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Soundtrack for a Clay Season


Which songs would you associate for the just started springtime swing on the most illustrious red courts? It is not so immediate to find the right tune to properly boost emotions at the sight of dirt, sweat, and possibly last-blood matches under the European sun. Even DJ’s at tiimes (well, most times actually) fall short with poor choices for changeover breaks, sending ignominous legacy pop hits throguh the arena speakers, at the dubious benefit of ill-advised spectators.

Let’s get a better hit list then! And if you’d prefer to just listen to the songs… here you have the YouTube Music link:


Estoril (ATP 250)

Don Henley, The End of the Innocense (1989)

After the ingenuity of the Sunshine Double in March, where blistering forehands may still enable you to win the contest, it is time to get back on Earth, or better, to get your socks dirty with earth all over the place. No more time for low-bounce quick shots or thundering serves, now it is a matter of who grinds more, not better. Long, exhausting rallies will wear out the players’ energies and long, tedious matches with few spectacular moments – that is where tennis becomes metaphor of actual, adult life.

Monte-Carlo Masters (non-mandatory Master 1000)

Blur, To The End (1994)

For the ultimately deluxe location with an ultimately slow surface, what would be better of this stylish Blur song with a French flavour (and refrain)? If you are among the Montecarlo audience, you are supposed to practice your patience in last-minute Top-10 pull-out’s, extra-extended rallies courtesy of the sea-level slow conditions. Until a few years ago, on top of that, you would have had to attend extended five-set finals… till the very end. Ask Boris Becker if he would have not had it better sealing the title after the first sets against Munster in 1995.

Barcelona (ATP 500)

Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé, Barcelona (1988)

Though the old glory days of the 1992 Olympic Games are far in time and long forgotten by millennials, this classic and a monster of a performance by two of the greatest voices of the Twentieth Century, just like the Torneo Godò is itself a classic since 1953.

Munich (ATP 250)

Scorpions, Still Loving You (1984)

Another classic of a tournament, played in the Bavarian capital city well since 1900. After so many decades and such parade of champions, the 250-class competition is still well beloved by clay-court specialists.

Madrid (Master 1000)

Pet Shop Boys, Se a Vida é (1996)

Such a strange tournament: played since ages, but flamboyantly revamped when money-vampire Ion Tiriac acquired it and heavily invested in it. The thing is, making a big tournament even bigger is no easy task and sometimes re-inventing the wheel does not pay off: from the Caja Magica arena (so modern, but so cold and far away from the attractive city center), to the glamorous ballgirls in sexy shorts, to the infamous blue clay experiment of the 2012 edition (immediately aborted as soon as Rafael Nadal threatened to never come back if repeated)… well, sometimes “life is much more simple when you’re young”, Mr. Tiriac!

Rome (Master 1000)

Loretta Goggi, Maledetta Primavera (1981)

The tournament with the most beautiful stadium in the world (the Nicola Pietrangeli Court, surrounded with observing statues), held in one of the most attractive cities in the world at the time of year when at its best, with the most passionate audience on the stands, but… damn it! It’s been a while since the last time a local hero was able to win silverware here (Adriano Panatta in 1976). The new springtime of Italian tennis, with the young guns of Sinner, Berrettini, Musetti, and Sonego would die to finally bloom at 1000 level on home soil, tough… “what does it remain of an erotic dream? Why was it so rushed? Damn springtime!”

Geneva (ATP 250)

Spandau Ballet, Gold (1983)

Why going to Geneva when the Roland Garros opening is approaching? For a top-flyer, it is mostly to recover from a disappointing clay swing up to that point, or to put up match time if back from injury, or to play one last regular tournament in the mild climate conditions of the lake, or… simply to gain goldware! The ever-present Rolex sponsorships would not make much sense, without a jump in the world capital of luxury watches.

Roland Garros (Grand Slam)

Edith Piaf, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (1960)

The French Open never regrets anything, and it holds itself in the condition of not being supposed to. It has never regretted anything: nor having left its center court topless for ages, the only remaining one among major tournaments, nor having eventually covered it, but leaving openings on the sides, so that chilly winds may joyfully flow in. It did not even regret anything when, amid the Covid pandemic, it unilateraly rescheduled itself to October in order to allow its 2020 edition to still take place – with good peace of stamping onto the other concurrent, smaller tournaments. It never regrets anything when it assigns Wild Cards to obscure, low-ranked U-12 French players rather than to former champions, nor when a local hope, more likely to set his foot on the moon rather than on second round, ends up scheduled on the Philippe Chatrier in place of some Top-10 players.

The Roland Garros never regrets anything, let alone being the grand finale of the classic European clay season… and that is why I allow myself to add one more song, in order to appropriately end this playlist with enough…. grandeur!

Dream Theater, VIII. Losing Time / Grand Finale (2002)


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