French Open chiefs considering earlier starts to night matches after criticism

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Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic finished at 1.15am (Christophe Ena/AP) (AP)
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic finished at 1.15am (Christophe Ena/AP) (AP)

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.

“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.

“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.”

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