Two weekends ago I headed to Paris for Roland Garros 2014, the second Grand Slam of the Year. I always thought it was officially called the ‘French Open’, similar to the Australian or US Opens, but having now visited, I realised that’s not the case and it’s actually known as Roland Garros.
That’s a minor detail really! The venue is named after Roland Garros, a famous French aviator, and it’s been held there since 1928. It’s the second Grand Slam of the year, the only ‘Slam’ on clay and it ends the clay court season. It’s also the only ‘Slam’ that starts on the Sunday while it also has no rest day.
And it’s the third ‘Slam’ I’ve been too after the Australian Open way back in 2002 and Wimbledon in 2012. Now I just need to get myself over to New York and Flushing Meadows.
Although it officially starts on Sunday, the defending champions only play on the Monday, which I found a little strange. Nevertheless, being a Sunday the grounds were full and there was a terrific atmosphere throughout.
We saw some quality tennis and were very lucky with the weather which threatened on occasion to disrupt play but never did (in fact, there were even long stretches of sunshine!). First up on Court One was an entertaining ladies match which went the distance before the No. 6 seed, Tomas Berdych from the Czech Republic saw off a spirited Polish qualifier in straight sets.
From there we headed off to the outside courts and while there certainly are not as many as at Wimbledon, you can get very close to the action. There may be no benches alike there are at Wimbledon, but the stands are no more than five levels up so it’s very close and intimate. We enjoyed a few matches on a few courts before settling in on Court No. 7 for a great match that although ended in three sets, could have been a lot more. The tennis was absolutely superb; so good in fact that no-one moved at any point during the 2h:40 match, and it was a great way to finish off a great day’s tennis.
How to buy tickets and logistics?
Like many other major sporting events, tickets sell out quickly so if you are planning to visit, it’s imperative to visit the official site (http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/) at the start of the year and register by clicking on ‘Tickets’, second from the right. Once you have registered and created an account, you can sign up for the ticketing alert, which lets you know when tickets will be released. (That turned out to be in early February). On that day, you need to be online a few minutes before tickets are made available and then it’s just a matter of waiting in the queue.
Once the tickets have been issued, a few weeks before the tournament begins, you need to assign the tickets to their owners (full name and date of birth) and when we entered, we were asked for ID.
Unlike Wimbledon, there’s no ballot, no lottery and you cannot get tickets on the day buy queuing up. You must buy in advance.
Tickets were reasonably priced – EUR 30 bought us access to the outside courts while for an extra EUR 13, we purchased pre-assigned seats on Court One to see two men’s singles plus two ladies’ singles matches.