• French Open, Day 15

Organisers defend final start time despite postponement

ESPN staff
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Rafael Nadal fumed at being kept on court while it was raining © Getty Images
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The organisers of the French Open have defended the decision to start the men's final late on Sunday afternoon, after rain delays ultimately forced Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to abandon play for the day.

Nadal was protecting a slender advantage as the fourth set got underway on Court Philippe Chatrier when the players were called off for a second time at around 6.50pm local time - but as the rain remained heavy at 8pm the decision was eventually taken to suspend play for the day.

Both men will now return on Monday at 1pm (12pm UK time) to finish the tournament - although the weather forecast anticipates further rain that may cause additional delays. The last time the men's final was delayed until Monday, in 1973, the tournament was not actually concluded until the Tuesday.

The situation this weekend led to some criticism of the tournament organisers' decision to start the final at 3pm local time, especially as the weather had been better in Paris earlier in the day.

Tournament director Gilbert Ysern defended the scheduling, however, although he left open the possibility of starting the final sooner in years to come.

"Starting a final at 3pm, knowing we usually can play through until 9.30pm, which means six and a half hours, I think was safe enough when three months ago we set that starting time of 3pm," Ysern said.

"If we think it would be a better option to start a bit earlier, we can consider it. We will probably ask ourselves the question when we work on next year's event. But I don't think at this stage we should really start earlier."

Nadal, who was two sets ahead before Djokovic rallied back as the conditions weighed the balls down, had been calling for play to be suspended long before it was - but referee Stefan Fransson defended the decision to keep going as long as they did.

"Rafa was disappointed, not happy, whatever you want to say, when we stopped in the fourth set [because they did not stop sooner]," Fransson said. "But it's not a decision that one player makes or not even in all cases both players, but a decision that, in this case, I have to make and take into consideration that the court is playable or not playable.

"There was nobody who said anything throughout that whole third set."

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