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Roland Garros

How did France’s ban on plastic bottles affect Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros?

Rafa Nadal, the 13-times French Open champion, famously lines up bottles before every game but will not be able to do so this year.

No loss of bottle by Nadal at Roland Garros
Adam PrettyGetty

There was a curious sight on Court Philippe-Chatrier at the French Open on Monday as Rafa Nadal opened his bid to win a 14th Roland Garros title with a straight sets victory over Australia’s Jordan Thompson. Nadal, who has only ever lost three games at the French Open and is considered the favourite for this year’s tournament victory despite carrying a chronic foot injury into his campaign in Paris, on top of a rib problem that saw him sidelined for six weeks in the run-up, was not unduly troubled by Thompson in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win.

However, the world number five was unable to carry out one of his famous match routines at this year’s tournament. Nadal is renowned for his meticulous preparation when he arrives on court, which includes lining up plastic bottles of water and energy drinks around his chair, something he has done throughout his career. But a ban on the free distribution of plastic bottles imposed by the French government means that at this year’s Roland Garros he instead will have to make do with recyclable containers provided by tournament organizers.

Players at French Open have personalized recyclable containers

Every player in the draws at the French Open this year has been given personalized transparent containers that can be filled up during matches and training sessions. They have been branded by Perrier, one of the major sponsors of Roland Garros and the initiative is one of several new ideas being put in place by new tournament director Amélie Mauresmo, the former world number one.

The change to his routine did not seem to trouble Nadal, who will face France’s Corentin Moutet in the second round. “It’s incredible for me to play here again on Chatrier. I’m happy with this win. First round is always special,” said Nadal, who is seeking a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam in Paris.


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