Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

Manner of rescheduling irks Nadal

PARIS — Rafael Nadal wanted to get a few things off his chest.

Not about the quality of his play Friday, which fell below his usual standards at Roland Garros — for the second match in a row, he dropped a lethargic opening set before winning.

What really bothered the usually affable Nadal was the way the French Open's scheduling decisions, and the weather, combined to force him to now play on consecutive days, while his third-round opponent today, Fabio Fognini, was "watching the TV in the locker room" Friday.

"That's not fair," Nadal said, his arms crossed, his voice stern.

"This is not right," the seven-time champion in Paris said moments later, shaking his head.

What flustered the Spaniard was his 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Martin Klizan was supposed to be played Thursday but wound up being postponed because of rain — in part because it was the third match slated for its court.

The 27th-seeded Fognini's second-round victory win over Lukas Rosol, meanwhile, was No. 2 on its court and finished Thursday. Nadal's point: When there's rain in the forecast, everything possible should be done to ensure that two matches whose winners will face each other next should be completed on the same day.

Nadal also didn't like that while Fognini-Rosol followed one women's match — which, because they are best-of-three-sets, tend to be shorter than the men's best-of-five — on Thursday's program, Nadal-Klizan followed both a men's match and a women's match. His match should have taken priority on a day when showers made rescheduling likely, Nadal argued, because if women "have to play two days in a row, (it) is not a big deal."

Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open women's champion, sided with Nadal, saying men should "get more time to recover."

"Especially now, when he has to play day after day, I think he's right. They should play early," Ivanovic said after reaching the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-2 win against Virginie Razzano, the Frenchwoman who stunned Serena Williams in the first round last year.

All in all, the 11-time major champion's laments were the most interesting development on a day bereft of on-court drama for the top players.

Williams extended her career-best winning streak to 27 matches by defeating Sorana Cirstea 6-0, 6-2 and has lost only six games through three rounds. Defending champion Maria Sharapova needed all of 15 minutes to finish off her straight-set win over Eugenie Bouchard in a rain-suspended second-round match. Two other past champions advanced: 2009's Svetlana Kuznetsova and 2010's Francesca Schiavone,

Roger Federer lost serve in the first game but not again, getting to the fourth round by eliminating No. 30 Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.

He now faces No. 15 Gilles Simon, who came back to beat No. 18 Sam Querrey 2-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2. That left No. 19 John Isner, a Tampa resident, as the last U.S. man in the tournament after his 5-7, 6-7 (9-7), 6-3, 6-1, 8-6 win against Ryan Harrison.

. KEY MATCHES

Today

Men: Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (26); Rafael Nadal (3) vs. Fabio Fognini (27); Tommy Haas (12) vs. John Isner (19)

Women: Maria Sharapova (2) vs. Zheng Jie; Victoria Azarenka (3) vs. Alize Cornet (31); Sam Stosur (9) vs. Jelena Jankovic

TV: 5 a.m., Tennis; noon, Ch. 8

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