Paris, France, 31 May 2023 | Ellen Perez

The unique and complex challenges of competing on clay adds to the excitement of Roland Garros, as world No.15 doubles star ELLEN PEREZ explains in a first-person exclusive from Paris.

I’m excited for what’s to come at Roland Garros.

Last year, my time there was very short, and I had rather disappointing results. I’m the kind of person who can always see the funny side of things, so going into this year’s tournament, I carry the attitude of ‘Well, you can’t do much worse than last year!’

But this year, I’m enjoying my time on clay, and I’ve won back-to-back doubles titles now, having also claimed an ITF 25 title with American Ashley Lahey in Platja D’Aro, Spain.

I’ve also been able to get back on the singles court and find some wins.

I feel like my game is in a pretty good place, and this time around, there’s nothing really to lose.

Additionally, I’ll be playing mixed doubles alongside Poland’s Jan Zielinski, which I haven’t had the chance to do in the past at Roland Garros, so that adds another cool element to the tournament.

The clay-court challenge

I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with clay.

When I’ve trained on it and feel like my fitness and game are strong, I love playing on clay. It makes me more patient, and I also adjust my game style a bit to utilise my heavy lefty forehand, which tends to be flatter on hard courts.

Clay is fun when you’re playing well, moving well, and able to be creative. However, clay can be the most challenging surface when these things aren’t going well.

If you feel like you’re not moving well or as fit as you’d like to be, facing a true clay-court grinder can make you wish you were anywhere else.

> READ: Ellen Perez – Counting the clay-court positives

Clay can really expose your movement, lung capacity, and shot-making if they’re not up to scratch.

That’s the interesting part of tennis, how surfaces can suit some people so well and others not as much.

I’m grateful that I feel like I have a versatile game that transitions from one surface to another without too much struggle.

Living in the moment

I think Paris is a really beautiful city. It’s often called the “city of love,” and I believe that’s because people are always out and about, doing things together.

The culture and lifestyle in Paris are very much about living in the moment. People are out walking, cycling, and having picnics near the Eiffel Tower.

I love how people go to cafes after work and sit outside with friends, enjoying drinks and snacks until it’s time for dinner.

It’s an active city with numerous historic monuments and stunning buildings. And let’s not forget about the amazing food in Paris!

> READ: Perez among eight Aussies in action on day four at Roland Garros 

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