Published on : 23/05/2022 – 23:07

Set up during the 2021 edition, the night sessions return to Roland-Garros on Monday. After a first year marked by health restrictions, this second vintage is more revealing of the potential of the system.

The night sessions return to Roland-Garros on Monday May 23. After a setting up in 2021 spoiled by the absence of an audience then the presence of restrictive gauges, the Parisian tournament inaugurated a second time this novelty which imitates the US Open and the Australian Open.

The “night sessions” in the language of Shakespeare, are matches scheduled at the start of the evening featuring tennis stars. A kind of poster of the day, which gives rise to a separate ticket office and which often takes place in frenzied atmospheres. However, the coincidences of the schedule or delays mean that it is sometimes not the last game. While the sesame holders for the nocturnal Philippe-Chatrier thronged the venue, Richard Gasquet and Benoît Paire launched their own 1is turn on two other courts.

A DJ set to warm up the public

And in fact, what do these night sessions look like? Already, the intention is to offer an American show starting with a “DJ Set and Match”. Behind this excellent pun, a musical animation which allows to announce big names such as Étienne de Crécy, Møme, Yuksek or Jabberwocky. A program that would not have gone wrong in an electro festival. For the first, it is the French people from Good Hearer who are in charge of warming up the public, as the Philippe-Chatrier fills up.

Good hearer animated the pre-match. © Pierre Réné-Worms, France 24

The contract is to entertain the spectators the last quarter before the arrival of the players. Mission accomplished by concluding on their hit “Le temps est bon” which, failing to make the stands dance, will have the merit of staying in everyone’s head for the rest of the evening.

“The weather is good… the sky is blue…” The song even echoes the incredible alignment of the stars from which the second batch of the night sessions benefits. Indeed, while gray weather and rain spoiled the second day of Roland-Garros, the sky cleared just in time for the start of the session.

The public is slowly waking up

It is therefore in the declining light of day that the two protagonists of the evening make their entrance. Last year, the announcement of the boxing-style players had a ridiculous side, the fault of a completely empty stadium due to the Covid-19. This time, the empty seats are rarer and the spectators respond by cheering – or whistling – Yoshihito Nishioka and his evening opponent, world number 1 Novak Djokovic.

After Serena Williams last year, who better than Novak Djokovic, defending champion, to inaugurate the first of the ten night sessions of the 2022 vintage? Perhaps a Frenchman, without insulting the Serbian, 20 times crowned in Grand Slam… The almost cathedral silence at the start of the confrontation contrasts sharply with the overexcited atmosphere which emanated from the neighboring court Suzanne-Lenglen, where the Musketeer Richard Gasquet scatters the 39 like a puzzlee world champion, Lloyd Harris, in the first set. It must be said that the Serb appears more concentrated than anxious to ignite the court.

But, little by little, the magic happens. Thanks to long rallies and a few spectacular points, the stadium lost its gazelle modesty and caught fire. “Nole, Nole, ole, ole, ole,” rises from the stands between the points. The referee even begins to have to raise his voice.

The sky is giving it a helping hand. The rain begins to fall on the Porte d’Auteuil, interrupting all sound competitions of the matches of Richard Gasquet and Benoît Paire and postponing them to the following day. Roof closed, only the night session continues with Novak Djokovic unfolding, encouraged by the white-hot public.

Novak Djokovic delighted the audience with several spectacular points.

Novak Djokovic delighted the audience with several spectacular points. © Pierre René-Worms, France 24

Amazon can be rubbing their hands. The Roland-Garros broadcaster since 2021 and instigator of the night sessions has a product commensurate with the tidy – and undisclosed – sum he spent to acquire exclusivity

The weather is good… even if it’s raining… On the Central, Djoko’s game is tasty…

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