French Open Diary

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Late spring sunshine, a sense of real excitement and lashings of glamour greeted the start of the French Open on Monday. And despite concerns over their personal safety - and the apparent unpopularity of their country throughout much of Europe - the Americans were there in force. For tennis fans around the world - Roland Garros is the place to be for the next two weeks. Following the conflict in Iraq and the associated anti-George Bush feelings, the Americans could have been forgiven for staying on their side of the Atlantic. But this was one US presence in their country to which the French did not object. Most, though, were not at the French Open to make political statements. "This is one of the Slams I have never been to. I look forward to being here and actually love it so far. I love Paris and I actually love the facility," said one American tennis freak. And not everyone was here just for the Hewitts, the Williams' and the Agassis. "I hope to see James Blake. I went to see Vincent Spadea right now. Alexandra Stevenson, Miss (Virginia Ruano) Pascal ... there are several players. I mean, they are all great to watch. The facility is what is impressive," said a Florida resident. A Portuguese tennis fan was gunning for the Brazilians: "I am here to cheer for (Gustavo) Kuerten, (Flavio) Sarretta and (Andre) Sa. Every year I come here to cheer for Brazil." Its elegance and the wonderful ambience remain - but it's unlikely France will be cheering a homegrown champion this year. (AP)