'Absolutely ludicrous': Commentators fume over French Open farce

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Pictured right, Barbora Krejcikova waits to serve during her shock first round loss at the French Open.
Defending champ Barbora Krejcikova's shock first round loss was punctuated by a frustrating delay in the second set. Pic: Getty/Twitter

A seemingly nonsensical rule at the French Open has been called out by commentators after farcical scenes unfolded during a centre court match at Roland Garros.

Defending champion Barbora Krejcikova's shock first-round exit against teenager Diane Parry was punctuated a lengthy delay due to an unpopular rule.

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The second seed from the Czech Republic was up a 6-1 2-1 and had break of serve in the second set, when the match was delayed for several minutes so fans could find their seats.

As an irate Eurosport commentator Mark Petchey explained to viewers wondering what was going on, the French Open has a rule in place saying fans can only enter or re-enter the stadium to find their seats during a changeover in the match.

It means that rather than being allowed to return to their seats after the first game of a set, fans are forced to wait outside for three games, causing an inevitable log-jam outside the stadium.

The farcical situation meant there was a large group of fans all clamouring to find their seats, causing Krejcikova's match to be delayed at a crucial time.

"Well, of course, this is always the three-game nightmare that tennis has. This has obviously just compounded it because there is an issue about the tickets and who is sitting in whose seat - even though there are plenty enough seats to go and sit in," Petchey said in commentary.

"But I say it every time: when are the seven governing bodies going to change the rule back that you can come in at 1-0 as a fan?

"You have paid huge money to come to this tournament today, it is raining outside, why are the fans kept outside for three games?

"It is an absolutely ludicrous decision. It has absolutely no benefit to the sport at all - in fact, it is slowing the sport down. Every single time, virtually."

Fellow commentator Sam Smith added: "It is not always easy to find your seat in these stadiums, is it? It isn't! Not when you are under pressure, as well."

Curiously, Krejcikova did not win another game in the second set after the lengthy delay, eventually crashing out in three sets to the 19-year-old French woman.

Defending champ stunned in first round upset

The Czech became just the third defending champion to be knocked out in the opening round at Roland Garros, losing to 97th-ranked French woman Diane Parry.

In her first match in three months because of an injured right elbow, the 2021 champion couldn't match it with Parry despite a strong start.

The Czech star won eight of the first nine games to take a one-set lead, but the 19-year-old Parry reeled off six-straight games to tie the match before winning it 1-6 6-2 6-3.

Parry received raucous backing from spectators at Court Philippe Chatrier, where the noise echoed under the retractable roof pulled shut because of rain.

"It's a dream for me. It was always a dream to play on this court, with the French crowd to support me," Parry said.

"They clearly pushed me to victory today. I'm the happiest person right now."

Krejcikova broke down in tears in her post-match press conference after her stunning first-round loss, admitting she "hit a wall" during the contest.

Barbora Krejcikova broke down in tears after her loss at the French Open. Image: Eurosport
Barbora Krejcikova broke down in tears after her loss at the French Open. Image: Eurosport

"I just collapsed physically," she said.

"It was tough because I didn't play the matches. Matches are different to practices. I tried to prepare the best way I could."

However, she admitted she was happy just to have made it to Paris after fearing her elbow injury would prevent her from playing at all.

“It was difficult. I mean, I expected it’s going to be difficult, and it was,” she said.

“I think overall, tennis-wise, it wasn’t that bad. I think physically, it was a little worse.”

The only other women to lose in the first round after winning the title the year before are Anastasia Myskina in 2005 and Jelena Ostapenko in 2018.

Since the Open era began in 1968, Krejcikova is just the seventh reigning women's champion to be bounced in the first round at all of the grand slam tournaments.

with agencies

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