Day Five of the diary started with my second compulsory nasopharyngeal swab Covid test superbly organised by the French Tennis Federation from players to officials and ball kids and the handful of international tennis journalists like myself lucky enough to be granted a photographers accreditation enabling me to cover this very unusual autumnal version of the French Open.
FFT have set up a very efficient and convenient testing lab a short walk from Roland Garros which is carrying out thousands of tests a day.
I don’t know how many readers have been “lucky” enough to require or obtain a test in your home country but in the UK I couldn’t get an on demand test for love nor money, NHS or private and FFT kindly invited all foreign media to use their facility – for free.
The nasopharyngeal swab test is not what you could call painful, but very uncomfortable – I hope dear reader you are not eating when you read this – the swab is passed up each nostril and into the back of your throat and then it’s like a chemical bomb has been discharged, which brings tears to the eyes for a couple of hours.
Should a test return a positive result your credential will be automatically rejected when to try to access the venue.
The French Tennis Federation have been superbly organised and most welcoming to us the media unlike the US Open where no foreign media were allowed to attend, nor it would appear, the next Slam on the calendar, January 2021 Australian Open.
Having parked my car in a nearby supermarket garage this morning, prior to my test, I did some shopping afterwards for food basics to eat at my desk. The usual croissants, ham and baguettes for breakfast/lunch and my reward for surviving the Covid test, two miniatures of French White wine at €1.15 cents each!
Such essentials are usually no problem going through security checks, until today that is when a “Jobsworth” told me “no alcohol allowed on the premises, you can’t go in with those”.
“You obviously haven’t seen the shelves of the Presidential Suites stacked with Moet & Chandon or the Champagne Tents selling bottle of non-vintage bubbly at €95 euros” I advised him to no avail.
I would have been a lot happier had he been looking for weapons and the like in my bag, so clearly his was purely a marketing operation to force one to buy the on-site product at extortionate prices.
Rather than waste more of my time, I emptied the French plonk on the floor, to save “Jobsworth” the problem of “disposing” it when I was out of sight.
… And so to work, it was the first mostly sunny day of the tournament and it was good to work with some nice light.
But it was a pity to see so many empty seats.
Even Novak seemed surprised to see a yellow ball in the sky when he came out for the coin toss.
Carlos Ramos and Denis Shapovalov examine the forensics of a close call.
Garbine Muguruza gave away her two French Open Player towels – nice gesture.
Today’s Match point celebration of the day was a tie between Roberto Carballes Baena winning his first five-set match, his first sortie into Grand Slam third round plus his first defeated of a Top 10 player.
And a lung buster from Laura Siegemund after coming out on top against fellow German Julia Goerges.