Alcaraz says 'unfair' if last-eight tie at night

Spanish teen sensation insists finishing a match late at French Open allows ‘very less’ recovery time


AFP May 30, 2022

PARIS:

Carlos Alcaraz claimed Sunday that it would "not be fair" if he has to play his French Open quarter-final on Tuesday night with Rafael Nadal pushing for a daytime slot for his blockbuster clash with Novak Djokovic.

Alcaraz has already played two night sessions at this year's Roland Garros and could face a third when he tackles Alexander Zverev for a place in the semi-finals.

Nadal, who has made no secret of his dislike of playing clay court tennis after dark, and Djokovic have played just one night match apiece.

Their quarter-final is also scheduled for Tuesday on Court Philippe Chatrier.

"Honestly, it wouldn't seem fair to me. I've already played twice in the evening," 19-year-old Alcaraz said on after defeating Karen Khachanov to book a maiden last-eight place in Paris.

On Friday evening, he played Sebastian Korda in the third round.

"I'm not saying that it bothers me to play in the evening, but obviously I have less recovery time, if I finish very late all the time.

"When we finish at midnight, with all that comes with it – dinner, physio, trying to come down in terms of adrenaline – it's harder to recover.

"If I play a third time in the evening, honestly it seems unfair to me," he concluded.

Ten night sessions are being held this year after making their debut in 2021 as part of the French Tennis Federation's three-year deal with Amazon Prime.

Nadal's lone night match was on Wednesday when he easily defeated France's Corentin Moutet.

"I don't like night sessions on clay," said the 13-time champion.

"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."

In what is becoming a major scheduling headache, Djokovic has hinted he would prefer to face Nadal as late as possible.

"All I will say is Rafa and I would make different requests," he said last week.

However, after breezing past Diego Schwartzman in straights sets on Sunday to reach his 16th Roland Garros quarter-final, the world number one appeared to have a change of heart.

"Today I'd rather play day than playing 9:00 p.m. Conditions are different today. It's colder, slower," said the defending champion.

He added: "I historically played very well and won a lot of matches under the lights on different slams, particularly in Australia."

"We do have requests, but those requests are not always accepted."

The evening temperatures have been cool in Paris for the tournament.

On Sunday, it was a chilly 10 degrees. Tuesday daytime temperatures are expected to be around 22 degrees.

"I don't mind the evening sessions when it's 30 degrees during the day," said Zverev.

"When it's 14 degrees like today, then in the night it's going to be what, 8, 9, something like that, it gets difficult.

"My serve is going to be even slower, my forehand is going to be even slower. It's not going to be an easy thing for me to play at 9:30 at night with no sunlight, with no heat, and 8 degrees.

"But I'm pretty sure I'm going to play at night against Alcaraz, because that's just how it's going to be."

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