Paris Masters. Photo: Tennisportalen

#TPonTour was back. For a day.

This text was translated by Erik Jonsson

The withdrawal got too big after a great Stockholm Open and when the spontaneous request for media accreditation to the final Masters event of the year went through, well, then you just have to pack your backpack.

Backpack, indeed, as only 24 hours would be spent in the French capital – allez!

The day, or morning rather, started with the alarm going of at 04:00. The 06:50 flight from Stockholm to Helsinki was calling. However, apparently more than one flight to Helsinki departed at exactly 06:50 at the airport, I found out the hard way when the time was around 06:30.

At 6:37 I was sweating profusely.

Terminal 5 was apparently supposed to be terminal 2. And the airline was Finnair – not SAS. That explains why it didn’t work to scan the boarding pass. One reprimand later from the lady at the check-in desk there was no other option but to sprint at full speed back to the security check and quickest way possible to terminal 2. 

“Run past the tax free, take a left, then a right and the elevators down a floor. There you’ll find buses to terminal 2. Or take…”

No, there was no time to spare. As quickly as possible to the underground resembling bus terminal and wait for the next bus to terminal 2.

The clock says 06:40. Boarding was at 06:20 and departure at 06:50. The cold sweats continued and the thoughts were many. How could this happen?

Five minutes later the bus arrived. Another five minutes and we were there there. During the bus ride I had already started coming up with a “plan b”. When was the next flight to Paris? Not for another few hours, apparently, and the prize was out of reach. The budget did not allow for any major scandals. #TPonTour would in all likelihood be over before it even had begun. 

Perhaps it was by divine intervention that the bus, of all gates at terminal 2, stopped at exactly gate 62.

At gate 62 a very sad sight appeared. “Gate closed”. It’s over. Or is it?

The lady at the check-in desk, this time a nice one, threw herself on the phone as soon as she saw me. 

“Are you Alexander?”

Yes.

The lady asked “are we going to be nice today?” to what we assume was the pilote and a couple of seconds later #TPonTour got the glorious message – run!

I managed to get on the plane, avoided a swarm of angry eyes from my fellow travellers only to a couple of seconds later hear: “Boarding completed.”

#TPonTour avoided a fiasco. Obviously we hadn’t told this story afterwards. But still. 

A nice and comfortable trip later with Finnair via Helsinki and we had arrived in the French capital. Paris Masters was calling. 

Only one day would be spent in Paris but what did that matter when the schedule  offered popcorn matches such as Fognini – Shapovalov, Paire – Monfils, Wawrinka – Cilic, Nadal – Mannarino and Tsonga – Berrettini. The schedule was almost too good to be true. A day of “grinding” tennis at the highest level. 

The enormous potpourri of various exciting clashes started with Fognini – Shapovalov on Court 1. Mighty Court 1. From a TV perspective the mightiest court on tour. The camera angle is of the famous “court view” type, which today is very rare. The court does not perhaps from a spectator perspective represent a Masters event, and not a court the organizer proudly promotes to sponsors, but wow, if you like tennis you need to visit Court 1 if you’re in the neighborhood. .

The arena reeks of French gymnasium and you get close to the players which is not too common on the tour, at least not at the big events. The stands on the short ends of the court are recommended to get the best possible experience. An angle which gives you perspective of how darn good the players at the top are today, which is not always apparent on TV or, say, from the media stands at the Stockholm Open. The height over the net, the tempo, how the players move, you name it – everything becomes so much more clear and contributes to a significantly better spectator experience. Those who today are trying to say that Court 1 in Paris should take a long hard look in the mirror.

And the match? I got in at around midway through the first set and saw a noticably pysched and pumped Fabio Fognini who really wanted it. He actually had a theoretical but very small chance to play himself to a spot in the ATP Tour finals, and it really showed. For one set.

Get your popcorn ready guys!

Shapovalov fairly won the second after some superior serving on the ice rink which we also call Court 1. 

Fognini would manage to jump smash (!) his racquet before the Shapovalov train went. The Canadian wanted this too much, while Fognini let himself down after the first set in a way only “Fogna” can. This despite his coach’s repeated advice from the stands.

Shapovalov looked really good against Fognini and seemed to enjoy himself on the super fast surface. 

After Shapovalov’s victory, cheered on by king Mikhail Youzhny, and the presumably highly likeable physio Stefano De Pierro who happens to follow us on Instagram, it was time to head for the restaurant. Media restaurant. 

At the Paris Masters there is no press “fika” – coffee, sandwich and sweets. There’s water. But. The food, however. We can call it “press food” as the food is offered to the press for a total amount of €0. Magical and delicious. For drinks you were offered incredible French wine which slid down the throat without any effort whatsever. And beer on tap if that’s your drift. Lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. Drinks included, and everything was as I said free.

A genius move from the event if you ask me. Let’s say a French journalist is in a bad mood and wants to heavily criticize, well what could it be, Court 1. The journalist in question sits down with their computer in the media center where only a few water bottles of the tired brand “Vittel”. Fingers are flying across the keyboard. Keyboard buttons all over the place. The article is just about finished and will be published after lunch. Maybe a call back to the editorial staff. That’s where the wine comes in. Obviously, the national drink of France gets you in a better mood and potentially you get into a peaceful ZEN mode which makes you forget all about any criticism and such. Just a theory, of course. Rumors say this is exactly what happens during US Open, where the press get to take part in the so-called “Happy Hour” where various drinks are offered at the same times as the journalists are working on their stories and delete any potential critical articles.

After Shapo vs Fogna it was time for an interview with Radu Albot’s coach, Magnus “Maggo” Tideman. An interview which was taped just outside “Players Lounge”, which meant that players such as Nadal, Monfils (with entourage),, Chardy, Salisbury, yeah, all kinds of players, and living legends such as Ivanisevic, could stroll by. Kind of nice. 

Paire – Monfils was a match one had looked forward to beforehand but after three games I felt that, no, this was a tired and meaningless. And so it could continue, was the feeling. It lit up for a few games, I saw afterwards, but the feeling was that the sleeping pill of a match would continue and sometimes you have to trust your gut.

Instead I watched a few games of Dimitrov – Goffin on, that’s right, Court 1, where the Bulgarian looked delightfully “Dimitrovian”. Great intensity and a devilish effect in his strokes. The tournament’s second Swede, Thomas “Tompa” Johansson, said hi in the corridors after the match, despite a loss for his disciple. The greeting was in English, and there went all the theories that “Tompa” Johansson knew of Tennisportalen. Follow-up question: does Johansson say hi to everyone in the corridors? Seems to be a very likable man anyway, Thomas “Tompa” Johansson.

Why only a couple of games of Dimitrov – Goffin? Well, it was all about being tactical and instal oneself ahead of Wawrinka – Cilic, which I was actually ambivalent for. It could either turn out to be a fight where the tennis and rallies were so great that you didn’t know where to turn. Or, or it could turn out to be bit of a sleeping pill. Either or. I had hoped for the former. What it landed in you could probably guess for yourselves by this point.

If you have the opportunity to walk around the area and choose from the mastodontic popcorn schedule, yeah, then you simply get on to the next one.

Which led us to… (drum roll)

Shopanna VS Pairedasco. 

Bopanna/Shapovalov VS Paire/Verdasco. Four colorful characters in tennis. Or perhaps three rather, as Bopanna doesn’t quite light up the tour as much as the other three. Except for the fact that he’s the tour’s maybe biggest advocate for coffee. How did he and Shapovalov find each other? And why is he such an ambassador for the world’s maybe most popular drink? The questions are many. The Shopanna bromance is both sweet, but also highly unexpected to put it mildly. Paire & Verdasco are two time bombs you never know what you’re going to get from. This doubles clash had all the makings of being crazy good. 

Point of the match?
Is Verdasco trying to coach Benoit on how to hit a forehand return? Lol.
More Benoit Paire-content that we all live for.

No, first set of Shopanna – Verdasco was enough.

Edmund – Schwartzman were waiting in front of around 20 people on the court right next door. Court 1, yes. Why? Well, partly because of the ongoing doubles match but also because Nadal – Mannarino was happening on center court. 

My friend and writer here at Tennisportalen, Erik Jonsson, has via his Twitter account written a typical “handbook” for tennis hipsters. Perhaps more of a guide for what a tennis hipster can do. Watching Edmund – Schwartzman instead of Nadal on center court would have made it in there, if we know Erik Jonsson.

Kyle Edmund, Courtview.

Said and done, I recorded the intro for Nadal – Mannarino to then quickly return to the famous Court 1 and finish watching Edmund – Schwartzman. Why? Well, Paris Masters is according to me an advocate when it comes to light shows and intros. No other event comes close according to me. Partly because the DJ delivers every damn year, they change the intro music ahead of every year (which is something our Swedish events could learn from), and the speaker Marc Maury is on a completely other level.

Centercourt, Paris Masters. Photo: Tennisportalen

A powerful lights show, at least as powerful players and a world class song all fall apart if the speaker doesn’t do their job well. Which Marc Maury does, and then some. 

Is Marc Maury the speaker version of what Roger Federer is for tennis? According to me, yes.

Take out the popcorn and just enjoy the clips here below.

And that’s it for #TPonTour for this time around. We hope you enjoyed our spontaneous and brief visit in Paris. Until next time!

LÄMNA ETT SVAR

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