Forget defends Roland Garros decision-making


French Open tournament director Guy Forget has issued a staunch defence of the action taken by organisers during a rain-hit Tuesday at Roland Garros. 

Several players were unhappy at being pressed into action amid damp conditions on Tuesday, while further controversy arose as a result of Novak Djokovic and Roberto Bautista Agut completing two hours of play on Court Philippe Chatrier - thus ensuring ticket refunds would not be given.

In a statement on Wednesday, Forget said: "We, the tournament organisers, have been harshly criticised over the past few hours. The way we handled the situation yesterday [Tuesday], while we acted with the best of intentions, has been questioned. I would like to provide some clarification.

"The decision to suspend or resume play lies solely with tournament referee Stefan Fransson. Respect for the game always takes precedence.

"Yesterday the match [between Djokovic and Bautista Agut] was suspended at 4.54pm with the possibility of another four hours of play. We hoped to be able to continue playing at that time and the Meteo France weather service had forecasted that rain would stop 40 minutes later.

"The previous day [Monday 30 May], as soon as we knew there was no hope of starting the matches, we released the players at 2pm - something which has never happened in the history of the tournament.

"If what we are being accused of were true, it would have been in our best interests as organisers to stop play before the one-hour, 59-minute mark as our insurer would have been responsible for ticket reimbursement. However, that was not the basis of our decision. Our aim was to play for as long as possible, even if that meant being criticised for playing in difficult conditions.
"I understand that not refunding spectators with tickets to the Philippe-Chatrier Court has caused frustration and anger. But can we really change the rules in the middle of the game? What happens tomorrow if a match is interrupted after two hours and three minutes, or two hours and seven minutes of play?
"We all know that the weather conditions have been unusual - the last time we saw this was in 1873. For the time being, we hope that today's matches will be able to continue as scheduled. Today is crucial for the rest of the tournament and the schedule for the next few days. We should turn our focus back to the tennis."

Bautista Agut suggested after his defeat to Djokovic that organisers had been keen for the match to reach the two-hour mark on Tuesday. "I can understand the view of the tournament. They push us to play two hours yesterday," said the Spaniard.