An Australian Girl in Paris – Rafa Takes the Crown


It’s been a week since the RG final and I never posted my recap. So here goes.

Red Clay

In the absence of Twitter, there’s only one thing a certified Twitter addict can do while watching tennis. In fact, there are several things she can do, and that is what I did:

1) Scream and shout to all and sundry who are present regarding the status of the game. Whether that involves a few choice explosions of FFS (elucidated, of course) or some well thought out prayers, they are all uttered to fellow spectators audibly. For some reason, this is not necessarily as appropriate as shouting it out to the Twitterverse.

2) Write notes in your iPhone for posting on a blog later.

And that’s what I did.

The legends match over, it was close to Rafa time, and I needed a prime position. I knew there was no sense attempting a Phillipe Chatrier debut – although Rod Laver and I have been firm friends for years now, Phillipe and I needed a bit longer to become acquainted. After all, he’s hella more expensive, and I’m a poor traveling blogger, after all. So I meandered around Suzanne Lenglen for a wee bit before ending up stuck in the midst of the marching band. That’s right, they have a fancy marching band at Roland Garros, complete with brass buttoned uniforms and choreographed movements. It was like being at Buckingham Palace in the middle of a tennis tournament.

I took the opportunity to explore the glory of the clay while I waited for the crowds to pass. Streams of spectators were taking their baguettes et jambon and heading to the stands in the annexe courts between Suzanne Lenglen and Phillipe Chatrier, while others who were lesser fans of the marching bands, squeezed through a hole in a hedge that looked kinda Alice-esque. I may have attempted to cross over onto the red clay at one point or other because I was adamant that I wanted to TOUCH it. Red clay, after all. DIRT.

Securing a prime position for the big screen event was paramount, so it was early when I headed to Show Court 1, where chairs were set up on court and a huge screen set up to televise the match. Being ‘seule’, I once again found the optimum position and grabbed it – front row, centre in the stands, and right next to two lovely American boys of the backpacking, frat boy variety.

AJ and Joey proceeded to show no visible sign of irritation at my incessant commentary, in the absence of my usual tennis-watching company, namely, Court13 sisters M & LP; fellow Australian Open regulars RK & JK; and of course, the Rafaloving, Sodhating twitter verse.

We had some special visitors with us on Court One at Roland Garros – the ball boys. Dressed in their adorable red-clay appropriate maroon outfits, minus the incredibly attractive sunhats that are mandatory at the Australian Open, they entered with their minders like a group of school kids on an excursion – and proceeded to enamour the crowd with an array of songs that reminded me of summer camp. The only problem? They were all in support of Soderling.

Not just in support of Robin, mind you. The Robin cheers were so loud, they were nearly as loud as the disgusting boos we heard for Rafa when he came on screen. Recalling the fateful day last June recently documented on this blog, I recalled that Roland Garros are underdog fans – but couldn’t believe the little ballkids who hang with Rafa all day every day could have something against the gentle tiger.

I have decided to kill the ball boys, despite their adorableness. Robin’s prematch interview informs us that he enYoys playing here. I always knew he says enYoy. Tennis dictionary addition. Rafa comes on, and he gets a few cheers, so things are ok between me and the ballkids for now.

It may have been raining all morning, but now its not just Melbourne that can boast ridiculous weather – in Paris its suddenly sunny, and I have taken upon myself to teach my new American frat boy friends about wearing sunscreen. Their burns from yesterday’s picnic at the Louvre have turned an ominous shade of tomato and I’m aware that all of the American travellers I’ve met so far have been unbelievably fair. I introduce them to my trusty friend also known as Sunblock and describe the joys of slathering refrigerated aloe vera on sunburn. Suddenly we’re all old mates, sharing chips and Doritos and discussing the SodHate/RafaLove conundrum. For the record, they’re SodLove/RafaIndifferent bandwagon, and I’m not too pleased about that.

The match begins, and I realise there is a spoiler alert for this match – I can hear when a point is completed by the cheers coming from Phillipe Chatrier. Even worse, I can generally imagine whose point it is based on the decibel level – Robin’s cheers are way louder than Rafa’s. I also discover that the Roland Garros crowd have absolutely no problem with cheering on the error of an opponent. As per my policy, I’m trying not to clap on unforced errors – the rule is only double faults at break point, set point or match point – but when in Rome… I mean Paris.

The French scoring is making me laugh a little bit. The word for Let, First Service is entirely different and I like making up what I think it sounds like. I also adore how on the screen, break points are called Balle De Break. Ballbreaker extraordinaire, that’s what you are.

Rafa has a bit of a beard showing. Seriously, along with Uncle Toni, I’m not sure if I can handle all the hello, hello blown up to lifesize in HD. Uncle Toni is staying classy and doing what I try to do – clapping on opponent’s points. Today, however, no can do, Robinskies.

The net cord is having a field day today but at least Robin has grown up a little and learnt the art of the apology. In fact, he’s grown on me now with that apology. Maybe we bonded when I supported him for three hours straight when he sent Roger home.

Egalite is kinda cute. I like saying Deuce in a deep voice, but egalite makes me feel all French. Which I’m already feeling, surrounded by ballet flats, Haagen Daaz, and damn those baguettes and cigarettes! It’s like an accessory around here and I haven’t got a single one.

Rafa breaks. It’s time to consolidate, but the evil Roland Garros crowd won’t even let him serve.

Sorry Robin. Rafa holds serve with some beautiful tennis and I get the feeling that for the second time running, while Robin played fabulously to get into the final, he will once again be outclassed by his opponent.

We’re at four – two in the first set with Rafa leading with the break, and an amazing rally gets Rafa to deuce. Now I remember – I love clay, and dammit I love finals. The level is just sublime. Play for me, boys.

The iphone keeps changing my notes on Rafa to Nasal instead of Nadal. I don’t like the looks of that.

Robin’s first serve has been awol all match, but after about nineteen egalites, he holds and we’re at 4-3. The first set is nearly over but I’m not moving anywhere. You would think I had enough tennis watching experience but for some reason… my eyes are squinting without sunglasses, I’m getting burnt without a hat, and I’m scorching in my sneakers instead of wearing thongs. I need another water bottle and a toilet break wouldn’t go amiss.

Eat me, Rafa. That animal look of hunger during a point is like a tiger in the jungle and I am loving it. Double faulting at break point? Not so much. Thankfully, kids behind me are cheering for Nadal with the cutest French accent in the vicinity. Take that, ballboys.

Rafa. Being that tomorrow morning you will be the number one tennis player in the world, it would be kind of handy if you could get your first serves in. I mean, if you want to.

Cannot believe he blew three Sps. Stewpod, stewpod Roland Garros crowd. And its about to rain over here…. I love watching live and feeling the conditions. Knowing that each gust of wind that blows through my hair is the same gust of wind that blows the ball into the net. Thrills!

What a shot! I se a yellow, Aussie Open Optus “What a Shot” sign in the crowd at Phillipe as we get back to Egalite.

I love Uncle Toni.

Second lucky net cord for Robin giving him confidence.

Hell, French men. Sweeeet.
At change of ends.

Rafa looking at sky. Methinks it might rain. Ballkids are trying to do a Mexican wave. I’m going to compare and say they can’t do nothing like MCA can.

Cedric tries to get the crowd to shut up. It’s like the bloody cricket. Rafa won’t even serve. Oh hello Robin, you agree with Rafa? Cute. Everyone, SHUT UP.

I exchange twitter accounts with my new American besties. They’re trying to explain to me why its important to join a fraternity, and answering my questions with “I can’t tell you that”.

Sod serves and it’s a fault. Double it, please?

Three balles de set. Less one. Uncle Toni still claps. All class.

Rafa snarls like a tiger. I love that man.

Takes the second set.

Rafael Nadal cannot lose a grand slam final when up two sets to love. Discuss.

Revenge on 2009? Indeed, so beautifully appropriate. I love clay. I love this match. I also reckon that Sod’s level here is better than Fed’s was in Madrid. He’s giving a goof gith and playing more interesting rallies, longer points, better shots.

But here comes the choke. Play begins, and Cedric is being a complete kindergarten teacher with the RG crowd. I can hear them from here.

Around Court One there are flags for every country – but where’s the Aussie flag? Just asking.

Thought there’d be a rain delay but no – here comes the sun.

Rafa holds. Hey you guys? I think we have a match here. Down love two? Then again, Sod is badass. Now that he has nothing to lose he could go all nutso on us and start taking risks that turn the match.

Sodawater is not at all fazed. I guess if he holds here and breaks back he can get the next set.

Shirt change. Oh no. wrong shirt change.

Let me put it out there. Rafael Nadal Parera. This is a very important service game for you and your career. And dignity. And love. Though we will love you anyway.

BP for rafa. I am going to call this my own personal championship point.

My seatmates and I are debating American cockiness and discussing Italian travel plans. I love Europe.

Advantage, Soderling. Americans are convinced he’s said “How about that, Soderling.”

Jeu Soderling. Rafa, hold. Please.

I said its banana time, and sure enough it is. Joey wants to know why Rafa doesn’t take bigger bites. I have a you tube clip to point him too.

Its funny because we’re outside but the crowd is quieter than they are inside. Except the two little ones behind me, vamoosing with the ballboys.

Mexican wave now is rivaling MCA.

Rafael Nadal. Serve pour match. That’s the championship, bitches.

Watch out world. Rafael Nadal is back. He’s bungee one. He lost to sod on this court last year and now he’s back and better than ever, revenge has never been sweeter, he’s bawling his eyes out.

My favourite part of presentation ceremonies is the umpire.
I love how he’s thanking his supporters and ONE OF THEM IS ME.

That’s what happens when you watch tennis live, bitches.

Pics to come.

2 Responses to An Australian Girl in Paris – Rafa Takes the Crown

  1. […] sweet-talking a security guard into Roland Garros in Paris to view Rafa’s first slam in over a year, Wimbledon proved more challenging when a World-Cup-obsessed Spain refused to show a […]

  2. […] The RafaKads v Ballboys, Revenge Match: Roland Garros Final, Nadal v Soderling […]

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