Roland Garros - The French Open
This quick introduction to the French Open explains its unique qualities and which types of players tend to do best there. It concludes with links to lists of past champions in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.
French Open History Quiz
If you're a long-time fan, you'll have fun testing your knowledge with this quiz that grades itself.
Court Surfaces FAQ
Nothing distinguishes Roland Garros more than its red clay, by far the slowest of the court surfaces used in a Grand Slam. This FAQ will help you learn how and why court surfaces matter.
Court Surfaces Quiz
This quiz challenges you to apply your understanding of court surfaces to some interesting distinctions.
Can Federer Make History Against Nadal at Roland Garros?
The title asks the question that's probably foremost in the minds of most fans watching the French Open this year.
Most people who enjoy watching tennis also play. Whether you play on clay or not, you can learn quite a lot by paying close attention to how the pros adjust their strokes and tactics for a slower surface. The following articles will help to improve your game, and having a deeper understanding of the techniques and tactics they explain will make watching the pros all the more interesting.
How to Win on Clay
Among the recommendations in this general introduction is building skills that will help you exploit the defensive advantages that a slow surface provides.
Best Defensive Tennis Tactics
Here you can gain a fuller understanding of some of the key defensive skills that will make you tougher on every surface, but especially tough on clay.
More so than at any of the other Grand Slams, the singles champions at Roland Garros have tended to be the heavier topspin hitters on the tours. Clay both slows the ball down enough to make a big, topspin swing easier to execute; and it gives a topspun ball a high bounce that can make many less topspin-oriented players very uncomfortable.
Photo Lesson: The Twist Serve
One way to make your opponent hit the ball at an uncomfortable height right away is to start the point with a twist serve, which you can learn from these step-by-step instructions. The twist serve is most often used as an especially potent second serve, but you'll see it used more than usual as a first serve on clay.
Photo Lesson: The Topspin-Slice Serve
On every court surface, this is the most common first serve used by the pros. On clay, you'll see a higher percentage of topspin in the topspin-slice mix.
Points of Contact and Stances for Five Forehand Styles
For most fans, what makes Roland Garros so much fun to watch are the long rallies. Groundstrokes dominate more on clay than on any other surface, and as noted, topspin groundstrokes do especially well. Generally, the heavier topspin hitters tend to use the more Western forehand grips, which are generally accompanied by more open stances.
Photo Lesson: The Semi-Open Semi-Western Forehand
Step-by-step instructions will help you learn the most popular forehand style among the pros. The semi-open, Semi-Western forehand can create almost any mix of topspin and power the player desires.
Photo Lesson: The Forehand Drop Shot
At the opposite end of the shot spectrum from all of the heavy topspin is another type of shot that's especially effective on clay, the drop shot.
Have fun watching the tournament and bringing some of its inspiration onto the court against your friends!