US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka and opponent Danka Kovinic walked off just half an hour into the 2020 French Open, complaining that the conditions were “ridiculous” and accusing officials of “joking” by keeping them on court.
Organizers had hoped for a trouble-free start after going ahead with this year’s tournament in front of tiny crowds among concerns by players and the public amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Any chances of the opening day going smoothly were scuppered within minutes, though, as former world number one Azarenka summoned an official to beg for the players to be allowed off court as freak conditions swept their first-round clash.
“You guys are joking, right?” asked the bristling Belarusian. “What are we doing here? This is getting a little bit ridiculous.
Azarenka instantly not happy with the conditions on walking out. #RG20pic.twitter.com/K0FMqOafPW
No sign of Azarenka returning…It’s the only court with play not underway 🤔#ITVTennis#RG20pic.twitter.com/Sa5FzMXoqq
“I’m not sitting here because I’m going to get frozen. It’s eight degrees. I live in Florida, I’m used to hot weather.
“It’s raining for, like, 15 minutes and we’re playing. Who cares? You can’t hold your racket because it’s so wet.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s too cold. What’s the point? Sitting here like ducks.”
After consulting her Montenegrin counterpart, Azarenka and the world number 74 left the court and retreated to the locker room to wait for the cold, wet conditions to subside.
“What did she expect?” asked a fan. “It’s September and Paris gets cold. What a diva.”
Heart goes out to her 🙄
What did she expect, its September and Paris gets cold , what a diva
“I live in Florida” did make me laugh. It’s gonna be a chilly fortnight. Lots of leggings and long sleeves!
Others offered the tournament hopeful sarcastic sympathy and pointed out that her homeland is not noted for its warm climate.
Azarenka showed her best form after the brief delay, winning each of the remaining games in the first set as part of a swift 6-1, 6-2 victory that could set her up for a second-round clash with Venus Williams, although the seven-time Grand Slam winner dropped the first set of her opening test.
World number 14 Azarenka had previously warned that the weather would make the circumstances of this year’s tournament even more unusual.
“It’s really cold but at the same time we all have the same conditions so I’m not going to sit here and complain about it too much,” she told reporters.
Victoria Azarenka says she offered Daria Kasatkina any help her team could provide. Offered words of encouragement, that things can turnaround. Said Kasatkina was very gracious, said her “comeback” inspired her. #ibi20https://t.co/xUO16U3z80
“The court feels really, really heavy. It’s not going to be like a normal Roland Garros where the ball bounces high and the court gets faster. It’s going to be about day-to-day adjustment.”
The incident was the second untoward situation that Azarenka had faced with an opponent in nine days.
She comforted Russian rival Daria Kasatkina when she wept on court after rolling her ankle during their match at the Italian Open in Rome last week, bringing her a bag of ice and a towel as she was helped back to her chair.
The 23-year-old thanked Azarenka and has recovered in time for her first-round match tomorrow against home player Harmony Tan, who is 167 places below her in the rankings.