French Open organisers under fire after yet another wet day
PARIS: Fans spent more time looking at the murky Parisian sky then watching tennis on Tuesday as French Open organisers were accused of “not caring about the players” after the event was disrupted by more rain following the previous day’s washout.
Czech seventh seed Thomas Berdych summed up everyone’s frustration on a day when nine hours of play was lost by tweeting: “Hey @AustralianOpen can you send us one roof here to Paris?! You have 3 down there.”
The inability to play under cover, with Roland Garros being the only one of the four grand slam venues that does not have a court with a retractable roof, certainly proved costly for Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep — fourth-round losers in the only two matches that were completed.
World number two Radwanska and 2014 runner-up Halep, who both started their last-16 matches on Sunday, were forced to play in misty rain as organisers made a desperate attempt to clear a huge backlog.
“No one cares about the players in my opinion,” sixth seed Halep said after she was beaten 7-6(0) 6-3 by Australian Sam Stosur in a battle of former finalists.
“It was impossible to play. To play tennis matches during the rain is a bit too much. I was close to getting injured with my back… but no one cares.”
Radwanska had been leading Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2 3-0 when rain halted play on Sunday.
When the match resumed more than 40 hours later, the Polish second seed suffered a monumental meltdown as she lost 10 successive games in a 2-6 6-3 6-3 defeat by an opponent ranked 100 places below her.
“I’m just so surprised and angry that we have to play in the rain. I mean, it’s not a $10,000 tournament. It’s a grand slam,” said Radwanska, the highest seed to exit the tournament.
“How can you allow players to play in the rain? I cannot play in that condition. They really don’t care what we think.”
BACK TO THE LOCKER ROOM
Ernests Gulbis and David Goffin did get on court for their fourth round showdown but took matters into their own hands by marching back into the locker room even before organisers had a chance to make a call.
It was a decision that Halep welcomed. “Good. Well done to them,” the Romanian said as she gave them a thumbs-up.
While matches at the three other majors — Wimbledon (grass), Australian and U.S. Opens (both hardcourts) — are halted at the first sight of rain, the brittle claycourt surface at Roland Garros means competitors are often told to play on in light rain.
In 2009, Roger Federer played the men’s final against Robin Soderling through drizzly rain to win his solitary title at the French Open.
Unsurprisingly, Pironkova did not think conditions were unplayable, though she acknowledged they were far from ideal.
“Well, it’s happened before, of course. We have played in all sorts of conditions,” said the Bulgarian, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2010.
“Usually if the court is not fit for play, like if it’s slippery, they would cancel the match right away. But today the court was still hanging in, it was okay. We could have played, and so we did.”
Radwanska and Halep’s exit meant that at least five of the top eight women’s seeds failed to make their allotted quarter-final spots.
Only two of 10 scheduled matches were completed as the claycourt major suffered its sixth day of rain showers.
World number ones Novak Djokovic — one set all against Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut when play was finally suspended shortly before 7 p.m. local time — and Serena Williams were among those still stranded in the fourth round.