2022 French Open – ‘Allez! Allez! Allez!’ How do you quiet the French Open crowd when playing a French player?

PARIS — It took Sloane Stephens three games to silence the Court Philippe-Chatrier crowd.

Her opponent at the French Open, Diane Parry, went to school just across the road from Roland Garros — she grew up hearing over the walls of the playground the incredible support French players receive from the partisan crowd. But having broken Parry, that noise subdued a little and Stephens continued chipping away at the home crowd’s optimization.

The football-esque atmosphere is unavoidable here whenever there’s a home hope on the court. You can be on Court Simonne-Mathieu at one end of the complex and still hear “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem, on the wind emanating from one of the outside courts as a local player attempts to book their place in the next round.

In Stephens’ third-round match, every time she made an unforced error, the crowd responded by cheering the anthem to the (open) rooftops. Parry’s backhand was equally heralded. But Stephens blocked it out to end Parry’s Roland Garros journey in straight sets.

“All of the French players felt a great deal of support for each match,” Parry said afterward.

Stephens was just the latest “away” player here to experience the “home” atmosphere.

“It’s always tough playing a home player at their Slam,” she said. “Obviously the French crowds are always very intense and great supporters — so it was tough.”

While Stephens managed to block out distractions, earlier Friday the atmosphere caused Australia’s Daria Saville to freeze in surprise. She was facing Italy’s Martina Trevisan, who has built a strong rapport with the Roland Garros faithful.

“I did not expect the crazy fans,” Saville said of her match against Trevisan. “I was taken back a little bit. We were warming up and I missed a few shots in the warmup, like, and they were screaming. And I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, what is happening here?’ Like it really shook me … like, they’re all against me here.”

She went on to lose 6-3, 6-4.

Her fellow Australian Alex de Minaur was also thrown off course earlier in the week by the crowd in his first-round loss to Hugo Gaston. He said afterward that the crowd went too far in its support of the popular Frenchman.

“There is a line that, you know, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at , De Minaur said.

Norway’s Casper Ruud had to navigate the most one-sided atmosphere to date in this tournament. That came Monday in his match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga — which proved to be the Frenchman’s final hurrah in the sport. The band was there getting the crowd worked up into a tricolor fervor, to the extent those in attendance could feel the rhythmic clapping vibrating in their body.

The crowd has an ability to rally support in the blink of an eye — whether it be through chants of “Allez, Allez, Allez” or the vocal rendition of the popular trumpet fanfare heard around French sports stadiums.

There were four attempts at this salute during one stage of Novak Djokovic’s match against Aljaz Bedene on Philippe-Chatrier on Friday. The 10-note flourish — it’s traditionally linked with the beginning of the Spanish Pasodoble and with bullfighting — is popular in French football and rugby but has also become a staple at the Olympics and in other sports. It’s one of the main sounds of Roland Garros as it rings out from a brave voice in the crowd, and the rest answer, “Ole.” At 1-0 in the second set, the quartet of attempts displayed the full range we’ve experienced at the French Open this week. First there was a delightful baritone rendition; the next was out of tune; then one from a younger member of the crowd that only dogs could hear; the last was interrupted by a fit of coughing.

Canadian Leylah Fernandez has grown to love and embrace the feeling of having the crowd against her, which happened in her opening-round win over Kristina Mladenovic.

“Honestly it was very difficult, but I’m very happy that I was able to play against such a crowd because I always had the dream of having a crowd against myself,” she said. “Having that experience of the French crowd that was chanting, shouting, it was a great experience, like a football match.”

But that approach doesn’t always go to plan, Jelena Ostapenko planned to use the negativity of the crowd as fuel against Alize Cornet.

“I think it’s even better for me when someone is cheering against me, I’m more focused and playing much better,” she said before her third round match. In the end, she had her fingers in her ears as Cornet dispatched her in three sets.

Her opponent had some sympathy.

“It’s better to have it on your side than against you … when the crowd is not on your side, it can be very tough,” Cornet said. “Tonight they didn’t put any pressure on me. It gave me additional energy, and it’s exactly what I needed.”

But one round later and Cornet departed the French Open with boos ringing in her ears. She was forced to retire injured from her match against Qinwen Zheng after suffering a torn abductor muscle. When she retired, some of the crowd voiced their displeasure.

“It was just a handful of people in the stadium so maybe they made a lot of noise. But it’s really too much when you see everything I’ve been giving on the court for so many years,” Cornet said. “It’s a real pain because it’s unfair and when things are unfair it hurts. But once again most of the people are no doubt sad for me and understand what’s happening.”

For the fan-favored players this week, they’ve all spoken about how much of a boost the crowd support provides. Belgium’s David Goffin said after his win over Frances Tiafoe that he “needed to feel the energy of the crowd” and added “when you feel tired, when there is such a crowd, then you express yourself more.” Gaston said “being at one with the crowd” gives him “strength and energy.” They even sang “Happy Birthday” to his partner after his win Thursday over Pedro Cachin.

“The crowd plays an important role, very important role,” Gaston added. “They were encouraging me right from the beginning of the match. I like to share my emotions with the audience, so this helped me.”

But little will rival the welcome and support Tsonga received Monday.

“The way the crowd supported me today, they give me the power to fight, and that’s what I did,” he said. “It’s adrenaline to step in on a big court like this one, adrenaline you can feel when you have 15,000 people shouting out your name, supporting you on the court. It was pure madness today. One of the best atmospheres I have seen in my career, and it’s my last match.”

As for the American Stephens, she felt the brunt of the Philippe-Chatrier cauldron Friday. Yet she played well early and won to keep her French Open plans on track — and there are no remaining French players on her side of the bracket.

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