Between 27 May 2018 and 10 June 2018 the best tennis players descended in Paris to take part in the 2018 French Open Championship at Stade Roland Garros, which also coincided with the centenary of the death of Roland Garros.

This year edition marked the return of Queen Serena to Grand Slam tennis after a 16-month absence. Unfortunately, she pulled out of the competition in the fourth round shortly before her fourth round match against drug cheat Maria Sharapova due to a pectoral muscle injury. With my tickets for the ladies and men’s semi-final and the ladies and men’s final safely kept in my bag, I set off for the airport at 4:30 am to catch the 7:50 am flight to Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport. With the completion of quarter final match between Rafa Nadal and Diego Schwartzman (which was postponed due to rain the previous day) expected to commence at 12 noon on 7 June 2018 followed by the two ladies semi-final between Simona Halep vs. Garbine Muguruza and Sloane Stephens vs. Madison Keys, it was supposed to be a great day for me watching great tennis. Or so I thought.

Upon getting to the airport, I was informed that the flight had been delayed to leave by 9:30 am. There was still hope that I would get to the Philip Chatrier stadium in time to catch the Nadal/Schwartzman match. Moments later, we were informed that the flight had been delayed to leave by 10:30 am. There went my opportunity to watch the delayed men’s quarter file (at least there was hope to watch the ladies semi-final). As we gathered around the airline desk, we were told that the flight had been cancelled and the next available flight would be eleven hours later. With my chances of watching the ladies semi-final hanging by the thread, I decided to book the 11:30am Eurostar to Paris, but as I logged onto the website, it crashed. When I re-logged, the next available train was at 1:30 pm expected to arrive at Paris Gard du Nord for 4:45pm. I secured the slot and arrived in Paris at 5pm, dropped my bag at the hotel around 5:45pm and was in the stadium around 6 pm just in time to catch the last five games of the Stephen/Keys semi-final, which Sloane Stephens won in two straight sets to secure a place in her first French Open final. After the match, I had to ask a spectator about the outcome of the first semi-final, which I missed and was, informed that Simona Halep defeated Garbiñe Muguruza in straight sets.

On Friday, Austrian Dominic Thiem defeated Italy’s Marco Cecchinato in the first semi-final while defending champion Rafa Nadal overcame former US Open champion Juan Martín del Potro to set up a mouth-watering final between the King of Clay and the Prince of clay. The following day was the ladies final featuring US Open Champion Sloane Stephens and three times Grand Slam runner up Simona Halep. The Romanian fans turned up to cheer Halep with the stadium vibrating to the shouts of SIMONA SIMONA SIMONA. Despite going a set down, Halep prevailed in the next two sets to win 3–6, 6–4, and 6–1 and win her first Grand Slam. In the men’s doubles final, the French pair Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut defeated number two seed Oliver Marach and Mate Pavić.

Twenty-four hours before the men’s final, I watched Rafa Nadal train at Court 5. During the one and a half hour session, it was obvious to see why Nadal has been so successful. The intensity of the session was unbelievable. 90% of the session was focused on perfecting his forehand and two-hand backhand. After the workout, Nadal sat down to rest in front of me and I could see the
sweat dripping of his cap.

A day later, Nadal played Thiem in the men’s final and after 2 hours and 42 minutes, it was game over with Nadal winning in three straight sets to capture his eleventh French Open, seventeenth Grand Slam title and cement his place as the Emperor of clay. In the ladies doubles final, the Czech pair of Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková defeated Eri Hozumi Makoto Ninomiya 6–3, 6–3.

With the French Open over, all attention turns to Wimbledon, where a fully fit Queen Serena should be ready to make more history.

The pictures that follow are what I took during my three and a half day at Roland Garros.

Happy viewing.

June 2018



Writer and social critic