World number one Novak Djokovic teed up in the French Open semi-final with Rafael Nadal, beating Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in a match.
However, that was stopped to ensure that the fans would leave before an 11 p.m. curfew in Paris, France.
Serbia’s Djokovic won the first two sets. One of which he had been on his way to victory in front of 5000 fans. Being be allowed to look at the all-night session.
Berrettini won a third-set tie-break. By forcing an exodus greeted by loud boos.
When the players returned, He wrapped up a 6-3 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 win.
The match’s final stages were played in eerie silence. Just like the previous night’s matches in the tournament. After the game initially taking place in front of an exuberant crowd.
However, that stillness was punctured by Djokovic’s manic celebrations when he took his third match point.
With his eyes wide and the fists punching on his chest. The world number one, Djokovic roared his delight at the court coming through.
The victory ensures Djokovic will renew his enduring rivalry with Nadal.
He is aiming for a record-extending 14th title at Roland Garros. Furthermore, the pair will meet for the 58th time in their illustrious career history.
Nadal, 35, is still deemed the favorite to land the trophy. Which would finally be a 21st Grand Slam triumph for him.
And it moves him clear of the Roger Federer for the first time in terms of most men’s majors.
Why do fans have to leave?
Just as the way there had been during Nadal’s afternoon match on Wednesday. And there was a buoyant mood on Chatrier. When Djokovic met Berrettini in the first Roland Garros night session having access to the fans.
The previous matches were held under the floodlights that had all been played behind the closed doors. Because of a 9 p.m. curfew imposed by France’s coronavirus restrictions.
The rules had been loosened on Wednesday. By allowing more fans – up to 5,000. To watch on Chatrier than they were allowed previously throughout the tournament.
However, not long after, Berrettini had provided competition to Djokovic again in the fourth set.
It was cleverly done. And the players left the court as spectators were turfed out. To meet the newly extended 11 p.m. curfew.
“I didn’t mind leaving the court. Because I have felt like I needed a little bit of a break and the reset,” said Djokovic.
“It’s unfortunate for everyone, including players, supporters. And the audience, to have a curfew. But we knew that well before the game.”
Questions were asked about the reason as to why the French tennis federation decided to give the match to start.
Before 8 p.m. local time (19:00 BST), there was a nearly two hours gap. After the conclusion of the first-round win over Diego Schwartzman.
“I would obviously, like to know the reason. They had got started in the game as of late.” The former British number one, Annabel Croft, said.
“It’s not a fit. This is a strange thing. It’s the exact opposite of the atmosphere of the playing in. Berrettini, in particular, to feed on the energy of the crowd.”
Djokovic sets the delay behind him.
In the first instance, there was a crackling atmosphere as of the 2016 champion. And he tried to follow Nadal after the first round. By asserting his dominance once again up against a younger opponent.
Berrettini, 25, had not played since last Saturday. And is provided as a default for the Swiss 20-time major champion Roger Federer has withdrawn to protect a knee injury. And he had tried to get a quick start in an attempt to unsettle Djokovic.
Djokovic is being pursued by two sets in his fourth-round match against another Italian, Lorenzo Musetti. In addition, just before fighting back to lead in the fifth set when the teenager quit.
Berrettini made out of the “tipping points” of Djokovic’s opening two service games. Then, however, after the Serb staved them off.
And then he broke for a 3-1 lead. After that, there was little chance of a repeat performance.
Djokovic saved another breakpoint on his way to a 5-2 lead.
Djokovic saved another breakpoint on his way to a 5-2 lead in the opening. But, again, to play properly and efficiently, as if he was being eased into a two-set advantage.
The third set was much tighter. As both players had remained relatively untroubled on serve. The Paris crowd was adding to the entertainment by creating Mexican waves. And chanting the Italian’s name.
He described the atmosphere as Davis Cup-like. “There were many fans concerned. Each is a single point, to shout, to scream. With an electric atmosphere,” he said.
“I’m really very glad about the fact. That I had got the opportunity to experience playing the game. In front of the crowd in the all-night session.”
After fighting off a breakpoint that would have left Djokovic serving for the match. But Berrettini’s stoicism was rewarded with a tie-breaker. Which would decide if the game would be finished before the 11 p.m. curfew.
The Italian didn’t look like it’s breaking Djokovic’s serve. But it is certainly ensured that there would be the fourth set. With the help of the two types of uncharacteristic errors from the Serb into the net. And as he had, a pair of service points in the match.
The end of the set at 10:30 p.m. had led to a warning from the stadium announcer about the impending curfew.
It was causing loud boos from the fans.
It was causing loud boos from the fans and supporters. Even though few of them looked in a hurry to depart.
Someone who also did not even want them to go was Berrettini. Feeding off the crowd’s support had helped him to claw a setback.
And, after losing to serve in what proved it to be the final game of the match. He said it was kind of a “shame” that they had to leave.
“It’s something that I don’t like. It just felt like the perfect moment. I played well,” added the Italian.
“It was the best thing that I can think of, and that is just for my game of tennis. But I had to have it.
“In fact, I don’t think that I can even help myself.” I just got back on the court, and I don’t feel so good at all.”