French Open: Nadal says Paris schedule is ‘a joke’

Ball boys bring towels to Rafael Nadal during his second-round match against Martin Klizan yesterday. Picture: Reuters
Ball boys bring towels to Rafael Nadal during his second-round match against Martin Klizan yesterday. Picture: Reuters
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RAFAEL Nadal described the French Open schedule as a joke after struggling through his second-round match against Martin Klizan in Paris.

The seven-time champion was scheduled to play on Thursday but only got as far as the warm-up before the rain came down and had to return yesterday morning.

For the second successive match, Nadal dropped the opening set, but again he turned things around to defeat Slovakian Klizan 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

The Spaniard’s gripe was that his next opponent, Fabio Fognini, was scheduled to play his match against Lukas Rosol earlier on Thursday and therefore will have had almost an extra day’s rest when they meet today.

He said: “I think everybody knows in this room that the schedule of yesterday was wrong. That’s the real thing.

“The director of the tournament, supervisors, they take a bad position two days ago, because when you make the schedule at 7pm, you know what weather predictions you have for the next days.

“I cannot play third after a men’s and a girl’s match when my possible opponent plays second after girls. That’s not fair. And today I was playing almost three hours on court, and my opponent was watching the TV in the locker room.

“So if you told me that’s fair, I say that’s not fair. The only thing that I can do is be positive, smile, and try to win my match and try to be ready for tomorrow. But that’s not the right thing. This is not right. And I hope they accept the mistake, because girls plays best of three. If they have to play two days in a row, it’s not a big deal. For us it’s completely different.

“The excuse they told me was because Rosol have to play doubles. I am sorry, but that’s a joke. 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 in the doubles draw then and I have the priority to play? That’s not the right excuse to make a schedule like this.”

Nadal looked particularly sluggish in the first set yesterday, making uncharacteristic errors and dropping the ball far too short.

The cold weather partly nullifies the effect of his spin, as does playing another left-hander, but the Spaniard managed to pick his game up enough to turn the match around.

Nadal said: “In the first set I simply was not motivated enough. I tried, but I couldn’t find the necessary motivation. “esterday I just warmed up for half an hour, so I haven’t played much tennis for three days. That makes things not easy. So I started the match probably with not the right intensity, with more doubts than usual. The positive thing was that I had a good reaction at the beginning of the second set.”

Roger Federer, already through to the fourth round after a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 victory over Julien Benneteau, had sympathy with both Nadal and tournament organisers, saying: “I understand that he’s frustrated. That’s understandable. He would like to play every second day. But 50 per cent of the players couldn’t play their match, I think. It makes the situation very complicated for everybody. I think they (organisers) didn’t do it on purpose. They do their best.”

It was the end for French entertainer Gael Monfils, who had four match points in the fourth set against Tommy Robredo, but could not take them and ran out of steam in the decider, going down 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 7-6, (7/3) 6-2.

Another Frenchman, Gilles Simon, beat Sam Querrey, while David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nicolas Almagro also reached the fourth round, but 10th seed Marin Cilic lost to Viktor Troicki and Milos Raonic was beaten by Kevin Anderson.There were wins for Richard Gasquet, Stanislas Wawrinka and 35-year-old Tommy Haas.