There’s a different vibe – a good energy – a certain je ne sais quoi at this year’s BNP Paribas Masters.
Paris is the only city to host both a Masters and a Major, and for the past few years, it’s been overkill. Bercy, as the last Masters series tournament of the year, has struggled with a lack of participation from the top players, who are usually injured, fatigued and/or burnt out, and by the fans, who need a break, too. But this year’s different for some reason – Roger and Rafa are both in contention (neither has ever won this event), Djokovic showed up (go Tsonga!), and Roddick and Murray are also in the mix. And let’s not forget all the French dudes, who seem to be growing both in numbers and level of talen every year.
So is it me, or is the crowd at the Paris Masters one hundred percent better than the crowd at Roland Garros? The French Open has become notorious for it’s fickle crowds – its either AWOL or booing someone for blowing his nose during a changeover. Even when the top stars are playing in Court Philippe Chatrier, the stands are usually half empty and the luxury boxes are sitting vacant as beach chairs during off season.
But this week, the city’s indoor event, which has none of the aesthetic appeal of its Major, is rocking. Everytime I tune in, I see crazed tennis fans, cheering and flag waving in both the bleachers and the pricey seats. It’s inspiring to witness such enthusiasm so late in the season from both the fans and the players – it’s pulled me out of my own tennis slump! So here we have it, a once gloomy, under-attended event transformed into a rollicking top-tier tournament that ends the regular season on a high note. (Allez, Roger! It’s not too late to win a Masters title this year!)
Even the posters make indoor tennis look sexy – I took them off of the tournament’s well-designed website.