A thrilling tennis match won fans an exception to France’s curfew.

French officers delivered one of many nice moments of sports activities within the pandemic on Friday night time, because the clock crept towards an 11 p.m. curfew in Paris that appeared destined to clear the stands throughout an epic French Open males’s tennis semifinal between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia.

An earlier males’s semifinal on Court Philippe-Chatrier lasted greater than three-and-a-half hours, that means that Djokovic and Nadal didn’t take the court docket till after 7 p.m.

Then the 2 longtime rivals began a stunning display of tennis, a roller-coaster duel by which Nadal, the 13-time French champion, grabbed the primary set, and Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked men’s player, battled to win the subsequent two. The first three units within the best-of-five match lasted three-and-a-half hours.

As the third set ended, the celebration turned to howls and catcalls as a stadium announcer started to make a press release that the group of 5,000 anticipated to be a warning that they wanted to quickly head for the exits. Fans chanted, “We’re not moving,” and known as for the resignation of the match director, Guy Forget.

Instead, the announcer mentioned that an exception had been made and the fans might keep to see the conclusion of what former American star Chris Evert would later name “the greatest match ever played.”

And immediately a crowd of 5,000 gave the impression of one 10 instances as massive. There was chanting and singing within the aisles, hugs and high-fives after a principally depressing year-and-a-half for sports activities and far of the remainder of the world.

The exception appeared to have been granted by the French authorities, who two days earlier had extended the nationwide curfew from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. as a part of a phased plan to carry Covid-19 restrictions imposed in March. Gilles Moretton, the president of the French Tennis Federation, later thanked the Elysee Palace and Matignon, the workplaces of the French president and prime minister, “for allowing us to stay until the end of this incredible suspense, this legendary match.”

France is recording an common of about 4,700 coronavirus instances a day, 50 p.c decrease than two weeks in the past, and has absolutely vaccinated a fifth of the inhabitants, in accordance to a New York Times database.

The French Open, one among 4 main occasions on the boys’s and girls’s skilled excursions, is the primary in France to permit spectators because the pandemic. Two nights earlier, match officers cleared the group for the ultimate video games of Djokovic’s quarterfinal match towards Matteo Berrettini of Italy, which additionally ended after the curfew.

On Friday night time, Djokovic prevailed in front of the fans, taking the fourth set for a victory in a match that lasted 4 hours and 11 minutes. On Sunday, he’ll face Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in a closing that’s scheduled to start at three p.m., that means it ought to conclude effectively earlier than the curfew comes into play.

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