'This is trash': Tennis fans rage over 'ridiculous' Rafa Nadal farce

Rafael Nadal, pictured here in action against Richard Gasquet at the French Open.
Rafael Nadal looks on during his match against Richard Gasquet at the French Open. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Tennis fans were left fuming on Thursday when Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet were forced to play their high-profile French Open clash in an empty stadium.

Bidding for a 14th French Open crown, Nadal celebrated his 35th birthday by defeating Gasquet - a player he first met when they were 12 years old.

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Nadal stormed to a 6-0, 7-5, 6-2 win, however the match was played in an empty Court Philippe Chatrier because of Paris' 9pm Covid-19 curfew.

It meant Nadal had to celebrate his birthday without any fans watching, who were also robbed of seeing the last Frenchman in the draw exit his home grand slam.

Fans flocked to social media to slam the scheduling decision, with some labelling the farcical scenes "ridiculous" and "trash".

Gasquet won just nine points in the first set as he became the last of 18 Frenchmen eliminated from the draw before the second round - the home contingent's worst result ever at Roland Garros.

He managed a brief show of defiance from 2-5 to 5-5 in the second set but eventually fell to a 17th defeat in 17 matches with Nadal.

"The important thing is winning the matches. If it's in straight sets it's better," said Nadal.

"I don't complain at all, the main thing is to feel myself playing well."

Federer and Djokovic also advance to third round

Meanwhile, top seed Novak Djokovic continued his bid for a second Roland Garros and 19th grand slam title with a straight-sets win over Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas.

The 34-year-old, who is looking to become the first man in more than 50 years to claim all four slams multiple times, won 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

"I stayed concentrated. I thought the third set was very difficult for me because he lifted the level of his game," said the World No.1 after his 350th grand slam match in which he fired 32 winners.

Djokovic will next face Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis.

And Roger Federer stayed on course for a quarter-final showdown with Djokovic, but only after becoming entangled in a rare running dispute with the chair umpire.

Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet, pictured here playing in front of an empty stadium at the French Open.
Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet played in front of an empty stadium at the French Open. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

The 20-time major winner and 2009 champion in Paris saw off Marin Cilic for the 10th time in 11 meetings, winning 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.

But the Swiss legend was handed a time violation by umpire Emmanuel Joseph at 1-3 down in the second set for taking too long between points in order to fetch his towel.

"I don't even dare to go my towel anymore," he said to Joseph.

Federer, the oldest man in the draw at 39, continued to lose his cool and the set before recovering to defeat former World No.3 Cilic.

"I had very good moments, in the tie-break in particular, and I served really well to finish," said Federer after hitting 47 winners.

Playing in only his second French Open since 2015, Federer goes on to face Germany's 59th-ranked Dominik Koepfer.

with agencies

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