PARIS: Yes, they actually managed to complete a match on this wettest of weeks at the French Open. Two, even. And both involved surprises: Two of the top half-dozen seeded women lost within minutes of each other, No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 6 Simona Halep.
After their fourth-round exits Tuesday, both Radwanska and Halep complained firmly about tournament organizers’ decision to make them play through drizzles — or worse — that made courts slippery and clay-caked tennis balls heavy.
“I mean, it’s not a (low-tier) tournament. It’s a Grand Slam. How can you allow players to play in the rain?” said Radwanska, the 2012 Wimbledon runner-up.
“I don’t think they really care what we think. I think they care about other things,” Radwanska added, saying her racket-wielding right hand gave her problems because she had surgery on it years ago.
Halep sounded a similar tone, noting it was “impossible to play,” and saying: “No one cares about the players, in my opinion. I don’t care that I lost the match today, but I was close to (getting) injured.”
Radwanska dropped 10 consecutive games while being beaten 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 by 102nd-ranked Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria. Shortly before that, Halep lost 7-6 (0), 6-3 to No. 21 Sam Stosur in a contest between two past finalists at Roland Garros.
Halep wondered aloud whether those in charge of the French Open insisted on going forward with matches in the rain because they “are scared” about completing the tournament on time. All play was washed out Monday, the first full day lost at the event in 16 years.
“(It’s) not our fault. (It’s) not their fault,” she said. “But the decisions were not, I think, the best.”
Radwanska vs. Pironkova originally began Sunday, and Radwanska was three games from victory at 3-0 in the second set when play was suspended. They didn’t make it back on court until Tuesday, began more than an hour late because of more rain, played for about a half-hour, then were halted by a 2 ½-hour delay.
There were stretches when action proceeded despite drops falling, and — perhaps not surprisingly, given that she won — Pironkova was OK with that.
“Well, it happened before, of course. We have played in all sorts of conditions. Usually if the court is not fit for play, like if it’s slippery, they would cancel the match right away,” said Pironkova, who reached her first French Open quarterfinal. “But today the court was still hanging in. It was OK. We could have played, and so we did.”
The Stosur-Halep match was suspended Sunday during the first set. And 2011 U.S. Open champion Stosur — wearing a green long-sleeved shirt against the chill of temperatures in the 50s (about 15 degrees Celsius) — was better throughout Tuesday, her big hitting able to withstand the conditions better than Halep’s spins and angles.
“We’re told to play, we play. If it gets too wet, you’ve got to say something,” Stosur said. “It’s not good out there, but it was fine for us.”
She is into the quarterfinals in Paris for the fourth time.
“It was really tough, obviously, with the start-stop and having a day off and everything,” Stosur said. “Once you’re out there and it’s raining, it’s not so nice, but that’s the way it is.”
Four of the top 11 players remain in the women’s tournament: No. 1 Serena Williams, No. 4 Garbine Muguruza, No. 8 Timea Bacsinszky and No. 9 Venus Williams. Muguruza is already into the quarterfinals; the other three were scheduled to play in the fourth round Tuesday but those matches were postponed until Wednesday.
The first two men’s quarterfinals — No. 2 Andy Murray against No. 9 Richard Gasquet, and defending champion Stan Wawrinka against Albert Ramos-Vinolas — also were moved to Wednesday.
Novak Djokovic’s fourth-round match did finally get started Tuesday, and he split the first two sets with 14th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain as they also went on and off court.
Djokovic was leading 4-1 in the third when another delay arrived, also interrupting fourth-round matches involving Tomas Berdych vs. David Ferrer, David Goffin vs. Ernests Gulbis, and Dominic Thiem vs. Marcel Granollers.
During one break, the top-seeded Djokovic, seeking to win a fourth consecutive major title and complete a career Grand Slam, wandered around Court Philippe Chatrier to check the weather, borrowing a green-and-orange Roland Garros umbrella from a fan.
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