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How French Open officials screwed up Djokovic-del Potro match

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The bungling of Friday's schedule left French Open officials scrambling late in the day as the marquee match of the tournament's first week, Novak Djokovic vs. Juan Martin del Potro, was forced to move from the main show court at Roland Garros to a smaller one so it could begin before night fell on Paris. The Grand Slam champs split the first two sets before darkness halted play until Saturday.

It was an avoidable gaffe by the French Federation of Tennis. At a venue without any lights, scheduling the day's best match last was a timing conflict waiting to happen. Because of the incompetence of the FFT, many fans with tickets to Philippe Chatrier were unable to watch the match they paid to see, the marquee battle of the tournament had to be moved with little notice and, worst of all, the winner of Djokovic and del Potro will have to play on three straight days, an extreme disadvantage for two players with title aspirations.

Djokovic, in particular, should be furious. He figured to have an upper-hand on del Potro if the match went four or five sets. Now that the recovering del Potro can rest before play is resumed on Saturday, that advantage is gone.

Organizers brought the chaos upon themselves, but it wasn't without a little bad luck. The first match on Court Philippe Chatrier, Gisela Dulko vs. Sam Stosur, was a little over two hours. The second match, Marion Bartoli vs. Julia Goerges, was equally long. It looked like the FFT may catch a break when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was up a break and two sets against Stanislas Wawrinka in the third match, but then Wawrinka broke back and extended the third set to a tiebreak, which he won.

It was 6:45 p.m., Wawrinka and Tsonga weren't going anywhere and Djokovic and del Potro had nowhere to play. Would they move the match to a smaller court? Would they wait out Tsonga-Wawrinka? Could the whole thing be delayed until Saturday? At that point, even if Nole and Delpo got out on the court, there was little chance they'd finish.

Officials caught a break when the match on the venue's second-largest court, Suzanne Lenglen, ended in four sets. At 7:15 p.m. it was announced that Djokovic and del Potro would move to that court, where they'd play as long as daylight allowed. The match began at 7:45 p.m. and went for 90 minutes before officials stopped play after Delpo won the second set.

The match will resume Saturday as the third match on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

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