PARIS — WTA CEO Steve Simon said Thursday that the tour was “extremely disappointed” by the French Open’s scheduling of the women’s semifinals on outside courts, while the men’s semis will be on the main Court Philippe-Chatrier.
The traditional schedule at Roland Garros was pushed back a day after rain washed out Wednesday’s entire schedule. As a result, the remaining quarterfinal matches (two men’s and women’s matches apiece) were pushed to Thursday, forcing all four semifinal matches to be held Friday. Usually, the women’s semifinals are held on Thursday and the men’s semis are Friday.
“There’s no doubt that scheduling has been challenged by weather conditions and the WTA understands the scheduling issues presented at Roland Garros,” Simon said in a statement released after Friday’s order of play was announced. “We are, however, extremely disappointed by the scheduling of both women’s semifinals on outside courts. This decision is unfair and inappropriate.
“The four women who have played so well and made it this far have earned their right to play on the biggest stage. We believe other solutions were possible which would have been to the benefit of fans as well as all players.”
Simon didn’t elaborate on what those “other solutions” were, while the French tennis federation responded in a statement that the decision to schedule the semifinals at the same time on the same day was made for “fairness reasons.”
“The decision to hold these matches on Court Suzanne-Lenglen and Court Simonne-Mathieu instead of Court Philippe-Chatrier was a logical one, because the first men’s semifinal is scheduled to start at 12:50 p.m. on Court Philippe-Chatrier. If a women’s semifinal was also held on Court Philippe-Chatrier, the first men’s semifinal would most probably start late, with the risk that the second semifinal would not be completed. This would create fairness issues,” the federation said, adding that “weather conditions [Friday] mean that we do not wish to take any risks.”
Tournament director Guy Forget said Wednesday that Roland Garros officials were trying to be fair to all players heading into the quarters, particularly with giving them equal amounts of rest heading into the next round.
“If I was [one of the women] playing in that stage today, I would rather play on a smaller court — although everyone says that Simonne-Mathieu is a magnificent court — knowing that I will have enough time to rest, at least the same of my opponent the following day, because the finals is what I’m playing for,” Forget, a former pro tennis player, told reporters Wednesday when speaking about Thursday’s quarterfinal changes. “You know, you’re afraid that some players might feel that it’s a lack of respect [by moving one match to a smaller court] or we are just trying to diminish — no. Ideally, when you see historically what has happened in the tournament, we try to be fair to everyone.”
Ashleigh Barty will face Amanda Anisimova on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, while Johanna Konta takes on Marketa Vondrousova on Court Simonne-Mathieu — with both matches set to begin at 11 a.m. local time. Court Philippe-Chatrier will host both men’s semifinals, with the Roger Federer- Rafael Nadal clash at 12:50 p.m. local time, followed by the match between Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem.
Officials were preparing for another uncertain forecast in Paris for Friday, with the chance of rain through early afternoon and winds gaining more steam in the late afternoon, potentially reaching gusts of 30 mph.
ESPN’s Bonnie D. Ford contributed to this report.