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June 11, 2017

Guy Forget

Bernard Giudicelli

Paris, France




BERNARD GIUDICELLI: Good morning. Thank you for being here. This is the end of the tournament conference. The tournament is not yet over, but the best is yet to come.

I'm delighted that we have never had so many spectators, 472,000 spectators. So we have managed to break this record. We sold 450,000 tickets in 2016.

But there is another record. If you consider the qualifying tournament, attendance was high. More than 21,000 tickets were sold.

In addition to that, you need to consider data by the attractiveness of the tournament regarding catering, byproducts. We are very happy with the line called, "I Can't, I'm at Roland Garros."

This was the motif on the T-shirts. And it has to do with another campaign called, "I can't do anything because I have tennis."

And then you have Outstadia. 31 million French people watched at least one minute of the tournament until June the 8th. And the best match was Cornet/Garcia on June the 5th with 3.4 million people who watched the match of the last 16.

And of course the best day was the semifinals, the men's semifinals, with a great performance on France4tv channel. There were many people watching, especially the second match.

Moreover, the tournament is also watched on the digital platforms and channels. We signed an agreement with Tencent, the first leading digital group in China. This is the Chinese Facebook. The draw was seen by more than 120 million people in China. And today this is the largest social network representing 850 million users, just to put things into perspective. It's a sort of new dimension.

I met the young owner of Tencent. He's eager to develop his digital platform with us. Digital platforms performed well with our applications, apps, our #rgrolandgarros17. More than 660 million prints on the social networks. So we overshot our targets.

As we know, digital technologies will be a key asset in terms of broadcasting our image and our tournament.

There was another topic that has roused our attention, organization of the semifinals. So we sold for these two semifinals 20,661 tickets. We wanted people to attend these exceptional matches, and we wanted the process to be smooth. It was a success.

First of all, we had an exceptional match, more than five hours. And in between the two matches, we managed to fill up the center court. And most of the fans were already in the stadium, and they were ready to cheer on, ready to attend the second match of the semifinal.

We had lots of discussions about Tsonga and Ferrer. You remember this match. The public was tired, and the stadium was empty for at least one set. So we had to rectify the situation, so we showed determination and courage. I'd like to thank the teams for their work.

Unlike what has been conveyed, there hasn't been a significant rise in the tickets price. It does correspond to the value of the events. The semifinals of Roland Garros are worth the price of the tickets, and the tickets were largely sold when they were put online.

So what were the areas for concern? Some people were injured. Goffin had to retire. There were bad behaviors from players. We didn't mete out sanctions, but we took into account the bad behaviors.

Maxime Hamou will be summoned by the Federal Commission of Litigation, because I decided to turn to that commission.

Sports-wise we have to consider the runs in the male players, disappointing results with the juniors. 19 juniors took part in the tournament, and we didn't post good results. It's not something new. I have been involved with Grand Slam tournaments for the past eight years, and we know that we have a problem. So this is an indicator of what we need to do in order to remedy that situation.

So we are talking about juniors. I will provide you with the results, but the results were published on the social networks for the boys. Spain 5,300 points. Hungary, Serbia, Czech Republic, and Austria. In total, there will be 27 countries rewarded for girls. Russia is ahead of the pack in front of Canada, and this is something that is quite significant for you observers.

With Tennis Canada, they want to optimize the means, and there is a correlation between the results and the number of players. Then you have Japan, Colombia, and Poland among the top 5. So all these countries will be rewarded on the occasion of the general meeting of the ITF that will take place in Ho Chi Minh. And for these countries, they will be given a check that has to do with the breakdown that we defined all together.

There's another point I'd like to highlight. The tournament is not over yet, but in terms of security, we made a choice with the prefecture of police. We wanted to show our determination to keep security high around the stadium. At each checkpoints, there were soldiers with weapons. The objective was to highlight our determination should there be any attempt to hurt our event.

Spectators, I'd like to thank the spectators. Spectators recognized that around the stadium there were some security and safety checks in order to preserve integrity of the event.

There are two other points that I'd like to underscore. These are topical points, by the way. The ceremony for Ana Ivanovic, we can make a parallel between a win when she was 19 years of age and that of Ostapenko. So the tournament makes the champions and not the opposite.

We received lots of messages from different people. And with Ostapenko's win, there is a new trend of Frenchness. And she wanted to win all the points in order to put her hands on the trophy.

The other point that I'd like to talk about, the 2024 Olympic bid. So the commission has delivered a memo to the president on June the 11th. On the agenda, we might discuss a vote about a decision that is to take place in Lima.

The assessment IOC visit contributed to nurture the visit and all of the 24 Paris teams have shown their involvement. They've promoted the bid. And of course we complied with our obligations.

This is what I wanted to tell you in generic terms. Then Guy will provide you with some answers sports-wise.

My agenda is very tight, so let's have a Q&A session without further ado.

Q. I would like to congratulate you on the attendance, especially for the semifinals. But for the quarterfinals for ladies, semifinals for ladies, there were some empty seats in the stands and terraces. What are your policies if you want to remedy that situation?
BERNARD GIUDICELLI: I talked about that with Steve Simon, the boss of WTA. There is a challenge to take up in terms of attractiveness of female tennis and the event of Jelena Ostapenko is something that is quite positive. This is something that we know. It's very difficult to entice people to watch women's tennis.

We have experimented with a process so that people can get access to the Philippe Chatrier court according to the time of the day. We want to attract the loyal people working and belonging to different clubs. So this worked well with the digital process, so we need to innovate more, and we need to attract people to some days, taking into account the results.

So we started working with the ticketing team in order to envisage our forms, our patterns.

GUY FORGET: This is a trend that we have observed in other Grand Slam tournaments. There are some people who buy a ticket. Then they will have lunch, for example, and we know then, you know, when you play in afternoon, there are some empty, vacant seats. This is also the case at the US Open, at other tournaments.

So we want to correct that situation. It's not pleasant when you see on TV a court with vacant seats. This is something that you alluded to, by the way. The two semifinals with two separate sessions is one of the ways we have used in order to remedy this situation. The spectators are not ready to spend six hours, seven hours on a chair under the sun.

So the people can have lunch, and we have some pleasant services to offer, but true, there are some vacant seats in the terraces?

Q. Allow me to put a question about logistics. In the first days, we followed the Italian players, and they were playing on the other courts. It was very difficult to get access to the outside courts. You had to queue for 30 minutes. Wouldn't it be possible to get specific access?
BERNARD GIUDICELLI: As part of the future blueprint of the tournament, there will be an alley along the Boulevard Auteuil, and the traffic will be smoother. There will be southern access that will make it possible to smooth traffic.

So we know that Lenglen was congested in the past with the gateway. But if you consider Lenglen Court, it is a hurdle, an obstacle. It does show that Italian players have a lot of success.

Q. I'm Italian. Allow me to put a philosophical question to you. I don't know you. I'm not familiar with your project. But if you consider the French Open, if you want it to be the biggest Grand Slam tournament, at the end of the day what is your objective? What is the future of Roland Garros like? Because for me the French Open is unbelievable, is great. Second question about the juniors, the boys' tournament. I have known Guy Forget for quite a long time. There are some optimization issues regarding the courts.
BERNARD GIUDICELLI: Regarding your first question, regarding your raison d'etre, we want to be what we are, the world championship of clay. This is what we are targeting. Our raison d'etre is to be the promoter, the engine, the driving force of clay competition.

We have started a process in order to label the big clubs on clay in the world, and they will get the label of the Roland Garros clubs. And with the help of federations will send some ambassadors who will label the big clay court clubs.

We want that the best nations and the best players of these nations can take part in the Roland Garros tournament with their qualification tournament in their countries. We have lots of wildcards in the junior tournament, in the boys' tournament.

We will have to assume our status. We are not only French. We organize a world championship. So the best young players should get access to this world clay championship. And this is one of the four world Championships of the international federation. So we have to assert what we are. The world championship on clay. We are not saying that we are the best one, the most beautiful ones.

Regarding the question for the juniors, I don't think that we are the best. We don't have the best training system. The best training system is a winning system and our system doesn't win.

So we need to revisit our approach, an approach that we have been implementing for the past few years. It was a sort of industrial approach to training for young people. So we have to revisit our basics, our club training processes.

Yesterday in the presidential stand, we had Alexander Skarsgard. He's from Sweden. And he could see the portraits of the former champions. He said that Swedish tennis does not dominate anymore. Swedish tennis has turned out to be very industrial. They have lots of academies, but they have lost out in terms of training for young people between 8 and 12.

So this has to do with the redefinition of the clubs. So we need to train people in regions. We want to use and build on our national trainers. These people will help young people to develop themselves at 12, 14, 16, 18 years of age. They should be in a position to compete in an international environment. I can tell you that this is not one of our best skills and competences.

Q. You have said that the French players are difficult, not the opposite. This is what you've said. You've talked about a winning culture, but the past ten years some French people have reached the semifinals, quarterfinals, as well, and so now we are in a predicament.
BERNARD GIUDICELLI: Reaching the semifinal doesn't mean necessarily winning. For me, winning means lifting the trophy. So you remember the four Musketeers. They managed to back up titles.

So we are not elected to win a Grand Slam tournament, and then we need to wait for 70 years to have a winner in a Grand Slam tournament. We would like our champions to win Grand Slam tournaments, not only at the French Open. I mean, if they win at other tournaments, it's great. We have a role to play.

Some people misquoted me. So in the Federation you have some players, but they have their own physio, trainers. They have a team. The players, they have their own projects. But in the preceding years, the players should be given the base so that they can compete with other players. This is what we have written in our sports project. We want to create a brand new model of competitions.

So when a player is defeated, it is considered to be normal practice. We lose. That's all. And we are used to losing. And this is something that I don't like. So if you think that losing is a normal thing, it's not good. We need to hate defeat. We need to hate losses.

So this is a process that you build when players are 8, 9, 10. And there are lots of rivalries among young people on the tour, and they often refer to these rivalries. Especially when I listen to the interviews, we are talking about Brussiere, Les Petits As tournaments. So we need to beef up these tournaments.

We have a huge heritage of competition for our people that we don't tap into enough. All of these tournaments should be optimized.

I met people at the Petits As in Tarbes. The door was closed to them because it was a private organization. But we want to help the Petits As tournament in Tarbes because this is the championship for young people age between 12 and 14.

Q. Regarding the Sunday schedule, there were lots of people complaining about the price according to ratio of the first Sunday. People complained because they were not high-caliber players. Can you act on that? Can you talk to players so that the best players can play on Sunday?
GUY FORGET: So we faced that issue many times in the past. Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, they asked us to play on Sunday, the very first Sunday of the tournament, because in the past few years the weather was not bad. So it was quite a smart move to play on Sunday.

But some players would like to start later, even on Wednesday. So it's very difficult to change the habits of tennis players. But for the high-caliber players, we want to meet their expectations and wishes.

This year we could have got a more prestigious match on Sunday. And as of next year, we will emphasize that point. We will inform the players, the agents, the trainers, and we will tell them that if they are here four days or five days before the tournament, there is no reason why they should play later in the week. So we will work on that for the 2018 Roland Garros.

You're right. But when you have a look at the schedule on Monday, on Tuesday, there were more enticing matches with high-caliber players.

Q. Back to the results of the French players, if you consider the context, there were some players who are injured, especially Davis Cup players. What would have been the minimum requirements for young players if some of them were not injured?
BERNARD GIUDICELLI: I can't tell that we are satisfied even though we had two quarterfinals with French players. But I'm not happy with it. We want to win. We can be happy if we win. Then it's a matter for the players. They need to take into account their form, their fitness, their objectives. Maybe the players' objectives are satisfied.

So there are some players who are helped by the Federation, and these are the boys, the juniors. If we could compete with the Russians and the Canadians for girls and for boys and juniors, if we could compete with the Australians or the Spaniards, it would be positive.

Martineau lost in three sets to Popyrin. It was a good result. I mean, I saw a part of the match. So there are good reasons for hope for this younger player and for the people who are with him.

You can't ask a Federation or a Federation leader to give good points. We have an ambition to nurture in the different competitions that we take part in. Have in mind with the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup, we want to win these events, and we want to back them up. And then it's a matter of training our young people. We need to support them so that they can perform at a very high level.

Of course the semifinals were enthusiastic in the past, but we are frustrated when we lose.

Q. (Off microphone.)
BERNARD GIUDICELLI: It's authorized. I understand what is at stake, but we need to raise the issue. I was criticized because I sent a message to the young guys who got wildcards, and I told them to practice four or five sets.

This is what Pierre Barthes told me. And Pierre Barthes told me that our young players cannot play five sets. Luckily, Muller and Quentin Halys, they lost a match in five sets.

So we need to work on that very swiftly. So we need to focus on the qualification mode of the wildcards. So we will make sure that our young players are better prepared to play five-setters.

Q. We talked about Lucas Pouille. You talked about Manu Planque. You didn't mention his name, but I know that Manu Planque is a federal coach. There might be a distance between Lucas and Manu and the Federation. What do you think of that?
BERNARD GIUDICELLI: If that's the case, that is regrettable. I will make sure there is no distance. The clay court championship is very demanding fitness-wise. I think that we need to provide our coaches with the means of preparing all young players fitness-wise.

I regret the situation. Manu Planque is the best coach if you consider where he's come from, working at Chatou.

Q. Guy, are we going to get used with finals with players who are over 30 years of age? Are you worried about the French players who are over 30 years of age?
GUY FORGET: I'm not worried. For the past 15 years, the game of tennis has evolved quite a lot. I'm a tennis fan. Of course I'm a tournament director, but I want to live and experience strong emotions.

When you have a look at Rafa and the way he plays, and when you consider the fire burning in Rafa's mind, I'm fascinated. I mean, he's won so many matches here at the French Open, and he has the mindset of a junior in a positive fashion.

And the same goes for Stan. Stan the past three or four years has been playing very well. He's produced the best tennis of his career.

And I have also in mind Nicolas Mahut was one of the best players when he was 18. The past few years, Nicolas Mahut has produced good tennis. He's won some tournaments on the ATP Tour. And Federer, he has impressed us since the start of the year. So when you are 35, you can be very good.

Regarding the young players, I was looking forward to the match between Nadal and Thiem. You remember Zverev, he won the title in Rome. So we said we thought that 2017 would be synonymous with change, a switch from older players to young players. But Dominic was no match, I mean, with Nadal. And Zverev was kicked out of the tournament in early stages.

So there is not yet a transfer of power, even though those young players represent the tennis of tomorrow. Whether we like it or not, there will be a sea change but not now. It will happen later on.

We know that clay is the most demanding surface in the world. That's why Roger won here only once and Sampras and McEnroe have never won this Grand Slam tournament.

Q. We have talked about the results and behavior is very important. Do you regret giving some wildcards to Maxime Hamou and Lokoli? Maxime Hamou will be heard by the litigation committee. And what about Laurent Lokoli? Any sanction?
BERNARD GIUDICELLI: Did I regret to give out some wildcards? No, because with a wildcard you can assess the capacity of our young players to compete at a higher level. Bonzi, Muller, and Janvier played well. Of course there are some players who didn't respect the rules. They didn't respect the good manners. They didn't comply with the good behavior code. People will draw some conclusions, of course.

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