Paris | Paire and Herbert – French Impressionism
The delightful all local bout between Benoit Paire and Pierre Hugues Herbert gave us a little romanticism on Suzanne Lenglen. The giant from Avignon, nicknamed the Stalk, and the rather effete and demure Herbert put on an unexpected feast for a very involved audience.
Herbert has a service action like a Zulu war dance, borrowed from sixties idol Roy Emerson. So high is the toss you wonder if he can ever reach the ball. Paire invokes a countenance of menace behind the beard, and a bad line call against him would make any umpire nervous!
The Stalk was coasting then Herbert changed the tempo with a forever final set going to Paire. The final embrace over the net went on for several minutes and the censor might have been needed until a tearful Herbert finally limped off.
I am most impressed by court procedures here. Line sweeping, regular court hose soaking and re distributing clay are not problems being coped with at any other Grand Slam.
We fondly worship Wimbledon finesse, but it is also good here. The ball kids and officials belt round the surface like terrified rabbits but truly match anything in SW19.
The master coup this year is the Simonne Mathieu court and its surrounding gardens. The site was always very claustrophobic and cramped, (and still is) but this green oasis, which has added a large park to the complex makes the Garros experience a lot more pleasant.
The major problem remains however in the short main avenue between Chatrier and Suzanne Lenglen. Only a hundred metres between them but a log jam for most of the day.
All in all the Garros event is pretty impressive.