7th Roland Garros, arc, Au Bougnat, Champs Elysees, Coupe des Mousquetaires, French Open, Ile de la Cite, Laduree, Lavender, Louvre, macarons, Men's finals, Notre Dame, Novak Djokovic, obelisk, Paris, Place de la Concorde, Pont Neuf, Rafael Nadal, River seine, Roland Garros 2012, Rose garden, security, Toni Nadal, Tuileries garden
Surprisingly, I had a good sleep. 😉 Well, then again, it was not that surprising, given how tired out we were from waiting out the rain yesterday. 🙄
First thing I did upon waking up was to check the skies and it was not a good sign. It was still very cloudy with rain looking like it might come down any minute. So the finals was scheduled to start at 1 pm and I kept checking the skies periodically, hoping that the sun would come out. The weather forecasts all mentioned high chance of rain especially in the afternoon. 😦
The postponement of the finals disrupted my sightseeing plans. But I had also planned this day with the possibility of a match postponement. If the finals had completed yesterday, then we could go to a rose garden which is just outside of Paris. I saw this rose garden first on this blog (http://www.myparisadventures.dk) and was very keen to go. We had been to the beautiful Butchart Gardens in Vancouver and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I thought the Rose garden would be something we would enjoy too. According to the website , the best time for rose viewing is in June.
But well, its more important to see Rafa at RG. Besides, we can always go to the Rose garden the next year.
Due to the threat of rain, I kept checking my Twitter timeline just in case RG decided to delay the start of the match. Come 12 noon, and there was no news of the match being likely to be postponed despite the heavy clouds, so we headed to Roland Garros.
Its interesting how one day made all the difference in security checks at Roland Garros. Of course fans still turned up with all their support paraphernalia such as flags, caps etc. The security check today was so strict. The security personnel were measuring the sizes of the flags the spectators were allowed to bring into the grounds. Quite a number of people with big flags were told they could not bring their flags into the premises (they would have to leave it with the locker counter). BUT the thing was, they were allowed those exact same flags the day before! 😕 Of course they were unhappy about not being allowed to bring in their big flags which were previously allowed. But of course, there was no point arguing with the French (note: French shrug). I was just grateful that they allowed the husband to bring in his camera lens without any problems. Sometimes, they don’t allow super long camera lens. The day before, one staff used her palm to gauge the length of the husband’s lens and the lens barely passed the test. So this time round, we made sure to head to a man (supposedly to have bigger hands). Luckily, the staff were more concerned with the size of the flags than the lens. 😛
The stadium took a while to fill up. While the stadium was not operating at full capacity, the turnout was still impressive given that it was a Monday.
As we people-watched from the same seats we had yesterday, I saw Djokovic’s team. They were seated just a few columns away. The husband didn’t believe me when I said ‘Oh, this is Djokovic’s girlfriend and that’s his father.’ He eventually believed anyway. 😮 How I wished it was Team Nadal we were spotting!
In hindsight, it would have been great if it was Team Nadal sitting within range. I read afterwards that they were very vocal in giving Rafa loads of support (which they normally are quite restrained about) and it would have been great to see Rafa celebrating his victory with his team.
So players entered the court with a shorter introduction. The crowd was excited to get the match started. But clouds were still hanging very threateningly over the court. It appeared to be a possibility that the match would be delayed. Luckily tennis gods decided to be nice to us after what we went through yesterday.
For me and most Rafa fans, it was most crucial that Rafa snatch back the service break from Djokovic so that the match would start on even terms. And that’s what Rafa did! He came out firing on all cylinders!! 😀
With that service break, the guys were on serve!
So from this point on, it was all for Rafa to hold his serve and wait for the chance to break Djokovic.
The cheering for Djokovic was very very loud and the fact that Team Djokovic was leading the cheering as loudly as they could made it a tense match. But the cheering for Rafa was distinctly louder than it was yesterday!
Rafa continued his service holds, and since he was serving first, the pressure was on Djokovic to keep up.
Then a heavy cloud decided to drop by. My heart sank as the rain drops fell. But we could see that it was going to be just a passing shower since the cloud was moving away. So we stayed put in our seats. Indeed the match resumed shortly. And then the sun came out!!! The sun came out strongly, chasing away the clouds and the cold. I just had the feeling that with the sun out shining so brightly for Rafa, its gotta be Vamos7!
Then there was a minor hiccup. I think Djokovic’s ball was out but Rafa still moved to return the ball. I think he stopped play to challenge it but the umpire ruled in Djokovic’s favour since Rafa had already returned the ball. Well, I had thought the ball from Djokovic was out too but Rafa had already put the ball back into play so that’s that. But I think Rafa meant that he saw that the ball was out but there was no call so he decided to return the ball first? So here’s a series of photos showing Rafa arguing with the umpire.
I think he’s so cute here! Kinda like “Humph, I’m not listening to you! Humph! ”
Actually I couldn’t see Rafa’s gestures that clearly from where we were seated. Upon seeing the photos, I thought he looked so cute. All I had hoped for was that Rafa don’t let this matter distract him. I had forgotten that a pissed Rafa is a fabulous tennis player. He is the epitome of channeling negative energy into a positive one. Many players would often be so affected by their arguments with the umpire, especially when ruled against their favour, that their game would suffer for a couple of games. But not Rafa. I had forgotten then how often Rafa turns the game into his favour when he is pissed. And all done with no racquet slamming! 🙂
With all that adrenaline pumping in him, Rafa was the first to reach 6 (6-5). So the pressure was indeed on Djokovic to hold his serve to bring about a tiebreak. I definitely don’t want a tiebreak. It would be too nerve wreaking for me. 😳
And when Rafa got to championship point, it felt as though Rafa was going to do what it takes to win the point. But it turned out that Djokovic gave Rafa the point when he double faulted! And with that Rafa won his 7th Roland Garros title!! 😛 😛 😛
Although last year’s match against Federer was special, this match was also very special simply because of who Rafa’s opponent was. Rafa had lost the last three slams to Djokovic and Roland Garros is too important to lose. It would have been terrible if Rafa had lost and I would have to bear seeing Djokovic tearing his shirt apart perhaps? But Rafa has shown on this very day that he rules Roland Garros! So it was more emotional this time round seeing Rafa’s 7th win. And his 11th slam at that! 🙂
It came as no surprise to see Rafa tearing. He is quite an emotional creature.
What was surprising was him climbing up into the stands to celebrate with his family and team. This is the only bad part of not watching this on tv. By the time the video of Rafa and his team celebrating was shown on the screen, the celebrations were almost over. Although I didn’t witness most of the exchange, people in the stadium were going ‘awwww’, with ‘awww’ getting louder when the on-goings were shown on the screen. The entire moment was so so soooooo sweet!
The celebration photos that could be found on the internet speak volumes on the closely knit Nadal team. Another photo that was very touching was that of Pau Gasol hugging Rafa. The understanding of an athlete’s pains and triumphs from another athlete.
It was only after the match that I truly realised the importance of this match. Toni Nadal said that Rafa was in a total mess before the match and Toni had told the team that Rafa wouldn’t be able to win RG this year. Rafa himself said he felt he was ready to win only three minutes before the match!! 😯 And Uncle Toni was himself surprised at how Rafa started the match, playing so strongly. As a fan, I am never more proud of Rafa upon hearing how he overcame his nervousness. Although he might not be the bravest man on earth, but he is a true warrior on court, being able to take on the demons in his heads and beat them soundly. Yes, it took time for him to beat those demons, but beat them he did! It would have been so easy to just melt under all that pressure but Rafa just seems to perform so much more under pressure. Rafa’s simply A.W.E.S.O.M.E!
And you would think that having lifted the Coupe des Mousquetaires for 6 times, Rafa would be very familiar with it. Dorky Rafa showed up and he hit himself in the face when lowering the trophy. 😳
How I love to hear Rafa’s voice! :shy:
I cringed when Rafa started to do this. Last year when he also sat on the stage, it was a very unnatural movement. The knees seem to be getting in the way and Rafa didn’t seem very comfortable; he did cringe too. It was the exact same case this year. 😦
While Rafa was charming the photographers, Djokovic started to leave the court. At that point in time, I was just right above where the players would pass through when leaving the court. As I had no interest in getting Djokovic’s autograph but was reluctant to give up my prime position, and I didn’t want to deprive his fan of an autograph, I helped one of his fans get some stuff signed. Djokovic was nice to sign quite a number of autographs.
While the husband was busy capturing photos of Rafa for me, I spotted Team Nadal. I saw Uncle Miguel, who was making a phone call, presumably calling home with supremely good news.
When Rafa was done with his media obligations, he started signing autographs. He first went to the left side of the court where there’s a few fans on the side.
The organisers then got Rafa to sign the camera lens. There was a bit of confusion about this initially. Fans on the right thought Rafa was going to just sign the camera lens and then leave. Rafa was very nice to tell the fans he would be back after signing the camera lens. What a streetsmart and considerate man!
Then he proceeded to make a lot of people happy.
Then one fan in the crowd made Rafa very happy. I had no idea what he said to Rafa (probably praisin Rafa to the skies) but he made Rafa smile for a longggg time and Rafa even responded to him, shaking his head and saying ‘No, no, no’.
And finally Rafa reached me!!! But the demand for his autograph was so much stronger than that for Djokovic’s and I was almost squashed to death. Rafa was just right in front of me (I’m almost invisible in this photo – next to the guy with something red in his hands)!
I had only a Rafa’s bull cap for autograph. To be honest, I didn’t really want Rafa’s autograph on the cap as I intend to still use it but it was the only thing I have at that moment for an autograph. Somehow Rafa didn’t sign my cap. (He can mind-read!) 😮 He was slowly moving on signing others’ stuff. I simply took the opportunity to stare at Rafa unabashedly and his freckles look so cute!! 😛 Oh and of course, I said ‘Felicidades, Congratulations, Rafa’. Because I was just right in front of him and despite the pandemonium, I didn’t need to shout but said loud enough for him to hear and I’m quite sure he heard me. Although he didn’t look up, continued signing instead, he smiled. I definitely took that as Rafa smiled his thanks for my congratulatory words.
And being as squashed as I was, I couldn’t take out my camera to take photos of Rafa. Not that I actually remembered to take any photos. 😳 I was just enjoying being so close to Rafa to do anything. Thinking back, it would have been rather rude of me to take a camera and pushed it in Rafa’s face. So thank goodness I didn’t even have that thought. In hindsight too, I should have escaped being squashed by just jumping right into Rafa’s arms! 😀
Afterwards I caught up with the husband and told him of my failed plan to get Rafa’s autograph. He simply said “Your hands are too short.” Hmmmm 🙄 He’s right, you know. 🙄
The husband was very sweet. He asked if I wanted to wait for Rafa like what we did last year. I said no. Because the area which we waited at last year for Rafa was now filled with plants probably to prevent us from doing the same thing this year. And I was really happy just being so close to Rafa earlier on. Besides I know which hotel he’s staying at. 🙂 I thought we could just stroll by later his hotel and see if we could wave hello. 🙂
What a glorious day at Roland Garros! Hope to be back next year again!
So we proceeded back to the apartment for a quick rest before heading to Champs Elysees. The husband was reluctant to go to Rafa’s hotel. I wasn’t planning on a stakeout, mind you. I thought we could simply walk pass the hotel and see if we get lucky at that moment we were passing by. If not, I didn’t intend on doing a full stakeout. Just maybe passing by the hotel a couple more times? 👿
So we first went to Av Montaigne, to check out what’s new in the boutiques. Around 5 pm, I brought the husband to stroll pass Rafa’s hotel. We saw a few ladies there and a couple of photographers there. Probably Rafa wasn’t back at the hotel yet. The husband was surprised I wasn’t going to hang around the hotel. I meant it when I said I wasn’t planning on doing a stakeout. However, at around 5.30 or so, we reached a junction and I thought I saw Uncle Toni. This ‘Uncle Toni’ was holding on to a purple cardigan and he was with a woman and they were walking in the direction of Eiffel Tower. At that moment, I thought of just going up and say ‘Congratulations’ but I wasn’t really sure if he’s indeed Toni Nadal. So the impulse came and went.
I had made dinner reservations at Au Bougnat at about 8pm. And we had two hours to kill. And we were feeling a bit peckish and since we passed by Laduree, why say no to macarons? 😀
The macarons weren’t cheap but I finally understood the fuss surround Laduree’s macarons. They were so full of flavours and eating it became something like an art. Small bites to savour the flavours, gentle chewing to get the full taste. I like Laduree’s macarons better than Pierre Herme’s. So good it wows!
Au Bougnat is near Notre Dame in the Lle de la Cite. We were in the 8th arrondisement. We decided to walk from the 8th to Lle de la Cite. This being Paris, so along the way, we took in some sights and fell deeper in love with Paris. 🙂
At Place de la Concorde:
Finally saw the obelisk!
And so we walked past the trees-lined avenue in Champs Elysee, to Place de la Concorde and reached the entrance of the Tuileries Gardens. It was a long walk, but we thoroughly enjoyed the walk. The weather was perfect in Paris, especially after so many days of cold. The sun was out and the air, while cool, was not uncomfortably bone-chilling cold. It was a ggggreat day to be in Paris!
Into the Tuileries we went! It is a very big garden but we kept walking straight in the direction of Ile de la Cite.
Finally we reached River Seine. We have been walking/ taking photos for about 90 mins or so. We were tired but seeing River Seine gave us the impetus to continue moving as this means we are close to Ile de la Cite. 😀
By the time we reached Notre Dame, we were getting really hungry.
After a two hours walk, we reached Au Bougnat. 😎
WE were more than ready for dinner!
We had the most delicious French Onion soup ever! It was complimentary and I wished we were given bigger servings. 😛
White asparagus & salmon, and crabmeat salad for starters.
Hmm, I wasn’t very impressed with the fish. It was a tad bland. Definitely disappointed especially after the French Onion soup teaser.
By the time we left Au Bougnat, there was still daylight.
And we walked past Hotel de Ville to the metro for a ride back to our apartment.
What a happy happy day it was! 7th Roland Garros title for Rafael Nadal. I hope for the 8th next year!