French Open Director Stands By Decision That Led To Championship Postponement
French Open Tournament Dir Gilbert Ysern said his insistence on sticking with a 3pm start for Sunday's men’s final “was not the wrong decision," according to Simon Briggs of the London TELEGRAPH. Rain forced the final to a second day for the first time since 1973. Ysern cited "inflexible television schedules" as a factor in his refusal to move Sunday's start time forward, despite "a dreadful long-range weather forecast." The French Tennis Federation "can hardly claim that Sunday's rain was a surprise." It had been "making contingency plans for a Monday finish since the middle of last week" (TELEGRAPH, 6/10). BLOOMBERG's Danielle Rossingh reported that Ysern denied broadcasting contracts prevented the match starting earlier Sunday. Ysern said, "TV does not dictate anything." (BLOOMBERG, 6/11). In London, Kevin Mitchell opined that the sight of Ysern "floundering" after the final was "not unlike watching a duck drown." Ysern said, "You cannot change overnight and tell all broadcasters in the world, 'Sorry, but you have to change everything ... because we are going to change tomorrow's schedule.' It doesn't work like that. Out of respect to all the broadcasters we cannot ... change it at the last minute." The timetable was created "to suit American TV, which showed the match on Sunday morning to an audience not bothered about the French Open, or tennis for that matter." Because of Americans "financial clout, Court Philippe Chatrier on Sunday was the scene of another tennis farce" (GUARDIAN, 6/11).
LOST REVENUE: In Paris, Amsili & Derreumaux reported that the postponement of the final to Monday will be expensive for tournament organizers. Ysern said, "For sure this additional day has a cost but we did not have a choice." Stadium workers also have to be present for the additional half day. Eurest Sports et Loisirs Project Chief Yannick Lantrous said, "It is a loss for us, because it's an additional day of labor and products that we had to urgently order last night at 23:00." He added: "I don't think the suppliers will bother themselves." Another problem is attendance. Tickets from Sunday were still accepted, but many fans couldn't make it back on Monday afternoon. During the first minutes of the match, "less than half of the seats were occupied" (LE FIGARO, 6/11).
OTHERS MISSING OUT: In Australia, Simon Canning reported that Nine Network would "not screen the conclusion" of Monday's French Open. Fox Sports carried the conclusion of the French Open final, which began at 9pm in Sydney. A Nine Network spokesperson said that its shared rights with Fox "did not extend" to Monday and the network "was not willing to negotiate a one-off deal to carry half a final" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/11).