Another seven singles players today took their next step towards the pinnacle of winning the third and last Grand Slam of a pandemic stricken 2020 season.

Petra Kvitova.

Andrey Rublev.

Laura Siegemund.

Stefanos Tsitsipas in his personally designed face mask.

Novak Djokovic.

Sofia Kenin and Pablo Carreno Busta being the victors.

Whilst the October weather in Paris was never expected to be balmy, neither was it expected that there would be so much rain,wind and disruptive drizzle, with players and spectators alike needing full protection against the elements.

The usually packed plazas and eateries were deserted and the huge Jumbotron screen in the Place des Mousquetaires was playing to just a few security staff for much of the day. It’s image reflected eerily on the sodden ground.

Talking of steps, due to not only the fan capacity being reduced by French government Covid protocols from 40,000 to just 1000 per day, the number of French and International Media was severely reduced too.

Photographers like myself all have to respect social distancing precautions which has resulted in the number of courtside photo seats being drastically reduced.

As we get to the business end of the tournament the only place to be is courtside on Philippe Chatrier. This means that other vantage points have to be used and we must ensure we are not moving in the eyeline of the players, especially when they are serving.

The favoured position is behind the players boxes, as at the moment of victory they almost invariably look up there to express their emotions.

I can tell you that the only way to reach those vantage points in the absence of elevators, which are only accessible inside the administrative and VIP areas containing the players in their bubble is by climbing all the way to the top.
I can tell you that it is one hundred and twenty-five breathtaking steps from ground level to the top row of seats.
Carrying about twenty kilograms of camera equipment too.

One the way up I stopped to take in the view across the Bois de Boulogne to the Eiffel Tower, currently looking grey and dismal.

“Paris in the Spring” it is not.