"3h20 after the scheduled start of play Sousa is still undefeated vs. Roger Federer. Amazing endurance from the Portuguese on clay," tweeted Enrico Maria Riva earlier today. This Wednesday presented perhaps the greatest schedule of the 2019 Rome Open: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Naomi Osaka, all set to play on the central court.
With other big names such as Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Fabio Fognini, and Kiki Bertens on the program, the day could have been one of the most thrilling, had the rain not decided to ruin it. In the early stages of morning, all matches were postponed to start at 12:30 pm local time, but the uncomfortable weather did not allow it.
The new schedule should have started at 3:00 pm, with all games planned on the Centrale remaining unmoved and thus creating the longest daily program of all the courts there, but everything has been pushed farther, with matches set to start at 7:30 pm.
However, only four were still on schedule for this Wednesday, and Roger Federer did not figure in the program anymore. How many people on the site are hoping for the rain to tune down? The doubled price of the tickets for this May 15th – the reason of which has caused great commotion due to its attribution to Federer’s presence on the Foro Italico – did not seem to discourage the fans who wished to see the Swiss legend play on Roman clay for the first time since 2016: if the 2018 edition had made a record attendance of 203.762 spectators for the whole week, this number is now crushed under the 204.996 tickets sold while the tournament is still halfway to go.
The expensive entries, the cheapest of which near the 140 euros in price, do however not offer protection against the weather: the spectators must bring their umbrella to shield themselves from the water – Rome remains one of the big tournaments with no back-up measure (courts with a roof) for this type of situation – and as stated in the tournament’s policy: “The tickets and passes are not replaceable or reimbursable in the event if there is a displacement or cancellation of matches due to technical or meteorological reasons”.
Federer said on Tuesday, “Some fans clearly were not happy about it [the doubled prices]. That’s obviously disappointing to hear”. It’s not too hard to imagine that spirits have sunk even lower among the crowd today.