Jun 01, 2016

    French Open hit by rain, transport strike threats


    NOVAK Djokovic looked to conquer both the weather and last-16 opponent Roberto Bautista Agut yesterday with more bleak conditions forecast at Roland Garros.

    The French Open suffered its first washout since 2000 on Monday when all scheduled matches were cancelled due to heavy rain, and there could have been more problems yesterday with further rain expected.

    The threat of transport chaos also loomed over the tournament after unions in France called for fresh strikes on the national rail network beginning yesterday and on the Paris Metro from Thursday.

    Djokovic, who is bidding for a first French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, finished his third-round match against Britain's Aljaz Bedene in near darkness on Saturday, with the world number one later calling for floodlights to be introduced at Roland Garros.

    "For a Grand Slam you need to have lights. I'm really hoping we can have that very soon for these particular situations, especially considering the fact that forecast for weather is not that great in the following days," he said.

    Those fears were realised on Monday, leaving Djokovic facing the prospect of playing his last-16 tie tomorrow, quarter-final on Thursday and semi-final Friday should there be further delays yesterday.

    "It's not good for anybody, you know, waiting the whole day for players, for fans, for tournament organisers. So I'm just - just hoping that, you know, things will go well in the future."

    The Serb, poised to become the first man to win US$100 million (S$138 million) in prize money, will top the bill against Spanish 14th seed Bautista Agut on Philippe Chatrier court, while Andy Murray is scheduled to take on French ninth seed Richard Gasquet for a place in the semi-finals.