With Federer, Monfils and Nadal all pulling out due to injury followed by Jo Wilfried Tsonga’s exit in the third round in tears due to a leg injury things didn’t look so good for the French Open. Losing four of the most popular male players in a country that is passionate about the sport, and the loss of one of the highest profile female players Maria Sharapova after failing a drug test, could things possibly be any worse?
On Monday the play at Roland Garros was washed out by rain and temperatures more suited to winter than late May. Tuesday saw the organizers not only being criticizes heavily for being the only grand slam without a roof facility, mother nature was still against them as play had to be cancelled just before 7pm.
Play was stopped when Djokovic was in the lead against Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6, 6-4, 4-1, and if the men’s semi-final is not moved from the usual Friday slot, he is faced with four days of solid play going into the final.
Even more criticism rained down on the organizers from Halep and Radwanska who both exited the tournament. The 2014 finalist Halep, accused the organizers and the French Tennis Federation of not caring about the players. Halep lost to the 2010 runner up, Samantha Stosur, 7 – 6, 7 – 0, 6 – 3 whilst Radwanska the number two seed fell foul to unseeded Tsvetana Pironkova. Both of these fourth round matches were fought in increasingly bad weather that varied from light drizzle to heavy rain.
Although the courts are constructed on clay, which absorbs moisture far better than hard and grass courts, it does mean that play can continue even after rain fall. However, both Radwanska and Halep felt that the conditions were just to treacherous. Halep spoke to reporters and told them that although she did not mind losing, the organizers really didn’t care about the players. Not only was she close to injury, the court was not good, the balls were soaking and she felt that tennis should not be played in these conditions.
Both ladies had originally been leading their matches prior to the matches being restarted and Radwanska ended up not only losing but also needing treatment to her hand on the Tuesday. Radwanska was quick to comment that it is not a $10,000 tournament but worth $2.3 million to the winner and as such the players should not be expected to play in these conditions.
The views of Halep and Radwanska brought back memories of the 2011 U.S Open when Andy Murray and Nadal criticized the organizers for making them play on wet hard courts.
The former Wimbledon semi-finalist Pironkova now the number 102 seed said that they just have to get on with it. Speaking to Bulgarian reporters Pironkova explained that they play on all types of courts in all types of conditions and if the courts were slippery the match would be cancelled immediately. However, the courts were ok and therefore we played. The Australian, Stosur echoed the words of Pironkova by saying that due to the many delays they needed to take every opportunity to play. Only when the umpires rule that the courts are unplayable should they stop.
Pironkova and Stosur faced each other and both confirmed that they exactly what to expect and although it was raining when they began to play they agreed that the court was fine for the best part of the match. They commented that if it got too bad they would say something, however until this point it was fine for them.
Guy Forget, the tournament director was not available to comment.