French Open: Rafael Nadal Relegation to Suzanne Lenglen Court 'Bizarre'
Rafael Nadal, the eight-time French Open champion, will begin his first round match US wildcard Robby Ginepri on Monday at the secondary Suzanne Lenglen Court after schedulers decided to switch it away from the showpiece Philippe Chatrier court.
The decision by French Open organisers to relegate eight-time champion Rafael Nadal to the secondary Suzanne Lenglen court at Roland Garros was condemned as "bizarre" on Sunday.
World number one and top seed Nadal would normally be expected to begin his latest campaign on the showpiece Philippe Chatrier court.
But schedulers decided to switch his first round match against US wildcard Robby Ginepri on Monday away from the scene of his historic eight triumphs.
Instead, Philippe Chatrier will stage matches involving title rival Novak Djokovic, who plays Joao Sousa, and Stan Wawrinka's clash against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
The main showcourt will also stage opening women's matches featuring Maria Sharapova and home player Alize Cornet.
"That's really bizarre," said American 10th seed John Isner.
"I mean, how many times does the guy have to win the tournament to be able to have his first match on Chatrier? I think, no offense to Stan, but, you know, if you look at it, figured they'd be flip?flopped."
The decision caused outrage on social media.
"This must be a really joke. Nadal on Suzanne Lenglen at his first match of the tournament. 8 time and defending champion," tweeted one fan.
Another wrote: "Don't ever say to me "he's playing Ginepri bla bla bla... Because Djokovic is playing another joke Joao Sousa and he's on the PC.
"I mean, really, how Roland Garros can do this to 8 time champion and best Roland Garros player ever. Ah, i forgot that they were French."
However, France's number two player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga backed Nadal to take the decision in his stride.
"It's a big court, there is television, so you can put it everywhere, you know, in the world," said Tsonga. "I hope it's okay for him."