With Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem locked in the middle of a semifinal battle at the French Open, rain joined the gusting wind that the players had been contending with. Although the downpour did not turn out to be as significant as anticipated by organisers, play was called off at around 6:30 pm, with Djokovic having already left the site, in Paris with the players set to return to court at noon on Saturday to finish their match before the women’s final. Which leaves the winner of Djokovic vs Thiem in a potentially difficult position if sense does not intervene.
That is because after rain washed out Wednesday’s play, both men had to wait until Thursday to play their quarterfinals. They were able to record reasonably straightforward wins, with Djokovic dispatching fifth seed Alexander Zverev 7-5 6-2 6-2 and Thiem ousting Karen Khachanov, the 10th seed, 6-2 6-4 6-2. As a result, having to play their semifinals without a day’s rest was not as damaging to their title-hopes as it might have been.
But now they will also have to play on Saturday, sacrificing another day of rest. Which means that if the final is not moved to Monday, either Djokovic or Thiem will arrive into the French Open final having played from Thursday to Sunday without a day of rest. Their opponent, Rafael Nadal won his quarterfinal on Tuesday and then had two days off before beating Roger Federer in the last four on Friday, giving him all of Saturday to rest and recuperate.
The prospect of playing Rafael Nadal in a French Open final is a daunting one at the best of times. But after four straight days of play, giving them little chance to practice let alone rest, it is surely an insurmountable one, not to mention distinctly unfair. As a result, the only sensible choice, from a tennis perspective, is to move Sunday’s final to Monday to give whichever player wins on Saturday a reasonable chance of playing their best tennis in the showpiece.
Unfortunately, as has been brought into sharp focus over the past few days, it would be foolhardy in the extreme to expect such a reasonable decision from the French Open.
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