Coco and co light up practice courts

The world's best have been fine-tuning in Paris ahead of Roland-Garros 2024

Coco Gauff, practice, Roland-Garros 2024©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

While the qualifying clashes continue to enthral around Roland-Garros on Tuesday, several superstars are also already in town putting in the hard yards on the terre battue. 

The 2022 runner-up, Coco Gauff, finalist in the women's doubles alongside Erin Routliffe over in Rome on Sunday, hit the ground running in Paris with a double practice session on Tuesday.

The world No.3, who also reached the singles semi-finals in Rome, was put through her paces on Court Philippe Chatrier, before moving across the grounds for a change of scenery.

Coco Gauff and Aryna Sabalenka, practice, Roland-Garros 2024©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Gauff caught the end of French stalwart Richard Gasquet's full-of-flare practice. Gasquet ended his session with some big hitting against Corentin Moutet down the far end. "That's one of your forehands Coco!" called out Gasquet's coach Julien Cassaigne as the American watched from the entrance to Court Simonne-Mathieu.

Soon enough Gauff walked on court with coach Brad Gilbert and the American duo immediately inspected Gasquet's racquets, including air strokes trying out the Frenchman's renowned ultra-short overgrip and extra-large racquet butt.

Gasquet soon departed, giving a thumbs up to the groundsmen with a "c'est superb" approval of the perfect carpet of clay.

Pre-major practice sessions can offer a glimpse into the nuts and bolts of elite tennis and the first 20 minutes of Coco’s session focussed exclusively on her movement.

Players often talk about getting to grips with sliding on a clay court and the young American spent that time hitting simple hand-fed balls from another of her coaches, Jean-Christophe Faurel.

The Frenchman moved Coco from side to side, striking alternate forehands and backhands in bursts of six shots with the 20-year-old concentrating on becoming more comfortable sliding into each open-stance groundstroke.

Earlier on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Tunisian trailblazer Ons Jabeur traded with former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka.

As she walked to the bench Azarenka held up her hand in a peace sign, but the photographer was too late to catch it on camera.

"You missed it?" quipped Azarenka, "I'm so sorry (Ons), we’ve got to pose, we didn't catch the natural moment."

Azarenka knows the drill, and quickly reproduced the shot – check out the reels below!

Next up, world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka looked in fine fettle during her first hit since falling in the Rome final to Iga Swiatek last Saturday. 

By this point, lines of fans were snaking around the entrances, hoping to catch a sighting of these world class athletes. 

The noise built to a crescendo and pure elation as Rafael Nadal came to greet Sabalenka for his turn on the venue's main show court.

Rafael Nadal, practice, Roland-Garros 2024©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Donning his '14' customised trainers, Nadal was packing a punch off his groundstrokes during rallies with young American Sebastian Korda

Remember, the world No.28 named his cat 'Rafa' and obtained a signed shirt from his idol Nadal following their Roland-Garros 2020 match on the very same court.

As a nod to Nadal's herculean longevity, the 14-time champion holds a 7-0 head-to-head record with former world No.8 Radek Stepanek, who was courtside in a coaching capacity with Korda.