Let’s Analyze The Clay Of Roland Garros

Roland Garros is the main tournament celebrated on clay in the world and the second in chronological order of the Grand Slam, making it the only one of the four major tournaments taking place on this surface.
Let's analyze the clay of Roland Garros

The Grand Slam that is played in France, also called Roland Garros, is a tennis tournament that has clay as a playing surface.

The tournament is played between the end of May and the beginning of June in Paris, in the installations of the Stade Roland Garros complex, the main venue of the tournament since 1928.

The final takes place in the Philippe-Chatrier central court which has a capacity of 15,059 spectators, the largest of the 19 fields offered by the structure.

A renovation of the complex has been carried out which has introduced many new features. Among these, a general improvement of the installations, as well as an increase in the capacity of the central court, which will also have a retractable roof.

Old tournament venues

Since the French international tournament saw the light in 1891, it has had four venues before settling at current Roland Garros.

  • Île de Puteaux, with a surface of sand placed on a bed of rubble in the Puteaux district of Paris.
  • Installations of the Club de France racing sports club located in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, on a clay surface.
  • For a year, in 1909, it was played in the Société Athlétique de la Villa Primrose in Bordeaux, with the characteristic clay that will never abandon this tournament.
  • The Club de Tenis de París, in Auteuil is the longest-running of the resorts until it moved to the new court in 1928, in commemoration of the conquest of the Davis Cup the previous year by the four historic French tennis players.
Nadal on the clay court

The Roland Garros stadium and its fields

The current championship sports complex is known as Stade Roland Garros, in honor of the renowned aviator fanatic of this sport, Roland Garros.

  • Philippe-Chatrier is the central clay court of Roland Garros
  • Suzanne-Lenglen is second in importance and capacity, so named in honor of the former player and most awarded winner in the single women’s mode. It can accommodate over 10,000 spectators. It was built in 1994 and after just three years it got its current name.
  • Court 1 or Court 1 is the third court of the complex and occupies the same position, both in terms of importance and capacity. In its annexes, since 1994 there is the famous Piazza dei Muschettieri in memory of the four famous tennis players. The field, with a capacity of around 3800 spectators, is located at the eastern end of the enclosure, very close to the central field.
  • Attached slopes : the rest of the complex has a total of 16 fields called annexes, with less capacity. The numbering of these ranges from fields two to twelve and from fourteen to eighteen, thus completing the nineteen fields to which another three must be added, intended for other sporting practices. The curiosity of these is that there is no camp thirteen for reasons of superstition. The capacity of these fields is around a hundred spectators each.

Surface characteristics

The clay courts of Roland Garros slow down the ball which has a high rebound compared to that of other surfaces such as grass or concrete. For this reason the fields known as “red clay”, due to their characteristic tonality, benefit the big receivers whose style of play is based on volleys, which allows the baseline players to be dominant in this surface. .

Making a clay court at Roland Garros

  • First of all, get the clay obtained directly from natural quarries.
  • Then the clay is cooked in blast furnaces. Depending on the type of surface you want to have, cooking must take place at a higher or lower temperature (750ºC and 950ºC).
  • Finally, the clay is crushed and transformed into small grains.
Making a clay court at Roland Garros
In clay tournaments, Hawk-Eye technology is not required, thanks to the marks the ball leaves in the clay.

To make a court perfect for playing tennis, you need clay dust ranging from 500 to 1,000 kilos. Each tennis court is not composed only of clay, two other layers can be seen underneath.

In the lower part there is a hard layer on which the clay is put. Above this is the sealant, made up of rammed earth and adhesive that creates a compact layer, which sticks to the bottom layer without lifting.

Finally, above there is the surface layer which generally has a variable thickness between five and seven millimeters. This last layer is what you change during important tournaments, as happens for example every night in the fields of Roland Garros.

This process involves the daily use of 100/150 kilos of clay for each field.

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