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It is a beautiful day in Rome. A day all sports fans have been dreaming of in Italy and worldwide, because on Thursday May 13th, the Foro Italico opened its gates to spectators, becoming the first sports event to do so in the country. What a long time we have all been waiting for, because fans are such a core essence to any sport and their silent yet noisy absence was as powerful as it could be. How would it feel to finally feel the noise, the passion, the gasps and wows of people so deeply connected to the action that their hearts would sink at any close call? How will it look on TV after months of echoes accompanying winners and some pre-recorded cheering to celebrate the end of the matches?
Who will benefit from fans’ return? Who will struggle to adapt to the noises that Covid made disappear from the world of sport? Whatever the answer will be, it is some great news and a matter of pride for tennis to see such first time to take place at the Foro Italico, proving tennis to be once again a key sport nationally, even anticipating football this time.
The first match to finally see spectators’ return will feature the defending champion and world number one, Novak Djokovic, taking on young Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Campo Centrale. But one of the most anticipated matches of the day will take place on the Grand Stand Arena, where local favourite Matteo Berrettini, world number 9 and Madrid finalist, will be facing ATP n°5 Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Tennis fans have started to come to one of the most iconic and beautiful sports venues in the world with their hats and backpacks, but most of all, great excitement to finally return courtside.
There is no box office at the Foro Italico this year, tickets can only be bought online.
The venue has been divided into three separate clusters, each with its dedicated accesses and exits, toilets and food stalls. The clusters are: Campo Centrale, Grand Stand Arena and Stadio Pietrangeli e Campi secondari (outer corts). One can only access the one cluster they have tickets for and only seat in the assigned place.
All spectators must wear an FFP2 mask, while gels will be made available by the tournament to guarantee the upmost security.
There are more than 5000 seats available, all distanced as per security measures: 2415 on Campo Centrale, 1493 on Grand Stand Arena, 774 on Stadio Pietrangeli and 590 on outer courts.
In order to allow spectators to return home before the curfew at 10.00pm, the evening session has been split between Campo Centrale and Grand Stand Arena. Each will host one match: Garbine Muguruza vs Elina Svitolina at 6.00pm on Centrale, Lorenzo Sonego vs Dominic Thiem at 7.00pm on Grand Stand.
Worldwide fans had been waiting for this day for long. The whole Italian sport was waiting for long. And now, finally, protagonists and fans will reunite. This is how epic moments create. And it is starting from tennis.