You have to hand it to the Roland Garros spectators. They have always been fiercely partisan, adopting players on a whim and barracking others to distraction. They played a huge part in the famous Serena Williams – Justine H-H semi a few years ago, and treated the Williams sister very unfairly.<br />
Yesterday, they took it to a whole new level. In the Grosjean – Nadal match, the umpire refused to leave is chair to examine a mark which (the French) Grosjean thought was out. Result: play was held up for 10 minutes or more whilst the crowd bayed for blood. A football crowd acts with more dignity.<br />
To the players’ credit, they were the ones who calmed the crowd down. There were several options. The umpire could have suspended play, which would have been fair enough. The tournament referee could have spoken to the crowd, but was too spineless. So the players took steps. Grosjean and Nadal gave each other looks as if to say “up to you, mate”. Grosjean appealed to the mob to calm it, and Nadal, through a chorus of boos, served. The two men started a gentle rally, ignoring the mahem, and as noise subsided their play became more intense. It was the best thing they could have done.<br />
Nadal showed remarkable composure for an 18-year-old in his first French Open. He cut out the fistpumps, rode the cheers that greeted his every error, and kept his nose in front. The winner will be decided today, but the crowd are clearly a poor third in this sorry spectacle.