PARIS: Rafael Nadal’s French Open quarter-final against long-time rival Novak Djokovic will take place in Tuesday’s night session at Roland Garros despite the 13-time champion’s desire to play in the day.
Officials confirmed Monday that the pair’s 59th career meeting will be the late match under the lights of Court Philippe Chatrier with the day’s other quarter-final between Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev set for the afternoon.
“I don’t like to play on clay during the night, because the humidity is higher, the ball is slower, and there can be very heavy conditions especially when it’s cold,” said Nadal last week.
“I think that makes a big difference between the way tennis is played on clay during the night and during the day.”
Djokovic had hinted he would prefer to face Nadal as late as possible.
“All I will say is Rafa and I would make different requests,” said the world number one and defending champion.
Alcaraz said it would have been “unfair” if he was ordered to play after 9pm for the third time. Nadal and Djokovic have played one match each so far after dark.
Zverev was also dismissive of night-time conditions.
“I don’t mind the evening sessions when it’s 30 degrees during the day,” said the 25-year-old.
“When it’s 14 degrees, then in the night it’s going to be what, 8, 9, something like that, it gets difficult.”
Organisers faced a dilemma over scheduling with host broadcaster Prime Video having the rights to the tournament’s 10 night sessions.
Officials said an agreement had been reached whereby the match – the 10th between Djokovic and Nadal at Roland Garros – would be available free to air.
“The quarter-final match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal scheduled for Tuesday 31 May at 8:45 p.m. will be free to watch as unrestricted content in France across Prime Video mobile and web apps,” said a statement.
However, France’s public service broadcaster, which carries coverage of the tournament on terrestrial channels, hit out.
“France Televisions regrets this decision which deprives French viewers of one of the most beautiful adverts of the tournament,” they said in a statement.