Organisers at Roland Garros have said that the tournament has not been struck with such bad weather since 1973, so it is understandable that the decision-making process when dealing with so much rain is a complicated one.
Rain is tennis’ worst nightmare, which is why the three other grand slams invested time and money into installing at least one retractable roof on-site.
Roland Garros is way behind when it comes to facilities, compared to the other majors, and this fortnight, it’s become glaringly obvious that a long overdue upgrade is needed.
While the tournament goes through its legal battle with the neighborhood in order to approve the venue expansion plan, the least organisers can do right now is make fair decisions to players and spectators when it rains.
The first time the players were brought on court on Tuesday, it was legitimately raining. I had walked from a court to the press centre as they played and I was soaked.
Official: All play has been cancelled today at Roland Garros due to the rain. First time this has happened there since May 30, 2000.— Sport360° (@Sport360) May 30, 2016
Obviously players like Sam Stosur and Tsvetana Pironkova handled the conditions better to score upsets over Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska, respectively, but is it fair for someone to lose a match because the ball was wet and heavier, and favoured the more powerful player?
Is it fair that players like Halep and Radwanska, whose games rely heavily on movement, were unable to confidently slide on the clay and did not feel safe on the court? I don’t think so.
When the majority of the players say the courts were unplayable and that they felt specific pains in their joints due to the heavy conditions then organisers should stop and listen.
At the end of the day, the players are their main product, and when the players feel like props that don’t matter it is definitely a red flag. The tournament wanted the players to compete for more than two hours (1hr 59min is the cut off ) so as not to reimburse ticket holders.
Unfortunately there were not subtle enough about it because they stopped play on centre court after two hours and one minute. It was raining while they were playing for most of the two hours. Guy Forget’s statement denying that money was the basis of the decision process is not believable.
Two days earlier he said that spectators were his “main concern”. He said that if money was a factor, they would have stopped at one hour 59 minuntes, so the insurance company would reimburse the fans. Then how come they didn’t do that, since after all, spectators are supposed to be his “main concern”?
The past two days have been tough on everyone, but they also revealed one undeniable truth: In this day in sport, it really is all about money. Tennis is no exception!
Andy Murray admits that returning the John Isner serve under pouring rain was not the easiest of tasks but the Scot avoided any slips, both literally and figuratively, as he skipped past the American No. 15 seed to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals for a British record sixth time on Sunday.
Murray extended his unbeaten record against the huge-serving Isner to a clean 6-0, with a 7-6 (9), 6-4, 6-3 victory but it was not all smooth sailing for the world No. 2.
The temperamental Murray was roaring and barking in frustration throughout the rain-interrupted affair, even once referring to himself as an “absolute turnip”.
After saving three set points in a wet opening set tiebreak – one with a remarkable backhand passing shot – Murray took a one-set lead, without creating any break point opportunities on the Isner serve, and was up 2-1 when rain halted play for an hour.
“It can (be dangerous),” Murray said of continuing to play early in the second set despite the rain picking up.
“I had asked to stop a few points before, because when you’re returning his serve you have to be very explosive. Very quick, and if you lose traction on your feet, it’s very easy to tweak your groin or something.
“I wasn’t trying to finish the game. I wanted to stop then, and then obviously it started raining extremely hard just a couple of points later.
“So, yeah, I know it’s difficult sometimes when the right time to stop is, but I think on clay courts that the players really need to be the ones that kind of decide that. If they don’t feel comfortable then you have to stop, because it’s a surface if you get that wrong you can hurt yourself.”
Murray got a set point on the Isner serve in game 10 and won a volley contest with the 2.08m American at the net to seal a two-set advantage.
Isner avoided going down a double-break in the third set, saving two break points to hold for 2-4. The 31-year-old had opportunities to break in the following game but Murray held.
Serving for the match, Murray saved a break point before screaming “focus” at himself and sealed the clash on his first opportunity.
His quarter-final opponent, Richard Gasquet, was battling No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori on Court Philippe Chatrier at the same time.
The Frenchman finally broke his quarter-final hoodoo at his home slam by reaching the last eight in Paris on his 13thappearance. Gasquet had lost in the fourth round here on four previous occasions but stood his ground to beat Nishikori 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
The No. 9 seed was down 2-4 to Nishikori when rain stopped play but returned with renewed confidence to take the next four games and secure a one-set advantage.
“I think it was very important time for me to stop after that, because I was playing not good. I was playing far from the baseline and very slow. And of course my coach (Sergi Bruguera) talk to me very loud, and that’s why I did a bad game coming back,” said Gasquet who had lost to Nishikori twice on clay this month in Madrid and Rome.
“But after I think I played well. And of course I took a lot of confidence after winning that set. I played much better in the second set, and also with the crowd cheering for me, it was a great moment.”
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka passed a difficult test against Serbian No. 22 seed Viktor Troicki 7-6 (5), 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-2 to set up a quarter-final with Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Earlier in the day, No. 4 seed Garbine Muguruza reached her third consecutive quarter-final in Paris with a powerful 6-3, 6-4 win over 2009 champion and No13 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.
“I do think it’s a very good win, because I played her before. It was a very hard match. Well, she’s obviously a champion here. She knows how to win this tournament, and she has a lot of experience and is a very tough player. So being in quarter-finals again, it’s great,” said the Spaniard.
The president of the Russian Tennis Federation plans to include Maria Sharapova in the country’s Olympic team if she avoids a ban for her positive test for banned drug meldonium.
Sharapova tested positive for the substance in January and was provisionally suspended on March 12.
The five-time grand slam champion is awaiting the outcome of an anti-doping committee hearing, which was held last week, with a four-year ban the maximum possible punishment.
Most anti-doping experts think a more likely ban is between six to 12 months, which would start from the date of her provisional suspension, so her Rio 2016 hopes may be forlorn.
The Russian Tennis Federation needs to name its team by June 16 and, with Sharapova’s punishment likely to be confirmed before then, the 29-year-old will know for sure whether she will be heading to Brazil.
But RTF president Shamil Tarpishchev, speaking to R-Sport news agency in Russia, says Sharapova “has been put on our Olympic application”.
Russia have included Maria #Sharapova in Olympic tennis team despite the player being suspended over positive test for banned drug meldonium— Sky News Newsdesk (@SkyNewsBreak) May 26, 2016
Tarpishchev added: “We will include Sharapova in the team. Whether she competes or not should be decided by the end of the first week of Roland Garros.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency only added meldonium to its list of banned substances at the start of 2016 and recently gave those athletes who had since failed tests a lifeline with the admission it was unclear how long the substance took to clear the body.
That applied to competitors who said they had used meldonium only before it was added to the WADA list, however Sharapova has not indicated she stopped using the substance before January 1.