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Off-Court Turmoil: Weather, Late-Night Matches Cloud French Open

  • Late-night matches have drawn the ire of several top players.
  • Weather delays and unruly fan behavior have also caused problems.
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

The French Open quarterfinals begin Tuesday, and even though there’s plenty of top talent still competing at Roland-Garros, it’s been a bumpy road off the court for tournament organizers up to this point.

Poor weather, unruly fan behavior, and most recently complaints over late-night matches have taken the spotlight away from the tennis, even though the top four seeds in both the men’s and women’s singles draws are still alive, setting up what should be a dramatic conclusion to the second Grand Slam of the year.

As the likes of top-seeded Novak Djokovic and U.S. star Coco Gauff advanced through the third and fourth rounds, logistical problems created match delays—and no one was immune. On Saturday, Djokovic’s match against Lorenzo Musetti was moved back more than two hours, beginning after 10:30 p.m. local time and finishing after 3 a.m. “Some things could have been handled a different way,” Djokovic said

No. 7 seed Casper Ruud took to X to lament his third-round match that finished after 1 a.m. “I have to cool down on the bike for 15 minutes, do press/media, ice bath for 10 minutes, shower, eat and then get treatment/massage,” he explained. Even Gauff, who did not have to deal with a late finish, sympathized with her colleagues. “I definitely think it’s not healthy,” she said.

On Monday, another lengthy five-setter involving Djokovic led to the Alexander Zverev–Holger Rune match, originally scheduled for 8:15 p.m., getting delayed till after 9 p.m.

All Around the World

Unfortunately for players unhappy with late-night matches, the issue is not unique to only the French Open. Each summer in New York City, the US Open routinely plays deep into the evenings and early mornings, with no plans to change that anytime soon. In January, the Australian Open dealt with similar problems in Melbourne. 

Wimbledon is the lone Grand Slam that doesn’t have to deal with matches running too late thanks to its 11 p.m. curfew that often sees matches paused and resumed the following day.

More Problems in Paris

Some late-night matches at the French Open were a result of weather delays early in the tournament as rain soaked Roland-Garros, which has only two courts with roofs. Beyond that, organizers decided mid-tournament to ban fans from drinking alcohol in the stands after several players complained about spectators misbehaving.

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