French Open fans unhappy as COVID curfew imposed at 11 p.m.

  • Spectators leave to respect the 11PM curfew due to the COVID-19 pandemic while Italy's Matteo Berrettini plays Serbia's Novak Djokovic in a quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in Paris.

    Spectators leave to respect the 11PM curfew due to the COVID-19 pandemic while Italy's Matteo Berrettini plays Serbia's Novak Djokovic in a quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in Paris. Associated Press

  • Spectators leave to respect the 11PM curfew due to the COVID-19 pandemic while Italy's Matteo Berrettini plays Serbia's Novak Djokovic in a quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in Paris.

    Spectators leave to respect the 11PM curfew due to the COVID-19 pandemic while Italy's Matteo Berrettini plays Serbia's Novak Djokovic in a quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in Paris. Associated Press

  • A stadium official asks Italy's Matteo Berrettinito to walk back to the cloakroom, giving time for spectators to leave in accordance of the 11PM curfew due to the COVID-19 pandemic while Italy's Matteo Berrettini played Serbia's Novak Djokovic in a quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in Paris. The watch was suspended.

    A stadium official asks Italy's Matteo Berrettinito to walk back to the cloakroom, giving time for spectators to leave in accordance of the 11PM curfew due to the COVID-19 pandemic while Italy's Matteo Berrettini played Serbia's Novak Djokovic in a quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in Paris. The watch was suspended. Associated Press

  • Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during the third set as he plays Italy's Matteo Berrettini during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in Paris.

    Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during the third set as he plays Italy's Matteo Berrettini during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in Paris. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 6/9/2021 4:43 PM

PARIS -- Novak Djokovic's French Open quarterfinal against Matteo Berrettini was delayed for about 22 minutes Wednesday evening while thousands of spectators were cleared out because of an 11 p.m. coronavirus curfew.

Pandemic-related restrictions were loosened to allow 5,000 inside on Court Philippe-Chatrier rather than the 1,000 for the previous matches, and it was quite an atmosphere until the rule was imposed.

 

Some disappointed fans jeered and even sang 'We've paid, we'll stay' as they refused to leave when supposed to at 10:45 p.m.

Shortly before 10:55 p.m., both players packed their bags and walked off down the tunnel while fans shouted out in frustration. The top-ranked Djokovic was up 2-1 in sets and leading 3-2 in the fourth set when play was halted.

'Rip-off!' one said, while others blamed broadcaster Amazon or French Tennis Federation president Guy Forget.

Within a few minutes the main stadium was almost completely empty, although two angry fans continued to argue they had a right to stay until security officials finally ushered them away at 11:10 p.m.

Moments later, both players came back out to warm up amid a cathedral-like silence as the sound of ball hitting racket replaced the sometimes raucous atmosphere. Because after being away from live sports for so long, an appreciative crowd was in the mood for entertainment.

Their unbridled enthusiasm turned sour at 10:30 p.m. when chair umpire James Keothavong was roundly jeered for reminding the fans they had to leave at 10:45 p.m.

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Most did not, but at just after 11:15 p.m. the players had resumed their match.

The top-ranked Djokovic experienced something similar during the Australian Open in February, when fans needed to be ushered out of his victory over Taylor Fritz because of coronavirus restrictions there.

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More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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