Paris: Having finished his quarter-final match at 1:26am local time in cold, windy conditions, Rafa Nadal questioned French Open organisers’ decision to schedule no fewer than five matches on the same court over the day.
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 Jannik Sinner.
Play started late 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.
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.
“I really don’t know why they put five matches on the Chatrier today. That was a risk,” said the Spaniard.
“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.”
Earlier, Argentina’s Schwartzman outlasted Dominic Thiem in a brutal claycourt war of attrition to prevail 7-6(1) 5-7 6-7(6) 7-6(5) 6-2 and reach his first Grand Slam semi-final at the French Open.
Schwartzman had never beaten a top-five player at a Grand Slam and had lost his three previous quarter-finals, including one at the French, but the 28-year-old was relentless in his pursuit of victory in a gripping duel.
Both players appeared to be running on empty at times as they slugged out long rallies from the baseline for five hours and eight minutes on a windy Court Philippe Chatrier, but it was Schwartzman who survived to set up a clash with Rafa Nadal.
“Dominic is one of the best players in the world right now,” Schwartzman said afterwards on court.
“We are friends and I have a lot of respect for him. But this match was important for me. This was the third five-setter I’ve played here and this is the first one I’ve won.
“I think tonight I deserved it.” It was a long and winding road though.
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x12) bt Dominic Thiem (AUT x3) 7-6 (7/1), 5-7, 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/5), 6-2
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Jannik Sinner (ITA) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-1
Iga Swiatek (POL) bt Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-3, 6-1
Nadia Podoroska (ARG) bt Elina Svitolina (UKR x3) 6-2, 6-4
Danielle Collins (USA) bt Ons Jabeur (TUN x30) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4