'Absolute joke': Fans rage over 'ridiculous' scenes at French Open

Novak Djokovic, pictured here walking off the court after play was suspended during his quarter-final clash with Matteo Berrettini.
Novak Djokovic walks off the court after play was suspended during his quarter-final clash with Matteo Berrettini. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic's quarter-final clash with Matteo Berrettini at the French Open on Wednesday was rocked by farcical scenes when the match was suspended in the fourth set so fans could leave the stadium.

For the first time at this year's tournament, fans were allowed to attend the night session with a capacity crowd of 5000.

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The usual 9pm curfew was extended to 11pm, however that caused absolute chaos when the Djokovic-Berrettini match went past 11pm.

With Djokovic leading 3-2 in a tense fourth set, the match was brought to a grinding halt so those in attendance could leave the grounds and beat the curfew.

Members of the crowd, pictured here leaving Court Philippe Chatrier during Novak Djokovic's clash with Matteo Berrettini.
Members of the crowd leave Court Philippe Chatrier during Novak Djokovic's clash with Matteo Berrettini. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

Some fans chanted: "We are going to stay, we are going to stay", before they relented and filed out of Court Philippe Chatrier.

"We paid 500 euros for two and a half sets of a match. It's unacceptable," said one man watching the quarter-final with his wife and two children.

"They should have started at 7pm and not 8pm."

Both players were forced to leave the court while the stadium was evacuated, leaving commentators and social media users gobsmacked.

"Pretty lame, throwing fans out of the stadium before a match is over," tweeted American tennis writer Ben Rothenberg.

"Three hours is too small a window to reliably finish a best-of-five. Hope these fans get refunds."

Others described it as a "farce" and "ridiculous".

The controversial curfew has caused chaos all tournament, with the night session introduced this year under an agreement between the French tennis federation and streaming giant Amazon.

The crunch quarter-final clash between Stefanos Tsistipas and Daniil Medvedev was played in an empty stadium on Tuesday, while the likes of Carla Suaraz Navarro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have been forced to farewell Roland Garros with no one in attendance for their matches.

Djokovic and Nadal set up semi-final blockbuster

Djokovic managed to overcome the untimely interruption, prevailing 6-3 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 to set up a blockbuster semi-final showdown with Rafael Nadal.

Earlier, Nadal dropped a set at Roland Garros for the first time in two years but roared back to beat 10th seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-0.

Nadal had beaten Schwartzman twice before at Roland Garros, but he seemed to have met his match as the Argentine played with confidence, dominating the longer rallies and for a brief moment it seemed he had exposed a chink in the Spaniard's armour.

Dominic Thiem was the last player to take a set off Nadal in the 2019 final, but Schwartzman ended the 13-times winner's run of 36 consecutive sets at Roland Garros.

"Losing sets is something I accepted during my tennis career," Nadal, who is chasing a record-extending 21st grand slam title, told reporters.

"The thing that matters is how you recover from a set lost.

"I'm very proud that in that moment, probably the best level of tennis that I had showed up until the end of the match."

Nadal stormed back into the match with a vengeance, wrapping up the final set in 26 minutes to move into his 14th Roland Garros semi-final.

with agencies

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