Tennis: Weather leaves Djokovic facing hectic Paris schedule

by Martyn WOOD Novak Djokovic will look to conquer both the weather and last-16 opponent Roberto Bautista Agut on Tuesday with more bleak conditions forecast at Roland Garros.

The French Open suffered its first washout since 2000 on Monday when all scheduled matches were cancelled due to heavy rain, and there could be more problems on Tuesday with further rain expected.

The threat of transport chaos also loomed over the tournament after unions in France called for fresh strikes on the national rail network beginning Tuesday and on the Paris Metro from Thursday.

Djokovic, who is bidding for a first French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, finished his third-round match against Britain’s Aljaz Bedene in near darkness on Saturday, with the world number one later calling for floodlights to be introduced at Roland Garros.

“For a Grand Slam you need to have lights. I’m really hoping we can have that very soon for these particular situations, especially considering the fact that forecast for weather is not that great in the following days,” he said.

Those fears were realised on Monday, leaving Djokovic facing the prospect of playing his last-16 tie Wednesday, quarter-final on Thursday and semi-final Friday should there be further delays on Tuesday.

“It’s not good for anybody, you know, waiting the whole day for players, for fans, for tournament organisers. So I’m just — just hoping that, you know, things will go well in the future.”

The Serb, poised to become the first man to win $100 million in prize money, will top the bill against Spanish 14th seed Bautista Agut on Philippe Chatrier court, while Andy Murray is scheduled to take on French ninth seed Richard Gasquet for a place in the semi-finals.

Murray has won the last five meetings between the pair, but Gasquet can draw upon the support of a home crowd hoping to see him become the first Frenchman to win a Grand Slam title since Yannick Noah in 1983.

Two-time former French Open champion Sergi Bruguera, who is coaching Gasquet, believes Murray will provide an even more formidable assignment after notable wins already over Nick Kyrgios and Kei Nishikori.

“Murray is one of the in-form players. He just reached the final in Madrid and he won in Rome. He’s a monster, especially in five sets. He’s proved he can win Roland Garros, it’s an incredibly difficult match,” said Bruguera.

Defending champion Stan Wawrinka is due to face unfancied Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the quarter-finals on Suzanne Lenglen court, two weeks after thrashing the world number 55 by 6-1, 6-1 in Geneva.

Serena Williams continues her quest for a record-equalling 22nd Open era Grand Slam title against Ukrainian 18th seed Elina Svitolina in the women’s last 16.

Venus Williams plays Swiss eighth Timea Bascinszky, who reached last year’s semi-finals, and there are two fourth-round matches still to be completed from Sunday.

Second seed Agnieszka Radwanska leads Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 3-0 while sixth seed Simona Halep of Romania was 5-3 up on Australian veteran Samantha Stosur.

Tomas Berdych takes on former finalist David Ferrer in other fourth-round action as 2014 semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis battles Belgian 12th seed David Goffin.

Austrian 13th Dominic Thiem is up against unseeded Marcel Granollers with both players aiming to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Granollers made the last 16 without hitting a ball when nine-time champion Rafael Nadal pulled out of the tournament with a wrist injury.


© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse


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