The fans of the Foro Italico in Rome were not happy when, at the buisiness end of the match between world number 4 Dominic Thiem and crowd favorite Lorenzo Sonego, they were asked to leave the premisses due to the Italian curfew.
How is this even possible? We are talking about a professional tennis match after all ! And not just any match. One that was involving, Italian 33rd player in the world and potentially capturing one of the most important win’s of his young career versus the world number 4, two time Roland-Garros finalist and winner of the last US Open. What I’m trying to say is that it wasn’t the Opelka-Delbonis match that was being interrupted. Surely the crowd, along with the rest of the world would not have cared less.
Dominic Thiem and Lorenzo Sonego were scheduled on the Grand Stand, not before 7 pm. Nothing wrong there. I beg to differ. Everyone knows that the Roman curfew starts at 10 pm. The tournament organizers, that make the scheduling decisions hand in hand with the ATP, know perfectly well that neither Lorenzo Sonego or Dominic Thiem are serve and volleyers. No need, therefore, to be a genius, in order to anticipate that the match was going to last. Maybe not 3h45 as it did, but the 2h30 mark was easily predictable. In fact they must have thought about it.
Fans were clearly not treated with the needed respect
So what did they then, say to themselves? That all the spectators in the stands probably lived less than 30 minutes away from their seat in the stands and would therefore have no trouble making it home before 10pm?
Who are we kidding here?
Let’s imagine that the match ended at 9:30 pm. For those who are not familiar with the Roman venue, you don’t leave your seat in the bleachers and are in the subway 5 minutes after. It’s a huge park, of which you need to expect at least 10 minutes to make it out of. After that, in order to get to the city center, according to specialized web sites, it should take around 40 minutes at that time of day.
The match started at 7:15 pm. Fans were asked to leave after 2h15 of play, 30 minutes before curfew. Basically, the organizers wanted to make sure that everyone was out before 10pm in order to not be breaking the law. However the fact that no one could realistically make it home on time was clearly not an issue for them. At least they were able to sell their tickets, which was all that counted.
Fans were clearly not treated with the needed respect. As were the players. They disputed two intense sets in a David Cup atmosphere, before they were interrupted for 20 minutes !!!!
Why did the match not follow that one of Ostapenko and Kerber
Remember how I spoke about 3h45, that was total match time but interestingly enough, the ATP is communicating on 3h24. At the end of the second set, the players left the court for nearly 30 minutes before coming back and finishing off the contest in training conditions, in front of no one except 20 or so members of the Sonego clan, whom, rest assured, were of course sitting one on top of the other.
This situation was easily avoidable. Why did the match not follow that one of Ostapenko and Kerber that ended at 6:20pm. One hour earlier … Another option would have been to not allow fans to this match. Of course there would have been frustration, but later, people would have realized that t was indeed the right decision. A last option would have been to find an agreement so that night session ticket holders could have benefited of a right to come home a bit later than curfew normally allows it.
Let’s hope that this will not happen again and that tournament organizers all over the world will have learned a lesson.