June 07, 2019
Johanna Konta on Friday joined the chorus of disapproval descending on the tournament organisers for moving the women’s delayed semi-finals away from the main showcourt at Roland Garros – supposedly in order for them to finish before the arrival of the forecast bad weather.
Johanna Konta questions French Open organisers after semi-finals court switch
Rafael Nadal’s match against Roger Federer started two hours later on Court Philippe Chatrier, the traditional home of the women’s semi-finals, followed there by the second men’s semi between Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem.
Instead of having their big day on Chatrier, the British No 1 and her opponent, Marketa Vondrousova, were moved to Court Simonne Mathieu, where the Czech teenager won 7-5, 7-6 (2), while Ashleigh Barty’s match against Amanda Inisimova took place on Court Suzanne Lenglen. The Australian won 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3.
Konta described the tournament’s newest and prettiest workplace, nestled into the garden next door, as “a beautiful court, no doubt about it”. But she agreed it was not a good look. “The way it looks probably speaks for itself.”
Did it feel like a semi-final, playing in a half-empty stadium? “In terms of the surrounding and the occasion, probably not. In terms of the match itself, probably, yeah.”
Amélie Mauresmo, Andy Murray’s one-time coach, described it as “a disgrace”. She said on social media, “Everyone agrees that the match of the day is Federer/Nadal. But what kind of message do we send when taking the decision to put the women’s semis at 11am on the second and third courts of the tournament? Not even one of them on centre court.”
Johanna Konta questions French Open organisers after semi-finals court switch
Did Konta agree? “I know you guys want headlines on this and you want me to say something really juicy. But, more than anything, what is tiring and what is really unfortunate is that athletes, female athletes, have to justify their scheduling or their involvement in an event, or their salary or their opportunities. To give time to that is even more of a sad situation than what we found ourselves in today in terms of the scheduling.
“I don’t want to sit here and justify where I’m scheduled. That’s not my job. My job is to come here and entertain people, and I feel I did that. And I feel I gave people who bought tickets every opportunity to enjoy their French Open experience.
“If the organisers do not feel that is something that can be promoted and celebrated, then I think it’s the organisers you need to have a conversation with, not me, because I did my job and I did my job well.”
Federer, who lost in straight sets to Nadal, agreed with the objections to the rescheduling. “I understand. You make it all the way to the semis and you get put on the third-biggest court at 11am. It’s a tough one. When I saw the schedule, I was a bit surprised.” Ever the diplomat, he said the change might not have been necessary if they had played more matches earlier in the week – or had a roof on one of the courts.
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