Novak Djokovic diplomatic on late matches as Coco Gauff calls them ‘not healthy’

Novak Djokovic admitted his late-night finish at the French Open “could have been handled differently” while Coco Gauff branded playing into the early hours “not healthy”.

Djokovic endured the latest finish in Roland Garros history as he beat Lorenzo Musetti in five sets to reach the fourth round, with the last ball struck at 3.08am local time.

The rain had wrecked another day on the outside courts in Paris so tournament chiefs decided to squeeze in an unfinished match under the roof on Court Phillipe Chatrier before Djokovic took on Musetti in the night session.

But by the time Grigor Dimitrov had completed a four-set win over Zizou Bergs in a match lasting just shy of four hours in total, Djokovic, due to start at 8.15pm, did not get on the court until 10.40pm.

“I don’t want to get into it,” said the defending champion. “I have my opinions but I think there are great things to talk about as we are talking about this match and both Lorenzo’s and my performance stands out.

“I don’t want to be talking about schedule. I think some things could’ve been handled differently. But there’s beauty, as well, winning the match at 3.30am if it’s the last one of the tournament.

“But it’s not so I’m going to have to switch on all of my young genes and try and recover as quick as possible.”

France Tennis French Open
Iga Swiatek has been an advocate of earlier starts (Thibault Camus/AP)

Iga Swiatek and Gauff had no such worries in the fourth round, as both had completed their matches by lunchtime on Sunday.

World number one Swiatek felt Djokovic would probably not have gone to sleep until 7am.

“It’s not easy to play and then it’s not like we’re going to fall asleep one hour after the match,” she said.

“Usually it takes us, like, four hours to even chill, and you need to do recovery, media. It’s not like the work ends with the match point.

“I was always one of the players that said that we should start a little bit earlier. Also, I don’t know if the fans are watching these matches if they have to go to work next day or something when the matches are finishing at 2 or 3am.”

US Open champion Gauff was grateful not to have been put in a similar position.

“I definitely think it’s not healthy,” she said. “It may be not fair for those who have to play late because it does ruin your schedule. I’ve been lucky I haven’t been put in a super late finish yet.”

Jamie Murray’s brother Andy has had more than his fair share of late-night finishes.

Doubles player Murray said: “I understand that it’s difficult, but we shouldn’t be in a situation where guys are finishing at 3am as by the time he goes to bed it’s probably like six and then you’re totally goosed the next day, and then the next day is a battle as well.

“It won’t be easy for Novak to recover. It’s not like he’s 25 anymore either. So yeah, I was feeling for those guys last night, for sure.”