‘Very, very cold to play tennis,’ Nadal upset about late-night finish

It was well past midnight when Rafael Nadal completed a 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-1 win over Jannik Sinner

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Rafael Nadal has seemed untroubled at this year’s French Open, making his way to the semi-finals without dropping a set. But the 12-time champion slammed the organisers for scheduling his match against young gun Jannik Sinner late on Tuesday.

It was well past midnight when Nadal completed a 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-1 win over the Italian teenager in their quarterfinal clash.

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“It is a not ideal finish, a match at 1:30 in the morning, but the problem is the weather. It is too cold to play,” the 34-year-old complained. “It is very, very cold to play tennis.”

The Nadal-Sinner match was scheduled fifth on Court Philippe-Chatrier on a packed day at French Open’s main show court. To make matters worse, Diego Schwartzman and Dominic Thiem’s quarterfinal went beyond five hours.

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“I really don’t know why they put five matches on the Chatrier. That was a risk,” said Nadal.

“I saw immediately when they sent me the schedule because there is a chance there of a couple of long matches. That’s what happened.

“I just tried to be patient, accept everything, and be in a positive shape. That’s what I did.”

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“I know football players play under these conditions, but it’s a little bit different,” the Spaniard added.

“They are moving all the time. We stop, we come back, we stop on the changeovers. It is a sport that you are stopped in a lot of moments. I think is a little bit dangerous for the body play with these very heavy conditions.”

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Nadal, whose bid for a record-equalling 20th major is still alive, believes that the conditions at this year’s French Open, which has been shifted to a September start due to the Covid-19 pandemic, may favour his semi-final opponent Schwartzman.

The diminutive Argentine scripted the upset of the tournament so far as he defeated US Open champion Thiem 7-6, 5-7, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 on Tuesday evening. Though Schwartzman has a losing 1-9 record against Nadal, he beat the ‘King of Clay’ in their most recent encounter in Rome.

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“I think the conditions are perhaps a little bit more favorable for his style of play,” said Nadal of his semi-final oppoenent. “But I have to find my way to hurt him and to have a chance to win.

“I’m going to try to go on court, play my best, try to play my game, play aggressive and try to do something a little bit different than what I did in Rome. I hope to be ready to play my best.”