French Open: Roof Relief and Alcohol Ban Amid Rain Chaos

Aryna Sabalenka and Novak Djokovic advanced to the third round of the French Open amid rain disruptions and an alcohol ban aimed at curbing unruly spectators. Top players benefited from playing on covered courts, while matches on outer courts faced delays. Security measures were heightened to ensure fan behavior remains respectful.

Reuters | Updated: 31-05-2024 03:17 IST | Created: 31-05-2024 03:17 IST
French Open: Roof Relief and Alcohol Ban Amid Rain Chaos
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* Seeded players progress under roof on two main showcourts

* Organisers ban alcohol in stands to calm spectator behaviour

* Ostapenko, Collins sent packing after showers delay action

* Rune, Ruud see off tricky rivals in late-night thrillers

By Shrivathsa Sridhar PARIS, May 30 (Reuters) -

Aryna Sabalenka and Novak Djokovic powered into the third round of the French Open on Thursday as tournament organisers cracked down on unruly fans by announcing an alcohol ban in the stands while also dealing with headaches caused by wet weather. Playing under the roof on Philippe Chatrier even as Roland Garros authorities were scratching their heads over what to do with the rest of the schedule after a fifth straight rain-hit day, second seed Sabalenka blew away Moyuka Uchijima 6-2 6-2.

"That's the little advantage we get as top players because we play in big stadiums with the roof," said Sabalenka, who is eyeing a second major title this year. "So I knew that no matter what the weather is going to be, I'm going to play my match. That's really helpful."

Defending champion Djokovic then outclassed Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4 6-1 6-2, while seeds Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, Elena Rybakina and Elina Svitolina all went through unaffected by conditions due to overhead cover. The story was vastly different on the outer courts where the day's action got into full swing only late in the afternoon with the backlog from Wednesday's washout adding to the problems of players and officials.

Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova overcame American Katie Volynets 0-6 6-1 6-4 in one of those matches while 11th seed Danielle Collins went down fighting to Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic 6-7(3) 7-5 6-4 despite a neck issue. Ninth seed and 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko also became an early casualty, losing 7-6(4) 4-6 6-3 to Dane Clara Tauson.

Play on the outer courts will begin early on Friday to ease pressure on the packed schedule with organisers hoping the rain stays away. SPIRITS DAMPENED

With spirits already dampened on a soggy morning, tournament director Amelie Mauresmo banned

the consumption of wine and beer in the stands to control spectators after Belgian David Goffin had accused one fan of spitting gum at him two days ago. Holder Iga Swiatek had also urged supporters not to scream during rallies, especially in high-pressure contests, after the Polish world number one beat Naomi Osaka on Wednesday.

"First of all, we're happy people are very enthusiastic about watching tennis and being part of the matches, showing feeling and emotions," said Mauresmo. "But there are definitely steps which shouldn't go further. A few things have needed to be put in place. Alcohol was allowed up until now in the stands but that's over."

Security will be deployed to ensure fans follow rules and respect players while umpires have been asked to be stricter, with more measures likely if the situation does not improve. But former world number two Paula Badosa, who has slipped down the rankings amid injury struggles, said top players such as Swiatek should not complain too much.

"I played Court eight and nine and you can hear everything. I can hear Suzanne Lenglen, Philippe Chatrier, courts six, seven during points. She's lucky she can play all the time on Philippe Chatrier and she's okay with that," Badosa said. "Honestly, I like when the fans cheer. I get pumped. Look, we had a very tough situation years ago when we were playing without fans with the COVID situation.

"I'm so happy they're back. I think they're very important for our sport." Lorenzo Musetti did his own bit to silence local spectators in the evening session as the Italian beat French favourite Gael Monfils 7-5 6-1 6-4 to set up a clash with Djokovic.

Dane Holger Rune provided the thriller fans were craving for as the 13th seed, who led by two sets to love before being taken the distance by Italian Flavio Cobolli, hit back from 5-0 and 6-2 down in the tie break to win 6-4 6-3 3-6 3-6 7-6(10). Casper Ruud of Norway was also pushed hard by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina before securing a 7-6(5) 1-6 6-3 4-6 6-3 win to continue his bid to make a third straight final at Roland Garros.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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