Roland Garros. The famous “night sessions” are not necessarily a success

Leur 59th duel was scheduled ” too late “Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic lamented in unison after dropping four hours and 12 minutes of temperatures to 10 degrees on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of Roland-Garros. “You have to find the right balance”begged the Spaniard, saying “Obviously we understand the other side of the business, that televisions pay a lot of money to have matches so late. Suddenly, the tournament gets paid and so do the players. “. Identical observation of Serbian: “This is the world we live in. The stations choose whether it’s a night game, a day game. They give the money, they decide. »

“The schedule of the evening matches (21 hours) can ask questions “ for the convenience of the players, agreed Amélie Mauresmo, appointed in December director of the Paris Grand Slam. “The option we could have and think about is to advance the first game from noon: at 11 in the morning, would that make more sense? », wonders the world’s number 1 antique. With an equally advanced night.

In addition to the partitioning of the TV rights batches, the central box office of the track is also shared between daytime sessions and nightly matches, which require different tickets. A system to maximize the receipts of the French Federation (FFT) that did not prevent a large filling. However, there is the issue of transport, admitted Mauresmo, a “key point in the future”
: the final schedule of the Nadal-Djokovic match prevented spectators from the stands from using the subway. “Today we do not have the means to organize something for 15,000 people who leave (ie the capacity of the Philippe-Chatrier Central)
»he pointed out, paving the way for dialogue “with the city of Paris perhaps to further boost the metro or bus system”.

“As a woman and a former player, I don’t think it’s fair to say that today’s men’s tennis offers more appeal.” Amélie Mauresmo, Tournament Director

“They are two sacred tennis monsters, everyone is waiting for this confrontation. The fact that we can’t offer it to all French people is very disappointing for us. “, Laurent-Éric Le Lay, sports director of France Télévisions, was thrilled. In fact, from 2021 to 2023, the FFT, which organizes the event, has a contractual obligation to schedule the big game overnight and exclusively for the Amazon platform. From a regulatory point of view, only the finals of the French Open refer by decree to the list of 21 protected sporting events that must be broadcast without encryption.

With paid streaming comes the problem of excluding a section of the public and the digital divide. Although Nadal – Djokovic was exceptionally offered without a subscription by the American firm, his audience was probably well below the maximum of 5.1 million viewers on France 3 for the Christmas quarter against the Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. ” I listen “ these comments, “We have tried to move forward together towards precisely this accessibility and this free”defended Amélie Mauresmo.

A novelty at Roland-Garros

Another effect is the impossibility for the newspapers, in particular of L’Équipe, to punctually complete Wednesday’s edition with a game ending at 1:16 p.m. “We had to put Zverev in one”regrets Jean-Philippe Leclaire, deputy editorial director of the sports newspaper. “Basically, we could postpone the closing of the first edition to two quarters of twelve at night, and that of the second around 0:45 hours, 1 hour maximum. »

Among the ten posters selected for the “evening sessions” – which appeared in 2021 at Roland-Garros but an old tradition at the US Open and the Australian Open – and therefore considered the event of the day, only one referred to the women’s draw. , the victory of the French Alizé Cornet over the Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in the second round. “It’s not a pity given the clashes we had and what we wanted to present to the spectators who come with a ticket for a single match.Mauresmo assumes. In this age (tennis) we live, as a woman and a former player, I do not find it wrong or unfair to say that at the moment men’s tennis offers more appeal. »

This position was little appreciated by the WTA, which manages the women’s professional circuit. “The current generation and the number of talents is incredible. Our fans want to see the spectacle and excitement of women’s tennis on the biggest courts and at the best of times.said the organization. If we want to increase the value of our combined product (a tournament where the men’s and women’s draws take place simultaneously)then it is essential to have a balanced schedule ”.

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