PARIS: Rafael Nadal hopes to use his anger over French Open scheduling to fire him into the last 16 on Saturday while world number one Novak Djokovic takes on Grigor Dimitrov in a mouth-watering clash.
Defending champion Nadal, bidding to become the first man to win the same Grand Slam title eight times, faces colourful Italian 27th seed Fabio Fognini who he beat in straight sets in Rome two weeks ago.
The Spaniard will be playing for the second successive day while Fognini, who made the quarter-finals in 2011, had the luxury of a day off on Friday.
“The schedule was wrong, it was a bad decision,” said Nadal, after his attempt to play his third round match against Martin Klizan on Thursday was foiled by the rain.
He was furious that he had been scheduled as third match on Court Suzanne Lenglen, despite warnings of the weather closing in and with Fognini having finished his match, second up, on an outside court in the early evening.
Nadal was further incensed when he was told that Fognini had been given an earlier start time because he and opponent Lukas Rosol had doubles to play later together in the day.
“Today I was playing three hours while my opponent was in the locker room watching TV,” said Nadal after needing four sets to beat Klizan on Friday.
“I cannot play third when my opponent has played second. The excuse they gave me was that they had to play doubles, but that’s a joke. In that case I should sign up for doubles to be a priority.”
Top seed Djokovic, who needs a French Open to become just the eighth man to complete the career Grand Slam, faces 22-year-old Dimitrov, just weeks after the Bulgarian stunned the 26-year-old Serb in Madrid.
Dimitrov, who has spent his formative years shaking off comparisons to Roger Federer, will be playing in the third round of a major for the first time.
“He’s still young and he has definitely potential to be one of the top players, but it’s a very long way for him,” said Djokovic.
Also in third round action on Saturday are defending women’s champion Maria Sharapova who faces China’s Zheng Jie.
The Russian holds a 2-1 lead over Zheng although the Chinese will be buoyed by her win in Indian Wells in 2010.
Third seeded Victoria Azarenka, the Australian Open champion, faces French 31st seed Alize Cornet in the opening match on Court Philippe Chatrier.