Roland-Garros – Playing French in Paris, any idea for hell?

Perhaps this is a big deal at the beginning of these two weeks. The audience of Roland-Garros, more of an actor than ever, weighs in on the debates. And if five of the French managed to make it to the third round, it’s probably not a stranger to him. To name just him, Gilles Simon would likely never have played against Pablo Carreno Busta in the first round without a mild overnight madness from Simonne-Mathieu. Taking on a French or a French woman in Paris, Porte d’Auteuil in the spring or in Bercy in the fall may not be the greatest sporting challenge, but it may be an inconvenient expense.

Daniil Medvedev has not yet met the native of Roland this year. But the Russian, whose overall score against the track Blues is not far from a disaster (including at the Paris clay, where he lost three times in the first round in his first three starts), is not the worst prepared to testify. During the recent Rolex Paris Masters he had to close the hatches and ignore the context in the quarter-finals against Hugo Gaston.

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Don’t underestimate the influence

Playing against the French in Roland-Garros is one of the hardest things to do in tenniseven provided world number 2 on Thursday. I lost the first three times to Roland-Garros, to the French. In fact, it was difficult. I can say that the audience did not support me“But thanks to experience and the power of habit, Medvedev got used to it, and he almost enjoyed it.”I’d say I didn’t like playing in France at first. But I love it now“Even if he is not in a hurry to cross paths with a French on his land.

Some people sometimes underestimate the influence of the Paris crowd on the game. Before facing Alizé Cornet on Thursday evening in the second round, Jelena Ostapenko even confessed that the prospect of playing against the “hostile” audience suits her very well:I prefer public opinion against me as it forces me to concentrateOf course, but the Latvian, beaten in three sets at Chatrier, left the court furiously, covering her ears at the match point as if she wanted to show disapproval.

Perhaps she should have returned to the 2017 edition to issue her unexpected consecration. This year, Garbine Muguruza, eliminated by Kristina Mladenovic in the 1/8 finals, ended on the verge of tears. “They can be very difficultthe champion of Spain was the judge. They hiss easily. They annoy you, distract you. When the public is here against you, it can be very difficult”And that was five years ago. Since then, Roland’s viewers have become more helpful than ever when one of them is on the pitch.

“Of the French who are still on the run, Jeanjean is the one with the best chance of progressing to week two.”

Isner: “A great experience to experience it at Roland-Garros”

Where are the boundaries? Have they been exceeded? Opinions differ among those who have been in the front row since the beginning of the week. Interestingly (or not), opinion often depends on … the nature of the result. Eliminated from the beginning of the super tie-break of Hugo Gaston’s fifth set, Alex De Minaur did not like the atmosphere of Suzanne-Lenglen’s “Davis Cup” mode. “There is a difference between a good atmosphere and over-supporting your playerassessed the Australian. But there is a limit that should not be exceeded. When people look me in the eye and say something to me, the line goes beyondSo Jelena Ostapenko or Pablo Carreno Busta didn’t look too happy either.

Conversely, Casper Ruud, winner of Jo-Wilfried Tsongi’s four tough sets at the center stage in the final game of Manceau’s career, swears that the public, even restless, never behaved badly towards him. “Inevitably 98% of the public was convinced of the Jo cause, but there was also respect for me, He said. They didn’t tease me either. They behaved well with me. The French are very passionate about tennis, but also show a lot of respect for both players.“.

John Isner is on the same line as the Norwegian. He, too, was stuck with Habs for entering the tournament. It was last Sunday, in Lenglen, against Quentin Halys, having been successful in four sets. “I think the audience is great entrusted the American giant. The fans are passionate here and I think players like that. They sing, they scream like in a soccer game, and it’s a great experience at Roland-Garros. Me, it amused me. I tried to stay focused, but to be honest I am very happy that I experienced such an atmosphere“.

French fans at Suzanne-Lenglen encourage Hugo Gaston

Source: Getty Images

Overcome or better rely on this hostility

According to Casper Ruud, it is also a way of gaining the respect of the local audience. “When I faced Benoît Paire on Simonne-Mathieu (in 2021, ed.), The atmosphere was terrible too, summons world number 8. But if you fight, the public will respect you and learn to like you.“.

If anger is a bad adviser, bitterness never serves the cause of the one who bears it. The best reaction from Alcaraz to Bercy last year. Kidnapped by Hugo Gaston, and even more so by a particularly agitated and distracted crowd, the young Spaniard would have had many extenuating circumstances if he would later complain. But from the peak of his 18 years, he has shown a rare intelligence: “I knew it would be difficult to cope with such an atmosphere, but I couldn’t imagine it would be so heavy. It hurt me that I couldn’t cope with the pressure. (…) But I will definitely come back stronger“.

In reacting in this way, Carlos Alcaraz was not blaming society, but himself. Regardless of the context of the match, it is up to the player to find a way out. Ask Novak Djokovic, who played several Grand Slam finals against Roger Federer (who doesn’t have to play for Switzerland to be at home) at the stadium almost entirely against him before walking away with the trophy under his armpits. This hostility must be ignored and even relied upon. All this, of course, is easier to advise than to implement, but it is also one aspect of a great master’s strength of character. Therefore, it is not for everyone.

A handshake between Carlos Alcaraz and Hugo Gaston after the Frenchman’s victory in the 1/8 finals at the Rolex Paris Masters

Source: Getty Images

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