Roland Garros 2016
by MAC

I don't know how everybody else feels, but right now I'm just numb.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the rumours of wrist issues after Madrid but kind of dismissed them after his matches in Rome. Consequently I went to Paris full of hope.

I was there for his first two matches and still felt reasonably optimistic of my chances of going back with my ticket to the final next weekend. When I heard the news of his withdrawal, as I sat in a traffic jam on the M25 on my way home, I was dumbfounded. Admittedly, I didn't think he played as well in his second match as he had done in his first, but there was little indication of a serious problem.

It's very tempting to just pretend that this tournament never existed and just hide behind the sofa until Rafa returns to the court. However, there was, for me, much to enjoy in his brief appearance here.

The thing that will stay with me forever is the rapturous welcome he received as he stepped on court for his first match. It has often been felt that Rafa is, let's say, under appreciated in Paris. The prolonged cheering and applause indicated quite the reverse.

There was a lovely moment when the on-court announcer was going through his introduction. He was listing the years Rafa had won - "2005, 2006, 2007, 2008" - crowd starts clapping - "2010, 2011" - crowd begins to laugh and cheer - "2012, 2013, 2014" - crowd now completely roaring and clapping. It was great.

And who wants to forget that brilliant tweener and Rafa's embarrassed smile afterwards as the crowd leapt to its feet with their arms raised.


I thoroughly enjoyed that first match against Sam Groth. It was Rafa giving a lesson in how best to play on a clay court and I got the impression that Groth was just happy to be a part of it. At just one hour and twenty-two minutes, the 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 win was Rafa's quickest ever match at Roland Garros

As I said earlier, I didn't particularly enjoy his match against Facundo Bagnis. I hate it when he starts off dropping serve and hate it even more when he drops serve when serving for the match. With the benefit of hindsight, I guess it was the problem with his wrist that caused these issues.

Still, it was a solid win, 6-3, 6-0, 6-3, which gave little indication of the bombshell that was to follow.

It breaks my heart to hear how emotional he was during his press conference to announce his withdrawal. I trust that this disappointment will pass and that he will come back, once again, firing on all cylinders.

So now we just have to be patient and wait to see whether he will play any of the grass season. He's scheduled to play at Queens in two weeks' time but I hope that he will skip it (and Wimbledon, too, come to that) if doing so increases his chances of being able to compete at the Olympics since we know how important that is to him.

Get well soon, Rafa.
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