Rafael Nadal’s coach hits out at French Open decision as Novak Djokovic gets advantage

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Rafael Nadal’s coach has hit out at the decision to play the blockbuster French Open quarter-final against Novak Djokovic in the night session. French Open organisers attempted to stem off domestic controversy by announcing that all TV viewers will be able to watch the showdown for free on Amazon Prime.

The subscription channel has bought the rights to the night session and the move is similar to Channel 4 also being allowed to show Emma Raducanu’s US Open final last September. But while Djokovic prefers the conditions under the lights, the 13-time champion Nadal had wanted to play during the day.

And so the scheduling decision appears to benefit Djokovic more than Nadal. And the Spaniard’s coach Carlos Moya said: “I would not speak of lack of respect. Here at Roland Garros, Rafa has credit, he has won the tournament 13 times and if he has a request you should listen to him.

“He is part of the history of Roland Garros, we know that no one is greater than Roland Garros, no one is bigger than the Grand Slam tournaments, but in the end it’s a question of business and we understand.”

John McEnroe has meanwhile warned Paris fans that booing world No 1 Djokovic will only inspire him to victory in a fiery build-up to the 59th meeting between the two tennis superstars. Djokovic might have won the pre-match bout but he has not won over the French public.

He was booed as he entered the court for his fourth-round win – and again during Nadal’s post-match interview on Sunday. The defending champion is never far from controversy and was deported from Australia in January after arriving without a Covid vaccination.

And he has never been as popular outside Serbia as Roger Federer or Nadal. But McEnroe, who also had a strained relationship with crowds around the world, warned that Djokovic will only feed off the negative energy. “He does it better than anyone I’ve ever seen,” said the Eurosport analyst. “I don’t know why he gets booed. He has actually shown a lot of emotion, he is fired up. People should love that to me. The French, they love that. I can’t explain it.

McEnroe enjoyed a famous rivalry with Bjorn Borg but said: “We only played 14 times. I sort of feel jealous. I wish we had played a lot more. I think it would have been even better. Roger v Rafa is still pretty stratospheric. But at the moment, this is the greatest rivalry of all time. It’s remarkable. I give a slight edge to Novak but if Rafa won I wouldn’t be surprised at all.”

The first big shock in the men’s competition saw last year’s finalist Stefanos Tsitipas lose to Danish teenager Holger Rune 7-5 3-6 6-3 6-4. And world No 2 Daniil Medvedev was on Monday night thrashed 6-2 6-3 6-2 by Marin Cilic. The one-hour 45-minute defeat was the Russian’s worst ever performance in a Grand Slam.

World No 1 Iga Swiatek dropped her first set of the tournament after wasting five set points but still recorded her 32nd consecutive win by beating Chinese teenager Qinwen Zheng 6-7 6-0 6-2.

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