Novak Djokovic and Coco Gauff caught in 'ridiculous' furore as US Open move blasted

Tennis fans and commentators are crying foul over the scheduling of the US Open quarter-finals.

Coco Gauff and Novak Djokovic at the US Open.
Coco Gauff and Novak Djokovic were scheduled in the day session for their US Open quarter-finals. Image: Getty

Tennis fans and commentators are questioning the fairness of the US Open schedule, after a number of American players appeared to get preferential treatment on Tuesday (local time). Jelena Ostapenko expressed her frustrations with the scheduling for her quarter-final clash with Coco Gauff, after she was made to play in oppressive heat in the middle of the day, despite her win over Iga Swiatek two nights ago finishing after midnight.

The Latvian was demolished 6-0 6-2 by Gauff in a disappointing display after her upset of World No.1 Swiatek. Speaking in her post-match press conference, Ostapenko claimed she was told by organisers that her match against Gauff would be at night on Tuesday.

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Instead it was scheduled at midday, and Ostapenko completely wilted in some oppressive heat. The former French Open champion described the move as "crazy" considering she didn't get back to her hotel until well after midnight two nights ago.

“Today was not really good match from me,” she said. “I think it’s really hard to recover from those night matches, because after beating World No. 1, I went to sleep at like 5 in the morning.

“You sleep for, I don’t know, maybe like seven, eight hours, but you completely don’t recover. Yesterday the whole day I felt very low energy. I thought today I was going to wake up and feel better. But honestly, I didn’t really feel much better. I think it’s a little bit crazy."

Coco Gauff supports Jelena Ostapenko's gripe

Ostapenko said she struggled with the heat and bright sunshine. “If I play a match, a late-night session, then I suppose in one day I have to play at least at the same time or later on, because you don’t really have much time to recover. I was pretty sure I’m gonna play at night session (against Gauff), because that’s what they told me," she said.

“When I saw the schedule I was a little bit surprised, not in a really good way. It was very hard to see the ball, because half of the court was in the shadow and half was in the sun. I felt like I was reacting too late because of the shadow.”

Gauff expressed her sympathy for her opponent, saying: "It is definitely a valid thing. I remember in Montreal I had to play Marketa (Vondrousova), and we finished around 11pm and then played the next day at 1 or 2. Luckily the match before us went long but I am still at the site and everything.

"Ostapenko had to play the second night match. I don't know what time she practiced the next day, but it is definitely a different feeling. Yeah it definitely plays a factor, maybe more so mentally than physically, because physically you have the day in between but mentally these days go by fast."

Jelena Ostapenko, pictured here in action against Coco Gauff at the US Open.
Jelena Ostapenko wilted in the heat against Coco Gauff at the US Open. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic caught up in US Open scheduling furore

Questions have also been asked as to why Novak Djokovic's clash with Taylor Fritz was scheduled in the day session as well. The mercury hit 32 degrees celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) in New York on Tuesday, and the humidity hit 50 per cent.

A number of fans and commentators claimed the move to put Ostapenko and Djokovic in the day session was aimed at benefiting Americans Gauff and Fritz - who would seemingly be more used to the heat than their European opponents. American great Andy Roddick said before the match: "Conditions better for [Fritz] during day. He wants as much heat as possible to potentially affect things. Court plays quicker during the day. Needs things to be extreme. If I’m him, I’d rather have hit as hot as possible during the day."

Novak Djokovic, pictured here during his clash with Taylor Fritz at the US Open.
Novak Djokovic and Taylor Fritz battled it out in the heat of the day at the US Open. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

It certainly paid off for Gauff, however Djokovic managed to see off Fritz in straight sets. The clash of Americans Frances Tiafoe and Ben Shelton was scheduled in the prime-time night session, with Djokovic relegated to the day despite being a 23-time grand slam champion (three of which have come at the US Open). The move to put two Americans in the prime-time spot at their home grand slam isn't surprising, but many in the tennis world were left crying foul.

While some slammed Ostapenko for complaining, many felt she had a very valid point considering the brutal turnaround between matches. British player Jamie Murray tweeted: "Very unfair scheduling. Only one reason for this."

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