The night-session match is promoted as the highlight of the day

Alize Cornet celebrates beating Jelena Ostapenko in the French Open in 2022
There is one match that will receive extra scrutiny when the French Open order of play is released each evening. The night-session match is promoted as the highlight of the day, but last year only one of the 10 matches involved female players. And given the criticism the Madrid Open organisers received this month for not allowing the women’s doubles finalists to make presentation speeches, equality in scheduling is extremely topical. The French Open tournament director is former world number one Amelie Mauresmo, but she says she cannot promise there will be an equal share of men’s and women’s matches in the night sessions this year. Mauresmo argued 12 months ago that the men’s matches had more “appeal” and that it was hard to find enough stars or compelling match-ups in the women’s draw. World number one Iga Swiatek found those comments “a little bit disappointing and surprising” and two-time Grand Slam champion Mauresmo, in her first year as tournament director, later apologised. “To be honest, I’m not able right now to tell you anything about numbers of men’s or women’s matches,” Mauresmo told BBC Sport at Roland Garros last month. “I think we have to wait for the draws first, and for the head-to-head every day because that is really what is pushing us to make a choice – to know which match is going to be the match of the day.” Unlike the Australian Open and US Open, which schedule two night-session matches every day, the French Open has just one. Mauresmo says that complicates matters and points out there is equal billing if you consider the Centre Court programme as a whole. “What we see on this [Philippe] Chatrier Court is we have four matches. We know for sure we have two men’s, two women’s. The one [night] match makes it quite impossible to satisfy everyone in a way, so we like to see it as one.” Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chief executive Steve Simon believes having women’s matches in the night session at all tournaments is “very, very critical” in the fight for equal prize money all year round. “At the end of the day, you are what you say you are,” he told the BBC in Indian Wells in March. “Unless you are showing the product in your primetime windows, you are telling the consumer what the value is. So it is very, very important that there is a mixture between the men and the women in the primetime spots.” Mauresmo says in response: “I understand, because he feels that the 8.30 match is better than the day matches. “It’s primetime in Europe but we are an international event as well so the requests we have from TV are not only from Europe. We have demands from the US as well so I just want to see what’s coming and every day we’re going to try and make the best decision possible – that’s the only thing I can commit to.” Having a French world number five in Caroline Garcia should help Mauresmo, who feels there are more “stars” in the women’s game 12 months on. “I think so. I think people get to know the players better,” she says. “Iga [Swiatek] winning last year for the second time and also winning the US Open. Also the head-to-heads are key.” The first point of the night-session matches has been brought forward by half an hour to 20:30 local time (19:30 BST). That will potentially allow players to enjoy better, warmer conditions and prevent spectators being stranded without public transport after a late finish. Fans were wrapping themselves in blankets during last year’s quarter-final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic which finished at 01:15 – long after the final metro had left. A roof will be in position over the Suzanne Lenglen Court in time for the 2024 championships as Roland Garros prepares to stage both tennis and boxing at next year’s Paris Olympics. But there are currently no plans for a second night session because of the extra volume of people that would bring to the site. “I feel better, I feel more relaxed. I know more what is coming and having this experience of last year I’m much better prepared,” Mauresmo says of her second year in the tournament director’s chair. “People have to come into this stadium, wanting to have a special day, wanting to feel some emotion, wanting to live a full life, to have quite a unique day. “That’s why we are asking all the people who are going to welcome all the crowd to be smiling all the time and be very friendly and very welcoming.