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Tennis in Paris: Fan debate and rain frustration: Difficult days at the French Open

Tennis in Paris: Fan debate and rain frustration: Difficult days at the French Open

Will tennis soon have an atmosphere like football? Some scenes at the clay court classic in Paris are causing a stir. The cold, wet weather is also a concern for the organizers.

The heavy rain is having a detrimental effect and causing scheduling chaos, and the disrespectful behavior of some fans is causing complaints from players. The French Open in Paris is not currently much fun. Tournament director Amélie Mauresmo has therefore already appeared before the press and announced the first consequences: an earlier start on Friday to loosen up the schedule a little, more consistent action against troublemakers and a ban on alcohol in the stands.

“We will be uncompromising with regard to respect for the players and the game,” said the former world-class player on Thursday. She has instructed the referees to be even more sensitive to abuse and to respond with an expulsion. “If there is even the slightest behavior that crosses the line, it will be expelled.”

Hooligans at tennis?

The French crowd at the Grand Slam tournament on clay is considered to be loud, heated – and very patriotic. Belgian David Goffin also experienced this during his opening victory against local hero Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard, when he was booed and, on top of that, spat at by a fan with a piece of chewing gum. “It’s becoming more and more like football. Soon we’ll have pyrotechnics and hooligans, soon they’ll be fighting in the stands. It’s really ridiculous,” complained Goffin: “Some people would rather cause trouble than cheer on the players.”

World number one Iga Swiatek even addressed the crowd directly after her second-round thriller against Japan’s Naomi Osaka and criticized the heckling during the rallies. “I don’t know if that was a good decision,” said the Pole afterwards. “I know that the French crowd can be pretty rude.” And resentful. The fans here can “pick out players they don’t like and then boo them.”

Alexander Zverev generally likes the atmosphere at the Stade Roland Garros. “I love it when there is such a real fighting atmosphere,” said the Olympic champion. This also attracts a new and especially younger audience – which is vital for all tournaments. With the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS), where a match is divided into four quarters, heckling is allowed at any time and party music is constantly blaring from the loudspeakers, there is already an alternative form of competition. A few things should be tried out, said the German professional Jan-Lennard Struff, who also emphasized: “I am a fan of classic tennis because it is also cool.”

Persistent rain as a permanent problem

However, significantly less when it rains. And that was a constant problem in the first few days of the French Open. The rain showers caused numerous interruptions and postponements – and also dampened the mood of the players. The miserable weather did not exactly invite sightseeing with the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, and so Zverev preferred to play games in the virtual world in his free time: “Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch, every day, eight hours a day.”

Struff, who was also affected by a rain interruption during his second-round victory on Thursday, flees the Stade Roland Garros during longer breaks. “I live nearby, went to the apartment, slept a bit,” revealed the Warsteiner. “I can’t do that to myself here on the grounds.” The situation must be dealt with pragmatically, said Struff: “Interruptions are always difficult, but they are part of it. There is no point in getting upset about it.”

Source: Stern

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