Roland Garros needs lights to clear backlog, says Novak Djokovic
World number one Novak Djokovic called for the French Open to install floodlights to help clear the backlog of rain-hit matches and claimed that a five-year wait to have a roof-covered show court was too long.
Top seed Djokovic only got on court at just after 6.30pm on Tuesday to kick off his 2013 campaign in Paris where he seeks a first Roland Garros title and to become just the eighth man to complete the career grand slam.
In all, 13 matches were held over to yesterday while three others were suspended due to darkness after rain delays of four hours played havoc with the schedule.
Djokovic believes that the 2018 target for a retractable roof to be built on the showpiece Court Philippe Chatrier is not the most pressing concern even if a covered centre court will bring the tournament into line with other grand slams like the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
"It seems a long way from now, but it is what it is. And at least for the future of our sport we're gonna have all centre courts covered except the US Open. We're gonna need that, as well," said the Serb.
"I think what is more needed here is the lights on the centre court because, you know, you stop play at 9pm, 9.30pm because you can't see anymore.
"So at least you could have lights so the play can go for a few more hours. And I believe that's not something that is big compared to the roof project. So I hope it's gonna happen in the next year or two."
A roof on the main Court Philippe Chatrier is the centrepiece of a controversial €340 million (HK$3.4 billion) project to expand and improve the cramped Roland Garros site in the west of Paris.
Court Suzanne Lenglen, the complex's second show court, will be renovated, a new 5,000-seat arena will be built as will a training centre.
Djokovic, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal last year, started his campaign by beating David Goffin of Belgium 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 7-5 to reach the second round.
"I warmed up five or six times because of the rain, then you have to adjust your tactics because of the damp conditions," he said. "You need to step into the court and hit the ball. He did really well, played some nice tennis. It was tough, but I played my best tennis when I had to."