Net gains: No tickets for Brits but black-market trade is tout of order
Sunday 07 June 2009
You'd never have guessed that the trade in black market tickets here is illegal. Almost every day more than 100 touts patrol the streets leading to Roland Garros. There are plenty of police around, but for the most part they seem to turn a blind eye. Nevertheless a group of three British tennis fans were in for a shock when they agreed to buy tickets for the main show court. They were counting out the cash when an undercover policeman intervened and threatened to arrest them. He pounced too early, however, and the fans successfully argued that they had not actually handed over any money. The French federation are doing their best to stop the black market trade by selling tickets on the internet and asking buyers to prove their identity when collecting them. Seats on the main court can cost €60 (about £52), but the touts hope to sell them for five times that amount. The black market thrives despite the fact that police expect to arrest more than 250 people by the end of the tournament. Some touts complain that the financial crisis has affected business, but one said: "There are always people who want tickets, particularly overseas. In the past it was the Japanese. Now it's the Russians who have the money."
Nadal causes racket Four days before the French Open started, Rafael Nadal and his uncle, Toni, were flown to Switzerland in a private jet to discuss a business venture involving the opening of some tennis academies. Nadal's spokesman denied a French report that he had played tennis in Geneva with the children of the Uzbekistan president, Islam Karimov, one of the world's most autocratic leaders, but the project under discussion is believed to involve one of the former Soviet states.
Double snub for Murray Jamie Murray might have been interested to hear Liezel Huber after she won the mixed doubles title with Bob Bryan. Murray had been Huber's partner until Paris, but he said she teamed up with Bryan at the last minute because she feared Murray's falling ranking would not get them into the draw. However, Huber says she approached Bryan in Madrid last month. Murray is hoping to re-establish the partnership at Wimbledon but it might not last. Asked whether she would play with Bryan at the US Open, Huber said: "I think the US Open we have to play."
Mind your language A-Rod Apart from the clay courts, Andy Roddick loves all things French. The American wears Lacoste shirts, plays with Babolat rackets, used to work with the French coach Tarik Benhabiles, and is managed by Lagardere Unlimited. The language, however, can still be a problem. "Getting through menus and reading it is fine," Roddick says. "Speaking it is very below average. I can understand road signs, and I think I could survive if I needed to, but, beyond pleasantries, it's suspect, at best."
Gasquet blows hot Richard Gasquet gave his first interviews about his failed drugs test on Friday, but his first public appearance had come the previous day at Stade Jean-Bouin, near Roland Garros, when he played in a charity football match. The 22-year-old Frenchman, wearing the No 9 shirt, rounded off an impressive performance with a goal just before the final whistle.
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