There is no question that Rafael Nadal is one of the greatest tennis players of all time. He is set to play his first match of the 2014 French Open tomorrow, playing against the American wild card, Robby Ginepri. However, don’t look for this match to be battled out on Philippe Chatrier court. According to CNN on Sunday, the defending French Open champ will be playing on the secondary Suzanne Lenglen court instead.
Why should it really matter which court he plays on? It all has to do with status as he has certainly earned the rights to play on the main court for his first match. He has grabbed that top spot at the French Open eight times now. In reality, all major tennis players have their turn on the secondary court sometime during the tournament, but with the world number one player being an eight-time winner, this has certainly raised some eye brows. The organizers chose to have Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka play their opening matches on the coveted court.
American John Isner called the whole thing ‘bizarre.’ "I mean, how many times does the guy have to win the tournament to be able to have his first match on Chatrier?" he questioned in a post-match interview. Even tennis icon Martina Navratilova gave her two cents saying that it was ‘ridiculous, although she means no disrespect towards either Wawrinka or Djokovic. Monday’s lineup on Philippe Chatrier court also includes Maria Sharapova and Alize Cornet.
The French Tennis Federation defends their decision saying that there is not just a single factor, but a few of them that changes up the schedule on Chatrier court. USA Today mentioned that those factors includes TV, gender, and possible local French players.
While many people are weighing in on this decision, the world has yet to hear from Rafael Nadal himself on exactly how he feels about having to play his first match on the secondary court. Does he really care, as long as he wins the match?
On opening day of the 2014 French Open, Roger Federer, John Isner, Serena Williams, Agnieszka Radwanska, Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic, and Venus Williams all advanced into the second round. There were no shockers on day one, but will it stay that way for the rest of the tournament?