On March 15, the hundreds of thousands of seats for the 2023 edition of Roland-Garros sold out in the space of a few hours. On the ticketing site, it took patience, luck in the draw and a good Internet connection to get sesames at the end of the online queue.
In the Parisian Grand Slam tournament, the Philippe-Chatrier court is particularly popular with tennis enthusiasts. Every day of the fortnight, this is where the stars of the circuit are programmed. In 2021, night sessions appeared. From Monday, the first round until Wednesday of the quarter-finals, the “menu” of the central court is now divided into two sessions: the day and the evening. Three games for the first, only one for the second.
Sunday, June 4, at the stage of the round of 16, it was necessary to count 145 euros the place in category 1 – quite close to the court – and 115 euros in category 2 – in the upper tiers of the stadium – to attend the day session. Less expensive, the prices of the night session remained substantial the same day: 110 and 90 euros in categories 1 and 2.
When the organizers unveiled the Sunday program, Benjamin, 24, and Thomas, 23, were frankly disappointed. Like many other spectators with tickets only for the evening match, the two friends – who came from Nantes – thought they would see ” [Carlos] Alcaraz! »
The match between the Spanish phenomenon, world number 1, and the spectacular Italian, Lorenzo Musetti, appeared a priori like a beautiful poster under the lights of the Philippe-Chatrier court. But the organizers have chosen a meeting of the women’s table between the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, world number 2, and the American Sloane Stephens, finalist of the 2018 edition of Roland-Garros.
The match with “Alcaraz lasted longer”
In the aftermath, some decided to sell their seats, so that several hundred tickets were available Sunday morning on the Roland-Garros ticket office site. Miruna, 34, is one of those who took advantage of the situation to buy them. The Romanian, who works in France as a business analyst, wanted to please her mother, a tennis fan, who had come to join her in Paris for a few days. SO ? “My mum liked the game, so I’m happy”she smiles at the exit of the court Philippe-Chatrier.
At that time, Benjamin and Thomas were already thinking about the next day’s meetings: “Since it was the only match, we were really afraid that Sabalenka would win very quickly”, testify the two friends, who work as computer developers. In the end, the meeting won by the Belarusian was closer than expected (7-6, 6-4)… unlike the match that made them salivate, scheduled for the afternoon (6-3, 6-2, 6 -2 for Carlos Alcaraz). “But even being expeditious, [le match avec] Alcaraz lasted longer”replies Thomas.
A best-of-five or three-set match, “ it is not exactly the same for the public and for television programming”, recognizes the French Alizé Cornet. Last year, it was her meeting against the Latvian Jelena Ostapenko which was the only women’s match scheduled in a night session broadcast exclusively by Prime Video.
In 2021, then in 2022, each time, only one poster of the women’s table had the honors of the night on the center court of Roland-Garros. At the start of this edition, Alizé Cornet hoped ” at least two “ women’s matches for 2023. There is little chance that she will be heard.
Amélie Mauresmo caught between two fires
Last year, tournament director Amélie Mauresmo said she saw “more appeal for men’s matches”. Sunday evening, the spectators of Philippe-Chatrier believed that the meeting was going to end even before sunset: after twenty minutes of play, Aryna Sabalenka was already leading 5-0. Shouting : “Amelie, give back the money! »a spectator collected some laughter from the audience.
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The former world number one player finds herself caught in the crossfire. On the one hand, part of the public criticizes the choice of a match from the women’s draw on the program for the night session. On the other, players on the circuit are demanding better exposure for women’s posters.
“It was time to put a women’s match in night session”Tunisian Ons Jabeur, world number 7, said on Saturday at a press conference. “I’ve met a lot of people who say to me: ‘the women’s matches…’ Have you watched a match? They answer no. How to judge a women’s tennis match without having watched it? »asks the finalist of Wimbledon 2022.
She has a proposal: to double the night session with a poster of both tables, as at the US Open and the Australian Open. “That would solve all the problems”believes Thomas, the spectator met at the exit of Philippe-Chatrier on Sunday.
But there is a catch. At the start of the tournament, Amélie Mauresmo indicated that he was not “not possible for the RATP [Régie autonome des transports parisiens] » to postpone the end of metro service. However, it is the main means of public transport to reach and leave the enclosure of the Porte d’Auteuil. Tuesday, May 30, the Homeric match won by the French Gaël Monfils against the Argentinian Sebastian Baez was concluded at midnight. The spectators then had to hurry to reach the nearest station and get on the last metro.
More humid conditions
Fourteen times winner of Roland-Garros, Rafael Nadal has already declared that he did not appreciate the night playing conditions in the tournament where he was frozen. Who says tennis at night at Roland-Garros, says more humid conditions, therefore a heavier ball, which becomes much more difficult to “lift”. If figures of world tennis like Ons Jabeur are keen to support the place of the women’s circuit compared to its male counterpart, other players have more down to earth considerations. Or more precisely ground to “clay”.
Is it disappointing that the first six night sessions of the 2023 edition of the tournament have been monopolized by men’s matches? “I know that of those I’ve spoken to, no one really wants the night sessionsaid American Coco Gauff, world number 6, on Saturday after qualifying for the round of 16. On the one hand, we are happy that the men have taken it, but it is obvious that it is a place of choice. So it’s a bit of a shame from that point of view. »