course, the red clay on which the players slip and slide.
The television coverage is superb and French cameramen are known to linger on the female form and face both on the court and in the crowd.
Some players are specialists on the dusty orange surface with the best known being Rafael Nadal. With fourteen victories in the Paris grand slam he is known as the King of Clay, however sadly, the Spanish maestro is absent this year because of nagging injuries.
Roland Garros the venue for ninety years
First contested in 1891, the tournament moved in 1928 to a new stadium named after a World War One aviator, Roland Garros.
Today it is the only one of the four grand slam tournaments played on a clay surface. A familiar sight in matches is players hitting their shoes to dislodge the red clay from their soles.
Another unique feature in European clay tournaments is the sight of an umpire leaping out of the elevated chair to pinpoint where the ball has landed in a disputed call.
The half-way stage
Fourth round matches are currently being completed and in the men’s singles top ranked players Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic, Stephanos Tsitsipas and Casper Rudd are all through to the quarter finals. On the women’s side leading contenders Aryna Sabalenka, Ons Jabeur and Iga Świątek are all playing well.
The quality of the tennis has been very high and number one seed, Carlos Alcaraz is going to be hard to beat. In round four he showed his class in beating the very promising Italian Lorenzo Musetti, who hadn’t dropped a set in the first three rounds, 6-3 6-2 6-2.
The Spaniard has a strong serve and powerful ground strokes, and is probably the faster retriever round the court. He has also turned the disguised drop shot into an art form. His quarter final opponent will be Stephanos Tsitsipas who has only dropped one set in the four rounds. This should be an excellent match.
As the tournament reaches the sharp end with the finals scheduled next weekend, the standard of play gets higher and there are plenty of exciting matches in prospect.