Around the world they call these championships the French Open. Here they are known simply as "Roland Garros."

Players, officials and fans routinely refer to the tournament, with its 14.5 acres of courts and tree-lined walkways, by the name of the tennis player who died fighting for France in World War I. Much of their reverence is a tribute to the courts' legendary slow, red clay that makes for marathon matches that devastate players and delight fans.

Today, during his first-round match with Pavel Slozil, Andres Gomez watched a lob float over his head. He froze, looked to see where Slozil was, then turned and chased down the lob easily to slam a forehand winner.

Drop shots are an adventure. If you get the ball over the net, it is likely to sit up where your opponent can reach it. Players learn quickly: If it isn't an outright winner, don't go for the drop because the ball won't drop.

The courts also leave the players filthy as the clay cakes up their shoes, socks and legs. Today, when Pascal Paradis slipped lunging for a shot, she came up with her entire backside, legs, dress and panties caked red. Her opponent, Andrea Temesvari, graciously helped with the cleanup job.

Temesvari drew warm applause. At Roland Garros, even opponents sometimes must help each other if they are to conquer the grounds.