The Marseille Open Tournament Director Jean-Francois Caujolle recalled the first time he saw Rafael Nadal playing live. Caujolle said: "The first time I saw him was when he was 16 years old in a French Challenger tournament.
I gave him a wild card. He played in Marseille in the same year as his maiden French Open title. We signed a three-year deal but on the second year, he wanted to go to South America. His game has improved a lot, he comes to the net much more often.
Before, he was playing four meters away from the baseline, now he plays inside the court." He also recalled the beginnings of Novak Djokovic: "Every time he had an opportunity to hit a winner, he never hesitated.
His mental strength, like Rafa and Roger, is his biggest weapon. While Gael Monfils, sometimes he is waiting for a player to make an unforced error." On the Marseille Open, Caujolle concluded: "My week is one of the best among the 250s so I feel lucky but the ATP asks me to become a 500 and move to the same week as Rotterdam, I would accept.
I would need several things, including a new venue. The current venue is pretty old and it doesn't fit pretty much to tennis but it will happen in three, four or five years. If I want to have one of the Big Three, I need a 10,000-seated central court.
We would have the financial resources for it. And France is a very strong nation in terms of tennis tradition. But 500s do not want to be downgraded so it's difficult."