Still, it was the absorbing opener between wildcard Barrere and Moldova’s best player, Radu Albot, that really gave the feel of why this new semi-sunken arena, the westernmost outpost of Roland-Garros, seems destined to become a hugely popular attraction.
It will have to be because it has been designed to make everyone stop longing to see the quaint old Court 2, which was knocked down last summer as part of the exciting new look for ‘Roland’.
The 2,200-seater court has a very different, much busier, more modern feel. It was a hit during last week’s qualifiers but it was only on Sunday, when packed to the rafters with hundreds of other standing spectators looking in from the outside, that you could really appreciate the frisson this gladiatorial arena is going to bring.
This jewel box, located near the end of the Boulevard d’Auteuil and against the backdrop of the Bois de Boulogne treetops, is announced when you walk towards it from Lenglen by street artist Jace’s colourful mural, celebrating the life of the aviator Roland Garros on the 100th anniversary of his death.
“I’ve created a kind of aerial universe, where angels hit balls into clouds,” explained Jace poetically. Well, for a couple of hours when Barrere will never have felt more loved and Albot never lonelier, the inspired Parisian, playing in just his second match at Roland-Garros, must have felt he was playing like an angel as the crowd’s bellowing gave him wings to fly into a two-set lead, even ‘bagelling’ Albot in the second set.