These primal athlete screams hit different with no fans.
Yesterday’s French Open quarterfinal match between No. 1 ranked Novak Djokovic and No. 9 Matteo Berrettini started with fans. Some 5,000 were in attendance. But play was paused in the fourth set minutes before 11 p.m., when Paris’ COVID curfew goes into effect.
Time to go to bed, COVID. It’s 11 p.m.! Everyone knows this highly contagious virus spreads faster after 11, right?
The athletes left the court around 10:55pm local time under a chorus of boos. Officials cleared out the stadium so the two players could finish their match by themselves. All in all, the delay lasted around 25 minutes.
When Djokovic and Berrettini returned, the arena sounded like this.
Was that a walkie talkie I heard at the end of the clip? Point is, you could hear every damn thing.
No matter how many times I watch spectator-less games or matches, the silence is always uncomfortable. It’s not like pumped in crowd noise is any better, though.
But with no one in the stands we could hear Djokovic, let’s just say, very clearly.
Djokovic wound up winning 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5. And after match point, he let out a scream that fans would’ve surely been able to drown out if they were there. Of course, no one was. So The Djoker was left yelling into the void.
“The conditions were strange with the fans here and then the atmosphere was a bit different [afterward],” Djokovic said. “You have to find a different motivation because the energy from the fans is special.”
The world No. 1 is a fan of fans. He’s even said that he would reconsider his decision to play in the Olympics if no spectators are allowed. As of now, only Japanese citizens can attend the Games. But that could change at any moment. Things aren’t exactly, you know, going well in Tokyo.
But before Djokovic worries about the Olympics — or even Wimbledon — he’ll have to face the king of the red clay, Rafael Nadal, in tomorrow’s semi-final.