Novak Djokovic, fresh from breaking the USD 100 million prize money barrier, aims for a place in a fourth French Open final Friday with fans handed the chance to watch the world number one for just USD 22.
After a rain-ravaged tournament saw only two hours of play on Monday and Tuesday, Roland Garros organisers have been battling to get back on schedule.
Usually, just the men’s semi-finals are played on the second Friday but this year all four semi-finals in the men’s and women’s singles are being staged with two on the Philippe Chatrier Court and two uniquely on the Suzanne Lenglen arena.
That has led organisers to offer 8,000 seats at 20 euros (USD 22.3) for Lenglen where Djokovic will face Austria’s Dominic Thiem after Samantha Stosur and Garbine Muguruza have completed the first women’s last-four clash.
In stark contrast, on Saturday and Sunday, the women’s and men’s finals will respectively be held, as tradition demands, on Philippe Chatrier.
Tickets for those matches, where Serena Williams could equal the Open era majors record of 22 titles and Djokovic can win a first Paris title and complete the career Grand Slam, were being sold late Friday for 555 euros (USD 620) and 1,330 euros (USD 1,483).
Roland Garros generosity was no doubt encouraged by the sight of a two-thirds empty Suzanne Lenglen court on Thursday where Thiem defeated David Goffin to make his first semi-final at a major and Kiki Bertens saw off Timea Bacsinszky to reach a maiden women’s last-four match-up.
Temperatures at a shivering 12 degrees did little to fill spaces and similar autumnal gloom is forecast for Friday.
World number one Djokovic, a three-time runner-up, is still seeking a first Roland Garros crown to secure a career Grand Slam. The 29-year-old top seed, who already holds the Wimbledon, US and Australian Open titles, will start as overwhelming favourite against Thiem who he has defeated in straight sets in their only two career meetings.