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Joel Drucker: The Uncertain Start in Roland Garros

Yesterday at Roland Garros it was scorching, so hot that there was ample talk of topspin and high bounces – Nadal-friendly conditions. This morning, day one of the tournament, I trekked out to Court Suzanne Lenglen and at 7:30 a.m., saw the court draped in a tarp. It had rained hours earlier. Soon enough there came a ten-minute shower. As I write this an hour later, it’s overcast, a good 20 degrees colder than it was yesterday at this time.

Weather plays a significant role in the very way a player conducts tennis business at Roland Garros – in large part, more so than any of the majors. Rain, heat and chill impact the texture of the clay, from the way it feels under a player’s feet to the small clay particles stick to the ball and in turn can make it heavier and potentially more painful.

These shifts in weather set everyone on edge. For days, everyone connected with the tournament – players, officials, sponsors, media – have been carefully organizing themselves. All day yesterday, players put the final touches on pre-tournament practice sessions, no doubt feeling they had as much as possible under control. A year ago at Roland Garros, it rained constantly. But as the start of the 2017 French Open neared, oppressive heat seemed the prevailing theme. But now, not quite.

Ten minutes after I started writing this story, the sun began to crack gently through the clouds. But at least the tarps had been removed.

- Roland Garros Flashback Moment

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