With a distinct nip in the air despite the late autumn sunshine, the beautifully manicured gardens around the Simone Mathieu Court at Roland Garros were still ablaze with colour, and the horse chestnut trees were raining conkers in the morning.
After a late afternoon shower the new roof on Court Philippe Chatrier had a surreal spaceship look to it with a rainbow for good measure too.
Parts of the external cladding structure comprise the words “Roland Garros” made from steel and repeated multiple times so in the setting sun it looked like gold.
Eugenie Bouchard lost her match on the remote Simonne Mathieu garden court but at least she kept a couple of souvenir Roland Garros player towels and hitched a ride on a golf buggy back to the safety of the players locker room, ensuring the she had minimal exposure to any virus hazard.
The craziest highlight of the day came late afternoon when a “bomb scare” rumour spread through the grounds like wildfire and the area around court 7 was quickly cordoned off with security staff waving people back and bringing play to a halt on the nearby courts.
Apparently there was a “suspect package” causing concern and needing to be checked out in a kiosk adjacent to the court.
Up stepped a fearless German Shepherd sniffer dog and a his brave lady handler who took control of the situation and quickly determined that the potential “bomb” was nothing but an empty cardboard box. Bonkers!
Celebration of the day came from local heroine Caroline Garcia who danced her way around Philippe Chartier court after beating Elise Mertens in a tense tussle.
As a British photographer looking for British success on court to photograph there hasn’t been much to cheer about in the first week. This reminds me of bleak years prior to Sir Andy Murray reliably giving us something to focus on and carry us into the second week of a Slam with some hope.
The joke then was to ask “how do you address a Brit in the second week of a Grand Slam?”
“Hello Mr Umpire!”
I tested out this feeble attempt at humour on top British Umpire James Keothavong, who was officiating here today and raised a smile.
The rain returned throughout the day, with the courts being quickly covered, and the sparse number of fans bringing out their umbrellas.
Even Alexander Zverev had difficulty keeping his feet on the slippery clay surface.
And finally … the sheer joy of winning on your home soil, as a wild card, was too much for Hugo Gaston, a surprise winner over veteran Stan Wawrinka.