It was quite the to-do when the Italian Open announced that, because of Roger Federer’s spot in the schedule on Wednesday, it was doubling the prices for the day session significantly.
In an interview with the Italian press agency AGI, Italian federation president Angelo Binaghi, put quite the spin on it. And the journalist who interviewed him didn’t call him on it.
“It is a way to reward fans who have bought their tickets first, and paid much less. This is the first year in which there is a 10 per cent discount for members and there is a fast-track (priority access) for them on the Grand Stand Arena,” Binaghi said.
Uh, okay then.
It’s worth noting that the prices for the Italian Open were already not cheap – especially for the day sessions. And most especially once you hit Thursday.
(Don’t forget to add an impressive 10 per cent “booking” fee, plus VAT).
Late guest Fed bumps up cover charge
Federer, who has never won Rome, hadn’t played there since 2016.
He missed his two best opportunities early in his career, when he lost the 2003 final to Felix Mantilla in three straight sets, and the 2006 final to Rafael Nadal in a fifth-set tiebreak. Yes, it was so long ago that they played best-of-five in Masters Series finals.
So it obviously was a big deal. But doubling those Wednesday prices?
Guess what? The rain gods decided to heap some bad karma on the tournament for that move. Even though, in the end, it’s the fans who will pay the price.
At first, hoping there might be some play Wednesday, they cancelled the day session.
That led to a rather complex little move – a two-part day session on the Centrale and Grandstand courts. Wednesday fans would still be able to see Federer, because their tickets would get them on Centrale Thursday to see a two-match session featuring Federer, and women’s No. 1 Naomi Osaka.
Assuming they can make it. If not, a rare opportunity – perhaps the last – to see Federer will end up in a refund.
As is so often the case, information about said refunds will be “released at a later date”.
So far, there’s been little mention of what the fans who held tickets for Wednesday’s night session will do. It’s not as though they can split the Thursday night session in two.
Gridlock on the Foro Italico Grounds?
You would imagine that those fans who do come for that “early day session” would also stick around to roam the grounds afterwards. So even with all of the potential action Thursday, with most of the winning players scheduled for a second singles match, it could be nuts.
Note that capacity on Centrale is 10,500, and on Grandstand it’s another 5,000.
Fans who had the original Wednesday tickets for the Grandstand will get a bonus, as Rafael Nadal has been moved there for his second-round match against Jérémy Chardy.
And those with the “regular” Thursday Grandstand tickets will get Federer vs. Coric, if the Swiss wins his opener against Joao Sousa. And they could also get world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, if he beats Canadian Denis Shapovalov. And Djokovic’s opponent could be the Italian Marco Cecchinato. Another Italian, Matteo Berrettini also is on the schedule.
So that stadium could rock well into the evening on Thursday, for a far more reasonable price.
Night session ticket holders on Centrale could get Nadal, instead of the Djokovic-Shapovalov match scheduled Wednesday.
The schedule is so packed, Juan Martin del Potro’s opener against David Goffin is scheduled for Court 4 – the sixth court on the list.
Bonus matches on Grandstand and Pietrangeli
Simona Halep will be on Pietrangeli, possibly twice. And if Osaka beats Dominika Cibulkova to open proceedings on Centrale she, too, would end up on the Pietrangeli court for her nightcap.
It all adds up to a dream schedule. And a lot of battling for practice courts.
As of 7:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday (1:30 a.m. Thursday in Rome), “premium” tickets remained for the “regularly scheduled” day session, starting at €173.80 ($195.00 USD). That was the regular price, before all this drama. For third-round matches. Oof.
For the “regular” day session on the Grandstand – which, again, could get you both Federer and Djokovic, barring an upset – the price is €70.40 ($79.00). But there are only a few tickets left, in one section.
Those affordable grounds passes, listed on the website for €5.00 ($5.60), are going for … €38.50. (They’re €22.00 on Friday).
Any headaches all this causes with the fans? Boo.
Any extra work it causes for the tournament organizers? They have it coming.
The Foro forecast
It appears the wind will hold off until Friday. And the rain will hold off until Friday night, although it will be cool – chilly for those playing their second matches in the evening.