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Carlos Alcaraz wades into French Open scheduling row with Djokovic and Nadal affected

Carlos Alcaraz has waded into the scheduling row at the French Open by claiming it will be unfair if he is forced to play in three consecutive night sessions. There will be winners and losers before a ball is hit in Tuesday’s quarter-finals in the loaded top half of the draw.

Rafa Nadal wants his 59th meeting with defending champion Novak Djokovic to be staged in the warmer daytime conditions tomorrow. But Djokovic wants to play in the new night session at Roland Garros this year.

Now teenage sensation Alcaraz, who beat Karen Khachanov to set up a clash with No.3 seed Alex Zverev, has had his say.

The No.6 seed has played his last two matches under the lights starting at least 8.45pm local time although the start of the Khachanov match was delayed after Nadal’s match with Felix Auger-Aliassime went to five sets.

Asked about facing Zverev in the night session, Alcaraz said: “It would not seem fair to me, here we are going to say things. I have already played twice on the night shift. I am not saying that it bothers me to play but you have less time to rest and everything ends very late. “Even if you finish at midnight, you have to look at everything that comes after that: dinner, physio. You don’t rest the same because of the adrenaline of the match. If I play a third time at night it wouldn’t seem fair to me”.

All the players can make representations to the French Open organisers to ask for their preferred scheduling. Roger Federer traditionally always plays the night session at the Australian Open and Djokovic also likes playing under the lights. Nadal prefers the warmer day conditions where his fearsome forehand flies and kicks even more. The schedule will be announced on Monday afternoon.

The world No.1 said: “As top players, we do make requests, but those requests are not always accepted. The tournament director, along with TV is who decides whether they want your match, day or night. You just have to adjust to that. Obviously, depending on who you play, sometimes it’s favourable to play night; sometimes day. Yeah, there is no standard or no formula that works always, so to say. Even though I historically played very well and won a lot of matches under the lights on different slams, particularly in Australia. All I will say is Rafa and I would make different requests.”

The pre-match phoney war is complicated by the French Open selling off the TV rights to the night matches on Court Philipp-Chatrier to Amazon Prime Video for $15m while terrestrial broadcaster France Televisions still get bigger audiences while playing $10m.

Olympic champion Zverev said: “I don’t mind the evening sessions when it’s 30 degrees during the day. 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.

“But that’s just for me, for my game, to be honest, because 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 gonna be. I’m getting ready for that.”

Alcaraz destroyed Zverev in the final of the Madrid Masters earlier this month – he also beat Nadal and Djokovic – to reach the quarter finals here for the first time.

“I’m going to try to start like in Madrid and take advantage of the chances I get,” said the Spaniard. “Put pressure on him from the start, but I know it’s going to be a tough game. I expect the best version of Zverev”.

“It’s probably the biggest match of my career, but I don’t think about it because I’ve already had great matches. I’ve played Masters 1,000 finals and had very difficult moments.”



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