11:00 am: Having learned my lesson from the day before, I stash cheese and water in my backpack and pick up a baguette and a carton of raspberries on my way to the Métro station. (I also let myself be distracted by other things, including the offerings of oysters, olives, candied orange peels, and other goodies at the Porte Dorée street market; the dance team practicing their routine on the rim of a low park wall and the man they boogie around; and the skateboard kids working on their moves in their cavern nearby.)
11:50 am: After paying my 10 EUR (smiling repeatedly at the usher who keeps trying to direct me to the window where no one is sitting), I head into Court 2, where Kunitsyn and Stakhovsky are about to go into a tiebreak. Sparse crowd (Young v. Nieminen’s on Court 1). Stak easily takes the tiebreak; Kunitsyn overhitting a fair bit. The umpire (might be Lars Graff -- he looks stockier than the last time I saw him) calls out a woman in French when she doesn’t silence her ringing cell phone quickly enough. There’s also a kid steadily babbling -- not loud enough to be a nuisance, but noticeable. Stak periodically fistpumping and grunting “Davai”s to himself when he hits winners, which is not often enough, since it’s soon 3-1 Kunitsyn in the second set. Time for Court 1…
12:28 pm: I get in just as Donald Young finishes signing autographs after his win over Nieminen. Crowd greets both Kohlschreiber and Clement warmly. I consider myself neutral at the start of the match but soon start hoping Clement wins this, because I’m sitting two seats away from the one Kohli fan (a German teenager) very conspicuously applauding Clement errors (enough that a French mother and her two children two rows ahead eventually turn around in unison to glare at him in disapproval; to be fair, there are also French fans applauding Kohli errors, but there’s something about this kid that makes me want to punch him). Kohli starts out smiley but his good mood disappears after several close calls don’t go his way. Clement playing sans goggles again; it’s not helping his serving much (two doublefaults in one game) and the crowd starts the rhythmic-clapping-as-encouragement routine.
It seems to be up to individual umpires if and when they use English: the introductions are entirely in French, as are instructions to the crowd (such as “sit down quickly”), and some provide the scores only in French, but others say “Time” instead of “Reprise,” and “Ready, Play” only in English.
2:35 pm: The flat TV between the courts is showing Bali. I spot Giraldo’s coach in the group of people waiting to get into Court 2, so it shouldn’t surprise me when I get inside and find Kunitsyn and Stakhovsky still at it. It’s 76 67 52 and Kunitsyn is serving to stay in the match. (There’s three lets in a row, and balls keep landing outside the court, so I really shouldn’t be surprised at all.) It takes Stak another ten minutes to close it out, and there’s an “at last!” tone in the usher’s voice as he reports into his walkie-talkie that the match is over.
Paire-Giraldo: friendly coin toss. After the umpire calls “time,” Giraldo continues to get ready at his own pace: mixing an energy drink, applying chapstick, blowing his nose, and then finally jogging onto the court. There’s lots of kids here today -- a grandpa next to me tries to narrate the game to his girl, who would rather check out the pictures on her Hello Kitty cellphone; they both giggle when the ballkids do their changeover routine, though . Giraldo’s coach keeps moving around the stands behind the umpire’s chair. Paire starts lecturing himself early on -- he shows some decent shot selection/variety but doesn’t have the chops to execute them reliably -- and then jawing at the umpire, both hands up in the air. After one point, he whacks the wall with his racquet; after another point, he stops himself from hitting the wall and stomps hard on a chair instead. I’m not in the mood to watch a full meltdown (he’s down 2-5) so it’s time to return to Court 1.
2:38 pm: Mahut and Kubot enter at the same time, to loud cheers. It’s a restless crowd -- much chatting and kids running about, even during points; during the second set, the chair finally says, “S’il vous plaît, les enfants, s’il vous plaît.” Kubot’s wearing elastics under both knees. His net play is comically bad and I don’t think he starts winning points on Mahut’s serve until 4-3 in the second set (Mahut breadsticks him in the first). Crowd cheers winners for both guys; teenage boys bellow “Allez Nico” when he’s about to go on serve. The chair overrules a couple of calls, and Kubot and Mahut each dispute some of them in turn, both adopting hands-on-hips stances as they argue with him. There’s a nice round of applause for Kubot as he leaves and a roar of approval for Mahut.
4 pm: I stay in my seat in Court 1, just to wait out the crowd (and figure out my walk back to the hotel) -- but look, there’s a female umpire prepping her chair, and new linepeople marching in, and two players who enter, leave, and then return. They’re Querrey and Seppi, whose match got moved to Court 1 because Paire-Giraldo ended up going 3. There’s 100 people in the room, max. I recognize Querrey’s team, who sit down one section over.
It’s battle of the baseball caps. Querrey starts off with three easy points, but then double-faults and the game veers into multiple deuces. One of his serves lands like two feet wide of the service box. I head out after the next changeover and 100 or so people surge back in.
And now my laundry is done and it’s time to head to the main show!
final results of qualifying rounds
[notes for day 1 currently appear as posts #12-17 in TAT's Paris Masters thread
. I'll copy them to this journal when time and inclination coincide]