Sat | Jun 19, 2021

Rain stops in French Open final

Published:Monday | June 11, 2012 | 12:00 AM


His big lead over Novak Djokovic in yesterday's drenched French Open final slipping away, Rafael Nadal tossed a soaked, clay-smeared tennis ball toward the chair umpire.

A drizzle was now a downpour, making the balls heavy, the clay court slippery and changing the complexion of a match with so much at stake: Djokovic's bid to become the first man in 43 years to win four consecutive Grand Slam titles, and Nadal's attempt to become the first man to win seven titles at the tournament.

Moments later, play was suspended with the No. 2-seeded Nadal trying to protect a 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 1-2 lead over a surging Djokovic, who's seeded No. 1. A tarp was pulled over the court, and after another hour or so, the decision was made to stop for the day and resume today.

Yes, this French Open already has made history, but not for a reason that was expected: It's the first time since 1973 that the tournament at Roland Garros didn't conclude on a Sunday.

'Court was too wet'

Toni Nadal, Rafael's uncle and coach, said he thought action should have been suspended earlier yesterday because "the court was too wet".

After the Nadals left the premises for the evening, Djokovic followed, pausing to chat with Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol in the players' lounge.

Tournament referee Stefan Fransson said Djokovic told him the court was slippery, and Nadal was "not happy" while pointing out his complaints about the balls.

Nadal and Djokovic will return today, surely hoping they're not subjected to what happened 39 years ago, the last time the French Open stretched beyond Sunday: Ilie Nastase's victory over Nikki Pilic in the 1973 final ended on Tuesday.