I just posted in the Tarpi thread about something different but wanted to give a quick report of my RG experience . . . especially for those who might go in future years. I've lurked a little here, and these are my beginning posts on the forum! Nice to "meet" you all.
I was in Paris for vacation and have never been to a Grand Slam. My friend who lives there got online a few months ago and got us tickets for Benny Berthet Day. That was fun! We watched lots of practices including Marat, Federer, Sharapova, Lopez, Verdasco, etc. We also watched Monfils and Nadal play exhibitions. Nadal lost his exhibition match (!!!) but it was a great experience to see Chartier court full with cheering fans.
Of course in this forum, you probably want to hear about Marat (ha). We were able to see about 30 minutes of his practice. He looked to be wearing his pajamas (the grey outfit) and looked like he might have had a cold or just woke up or was just really, really, tired. He did not have a coach with him. Despite moping around through the practice, he stayed and signed lots of autographs. Many girls were waiting for him at the exit!
The thing I didn't like about Benny Berthet Day was that they do not post the practice schedules like they do at some ATP events. So, you had to just walk around and hope someone you liked was on a court. Because of that, we missed Dinara, only caught a little glimpse of Federer, etc. We felt lucky to see Marat!
That day was nice, and then we went about the rest of our vacation. Upon learning that Marat was playing an evening match on Wednesday, we decided to try for the "After 5" tickets. We saw so many empty seats on TV in the previous match, so we headed to Roland Garros. What a terrible set-up!!! RG owes a big apology to all Safin and Nadal fans after that. (Nadal was playing his match at the same time.) The instructions online said the ticket windows would open at 5:00 p.m. We got in the line at 4:15 p.m. Marat's match had just started. We were checking the scoring on our Blackberries and said that if the match was going slow, we would wait for the 5 p.m. entry. The line was not growing at all, so we enjoyed nearby gardens and came back about 4:55 p.m. and got in line. Marat did his part . . . playing very slow in the beginning. It was like he was stalling just for us (ha). So, 5 p.m. came and went, and the outside gates did not open. Then 5:20 p.m. came, and the gates were still not open. At this point, Marat was down 2-0 sets and tied in the third, and we did not want to pay 60 Euros between us to only see 5 minutes of tennis. So, we left and went to a museum. We came back at 6:30 p.m. when it was clear the match was going to be a thriller, and there was still a line! I think they were just letting in like 5 people at a time and making everyone else wait. We got back to our hotel, watched the end of the match live on Eurosport, and were so sad to see all the empty seats in Chartier court. There was plenty of room for us, but the RG staff would not let the lines in! It's not like there were tons of people, either. Maybe 30-40 at the 6:30 p.m. time we tried. We did everything we were supposed to -- got there on time per the website, were ready to pay our entrance fee, got in the proper line for the right court . . . and the RG tournament staff made it so difficult.
I'm just posting this as a warning to others who try for the "After 5" tickets. Be forewarned that you will not get in at 5 even if you are first in line. If the evening matches are quick (like 6-0, 6-2) you will miss them altogether. I hope they change this for future years, as it really spoiled my opinion of what is otherwise a lovely venue.
Great to see Marat on TV, though! We don't get that very often in the U.S.