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Djokovic sets up Nadal reunion after curfew-interrupted French Open quarter-final

Matteo Berrettini was his quarter-final opponent.

Djokovic in action this evening.
Djokovic in action this evening.
Image: Michel Euler

Updated Jun 9th 2021, 11:01 PM

NOVAK DJOKOVIC SET up a 58th meeting with Rafael Nadal on Wednesday when he reached his 40th Grand Slam semi-final at the French Open despite being held up by 5,000 fans needing to be evacuated to conform with a Covid-19 curfew.

World number one Djokovic defeated Italy’s Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 to book his place in the last four in Paris for the 11th time.

Earlier, Nadal, the 13-time champion, beat Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 to make the semi-finals for the 14th time.

With Djokovic’s match extending beyond the national 11pm curfew, play was halted for around 20 minutes at 3-2 in the fourth set so that 5,000 fans could be funnelled out of Court Philippe Chatrier.

Djokovic was 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 3-2 ahead when play was halted just before 11pm to allow spectators to leave.

Some fans chanted: “We are going to stay, we are going to stay,” before they relented and filed out of Court Philippe Chatrier.

“We paid 500 euros for two-and-a-half sets of a match. It’s unacceptable,” said one man watching the quarter-final with his wife and two children.

“They should have started at 7pm and not 8pm.”

Wednesday was the 10th and final evening session of the tournament.

However, it was the first which welcomed spectators after Covid-19 restrictions were eased and a 9pm curfew pushed back to 11pm.

Both Djokovic and Berrettini left the court while the stadium was cleared with the match resuming around 20 minutes later.

The previous nine evening sessions had been played out to an empty Court Philippe Chatrier in line with the 9pm limit.

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The evening action was introduced this year under an agreement between the French tennis federation and streaming giant Amazon.

Second seed Daniil Medvedev, who lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas on Tuesday, was furious at the absence of fans.

“It was without a doubt the match of the day but Roland Garros preferred Amazon to people,” said the Russian.

© – AFP, 2021

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