Organisers of 'Drench Open' in the trenches

PARIS • The organisers of the French Open came under fire on Tuesday, after the competition resumed in the rain long enough to leave fans without refunds and reduce the hopes of two leading contenders to ruins.

Simona Halep, runner-up two years ago, and No. 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska attacked the organisers for subjecting them to playing conditions that they said were intolerable and dangerous.

Fans were equally unimpressed as the tournament's policy is to refund tickets if there are less than two hours of play - a mark that was passed by one minute.

The organisers were forced to refund €2 million (S$3.07 million) on Monday after a washout.

Czech seventh seed Thomas Berdych summed up everyone's frustration on a day when nine hours of play was lost by tweeting: "Hey @AustralianOpen can you send us one roof here to Paris?! You have 3 down there."

Roland Garros is the only one of the four Grand Slam venues that does not have a court with a retractable roof. The inability to play under cover certainly proved costly for Radwanska and Halep.

Halep, who lost to Australian Samantha Stosur, and Radwanska, who was beaten by world No. 102 Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, played a large proportion of their matches in incessant drizzle that regularly became heavier.

The clay was wet, the balls subsequently became muddy and the drip-drip effect undeniably took a toll on the players' state of mind.

Halep, beaten 7-6 (7-0), 6-3 by Stosur, pointed an accusing finger at tournament director Guy Forget and referee Stefan Fransson, who ordered play to continue.

"No one cares about the players, in my opinion," the Romanian No. 6 seed said. "It's too difficult to play tennis in these conditions. It's impossible in my opinion. I was close to getting injured with my back, so that's a big problem.

"Maybe they are scared because the tournament, the days are going on and they don't play matches. It is not our fault. It is not their fault. But the decisions were not, I think, the best."

Radwanska was equally incensed after losing 6-2, 3-6, 3-6 to Pironkova in a match that began on Sunday evening.

"I'm just so surprised and angry that we have to play in the rain," she said. "I mean, it's not a US$10,000 (S$13,764) tournament. It's a Grand Slam. How can you allow players to play in the rain? I cannot play in those conditions. I'm not healthy enough."

Radwanska was alluding to the surgery to her hand a couple of years ago and playing in damp conditions, with the grip of the racket compromised, resulted in pain.

"For me, playing with those balls in that kind of court is pretty much impossible," the Pole said.

There was no response from Forget or Fransson, but the two players who won the matches took a more philosophical view.

"I don't typically like the heavy, wet, damp conditions, but today I was able to use them," said Stosur. "If you kept the ball low, it didn't bounce that much. I think that really kept her off balance."

Pironkova added: "The conditions were the same for me and I don't like slow courts or heavy balls but I left the fact it was raining out of my mind and just focused on each and every point."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2016, with the headline 'Organisers of 'Drench Open' in the trenches'. Print Edition | Subscribe