Controversy has erupted yet again at the French Open after organisers decided to suspend Novak Djokovic’s semi-final clash with Dominic Thiem for bad weather - despite the sun shining.
Djokovic's hopes of winning a fourth straight grand slam title were in jeopardy when rain interrupted play, trailing 2-6, 6-3, 1-3.
The 32-year-old Serb will return to court at midday on Saturday and with plenty of work to do if he is to get a crack at Rafael Nadal in the final.
Djokovic is bidding to become the first man in the professional era to twice hold the four big prizes in tennis simultaneously.
In gusty winds Thiem's powerful groundstrokes helped him dominate the first set and Djokovic was in trouble early in the second when he fended off a break point.
He got the crucial break in the eighth game of the second set, however, when a Thiem forehand kissed the net-cord and flew long and Djokovic levelled the match.
With rain clouds closing in Thiem broke serve with a huge forehand early in the third, shortly before play was suspended for the day.
However organisers were left looking silly when the sun broke out for the rest of the day after play had already been abandoned.
The skies brightened almost immediately after play was ended for the day, and at least another two hours of play could have been accommodated.
Djokovic had been increasingly frustrated with the conditions on court with high winds kicking up the clay.
He even summoned the tour supervisor at one stage to complain about the severity of the conditions.
And many suggested Djokovic was the reason for play being suspended until Saturday.
Jim Courier, broadcasting on ITV4, said: “This is going to sting and it’s going to stink. These conditions are very difficult for Novak, these are very advantageous for Dominic Thiem [who hits the ball with heavy topspin, usually an advantage in the wind]”.
“Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer came ready to accept the conditions and so did Dominic Thiem. But Novak came ready to not like them. The happiest person right now would be Novak on his way back home.
“For me, this should not happen and these players should be back on the court playing right now. These fans have paid top dollar for this ticket. One ticket for one match. From what I know, I think this is a terrible move.
“I’m really curious what the reasoning will be. This is a head scratcher. Let’s hope the organisers have a legitimate answer to explain it because if not this thing is going to sting and it’s going to stink, frankly.”
A number of broadcasters reported that Djokovic had been seen leaving the site before the cancellation of play had even been announced, although tournament organisers denied those suggestions.
ITV4’s John Inverdale referred to “player power” as a possible explanation of the early call, while Eurosport’s Annabel Croft said: “I’m gobsmacked.”
The Telegraph’s Simon Briggs tweeted “the cancellation of play an hour ago has to go down as one of the great howlers.”
Former World No.1 Amelie Mauresmo, who had earlier labelled the scheduling of the women’s semi-finals a ‘disgrace’, tweeted: “It hasn’t rained for 50 minutes and already play has been cancelled.”
"I believe that we have hit rock bottom but the good thing is that the only way now is up.”
This is ridiculous. It's now been dry for almost an hour. The match could have been approaching its conclusion by now. #RolandGarros— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) June 7, 2019
The negative: play cancelled for the day.— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) June 7, 2019
The positive: it’s a beautiful day! pic.twitter.com/mHg9voIXzW
Well the match would have been finished but they decided to cancel. Played lots in the rain this week and they cancel when it’s sunshine????? 🤪— Pat Cash (@TheRealPatCash) June 7, 2019
Play is cancelled for the day. Quite odd considering there's sunshine right now but there we are.— George Bellshaw (@BellshawGeorge) June 7, 2019
The sun is shining.— José Morgado (@josemorgado) June 7, 2019
What the hell...
Here's Djokovic, having already packed his bag, about to storm off the court with Thiem still standing on the baseline ready to continue play at 3-1 in the third.— Oleg S. (@AnnaK_4ever) June 7, 2019
Tell me again how Novak didn't influence the subsequent events. pic.twitter.com/QVISVAmnEY
The semi-final will resume at 1200 local time (1000GMT) on Saturday, organisers said.
With 11-times champion Nadal safely through, organisers said they still hope for a Sunday finish.