Doubles pair make more than £8,500 for five minutes work at chaotic French Open

Staff members prepare a tennis court on day seven of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex
Had the duo withdrawn before the match, they would only have received first-round prizemoney of £14,916. - Dimitar Dilkoff/Getty Images

A pair of doubles players earned just over £8,500 for 80 seconds’ work at the French Open, where more terrible weather contributed to another day of chaos.

Olympic bronze-medallist Marcus Daniell and former Wimbledon singles quarter-finalist McKenzie McDonald played just four points of their second-round match before speaking to the umpire.

They then pulled on their tracksuit tops and waited for the physio to arrive on the court, whereupon New Zealand’s Daniell pointed to his right thigh and the players walked off without much of a consultation.

Grand slam rules say that, by taking to the court, the pair will receive a combined total of £23,440 in prizemoney – the fee for a team that loses in the second round.

Had they withdrawn before the match, however, they would only have received first-round prizemoney of £14,916.

McDonald – who is the American No 9 – is on the official entry list for the Surbiton Trophy event, which is due to start on Monday.

The doubles event in Paris is running behind schedule after each of the first seven days of the tournament was interrupted by rain. This has created scheduling clashes for players who had expected to be moving on to the grass by now.

According to insiders, the backlog was only worsened by an administrative error on Saturday, in which all the doubles players were told that their matches had been cancelled for the evening.

It’s understood that this was a communication failure, and that the original intention had been to keep some doubles players (those whose matches had already started) on site. Two Britons – Luke Johnson and Henry Patten, who found themselves on opposite sides in an unfinished second-round match – were among those affected.

By the time the message was corrected, it was too late. When the weather dried up, some courts were left untenanted, which seemed a waste of resources at this erratic tournament. The French Tennis Federation have been contacted for comment.

This French Open has already been afflicted by player complaints about crowd behaviour, including David Goffin’s claim that he had been “insulted for three hours” and spat at by a rowdy fan.

On Thursday, tournament director Amelie Mauresmo promised a more proactive approach from security and umpire, while also announcing that booze would not henceforth be permitted in the stands.

Saturday’s dank weather caused more issues for schedulers, with Novak Djokovic’s night match against Lorenzo Musetti being delayed so that extra tennis could be squeezed in beforehand.

Alexander Zverev of Germany plays a forehand against Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands

Efforts to accelerate more matches through the roofed courts were hardly assisted by the 4hr 14min marathon that was fought out by Alexander Zverev and Tallon Griekspoor on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Zverev has become one of the most controversial players on the tour as a result of the domestic violence allegations that were discussed in a Berlin criminal court on Friday. He contests the allegations, which he has described as “b-------”. Ten more days of hearings have been scheduled over the next month.

In this match, however, Zverev gathered increasing crowd support as he fought back from an apparently hopeless position: 4-1 down in the deciding set. He broke Griekspoor’s serve to level the score, and then played his best tennis in the ensuing tie-break to clinch a 3-6, 6-4. 6-2. 4-6. 7-6 victory.

“It was an incredible match,” Zverev said. “He is an incredible player and unbelievably dangerous. All the credit to him taking it all the way. The atmosphere today was unbelievable. The support that I get here at this grand slam, I don’t think I get at any other grand slams.”

While Belgium’s Goffin might have been on the wrong end of the fans last week, he was playing a young Frenchman, while Germany’s Zverev was up against a Dutchman in Griekspoor. Meanwhile, on far-flung Court 14, Australian No 1 Alex de Minaur was also delighted with the support he received against another German in Jan-Lennard Struff.

Asked about the towel he had presented to a young fan after the match, de Minaur replied “That young lad was there from the very first point till the last, with five hours of rain delay. He was this little kid that every single change of ends, every single point I won, he was screaming at my face. I’m looking at him and thinking ‘if I was a fan, I would probably be back home’, because it was bloody cold out there.

“This kid gave me life,” added de Minaur, whose 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win over Struff earns him a crack at fifth seed Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round. “I just gave him a hug. I was, like, ‘Mate…’ The fact that he’s spent ten hours at the court today in the freezing cold pumping me up, I was happy that I was able to get a win together with him.”

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