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Night sessions to stay at Roland Garros, but new tournament director Amelie Mauresmo has much to consider
"I'm learning a lot of things regarding the scheduling," she told press. "I'm wondering about it myself, to be honest."
Published Jun 02, 2022
WATCH: Amelie Mauresmo comments on nighttime scheduling at Roland Garros
Night sessions are here to stay at the French Open, says tournament director Amelie Mauresmo, but timing and transport problems will be looked at by officials.
There has been controversy surrounding French Open night sessions since their start in 2021, with players complaining about colder and slower conditions, along with a 9 p.m. starting time.
The men's quarterfinal between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic did not finish until around 1:30 a.m., and Carlos Alcaraz, who was scheduled for multiple night sessions, said it was throwing off his schedule.
The start time would be assessed, said Mauresmo.
"It's the first year that I'm the tournament director. I'm learning a lot of things regarding the scheduling," she told press. "I'm wondering about it myself, to be honest.
"I do not have the answer yet, and will certainly ask ourselves what to do next and we will try to do some debriefing, and it definitely will be on the table."
But the retired two-time Grand Slam champion noted that any changes would be relatively minor, since the day session was sometimes not finished by 9 p.m. and even that could only be moved from a 12 p.m. to 11 a.m. start.
Even though it was played into the next morning, the Nadal-Djokovic quarterfinal had a good crowd, added Mauresmo, and the tournament's decision to have night sessions had been successful.
"There was just a handful of people who left," she said. "As far as I'm concerned, night sessions in the stadium are definitely appropriate, because it was always full to the brim every night.
"As for the other matches, they were not that long. There were a lot of people. There was a real enthusiasm, because they could work during the day. People could actually work during the day and yet watch the match during the evening. So that's like some fresh air for them in the evening."
But transport had been a problem for spectators when the sessions ran long, and the tournament plans to look at organizing longer hours.
"That's actually a key issue that needs to be settled, and that will be one of our priorities in the future. We haven't planned anything yet, but obviously we need to organize ourselves differently with the Department of Transport of Paris with bus systems, with the underground system," she said. "We do not have the means to organize this for 15,000 people yet."
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Another difference between the day and night sessions is broadcasting, with the day shown on network television and the nights streaming on Amazon. The Nadal-Djokovic quarterfinal was specially arranged to be accessible to non-subscribers.
According to Mauresmo, the reaction has also been positive despite the more restricted viewership.
"As for the TV audience, I do not have enough hindsight, but the feedback that I got said that it's great, because people are working during the day," she said.
There have also been complaints that the night sessions have largely consisted of men's matches, which are best-of-five sets—only one women's match, involving French player Alize Cornet, has been scheduled for the night session at this event.
Though top seed Iga Swiatek described it as "disappointing," Mauresmo indicated this was unlikely to change.
"This is what we wanted to showcase to spectators who had only one-match tickets, because some of them do,'' she said. "It was more difficult to have, of course, a match, a night-session match with only female tennis players."
There were also questions about whether a top-heavy men's draw—with the top three title favorites Nadal, Djokovic and Alcaraz all in the top half, and Nadal and Djokovic playing in the quarterfinals—would lead the tournament to consider adjusting its seedings to take clay performances into account. But Mauresmo indicated that the tournament would keep following tour rankings.
"We have always said that the rankings are what counts for seedings, and I totally agree with this 100 percent," she said.
The rest of the tournament, now into the semifinals, will consist of day sessions.