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Rafael Nadal calls French Open scheduling ‘a joke’

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Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal dropped a set in his first two French Open matches for the first time. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal lashed out at French Open organizers after beating Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round Friday.

Nadal was originally scheduled to be the third match on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Thursday but was postponed after rain washed out most of the day’s play, meaning the seven-time French Open champion will have to play six matches in 10 days to win the title.

“I think everybody knows in this room that the schedule of [Thursday] was wrong,” Nadal told reporters after the win. “That’s the real thing. I don’t know if the director of the tournament, supervisors, guys who take the positions, they take a bad position two days ago, because when you make the schedule at 7 in the [evening], not 11 in the morning, you know which weather predictions you have for the next days.”

Nadal was unhappy that his second-round match was scheduled third after a men’s and women’s match, while his third-round opponent, Fabio Fognini, was scheduled second after a women’s match on another court. The scheduling decision meant Nadal’s match was more likely to be postponed due to rain as opposed to Fognini’s. As it happened, he was right. Fognini was able to get on court and win his match on Thursday and have a day of rest while Nadal was forced to play his second round Friday.

“That’s not fair,” he said. “And today I was playing almost three hours on court, and my opponent was watching the TV in the locker room. So if you [tell] me that’s fair, I say that’s not fair.”

Nadal told Spanish reporters: “Because when you know that it’s going to be sunny, it’s fair. But when you know it’s going to possibly rain, you cannot make a schedule thinking that one match could be postponed by three hours; chances are that maybe even the match will not be played.”

Nadal said organizers told him they had to schedule Fognini’s match against Lukas Rosol early because Rosol was in doubles later in the day.

“I am sorry, but that’s a joke,” said Nadal, who was upset by Rosol in the Wimbledon second round last year. “You have one more week to play doubles if you want to play doubles. Why do you want to protect the player who has to play doubles? So I’m going to write myself on the doubles draw then and I have the priority to play? That’s not the right excuse to make a schedule like this.

“I don’t want to keep talking, because it seems like I am the bad guy saying that, but that’s the real thing, and everybody here knows that’s not right.”

Nadal will play No. 27 Fognini, a quarterfinalist in 2011, on Saturday.

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  • Published On May 31, 2013
  • 22 comments
    mvkusack
    mvkusack

    I have a real beef about the coverage (espn2) of the French Open for today 6/4/13.  I settle in to watch the daily matches and the commentators begin the show with highlights and results of Williams and Federer.....THE TWO MATCHES THEY ARE COVERING TODAY!!!!!  Who the heck wants to know the results of the two best matches of the tournament (complete with highlights) before they watch it!!!!!  These people are tennis players who should know better.  I will not be watching ESPN2 again and will watch live on internet.  Talk about spoilers!!!

    kris2ten
    kris2ten

    it seems like many are eager to write a comment without full knowledge of Rafa's point of view.....He is not complaining about the schedule but the opportunity given to another player due to the fact that he has a doubles match later. Fognini got alot of time to rest while nadal had to play without rest..Therefore the schedule favours Fognini than Nadal...because he had time to rest while the other no....Don't just judge because he feel like u can say what u like...he is human and a champion...he won't complain if its not necessary...before u criticize ...take a minute and think and another to reflect better.Thanks

    Michael9
    Michael9

    @kris2tenWhat happened at the French Open happens in all tournaments -- a singles player's schedule are shuffled to accommodate a player's doubles match (which involve four different players, some of whom also have singles matches too). Part and parcel of being a tennis player is to accept that you're not to get the perfect schedule in every round. There have been several instances of tournaments affected by weather where a player had to play two matches in one day against an opponent who had a a day to rest. This has been happening for many, many decades.

    Nadal has been the biggest complainer and whiner of the top players since he became the No. 2 in 2005.

    Michael9
    Michael9

    Every tennis player soon learns on the ATP tour that there is no such thing as a perfect, consistent schedule on the ATP tour. Bad weather or other factors can play havoc with the schedule of many tennis tournament over the course of a season. In 2004, I was a lucky ticket buyer who got to see Federer play twice in one day because some of the previous day’s matches were rained out. Federer did not whine or complain, but just quietly went on to win that Masters tournament. It’s part and parcel of being a tennis player – they have to be prepared for these delays and postponements.

    As WSJ’s Tom Perrotta explained: “The daily schedule of a Grand Slam is a delicate thing. On Thursday, French Open officials had to spread out 63 matches over 16 courts. Each court must be balanced: There can't be one with all men's singles matches, or one with all women's singles matches. The biggest names need to play on the biggest courts. Television broadcasters must be taken into account. And then there's the weather.” Such factors affected many players during the tournament, not just Nadal. Nadal has been on the ATP tour long enough to know this. 

    Unfortunately the tennis media lacks the courage to confront Nadal on his whining.

    The fix for Grand Slam organizers is simple: schedule the men’s matches first (since these are best of five sets) and schedule the women’s matches last (since these are only best of three sets, and women have no rest days in non-Slam events).

    Penny1
    Penny1

    I think Nadal probably has a pretty good point. I'm not an athlete of their caliber, by any stretch, but it makes sense that they have to measure out their energy, training, food intake, and rest time. Any change in that schedule could prove to be hazardous to their game, yes, but also to their health.

    I'd like to think of these people as being infallible, and that they are able to perform continually without even becoming fatigued. But the truth of it is, they aren't infallible, they do become fatigued, and require a lot of maintenance and attention to be as fit as they are.

    chordchanger69
    chordchanger69

    How about the "fairness" between the women's game and the men's game.....best of three versus best of five?  How about the "fairness" of the grunt distraction technique?  How about the "fairness" of the same inbred referees in the chair for every one of these matches?  How about the "fairness" of tournament prize money and whether it is time to start awarding other facets of the "sport" like best colors or most original attire-wardrobe choice, best ball retrieval from under-uniform move, most lame interview remarks, best or most original "bag-check" contents, etc.?  This is the most hard-to-watch sport on the planet because of its elitist nature, the obnoxious personalities, the fawning disciple-like commentary of the media and play-by-play broadcasters, and the insular nature of those who are in tennis media.....nothing but retreads from the sport and a different era, so self-important and oh so pedantic and preachy.  I want to see some outsiders calling the action, some honest critiques, some discussion of the full persona, not just the staged, canned image.


    angelrock1961
    angelrock1961 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

    I agree totally with him, Nadal should have been first up on the first day - look what he has achieved at Roland Garros its a a real shambles. He should be given the respect from the organisers. 

    Michael9
    Michael9 like.author.displayName 1 Like

    Nadal is special. Only Nadal has the right to whine like a spoiled brat. The entire tennis system and schedule must be changed to meet Nadal's requirements.

    Unfortunately the fawning, obsequious tennis media lets him get away with his whining instead of taking him to task. If Nadal happens to lose during this French Open, it's likely some tennis commentators will blame Nadal's postponed match for the loss.

    Rafa: life isn't fair, so grow up. Every player has had to suffer postponed matches in their career. If your match wasn't postponed, then someone else's match would have be postponed to accommodate your schedule (would you whine if Fognini's match had been postponed instead of yours?). 

    But if you want to earn millions from your tennis image, then you -- like other top players -- must be accept your matches being allocated throughout the day to spread the tennis celebrities around for the ticket buyers and TV sponsors.

    At the Rome Masters two weeks ago, all of Federer's four matches before the final were night matches while all five of Nadal's matches were day matches. Bad weather could have easily led to the cancellation of Federer's matches. In any case, he did finished one of his matches late. Why didn't you complain that you had an unfair advantage playing your semifinal during the day while Federer had to play his semifinal at night -- and thus had less time to recover than you had? Why didn't you whine about the advantage you had?

    antonioalexandercastro
    antonioalexandercastro

    People around the world work their butts off to earn just enough to get through the day. Some people are more privileged than others, earning millions in a sport that calls for a little sacrifice in 2 weeks time. He can complain all he wants but in the Grand scheme of things what he does is nothing to what others do. He plays to entertain and gets rewarded millions in return. Granted he worked his butt off to get where he is now he should still thank a lot of people for making this sport even possible for him. Otherwise he can go back to where he came from and fish for a living.

    What an ingrate.

    dj13e29
    dj13e29

    Little baby. Fognini couldn't beat Rafa if he had 100 chances. Stop whining.

    Tanner
    Tanner

    Enough, every grand slam event he finds a problem. Can we nickname him Goldielocks? I have a feeling when he falls on his back when he wins a tournament it's not that he's happy but rather he is sooo relieved that he survived all these horrors. 

    attheapollo
    attheapollo like.author.displayName 1 Like

    Rafa, don't worry. You'll somehow live to tell this harrowing tale come next week Sunday.

    marino.eccher
    marino.eccher like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 5 Like

    Whether he's got a legitimate complaint or not, the frequency with which the French Open and U.S. Open are disrupted by weather isn't good for the sport. You've got four premier mainstream events a year; there's too much money and prestige involved to have two of them constantly fouled up by rain (or in the case of the French, darkness). Put a roof on it.

    Penny1
    Penny1

    There are plans to cover the main court at Roland Garros in the upcoming year, and it should be complete by 2015, I believe is the correct completion date. Of course, that's only one court, when there are so many side courts that accommodate matches all day long, but at least the major matches will be able to go on.

    MarcNichol
    MarcNichol

    @Penny1 lights are every bit as important as the roof, really more so...and they are coming too..no reason to not have night tennis there, it solves a lot of scheduling worry

    Penny1
    Penny1

    You are absolutely right about that. And I've often wondered why they (the tournament organizers) have been so deadset against the lights. The roof, yes--that's going to cost a fortune, and possibly wreck the tournament schedule that year.

    But lights could be done in a flash, not that expensive, and would solve so many scheduling problems.

    The only justification I can come up with is, is that Paris doesn't get dark until nearly 10:00 pm. Maybe they just didn't feel it was worth it? At any rate, they really did need to get into this century. Thanks for letting me know. It won't help this year's problems, but we'll know its coming!

    andreremmers
    andreremmers like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

    Those steroids are making Nadal mad or he is just in his days.

    dami1
    dami1 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

    @andreremmers Steroids are ok, but don't speak about hormones, you might get into trouble here!! I note that Nadal wasn't bothered at all in Madrid when he was playing at 2pm while his next day opponent had to finish his match at 1:40 am in the morning!!!