Tennis: Jabeur hits out at controversial French Open scheduling

AFP , Tuesday 4 Jun 2024

Tunisian star Ons Jabeur slammed French Open organisers on Tuesday, criticising the lack of women's matches in the night sessions and the resulting record-breaking late finishes.

Tunisia s Ons Jabeur. AFP
Tunisia s Ons Jabeur. AFP


All 10 of the night matches at Roland Garros so far this year have been men's ties.

The last few days have also seen the two latest finishes in tournament history.

Jabeur's quarter-final defeat by Coco Gauff started at 11:00 am local time (0900 GMT) on Tuesday, with the early exchanges played in front of largely empty stands on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The central court's schedule during the first week started later, at midday, but was brought forward in an apparent belated attempt to avoid late finishes.

However, with the sun since shining after rainy conditions in the opening week, that decision has instead just potentially caused large gaps between matches.

"I would have loved a quarter-final at night, not at 11:00 am. For me, doesn't make sense," three-time Grand Slam finalist Jabeur said when asked about the night sessions, introduced in 2021 as part of a lucrative deal with Prime Video.

"I wish I can see the contract time between both Prime and here to know what's the deal there.

"There were a lot of good women's matches. Obviously not four hours, but who said it's healthy to play past 1:00 am, and who said the stadium was full for 1:00 am or 2:00 am? I don't know who is watching the matches at that time."

Novak Djokovic's third-round win over Lorenzo Musetti ended at a record 3:07 am local time on Sunday morning, while Alexander Zverev's victory over Holger Rune lasted until 1:40 am on Tuesday morning.

Djokovic suffered a knee injury in his following match on Monday, saying he might have to pull out of the event before the quarter-finals.

Zverev's match against Rune started in front of a packed crowd, but swathes of fans had long left by the time the German secured a five-set victory.

The Paris metro system closes at around 12:30 am local time on weekdays.

"We deserve a better scheduling. We talked about this in Australia. We are still talking about this here," added Jabeur.

"Even for you, the journalists, I don't think it's healthy to have these night matches. It's for everybody I'm speaking...

"We have to find a way out so that everybody is happy -- the players, the journalists, the full team.

"The ball kids are young and they're still on the courts when it's really late. I don't know if it's logical to have all that."

If a men's quarter-final is scheduled for the 11th and last late slot on Wednesday, it would be the first French Open that not a single women's match has made the cut since the night sessions started.

Tournament favourite Iga Swiatek, though, is more than happy to have not been selected for any evening matches.

"Sorry to say that, but I don't care, because I'm honestly just focusing on my matches, and I like playing during the day, so it's comfortable for me that I can be scheduled that way," she said.

 (For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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