The 2020 French Open will take place this year, confirmed the French Tennis Federation (TFT) President yesterday.
The TFT President Bernard Giudicelli said to Gael Monfils, the world No.9 player and currently the highest-ranked Frenchman that the French Open was indeed a go.
“Yes I confirm to you Gael (Monfils), Roland Garros will take place,” he said to Monfils when speaking on the latter’s Twitch channel.
Giudicelli also went on to say the event, which is now slated for late September, is hoping to have ‘maximum spectators’ but acknowledged that government protocols and guidance will ultimately dictate how the event unfolds.
“The preferred option is to have a Roland Garros with maximum spectators,’ he said. Adding that “depending on health conditions, we will adapt to the directives the government gives us. The government will decide how many people can be there.
Initially, Roland Garros was slated to get underway between May 24 to June 7. However, the prestigious clay-court Grand Slam was one of many sporting events to become a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic. An unprecedented period in modern history that is fittingly encompassed in the term, the ‘Great Blackout.’
The moratorium on sports wasn’t exclusive to tennis, as we now know. It claimed some of the world’s most prominent sporting leagues and biggest events in the first half of the year, spanning football, basketball, hockey and horse-racing, to name a few.
One of the first tennis tournaments to get the chop was the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells – oft colloquially referred to as the “Fifth Grand Slam” because of its size, attendance, prestige and hefty prize purse.
Organizers of the Indian Wells Masters event, as it is better known, made the pre-emptive decision on the eve of its start on Monday, March 9. After Riverside County officials declared a public health emergency following the confirmation of the first known case of Covid-19 in the region.
Although the tournament considered proceeding by adopting various safety measures, eventually the idea was rejected in an abundance of caution. In hindsight that was probably the best decision. Attendance figures in 2018 and 2019 at Indian Wells were verging on 500,000 fans. And as we now know, large gatherings act as a petri-dish with which the deadly virus can spread undeterred. Not least of all, California eventually became one of the worst hit states during the coronavirus outbreak on the west coast.
Indian Wells proved to be the first domino to fall in a line of big-name tennis events; the beginning of the end of the spring sporting calendar sports fans have habitually become accustomed to following.
Indeed, coronavirus wiped out the entire spring-swing of the ATP and WTA seasons, claiming major events such as the Sony Ericsson Open (Miami Masters), the Monte Carlo Masters, Madrid Masters, and Rome Masters.
As well, it nullified the short grass-court swing of the early summer, including the Wimbledon Championships – otherwise held as the pinnacle of the grass-court events. The jewel in the crown that every player hoping for a career in tennis ultimately dreams to win one day.
When events were calling it a year and shutting their doors, organizers of the French Open held steadfastly to the possibility of bringing back the French Open at some later stage in the year.
On the day the French Open would have started in May, Rafael Nadal tweeted a poignant message to his fans. ‘Today we should be in Paris,’ began a nostalgic Nadal.