French Open chiefs considering earlier starts to showpiece night matches

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic’s blockbuster quarter-final began just after 9pm local time in Paris.

By Press Association Published: 1 June 2022 - 7.36pm

French Open chiefs will discuss introducing earlier starts to showpiece night matches following the ludicrous late finish between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Nadal and Djokovic’s blockbuster quarter-final began just after 9pm local time at the behest of broadcaster Prime Video.

The temperature had dropped to 12C and some spectators had left while others were wrapped in blankets by the time Nadal wrapped up victory in four sets at 1.15am.

Both Nadal and Djokovic later admitted the match started too late. “It is, without a doubt,” said Nadal.

France Tennis French Open
Rafael Nadal wrapped up victory in four hours and 12 minutes (Thibault Camus/AP)

“Of course I understand the other part of the business, without a doubt, that televisions pays a lot of money to have matches that late, then the tournament makes money and then the players make money, no? We need to find a balance.”

And tournament director Amelie Mauresmo, the former Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, said: “Obviously it’s not simple.

“It’s the first year that I’m the tournament director. I’m learning a lot of things regarding the scheduling of the tournament. Having such late matches could actually trigger some questions. I’m wondering about it myself, to be honest.

“We will actually have a feedback session on this at the end, but it’s just 10 (night) matches overall.

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Amelie Mauresmo says the scheduling of night matches will be discussed after the tournament (Michel Euler/AP)

“I do not have the answer yet, because we actually see a day at a time and will certainly ask ourselves what to do next and we will try to do some debriefing to see what worked out well, what didn’t work out well with some hindsight, and it definitely will be on the table.”

There has been further controversy surrounding the night sessions as only one of the 10 has featured a women’s match, Alize Cornet’s second-round win over Jelena Ostapenko.

But Mauresmo added: “In this era that we are in right now – and as a woman, a former woman’s player, I don’t feel bad or unfair saying that – you have more attraction, appeal (in) general, for the men’s matches.”

World number one Iga Swiatek was a little disheartened by Mauresmo’s stance.

“It is a little bit disappointing and surprising because she was also in the WTA”
- Iga Swiatek on Amelie Mauresmo's comments

She said: “Oh, it is a little bit disappointing and surprising because she was also in the WTA.

“But from my point of view, for every player it’s more convenient to play at normal hour, but for sure I want to entertain and I also want to show my best tennis in every match.

“So I think it’s kind of the personal opinion of every person if they like men’s tennis or women’s tennis more, or if they like them equally. But I think women’s tennis has a lot of advantages.

“And some may say that it’s unpredictable and girls are not consistent.

“But on the other hand it may also be something that is really appealing and it may really attract more people. So it depends on the personal views of some people.”

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