Thanks to the roof of the Philippe-Chatrier court, the French Open are launching into the night sessions this year. But the organization of this one-off show is not going to be easy. No normally constituted star will volunteer to play behind closed doors … It will be necessary to decide to satisfy the new broadcaster.
This is THE great innovation of this edition of Roland-Garros. Like the Australian Open and the US Open, its two Grand Slam colleagues – and like most other major tournaments – the French Open will set up from Monday ten evenings, ten night sessions in tennis jargon. . Since the cover of Central Philippe Chatrier, it was an inevitable development. This makes it possible to set up a dedicated ticket office. In terms of recipes, it’s a goose that lays golden eggs. Except that due to the pandemic, everything nevapas unfolded as imagined with the broadcaster – Amazon Prime Video – which had won the rights in July 2019.
Unlike Melbourne or New York, which open their gates at 7:30 p.m. with two matches respecting diversity, Amazon Prime has bet on a single match at 9 p.m., with a fairly spectacular arrangement as an aperitif. Thus, a luminous course will lead the players to the Philippe-Chatrier court, where they will make their entrance accompanied by music specially composed for the occasion.
One real night session, Wednesday June 9
Big problem: the curfew will not allow to welcome the public. Alone for the last quarter-final on Wednesday June 9 – the kickoff of which will be brought forward to 8 p.m. to guard against the curfew at 11 p.m. – which will have the appearance of an electric night with 5,000 authorized spectators.
When, on May 15, on the sidelines of a Zoom interview in Rome, we submitted this problem to Rafael Nadal, the Spaniard was embarrassed. Obviously he did not know the details of the contract. “Let’s see how the situation will develop over the next two weeks. We have to respect the rules but, as everyone knows, I prefer to play in a day session, without the slightest doubt. But as a player, I will abide by the decisions of the tournament.”
A very diplomatic position. But the Mallorcan weighs thirteen titles here. It feeds on the energy of the spectators. Leaving behind closed doors could be seen as an unfortunate step backwards. No star wants that and yet, for a poster, you need at least one star. The trap is closing …
“Of course I prefer to play at Roland Garros with the public,” Gaël Monfils told us, totally haggard last September on the deserted Lenglen facing the Kazakh Bublik. But the history of programming is a good question, It’s going to be interesting to see… Afterwards, there are people, they don’t mind playing without an audience too much. ” We looked, it is difficult to see who speaks French.
Roger Federer has never played behind closed doors
Let us not overlook the Roger Federer case. The Swiss delighted the organizers by announcing his participation. But, pandemic obliges, it is the only player to have never evolved behind closed doors. When it resumed in Doha, there was a limited gauge and, recently, in Geneva, a hundred privileged had been able to attend its only match. To “inflict” a night session to zero spectators could appear to be disrespectful. The solution, ultimately, would be to schedule him in the fourth rotation on Sunday, for his first round. For a real-fake night session. His “quota” would then be reached …
But we are sure of one thing: there will be big power struggles in the corridors of the stadium. And Guy Forget is preparing to live through difficult times, between the new broadcaster who paid dearly for its exclusivity and the players who no longer want to relive the murky atmosphere of a Grand Slam match in an empty 15,000-seat stadium. .
The expression happy elected of the night session has never carried its name so badly.