Paris | Djokovic rails at conditions while Nadal conquers them
The organisers seemingly bowed to Novak Djokovic’s frustrations at playing in extremely blustery conditions and suspended play when there was no justification for it.
These conditions are very difficult for Novak, these are very advantageous for Dominic Thiem. Nadal and Federer came ready to accept the conditions and so did Thiem. But Novak came ready to not like them. The happiest person right now would be Novak on his way back home. Jim Courier
Rain had forced the second semi-final to be suspended but the surprise announcement when that had passed through, that play would be abandoned for the rest of the day at 6.45 pm local time, caught everyone by surprise as bright skies immediately appeared overhead making it possible for several more hours off play.
At the time the world number one was trailing 6-2 3-6 3-1 to Dominic Thiem who had no problems with the conditions.
It is a well known fact that Djokovic dislikes windy conditions which not only affects the ball’s flight and bounce, but raises dust storms. Of the four semi-finalists, he was the only one seemingly not prepared to play through it while the other three were.
At one stage Djokovic called for the referee to complain about the severity of the conditions and even asked the umpire Andreas Egli if there was an “extreme wind” rule to which he was told it was a matter for the referee.
Former two-time champion Jim Courier, broadcasting for ITV4, was not only flabbergasted at the decision but also wondered whether there was a rule covering windy conditions.
“This is going to sting…” he said. “These conditions are very difficult for Novak, these are very advantageous for Dominic Thiem. Nadal and Federer came ready to accept the conditions and so did Thiem. But Novak came ready to not like them. The happiest person right now would be Novak on his way back home.”
When the organisers tried to explain their reasoning, it felt very hollow.
Tournament director Guy Forget said the decision to halt play was taken because high winds of up to 80km/h were expected during the evening.
“The players had already stopped twice (for rain) and as the referee will tell you, it is painful for everyone, especially the players,” Forget told L’Equipe.
Forget also denied that Djokovic had left the site before play had been called off. “The protocol is that we talk to the players first and then we make an announcement,” he said. “I do not know who left first, but the two players were told at exactly at the same time. They looked at each other and said, ‘OK’.”
With the match now scheduled for completion at midday local time Saturday, it rather pushes the Women’s Final, the actual highlight of the day, somewhat into the shade.
This has aroused severe criticism from France’s former world number one, Amelie Mauresmo, who tweeted: “It hasn’t rained for 50 minutes and already play has been cancelled.” She had already blasted the decision to switch the two women’s semi-finals earlier in the day away from Chatrier to minor show courts as a “disgrace”.
“I believe that we have hit rock bottom,” she concluded.
Meanwhile ticket holders have been told they would be fully reimbursed and would not be valid for Saturday.
Meanwhile as briefly mentioned, the other semi-final was played out with no complaints.
It was a match which had aroused great interest as it pitched two of the biggest names in the sport and a classic was expected.
As a match it wasn’t a classic but Rafa Nadal’s performance in the prevailing conditions, was of an exceptionally high level. He basically blew Roger Federer off court 6-3 6-4 6-2 to make the final where he hopes to extend his already remarkable record at the French Open, to 12 titles and to date, he has never failed to lose a final at Roland Garros..
“It’s incredible to play with Roger here. It’s always a difficult match against him,” said Nadal. “Congratulations to him – to be at his level at 37, it’s incredible. I say thank you to the Parisian fans, because it’s magnificent for me to be in another final.
The Spniard now has a stunning 92-2 win-loss record on the Paris clay, having beaten Federer for the sixth time in as many French Open meetings.
Nadal also leads his overall head-to-head against Federer 24-15, and 14-2 on clay after ending a run of five straights losses to the 37-year-old.
A tally of just nine games meant it was Federer’s heaviest defeat in a Grand Slam match since managing only four against Nadal in their famously one-sided 2008 Roland Garros final.
Nadal made only 19 unforced errors, crushing 33 winners as Federer struck 25, although that amount could easily have been doubled against any opponent other than the 11-time champion.