For the first time ever, the "Rendez-vous at Roland-Garros" tour headed to South Korea – to Seoul, to be precise, home to the final leg of this third edition of the tournament from 21 – 24 April. And in the Korean capital, the last two tickets were awarded for the final phase, which will see all the winners heading to Paris.
Rendez-vous at Roland-Garros: South Korea brings the tour to a close
The last shall be first. And so it was that the courts of the KTA military academy in Seoul welcomed, from 21 – 24 April, the first ever Korean participants for the "Rendez-vous at Roland-Garros". The event also saw the last two places for the grand finale of this third edition of the event, run in partnership with Longines, handed out to the winners. After India, Japan, China and Brazil, South Korea was the fifth and final host venue for the qualifying phase. The winners of the various events will now rendezvous in Paris on 20 and 21 May for the final phase.
The boys’ and girls’ winners of that final will each receive a wildcard for the main draw of the Roland-Garros junior singles – a tournament which will already have Korean representation in the person of Yunseong Chung. The current world No.3 in his age group was one of the guests of honour at the opening ceremony, alongside the French ambassador to South Korea Fabien Penone, various representatives of the French and Korean tennis federations and from Longines, official Roland-Garros ambassadors to Seoul Mira Jeon and Jongshin Yoon, former player Hyung-Taik Lee and Asian Games tennis gold medal-winner Yong-Kyu Lim.
Taking part in the Roland-Garros junior tournament is an honour that Minseob Lim and Eunhye Leed will be hoping to achieve in two weeks’ time. They were the winners of the Seoul event, which featured 16 boys and 16 girls. In the former, 17-year-old Lim got the better of Euiseong Park in the final 7-6, 6-3, continuing the fine form which had seen him win a national under-18s tournament a few weeks ago. In the girls', Lee defeated Hyeran Yoon 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 to book her ticket to Paris. Though she has not yet turned 16 (her birthday is on 10 May), she is the top Korean junior, and immediately prior to the "Rendez-Vous at Roland-Garros", she had won a Grade 4 tournament at Jeju.
The on-court action was of the highest standard, and it was matched by the off-court activities which saw the Roland-Garros Trophy Tour, launched by the unveiling of a glass clock made especially for the occasion and symbolising the visit of the Paris clay to the Korean capital. The Coupe de Mousquetaires and The Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen also toured around some of the most famous landmarks in the city, including the Namdaemun market and its famous gate – which is a national treasure –, the traditional village of Namsan Hanok, the Jongmyo sanctuary and the banks of the Cheonggyecheon River.
And the Roland-Garros adventure is only just beginning in Seoul. From 1 – 5 June, "Roland-Garros in the City" will be setting up shop at the Seoul Plaza with plenty of entertainment organised, including coaching clinics, an exhibition match and the chance to follow matches live from the Paris Grand Slam via a giant screen.