French Open descends into chaos as 5,000 fans are left furious after being forced to LEAVE Novak Djokovic’s showdown with Matteo Berrettini due to the 11pm Covid curfew in Paris…
- Fans had to leave Novak Djokovic’s clash with Matteo Berrettini on Wednesday
- There is a 11pm curfew in Paris, imposed by the government as a Covid measure
- Berrettini took the third set and the crowd was told to leave at 10:45 pm
- However, they protested and the players had to get off the field to leave
- Djokovic and Berrettini returned to an empty arena as the Serb progressed
- Watch the French Open live on Eurosport and the Eurosport app
The French Open fell into chaos on Wednesday night as fans protested after being asked to leave midway through Novak Djokovic’s clash with Matteo Berrettini due to the 11pm curfew in Paris.
Fans were allowed to participate in the overnight session for the first time after a relaxation of the Paris curfew from 9pm to 11pm, and the match even started ahead of schedule to try and ensure it could be completed on time.
It looked like that would be the case after Djokovic made it through the first two sets smoothly, but the third was much closer and the Serb came unexpectedly tight within sight of the finish, allowing Berrettini to push it to fourth.
Tennis fans protest after being forced to leave Roland Garros during a match on Wednesday
Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini’s quarterfinal clash went beyond the 11pm curfew in Paris
Fans refused to leave Roland Garros because they demanded to stay and watch the game play out
A sign tells the 5,000 supporters that the gate will close soon, but they refused to go
That made it inevitable that the match would end later than 11pm and the cheers were heard as the fans, who had created a very good atmosphere, were told to leave.
The 5,000 fans were supposed to leave Court Philippe-Chatrier at 10:45pm, but many didn’t and even started shouting ‘we paid, we’re staying’. Others even chased those who left.
At 10:55 PM, both players packed their bags and walked out of the tunnel as fans hooted and one ‘Rip-off!’ called out.
It took 20 minutes for all the spectators to be escorted out of the stadium and play resumed in near silence.
Djokovic eventually knocked off a stirring fight from Berrettini to take a 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 victory and set up a ravishing semi-final with defending champion Rafael Nadal.
Top-class Djokovic was given a huge scare against Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti on Monday, losing the first two sets but appeared to be on his way to an uncomplicated win after moving two sets ahead against Berrettini.
The players were eventually told to leave the field and returned after a 25-minute suspension
They returned to an empty arena before Djokovic turned on the style to win in four sets
Djokovic broke the serve for a 3-1 lead in the first set and after Berrettini failed to convert a break point when he came in 4-2 behind, the Serb routinely sealed the opening set.
A clinical Djokovic swept through the second set, but Berrettini put his heels in the third set, failing to create a breaking point.
With the public allowed to get behind the 25-year-old, Berrettini Djokovic extended to a tiebreaker and bombed a pair of aces and some poisonous forehands.
Djokovic, however, had a chance to serve for the game at 5-4, but some unusual errors gave Berrettini a set point which he converted with another booming forehand.
Suddenly, an energetic Berrettini looked dangerous, but the drama was halted when the 5,000 fans were ordered to leave as Djokovic led 3-2 on service in the fourth set.
Victory for the Serb booked place in the semi-final in Paris against Rafael Nadal
After the delay, the fight resumed in silence and despite a heavy fall that grazed his hand, Djokovic felt his moment as Berrettini served at 5-6.
Djokovic expressed his fury when Berrettini saved a second match point with a brutal forehand, then produced a series of deafening roars aimed at his entourage after taking the win on the third call.
Earlier on Wednesday, Nadal shook off his first lost set at Roland Garros since 2019 to storm past Diego Schwartzman and storm into a 14th French Open semifinal.
The 35-year-old extended his unbeaten run on the Paris clay court to 35 with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory.
The bad news for the rest of the men’s draw is that Nadal has never lost as he made it to the last four in Paris.
For a while it looked like the admirable Schwartzman could deliver a huge shock, but Nadal responded to a moment of apparent danger by turning the knob up and winning the last nine games.