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Stars fume after French Open chiefs force play on wet courts

By Paul Newman

Ah, the joys of Paris in the spring. As the rain continued to fall on another wet day at the French Open, this was more like Paisley in the winter.

The limited amount of play that was possible at Roland Garros, in sparsely filled stadiums, left fans frustrated and players unhappy about being asked to play in the most testing of conditions.

Even when it was not actually raining, the courts were so drenched that the balls quickly became wet and heavy.

"No one cares about the players," Simona Halep said after falling to a surprise 7-6 6-3 fourth-round defeat to Sam Stosur. "It was impossible to play. To play tennis matches during the rain, I think it's a bit too much."

Agnieszka Radwanska, the World No.2 who also suffered a shocking defeat when she was beaten 2-6 6-3 6-3 by Tsvetana Pironkova, was equally critical of the tournament organisers.

"I don't know who allows us to play in those kind of conditions," she said. "I don't think they really care what we think."

After a delayed start and a first break for rain of nearly three hours, all four remaining men's fourth-round matches were still on court when the players came off for a second time just before 5pm.

David Goffin and Ernests Gulbis appeared to be particularly unhappy with the conditions when they were called off Court One after only three games.

In the other matches Novak Djokovic (above) was leading Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6 6-4 4-1, Marcel Granollers had just taken the second set against Dominic Thiem to tie the match at 2-6 7-6 and David Ferrer was leading Tomas Berdych 2-1.

Both of the women's fourth-round matches had been left unfinished on Sunday. Following Monday's complete washout, they both produced remarkable turnarounds when they finally restarted.

Radwanska had led 6-2 3-0 at the start of yesterday's play, while Halep had been 5-3 up in the opening set against Stosur. The Pole and the Romanian join Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka and Roberta Vinci among the top women players who have failed to live up to their seedings.

Although clay is Radwanska's least favoured surface, the 27-year-old was regarded by many as one of the favourites. Having dropped to No.15 in the world rankings, she has climbed back to No.2.

However, in the cold and damp conditions - the temperature was just 14C when play started - she was troubled by a problem with her right hand, on which she had surgery a few years ago. Radwanska lost the first 10 games before getting back on the scoreboard when trailing 4-0 in the deciding set, having just taken a medical time-out for treatment to her hand.

Pironkova, the World No.102, had never previously gone beyond the third round. The 28-year-old Bulgarian had previously recorded her best Grand Slam results at Wimbledon, where she reached the semi-finals in 2010 and the quarter-finals the following year.

"I had hand surgery a few years ago, and for me playing with those balls on that kind of court is pretty much impossible," Radwanska said afterwards. "It shouldn't be like this. We shouldn't play in that kind of rain. Why? We still have a couple of days. What's the point?"

Halep, the runner-up two years ago, was soon in trouble against Stosur, who broke when the Romanian served for the set at 5-4 and went on to win the tie-break 7-0.

In the second set the 32-year-old Australian needed only one break to secure one of her best victories in recent years. The former US Open champion has struggled of late but is now through to her first Grand Slam quarter-final for four years.

Halep, who said that Stosur had been the better player, said she had felt in danger of hurting her back in the conditions.

"I didn't feel safe," the 24-year-old said. "The court was not good. The balls were completely wet. I think it's too difficult to play in these conditions. I felt pain in my back and Achilles."

Belfast Telegraph

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