Report from Abroad: All of the lights.


There comes a moment in every girl’s life when a teeny little voice in her head says: “hey Doots, go to friggin Paris this weekend.

It was this little voice I followed last Thursday, as I headed to the City of Lights where Bercy – the last Masters tournament of the year – just “happened” to be playing. Oh what a coincidence … right?

As a tournament, Bercy has always been considered the least of the Masters. Being the second last ATP tournament of the year, it is the one most plagued by pull outs, retirements and walkovers, populated by a partisan and often hostile crowd, and not to mention being played in quite possibly the most hideous stadium I have ever seen.

The POBP complex was built to resemble mossy molehill with grass growing out of its sides. Grass that could not be sat on, walked on or played on and thus serves no apparent purpose other than to scream “LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME!” and perpetuate Paris’s unfortunate relationship with modern architecture.

Oh man, it all went downhill fast after the Eiffel Tower …

But architecture was not what I came to Paris to see, and luckily for me, the inside of the Bercy stadium had the energy and buzz of a heavyweight boxing contest: the dimmed lights, the club-like intro to every match, the excitable crowd and MC … everything about it was perfectly primed for hardcore tennistical showdown. After months of travelling, the atmosphere had me salivating for some live tennis action – namely Federer v Gasquet.

Despite booking tickets separately, Picket Fence readers Whynotme, jfK and myself managed to beat the slim odds and be allocated seats randomly next to each other. Didn’t take long for us to whip out the Roger merchandise …

Even though he was playing a Frenchman, a sizeable contingent in the crowd stood vocally behind Roger. This was somewhat an anomaly for this part of the world – the Parisian crowd has always had notorious reputation for partisanship. Normally I would disapprove of their eagerness to boo players at every opportunity, but as a spectator in and amongst them, it was fabulous.

Every emotion you felt from the stands was shared and heightened by those around you. Matches became far more interactive than they normally are. And despite my uneasiness about some of their behaviours, I’ll say this in defence of the Bercy crowd: they either treat a player like a slug or like their prodigal son, and they are just as likely to boo someone until his neck sinks back into his torso as they are to weep tears of joy at his triumphs like a horde of proud mamas.

Woger clearly fell within the “prodigal son” and “non-slug” categories as far as the French crowd was concerned. It was evident to all his opponents that Federer more or less enjoyed a “home crowd advantage” whenever he played in Paris, even against the Frenchies.

While at the tournament, I saw 3 of McFed’s matches – against Gasquet, Monaco and Berdych, and in all three, he was simply divine.

You forget about it during the year, but every indoor season, I am reminded of the reason why some of my favourite Federer wins have come at the year-end tournaments: there is something about Federer on an indoor hard court that is simultaneously devastating and stunning. It’s almost as if he does away from much of the subtleties in his game during the indoor season, and just decides to whip out a hammer and start bludgeoning his opponents off the court with scorching aggression. Never has violence been so entertaining.

Compared to the relative ease with which Federer wrapped up his first Bercy title, the other quarterfinals and semifinal I saw were more representative of the overarching themes of the indoor season – physical struggle. They were more about stamina, service games, tiebreaks, about keeping your head above water and your body injury free:

Berdych and Murray was a marathon of see-saw momentum, long rallies, never-ending games and a crowd cheering, groaning, throwing their arms about at every point being won or lost.

Tsonga v Isner was about French nationalism on full display – flags flying, feet stomping, chants echoing through the stadium, 10,000 people inhaling in unison – before erupting with revolutionary fervour when Tsonga danced around the court in victory … I arrived everyday nervous and pumped, and left each night with my ears ringing with the sounds of live sport.

Mahuteau. JUST BECAUSE.

To top off my days of perfection spent at the tennis, there is something about being in a foreign country that makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do, or more precisely – make requests you wouldn’t normally make …

Get your barfbags ready aaaaaand cue music.

In case you were wondering, I was totally shitting myself … MULTIPLE TIMES cool about it, told him I was from Australia and wished I didn’t have toilet bowl hair wished him luck, then considered fainting into his open arms moved back to admire from afar.

Ahem. So yeah. One piece of advice – don’t look like such a complete retard if you ever meet someone you have a mild crush on.

Roger was so sweet with all his fans.

I never made it to the Bercy final. It seemed like a shame to come to Paris without seeing the city away from the grassy slopes of POPB, so on the advice of Paris local Whynotme, I headed out on finals Sunday for some serial ice-cream eating culture at the Centre Pompidou, which instantly overtook the Bercy Stadium’s status as the Greatest Showoff of a Monstrosity in Paris. Oh Pareee, why?

Urgh. 

“Modern art”. Apparently.
(Just kidding, the permanent collection was actually wonderful.)

Me: I LOVE *slurp* ICE CREAM! *slurp* IT’S MY FAVOURITE *slurp* THING IN THE WORLD. *slurp slurp slurp burp*

Whynotme: … Really?

Me: *slurp* OF COURSE!

Whynotme: You like ice cream more than you like Roger?

Me: …. okaynoidont.

This was before I had FLOWER SHAPED ICE CREAM though. Maybe I like FLOWER SHAPED ICE CREAM a little bit more than I like Roger. Just a little.

After a long day of grappling with “modern art” and ice cream, I finally got the call I was waiting for from Whynotme, who watched the final live.

Wogie won!!” she screamed over the phone.

UARRGGGHHHOMIGOSH! HE WON?!” I shrieked back in English, causing nearby French pedestrians to glare at me like I just farted into their sofa.

We met up later for food, celebration and an evening stroll along the Seine. Everything was so endlessly charming and quaint.

Perhaps it was because of Roger’s win, perhaps it was simply that Paris is so glitteringly handsome at night, but at that moment, I felt so completely sated with happiness.

xx doots

P.S. Many thanks to all those I met up with in Paris for making my trip so perfect! You know who you are.

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26 responses to “Report from Abroad: All of the lights.”

  1. marco iacoboni (@marcoiacoboni) says :

    I bet you were happy! The whole post sounds happy. Nice.
    BTW, the match with Monaco wasn’t really fabulous. But it’s almost impossible to show up everyday and play at the level Fed played in Paris. The match with Monaco was the peRFect match to have a little drop in the absolutely amazing level of performance of the maestro last week. Monaco is playing well but he’s not as dangerous as Gasquet, Berdich, or Tsonga.
    Now, get yourself to London and let’s do this again. 🙂

    • dootsiez says :

      Yes I know the match with Monaco was actually quite horrible to watch, but it would’ve ruined the rhythm of that line if I mentioned it 😉 Besides, Roger played as well as he needed to given the quality of his opponent. No need to break people’s spirits for sport. SUCH A NICE MAN. *___*

      • marcoiac says :

        and btw, best match of last week was definitely against birdman. cant believe u were there. fed played absolutely gorgeous tennis. best performance in ages. 04-06 level. hope he’ll repeat in london. watching that stuff is absolutely mesmerizing.

  2. PJ says :

    You rock socks! Awesome, as usual.

  3. LongLiveKingRog says :

    WOWOWO!!!!!!!! REALLY LOVELY PICTURE WITH ROGER!!!!! Did you have to wait long???? were the security guards nasty???? but it is ALL WORTHWHILE!!!!!! did you take a few more pics with him??? ***GREEN WITH ENVY*******

    • dootsiez says :

      How long you wait depends on how long he takes in the presser really. But there weren’t that many people around. Security guards were fine, some of them actually rather friendly.

      And nope, didn’t take more pictures – thought I’d be nice, move back and let someone else through. I wish I could say the people from RF.com returned the same level of courtesy.

      • LongLiveKingRog says :

        I haven’t tried waiting for Roger after matches that many times but I have to say the few times I have tried, RF.com people are every where! sometimes I do wonder what they do for a living (if they do at all!?!!?) Anyway, I love that goofy picture !!!! I hope you are coming to London WTF too??? it’s just two hours on the train!! And if you are still in Paris, eat more Bertillon icecream!!!!

        • dootsiez says :

          Yes, I am in fact in London right now. Are you going to see the matches?

        • LongLiveKingRog says :

          of cos I have been and will go to more matches!!!! Going to the MAJOR match on Tuesday evening!!!! and definitely on Thursady as well. I was there today at the Tsonga match. Got rather worried during the 2nd set I must say!!!

          Am rather hoping if Roger is in the semis (OK let’s NOT jinx this) he will play in evening as that’s the session I have tickets for… he needs to up his game to get there though!

          Which matches are you going?

  4. ovoorigo says :

    The adoring look is peRFect dootz. Congrats! ROFL

  5. Deborah says :

    Lovely, Doots! No one tells it like you do. I’ve watched the Fed/Berd semi more times than is healthy. Berd looked totally incredulous that he was losing to Roger. I think he began to believe his smirk until that match.

  6. oracle86 says :

    Good to have you back, Doots! Please go to London too. 🙂

  7. steve says :

    How wonderful, Dootsiez, that you finally got to meet him and get a picture with him! And that you watched three Federer matches in a row, and that he won them all. Especially the masterclass he put on against Berdych.

    Glad that you are still posting here from time to time.

  8. pban says :

    dootsiez you lucky bitch…..but wogie was gorgeous in Paree

  9. Freudo says :

    oh, Doots, have enjoyed your travelogues so much, but been missing this part of you!!!! Now, I feel sated, too. Roger looks just like you in the picture, facial expression, his curls tucked away. Such a rapport! Does he know about your tennis blog? Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve forgotten you real name, and when you weren’t blogging thought I should have written it down so I could follow your writing wherever it takes you. Maybe someone will tell me, please?

  10. jfk10s says :

    Doots, great write up! Again, It was so great meeting you and Whynotme. Like I said we were destined to be friends! Also, thanks also for getting me SFs tickets. It was an unforgettable week; miss you guys already!

  11. Pauline (@whynotme12) says :

    So happyyyy to read your new blog post 😀 Aaaah, it brings back so many nice memories 🙂 Thank you for keeping to your word of redeeming French crowds btw 😛 I think you did perfect justice to what it feels like watching a tennis match in Bercy! By the way, I’ve just read that this stadium which you dislike sooo much is going to be under work, and will be all new and shiny for 2015! Well… not that new actually, but it will look better. Supposedly. Hopefully. http://bit.ly/sgkQYm

    Anyway, after all the emotions of last week I feel a bit deflated these days, and also my apartment feels soooo empty now that you and my friend have left, boo. Wish I could go to London!!

    ps: I’m not thanking you for putting All of the lights in my head now. I preferred having the “Just to…….” one 😛 Hopefully I can email Bercy’s dj soon and get his music!

    pps: What would you choose between not eating ice-cream for 4 years, or not watching ANY of his matches for 4 years?? You have to prefer Roger, bitch!! Ice-cream is not worth it, even flower-shaped ones 😛

  12. A_Gallivant says :

    Great write up Doots! I’m happy you enjoyed Bercy. I think it’s quite the bang for your bucks. That final was stomach churning in moments as we all waited for Tsonga to “turn the match” around. Luckily, kept a tight hold on his neck and gave us lovely pics of him embracing that “artistic” trophy!

  13. Katarina_YYZ says :

    Great report, thanks for posting it here! I’m thrilled for you to have seen those matches and met Rog and got that goopy-eyed pic with him. okay I’m jealous about the goopy-eyed pic 😛

  14. dari says :

    That picture is so telling!

    Who took the picture? Roger himself with extended arm?!
    And the other one with the other girl he looks so sweet and normal.

    Way to go, fulfilling dreamzzzz!

  15. J.Jyothi says :

    Thanks for coming back. I’m a proud rf.comer tho’ haven’t been in any scrum. Is it OK to like your blog and be an rf.comer (LOL)?

    • dootsiez says :

      I think most people here are members of RF.com, no? It’s a great source of information, but I don’t hang around because some of the commenters can get a little … “high schooler” for my liking.

  16. lapinroyal says :

    EEEEEEEEEEK! You are his lucky charm! When I saw Federbear alive, I knew you and Wogie have a good time!
    GO WOGIE…. P-Lease beat the crap out of everyone in both pool to break another record, being a 6 times winner of YEC (and surpass Edberg of 806 wins)…
    Have a good time in London!

  17. Audrey says :

    Where did you buy the red bra with “We Love Roger” ? I love them !

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