French Open 2020 - 'It's too cold to play tennis' - Rafael Nadal questions French Open scheduling
Having finished his quarter-final match at 1:26am local time in cold, windy conditions, Rafael Nadal questioned French Open organisers' decision to schedule no fewer than five matches on the same court over the day.
Published 07/10/2020 at 00:46 GMT | Updated 07/10/2020 at 08:45 GMT
Rafael Nadal criticised organisers after a bumper schedule on Court Philippe-Chatrier meant his match with Jannik Sinner did not finish until 1:26am local time.
The 12-time Roland Garros champion was scheduled last on the main court and when he started his match the temperature was 13C with a cold wind sweeping the clay off the court, whose roof was left open throughout.
"The weather... it's too cold to play tennis. I know football players do it all the time but they're always moving while us tennis players, we stop, we come back, there's the changeover," Nadal told a news conference after his 7-6(4) 6-4 6-1 win against Italian teenager Sinner.
Play started at 11am local time on Tuesday with a rescheduled women's fourth-round match before a quarter-final between Nadia Pogoroska and Elina Svitolina, a men's quarter-final between Diego Schwartzman and Dominic Thiem that lasted five hours and eight minutes and another last-eight encounter between Iga Swiatek and Martina Trevisan.
Highlights: Nadal storms into semi-finals with Sinner win
Nadal started his match at 10:36 pm local time. While such starting times are not unusual at the US and Australian Opens, those tournaments are held during the summer.
This year's French Open, however, was moved from its usual spot in the warmer May-June months because of the Covid-19 crisis.
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"I really don't know why they put five matches on the Chatrier today. That was a risk," Nadal said. "I saw immediately yesterday when they sent me the schedule because there is a chance there is a couple of long matches. That's what happened. Little bit unlucky, of course.
"For me, I just tried to be patient, accept everything, and be in a positive shape. That's what I did."
Nadal at his most dangerous when behind - Tim Henman
Former French Open semi-finalist Tim Henman praised 19-year-old Sinner for his aggressive tactics - which saw him break the Spaniard to earn the chance to serve for the opening set - but highlighted that Nadal was at his most dangerous after falling behind.
"He [Sinner] came out on the court with a clear game plan, he was going to be aggressive, he knew he couldn’t expect Rafa to beat himself. He was incredibly impressive and had that break opportunity in the first set," said Henman in the Eurosport Cube.
"But that’s one of Rafa’s great strengths – when he’s behind on clay he breaks 60% of the time on the next service game.
"That tie-break was so important. Rafa got on top and that one-set advantage gave him an important lead."
Henman: Sinner was 'incredibly impressive' in Nadal defeat
Meanwhile, 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert said that Nadal would benefit from his most challenging ordeal of the tournament so far.
"I thought he did great. Finally, he had a good test. He needs a test if he’s going to play Djokovic later on," she said.
"I feel like he plays better when he’s hugging the baseline and when he’s the aggressor and he finally started to play that way in the second and third set.
"When he also comes to the net, it shows me Rafa is really confident."