Fans at the French Open have had to leave some matches early because of an 11 p.m. curfew.
But during an epic Nadal-Djokovic semifinal, fans began chanting, “We don’t leave!”
Organizers allowed fans to stay due to the “exceptional nature” of the match, which led the crowd to erupt.
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A rowdy crowd at the French Open erupted when they were told they could break curfew to watch the conclusion of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic’s epic semifinal.
Djokovic won in four sets, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 in a match that some in the tennis world are calling one of the best they’ve ever seen.
Throughout the rest of the tournament, fans have had to leave by 11 p.m. to adhere to a curfew imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rule resulted in bizarre scenes in which matches were stopped to let fans filter out and go home, causing a delay before play resumed.
However, during the third set of Nadal and Djokovic’s electric back-and-forth, fans began chanting (in French), “We won’t leave!”
Many expected organizers to make fans leave at the conclusion of the third set nonetheless. But when the set ended – with Djokovic beating Nadal in a tiebreaker to go up 2 sets to 1 – an official got on the microphone and announced that fans would be allowed to stay “due to the exceptional nature” of the match.
The crowd gave a huge cheer.
Below is the official statement from Roland-Garros about the decision, which said the exception was made after a consult with authorities.
The match carried huge stakes. Nadal came in as the king of clay, having won 13 French Open titles. Not only did he have an outstanding 105-2 record at the French Open on the line, getting to the final would have given him a chance to pass Roger Federer for most Grand Slams of all time with 21.
Djokovic, meanwhile, is chasing a 19th Grand Slam, putting him right on the heels of Federer and Nadal. Winning the French Open would set him up to tie Federer and Nadal at Wimbledon, which Djokovic has won twice in the last three years.
Fans on Twitter reacted, too, with appreciation that the match was so entertaining that public-health rules had been temporarily put aside.
Unfortunately, for the heavily pro-Nadal crowd, Djokovic made quick work of Nadal in the fourth set, breaking him twice.
Nonetheless, two tennis greats, Chrsis Evert and Andy Roddick called the match one of the best they had ever seen.
Djokovic will now take on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open final.
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