The quarterfinal match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, scheduled for this Tuesday (not before 9:45 p.m., Eurosport), actually began to be played for days. Asked repeatedly about the schedules and their preference for playing in one session or another, day or night, one and the other clearly stated their opinion in the face of a potential crossover. “I have never liked playing at night on land”, answered the Balearic bluntly. “Historically, I have played very well and I have won many matches under the spotlight in the different Grand Slams”, countered the Serb, who has finally gotten his way since the pulse will be played when the sun has already gone down in Paris.
The organization of Roland Garros confirmed this Monday that the two giants will perform at night, while Carlos Alcaraz and the German Alexander Zverev will compete around 4:00 p.m.; before, starting at 12.00, the crossings of the female quarters will take place. In this way, he ignored Nadal’s request, who the previous afternoon, after beating Felix Auger Aliassime, had claimed to play during the day. “I know this tournament during the day and not so much at night; that’s how I’ve played my entire career; afterwards, I don’t know what could happen the following year and every time I go out to play here, I am aware that it could be my last game”, explained the tennis player from Manacor, who had an impact: “It could be that it was my last game at Roland Garros , with which I would like to play during the day”.
Nadal’s dialectical maneuver, champion 13 times in the tournament, has had no effect. On the other hand, the intervention of television has had it. Until now, the state channel offered free-to-air the matches of the daytime session and Prime Video, from Amazon, broadcast the nightly matches exclusively for its subscribers, but this time it will do so for free in collusion with the French Tennis Federation (FFT). ), another fundamental actor in the decision of Tuesday’s programming. “All the fans of France will be able to watch the game openly, through their mobile phones and web applications,” they valued in a statement from the federative body.
In February of last year, the current president, Gilles Moretton, and his management team relieved the previous board – headed by Bernard Giudicelli – and began to draw a new line underlined by the election of Amélie Mauresmo, former number one, as the new director. of Roland Garros. Hand in hand with her, substantial changes. “The programming of the night sessions will be one of the challenges of my management”, explained the new president in her presentation. “We must think about the people who work during the day. As in the Australian Open and the US Open, very electric matches can be seen at night. A special environment is generated for the tennis player and the fan, ”she commented upon accessing the position to the media West France.
In principle, Mauresmo – 42 years old and champion of the Australian Open (2006) and Wimbledon (2006) – was going to offer a press conference early this Monday to evaluate the development of the tournament that was finally cancelled. Meanwhile, Nadal and his team prepared the duel with Djokovic away from the spotlight – at the Jean Bouin Club, very close to Roland Garros but outside its limits – and digested the resolution with resignation, supported by the criteria of the audiences television.
“The French treat Rafa very well, this is a decision of the new management. Mauresmo is a new figure who decides things, but he does not decide everything ”, a 35-year-old member of the Mallorcan team transmits to this newspaper. “I wouldn’t say it’s disrespectful, but Rafa has a credit here and is part of the history of Roland Garros; he has won it 13 times and if he has a request they should listen to it, ”said the Spaniard’s coach, Carlos Moyà, to French radio RMC Sport; “We know that nobody is above a tournament, but in the end it is a business matter and we understand it”.
Cold and wet, speed and bounce
From a tennis point of view, the nuance between playing during the day or at night is differential. Traditionally, Nadal has always benefited from competing in the open and in full light because the heat and dryness enhance the spin and high bounce of his ball. On the contrary, the Mallorcan’s topspin ball loses revolutions, rises less and slows down with the cold and humidity typical of the sessions golf; even more so in those of Paris, where you compete at low temperatures, between the abundant vegetation of the Bois de Boulogne and the Seine River. this circumstance, first, has a positive effect on Djokovic’s game, he hits flatter and has more control, less sensation of failure; an aspect that reinforces the neat display of the number one.
“All high-level players have requests, although they are not always accepted,” Nole said three days ago, aware that his remains will gain weight at night; “In the end they decide the director of the tournament and television, and you have to adapt to that. Obviously, depending on who you’re playing against, sometimes it’s favorable to play at night or sometimes during the day. There is no formula that always works.
Roland Garros opened the night sessions in the 2020 edition, as a rehearsal. So, the great Parisian was played in October and with artificial light, as a result of the pandemic; a year later, he definitively established the new programming format, along the lines of the Australian Open and the US Open. At the moment, Wimbledon is the only major that resists
The Alcaraz protest
In this edition, until now, Djokovic and Nadal had played once at night, against Yoshihito Nishioka and the local Corentin Moutet respectively. The Balkan is now grateful for the organization’s final decision, as does Carlos Alcaraz. The 19-year-old from Murcia has paraded twice on the night shift (against Sebastian Korda and Karen Khachanov). Faced with the possibility of having to repeat in the quarters, he positioned himself in front of the journalists.
“It would not seem fair to me to play at night again. Here we are going to say things… I have already played twice at night; I’m not saying it bothers me, but obviously I have less time to rest because you finish doing everything very late”, protested the youngster from El Palmar after the round of 16 match, well into the morning; “Maybe the game ends at twelve, but then I have to have dinner, the physio… and because of the caffeine and the adrenaline of the game, it’s harder to recover. Honestly, it doesn’t seem fair to me.”
Since last year, a futuristic sculpture of Nadal has supervised the entrance of fans who access the venue through Avenue Porte-d’Auteuil. “Rafa is a monster and he will have a statue”, promised in 2017 the predecessor of Mauresmo in the direction, Giudicelli. Now, however, the great French ignores the requests of the king of him.