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Djokovic understands rain pain, Gulbis blasts 'winter sport'

3 min

Paris (AFP)

Novak Djokovic says he understands the anger felt by players whose French Open hopes were washed away in the Paris deluge while Ernests Gulbis blasted tennis for looking like a "winter sport".

Only two hours of play was possible on Tuesday following a complete washout on Monday.

World number one Djokovic should have started his last-16 match against Roberto Bautista Agut on Monday afternoon.

However, he only played two and a half sets Tuesday before finishing the tie on Wednesday afternoon, leaving him facing a schedule of four matches in five days if he is to clinch a first Roland Garros title.

"Of course sometimes, the tournament referees and the grounds people, they are trying to do their best to evaluate the condition of the court," said Djokovic, after his 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 win.

"Sometimes it does appear that maybe they don't because they don't play, they don't maybe to full extent understand what you go through with your movement and why is it so dangerous.

"It was funny and unacceptable as well at the same time to have a chair umpire come in in elegant shoes and try to slide and check whether or not the lines are slippery. It's gonna be slippery anyway in those shoes."

Djokovic claimed that Tuesday's action was played in a thin mist and that rain kept falling throughout most of the afternoon.

He said that only a match at Wimbledon early in his career -- played over five days -- took longer to complete.

Top 10 women stars Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep both lost Tuesday in the only ties completed.

- Radwanska angry -

Second seed Radwanska said she was "pissed and angry" about being forced to play while Halep accused organisers of ignoring player welfare.

A men's last-16 tie which started Tuesday even saw Gulbis, a former semi-finalist, pick up his bag and start to leave the court before he was summoned back by the umpire.

He said that his match against David Goffin, which he lost on resumption Wednesday, should not have started.

"I don't understand what I was doing there. If we're not allowed to play, why should I freeze on the court in the rain? I wanted to go under the roof," he said.

"In Munich, we had to play when it was snowing -- we're not in a winter sport."

Tournament director Guy Forget said the rain had been the heaviest and most concentrated in Paris since 1873.

He hit back at allegations that organisers were only thinking in terms of saving themselves another financial hit by having to refund thousands of shivering and wet spectators.

Monday's wipeout cost around two million euros, the French tennis federation estimated.

Forget said that the decision to call off play lies solely at the discretion of tournament referee Stefan Fransson.

"Respect for the game always takes precedence," said Forget in a statement.

"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."

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