Rome - Roger Federer's return to the Italian Open was scuppered by rain on
Wednesday as officials were forced to cancel the day's play after
waiting in vain for more than nine hours for wintery weather to clear.
last appeared at Rome's Foro Italico in the 2016 third round, losing to
Dominic Thiem, but he was kept waiting to begin his tournament against
Portugal's Joao Sousa thanks to rain and wintery temperatures in what is
normally a warm and pleasant period of the year in the Italian capital.
the dual ATP-WTA clay showpiece will restart at 10:00 (SA time) on
Thursday, after a frustrating day that saw starting times regularly
delayed until play was officially abandoned at 20:00 (SA time).
poor conditions also mean last week's winner in Madrid Novak Djokovic
and reigning Rome champion Rafael Nadal also have to be crammed into a
Among the women, world number one Naomi Osaka was
waiting to start her tournament against Dominika Cibulkova after
beating the Slovak in the Madrid first round last week.
four-time finalist in Rome, returns to Italy after skipping the clay
season for the last two years as he concentrated on his grass game.
Swiss was originally scheduled to take on Sousa at 11am (0900 GMT) on
Wednesday but was among dozens of players kept waiting in crowded locker
rooms and lounges, as organisers angered fans with a "no refund" policy
after doubling ticket prices for Wednesday to reap the financial
benefits of Federer's return to the venue.
They later told
disappointed Wednesday ticket holders to come back for free on Thursday,
before appearing to open the door for refunds to those who could not
When informed of the decision on Tuesday during a media event, Federer did not seem particularly impressed.
heard some fans clearly were not happy about it. That's obviously
disappointing to hear," the 20-time Grand Slam champion said.
"I just really hope it doesn't take away the fact I'm really happy to be here."