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Friday, May 31, 2013
Rafael Nadal rallies for third round

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PARIS -- Rafael Nadal wanted to get a few things off his chest.

Not about the quality of his play Friday, which fell below his usual standards at Roland Garros -- for the second match in a row, he dropped a lethargic opening set before winning.

What really bothered the usually affable Nadal was the way the French Open's scheduling decisions, and the weather, combined to force him to now play on consecutive days, while his third-round opponent Saturday, Italy's Fabio Fognini, was "watching the TV in the locker room" on Friday.

"That's not fair," Nadal said, his arms crossed, his voice stern.

"This is not right," the seven-time champion in Paris said moments later, shaking his head and arching his left eyebrow.

What flustered Nadal, basically, was that his 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Martin Klizan of Slovakia was supposed to be played Thursday but wound up being postponed because of rain -- in part because it was the third match slated for its court.

The 27th-seeded Fognini's second-round victory win over Lukas Rosol, meanwhile, was No. 2 on its court and finished Thursday. Nadal's point: When there's rain in the forecast, everything possible should be done to ensure that two matches whose winners will face each other next should be completed on the same day.

Nadal also didn't like that while Fognini-Rosol followed one women's match -- which, because they are best-of-three-sets, tend to be shorter than the men's best-of-five -- Nadal-Klizan followed both a men's match and a women's match. His match should have taken priority on a day when showers made rescheduling likely, Nadal argued, because if women "have to play two days in a row, (it) is not a big deal."

Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open women's champion, sided with Nadal on that point, saying men should "get more time to recover."

"Especially now, when he has to play day after day, I think he's right. They should play early," Ivanovic said.

Another complaint from Nadal: He said he was told by tournament officials they wanted to make sure Rosol got on court Thursday because, unlike Nadal, he also was in men's doubles.

"I am sorry, but that's a joke," Nadal said. "Why do you want to protect the player who has to play doubles? So I'm going to (sign up for) the doubles draw then, and I have the priority to play?"

A request for comment from tournament referee Stefan Fransson was declined by French tennis federation spokesman Christophe Proust, who said: "The federation does not want to respond. We don't want to get drawn into a controversy. It's not the first time that the scheduling has been criticized."

Now Nadal will need to win six matches over 10 days if he's going to be the first man to collect eight trophies at one Grand Slam tournament.

"Well, if I can win (Saturday), I'll have a day off, and that should be enough," the Spaniard said. "I don't think that will be a problem."

Once he got on a roll at his news conference, Nadal also responded to a question about the men's tour calendar by bemoaning that there are too many tournaments players are required to enter. He also wished aloud that the ranking system were based on two years' worth of results instead of one, something he lobbied unsuccessfully for when he was a vice president of the ATP Player Council.

All in all, the 11-time major champion's laments were the most interesting development on a day bereft of on-court drama for the top players.

Roger Federer lost serve in the very first game but not again, getting to the fourth round by eliminating No. 30 Julien Benneteau of France 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.

"I'm able to play quite aggressive at the moment," said Federer, who lost to Benneteau on an indoor hard court at Rotterdam, Netherlands, in February. "I don't know if I can keep that up. But the important thing is to keep the errors somewhat low because otherwise it's just silly aggressiveness. It has to be controlled aggression."

Federer hit 31 winners to eliminated Benneteau. Federer seeks a record 18th Grand Slam title, and his first since Wimbledon last year.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion, who won his only title at Roland Garros in 2009, will play Gilles Simon.

Simon of France came back after trailing by two sets to one and a break in the fourth to beat Sam Querrey of the United States 2-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2.

The 15th-seeded Simon never has been past the fourth round at Roland Garros.

Already ahead, Querrey went up 2-0 in the fourth set, but Simon broke back right away. In the tiebreaker, Querrey double-faulted twice while falling behind 4-0 and never really recovered.

Querrey's loss means 19th-seeded John Isner is the last American man in the field.

No. 19 Isner overcame a two-set deficit for the first time in his career to win an all-American match against Ryan Harrison 5-7, 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-1, 8-6.

Isner -- best known for winning the longest match in tennis history, 70-68 in the fifth set at Wimbledon in 2010 -- lost in five sets at each of last year's four Grand Slam tournaments. That includes an 18-16 defeat in the second round at Roland Garros against 261st-ranked Paul-Henri Mathieu across more than 5½ hours.

The victory Friday over the 92nd-ranked Harrison was quick by comparison, lasting 3 hours, 50 minutes.

In other men's play, No. 12 Tommy Haas became the first 35-year-old since 2007 to reach the French Open's third round, beating 20-year-old American qualifier Jack Sock 7-6 (3), 6-2, 7-5. Haas next plays Isner.

Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden also was 35 when he made it to the fourth round at Roland Garros six years ago.

"Doesn't seem like he's 35," Sock said. "He moves well; he's in great shape; hits the ball well. If you're a random spectator watching the match, you would not guess that he's 35."

Sock double-faulted to get broken in the next-to-last game of Friday's match.

The 12th-seeded Haas has been a Grand Slam semifinalist four times but never has been past the fourth round in 11 previous appearances at the French Open.

When a reporter noted that most professional tennis players have retired by 35, Haas smiled and said: "I don't know what to do yet, I guess, besides playing tennis."

"I enjoy it. I have had a lot of injuries, and I felt like the last thing I want to do is retire because of an injury," he continued. "I'd like to do that on my own terms, if possible. I still have some goals out there that I want to achieve."

Haas was sidelined from February 2010 to April 2011 because of hip and shoulder injuries. He won his 14th career title in May at Munich, Germany, on clay.

No. 4 David Ferrer reached the fourth round by beating fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-1, 7-5, 6-4. No. 7 Richard Gasquet of France swept qualifier Michal Przysiezny 6-3, 6-3, 6-0.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.