Victoria Azarenka walked off court after just three games in her opening match at the French Open on Sunday, fuming over the ‘ridiculous’ conditions.
Roland Garros got underway in the chill and damp of Paris in Autumn on Sunday, with Azarenka walking off court complaining it was “too cold” to play.
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The French Open, which was pushed back from its traditional May-June slot due to the coronavirus crisis, began in steady drizzle and temperatures struggling to reach 10 degrees.
It was all too much for Azarenka, 31, who left the almost deserted Court Suzanne Lenglen after just three games.
“I don’t see the point of sitting on the court when it's eight degrees,” fumed the two-time major winner.
On court she complained: “We are sitting like ducks. It’s too cold, it's eight degrees, I live in Florida.
“This is getting a little ridiculous. I'm not waiting,” she said before storming off to seek shelter.
She added: “You guys are joking right? You don't see what's happening? You guys are not playing, so you have no idea.
“It's raining for like 15 minutes and we're playing, who cares? You can't hold your racquet because it's so wet.”
She returned to complete a 6-1, 6-2 win, playing in black leggings and a tracksuit top.
“Does it increase the risk of players getting injured? Absolutely, I think that it does,” she added ahead of a week in which the cold, wet conditions are forecast to continue.
That echoed fears expressed by 12-time champion Rafael Nadal, who said the conditions combined with a new heavier ball could cause elbow and shoulder problems for players.
Azarenka regained her composure when the match resumed, even if she did complete it wearing clothes more associated with being at the snow.
“I am glad to get it finished so I can watch the others struggle in this weather and rain,” said Azarenka.
However American great Jim Courier wasn’t particularly impressed with Azarenka’s actions in commentary.
“I’d like them to have a better argument than: ‘I live in a place where it’s warm’,” the former World No.1 said.
“To be fair, I don’t think that was a particularly strong argument from Vika.
“I certainly understand the players’ trepidation about playing in conditions they deem are unsafe.
"But the fact they are playing all around the grounds doesn’t give a lot of credence to their argument.”
'Ridiculous' cold and rain sparks French Open revolt.— AFP Sport English (@AFP_Sport) September 27, 2020
Victoria Azarenka: 'We are sitting like ducks. It's too cold, it's eight degrees, I live in Florida. This is getting a little ridiculous. I'm not waiting.'https://t.co/fjTiOUTfxh #RG20 @DaveJamesafp pic.twitter.com/iCiWj9rqrm
French Open gets underway in wintry conditions
On Court Simonne Mathieu, Belgian 16th seed Elise Mertens and Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan twice left the arena after also halting play due to the slippery conditions.
Despite the interruptions, play largely continued elsewhere at Roland Garros including on Philippe Chatrier under new the retractable roof.
The roof on the showpiece court has 11 metal and canvas sections, weighing 350 tons each for a total area of 10,000 square metres.
It can cover the sport’s most famous clay court in 15 minutes, while allowing air to pass through the sides.
The roof cost $64 million and brings the French Open into line with the other three majors.
It could play a key role with a dreary forecast for the first week, vastly different to the warmer conditions in the tournament's traditional May-June time slot.
The rain had cleared by the time 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray walked out on to Philippe Chatrier.
Murray, playing his first clay court match since losing a five-set semi-final to the Swiss star in 2017, may have wished it had remained shut as 16th seed Wawrinka swept to a 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 win.
The 35-year-old fired 42 winners past wildcard Murray, now ranked at 111 in the world after being pushed to the brink of retirement by his lengthy battle with a hip injury.
“I should be analysing that hard and trying to understand why the performance was like that,” said 33-year-old Murray after his joint-worst defeat at a Slam.
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