Roger Federer is being treated with disrespect rarely seen in his career and the tennis world is filthy about the French Open’s “bonkers” blunder.
The Swiss legend on Sunday morning (AEST) is locked in an epic slug fest with Germany’s Nikalas Koepfer and the finish line was nowhere in sight as the clock ticked over midnight Paris time.
The biggest names in tennis have all had to suffer the slight of playing in empty stadiums this tournament as a result of a local Covid-19 curfew coinciding with the tournament’s first ever night session matches.
The match ticked over midnight when Federer took the third set in a tiebreak to lead 7-6 6-7 7-6 heading into the fourth set.
The local restrictions earlier this week had resulted in fans being kicked out of stadiums in the middle of matches in order for fans to beat the 9pm curfew.
The ridiculous decision to play night session matches beginning from 9pm (local time) has been under fire all week – but the indignation of Federer, 39, perhaps playing his final ever match at Roland Garros in front of an empty stadium pushing towards 2am is simply too much.
Tennis commentators grilled tournament officials Sunday morning.
Roger Federer in front of the empty stands on Philippe Chatrier centre court.Source:Getty Images
High profile tennis commentators labelled it “bonkers”.
Veteran tennis journalist Mike Dickson wrote that the tournament is simply out-dated.
“11.20pm, a set all and it looks like the tournament’s biggest drawcard may go out some time tomorrow. There’s more atmosphere on the moon. Don’t know how the French Open survived 130 years without these night sessions,” he posted on Twitter.
Early in the match, English TV commentator David Law wrote: “It’s nearly 11pm in Paris. By 11pm, Roger Federer and Dominik Koepfer might well be level at one set all. Who is that actually good for?”.
New York Times tennis correspndent Ben Rothenberg posted: “Something about seeing Federer in an empty stadium feels even sadder than the rest of all this lame crowdless tennis we’ve slogged through in this past year. No one gets crowds like his”.
Stuart Fraser posted on Twitter: “Absolutely bonkers starting night sessions at 9pm”.
Things Roger Federer is not still playing for:
Night sessions in an empty stadium pic.twitter.com/3sP64QMoq6
The French Open launched night sessions for the first time this year, reserving the day’s top match for primetime audiences as part of a new broadcasting deal, but a nationwide curfew is giving organisers an almighty scheduling headache.
Switzerland’s Roger Federer returns the ball to Germany’s Dominik Koepfer. Photo by AFP.Source:AFP
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) is in the first of a three-year contract with Amazon Prime Video that requires it to program the main match in the evening, when it is exclusively broadcast in France on the streaming platform, tournament director Guy Forget told AFP.
However, the streaming of sports events in France is in its nascent stages, and because of the 9pm curfew, organisers are forced to empty the stands around 8.30pm, leaving these top-of-the-bill matches to be played in the shadows.
The easing of Covid-19 restrictions on June 9 will enable 5,000 spectators to attend the first men’s quarter-final, but it will be the only one of 10 evening sessions to feature supporters.
— with AFP
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