Roland Garros. The “night sessions”, a small revolution in Paris – Roland-Garros



Saturday, 8:54 p.m., Philippe-Chatrier Court. The 3rd round between Hugo Gaston, the last Frenchman in the race, and the Dane Holger Rune is about to begin. As from the beginning of the week, a “DJ Set and match” (provided on Saturday by Étienne de Crécy) kicked off the party, and silenced an audience that calmly sings a Marseilles song. The emotion is already palpable, the atmosphere, electric.

“We are really entertaining (entertainment), for an audience more in search of a show than what comes during the day”

Opened in 2021, but behind closed doors due to the curfew in force at the time, the “night sessions”, as they have been in New York or Melbourne for a long time, have had their true beginning this year at Roland-Garros . A small revolution that also aims to break the codes and change the image of tennis, as the governing bodies aspire.

One track, two environments

With the darkness gaining ground, players are under the spotlight, as if in the center of a giant ring. The returned images are the opposite of those traditionally transmitted by “Roland” (in straw hat mode under a blazing sun, Jean-Paul Belmondo style). One track, two environments. Because apart from artificial light, the audience itself is not the same (like the box office). In the “nights”, people come in groups of friends, like going to a concert, willingly consuming drinks that have little to do with bergamot tea.

“Sizes of glasses”

“We are very passionate about entertainment, for an audience more in search of a show than what comes during the day,” confirms Gilles Moretton ?. When, during the day, a spectator spends an average of 8:20 in the place, the one of the evening only comes by a party. A “short format, which creates a dimension of spectacle, a bit like Bercy in spirit,” the FFT president continues.

In the Chatrier, swept by the wind that evening (reinforcing the impression of ambient noise), the very playful Rune and Gaston ensure the show. The goal sought, the chosen posters had nothing to do with chance (this year only a women’s match was scheduled: with a first set finished 6-0 in 22 ‘, the programmers had cold sweats).

Rafa “doesn’t like it”

From the show, the audience asks for more, with a lot of “wave” or “popopolopopo”. Short humorous phrases come from everywhere. Sometimes fun, sometimes less. If the coolness of the night does not calm the ardor of the public, it is not without consequences in the game, and in the big elevators in particular.

Not in vain, Nadal has a strong opinion on the subject. “The other day I said I didn’t like these night sessions. The humidity is higher, the ball is slower and the conditions are very heavy when it is cold “, he said again after his game against Moutet. An opinion, and it will not surprise anyone, that Djokovic does not share. “At night, during the Grand Slams, there is more energy, and the public enters the game. It was a very good experience (tonight) “, he explained after the night session of the 1st round, on Monday.

On the subject of television rights

It will also be interesting to see which of the two – between Djoko, number 1 in the world and owner of Porte d’Auteuil, and Nadal, the undisputed owner of the square but who had to fight for almost five hours on Sunday – will get satisfaction. . Considered from the draw, this Tuesday will be the long-awaited quarter between the two men, a real final before the hour. We’ll have to see what time it is. Amazon Prime has paid a high price to pay for the rights to these “evening sessions” (which will end after the quarters on June 1)

, the trend is a night game, which would do the business of Djoko. But France Television, a historic broadcaster and daytime meeting, intends to tip the scales. The issue of television broadcasting is also the other point of tension: having to pay to make the most of Roland is a novelty that many would have taken.

* In addition to the “night sessions”, Amazon also has, until 2023, the rights to broadcast the matches played on the Simonne-Mathieu court.

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