Scheduling leaves Nadal fans crushed

PARIS – If the practice-court schedulers had seen the mass of humanity that gathered in and outside Court No. 1 Saturday to watch Rafael Nadal practice with Lucas Pouille, they might have known better.

The 10-time champion booked a two-hour block for practice Sunday with countryman Pablo Andujar.

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And they ended up on … Court 17.

That’s not Court 17: 2017-and-earlier edition. That was one of the show courts even if it was all the way at the end of the site.

This was Court 17: new edition. It’s probably the only court on the entire site that doesn’t have a single seat around it. As in, zero. It’s tucked into a small area and, during the qualifying, was used mostly for the half-hour warmup slots for the players ahead of their matches. 

There isn’t even any space around that court for fans to stand to watch. There is a tiny area at one corner that might, at best, fit 15 people if you cram them in who might actually get a clear view.

So, predictably, it was utter chaos in that area of the Roland Garros site for nearly two hours Sunday.

Here’s what it looked like.

No access to Court 18

Meanwhile, there was a young French player on new Court 18, the replacement for the old Court 17 and a permanent, sunken court all the way at the back of the site.

So there was going to be demand for seating on that court – even more as Grégoire Barrere took an early two-sets-to-none lead on Radu Albot of Moldova.

But there was basically no way to get through, short of finding an exit, going all the way around the outside of the site, and re-entering through the gate next to that court.

There were people crammed in everywhere trying to get a look. They were even looking down from the elevated walk on Court 18.

There was a an abject lack of security around – save for one officious fellow whose job was to shoo the folks standing up in the last row of Court 15 right next to it.

It’s pretty hot out today. And add that to the humidity and the crush of mankind, it looked like a potential disaster waiting to happen. 

In the end, it seemed there was no harm done, other than most of the people out there never did catch a glimpse of their idol.

Hopefully they’ll figure out a better alternative next time.

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