The tournament organisers have taken the decision to delay the start of the 2021 French Open by a week. This is due to ongoing efforts to ensure that the tournament can go ahead as safely as possible. The French Tennis Federation are also hoping to allow as many fans as possible into the grounds and it is thought that delaying the tournament by a week will help maximise capacity. This is positive for tennis fans, as the aim is clearly to make the tournament operate as normally as possible.
Organisers of the tournament have worked closely with the French Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to arrive at this decision. Given how much of a risk hosting a large-scale sporting event can pose, the belief in France that every week matters is an understandable one. It is certainly essential that every precaution is in place in order for the Grand Slam to go ahead successfully.
The tournament was originally set to begin with the qualifying rounds on 17th May, and the final day of play on 6th June. With this delay, the qualifiers will now start on the 24th May, with the main-draw action commencing on 30th May and ending on Sunday 13th June. This leaves just a two week gap between the end of the French Open and the start of Wimbledon. Despite this, the decision has been fully backed by the Grand Slam Board, including Wimbledon.
This will no doubt be a difficult turnaround for the players considering the vast difference in clay and grass court tennis. On top of this, a number of tournaments including Queens have been cancelled, leaving very little time to prepare for a surface that most players do not compete on regularly. With many players struggling with the transition to grass historically, the minimal amount of time available to prepare isn’t going to help.
That being said, the two-week gap between Roland Garros and Wimbledon is a return to the status quo pre-2015, which indicates that whilst it may not be ideal, it should be manageable. Still, the French WTA player Alize Cornet, once ranked as high as world #11, expressed her disappointment in the decision during a live television interview when the news was first reported, labelling it as ‘selfish’. She also went on to make her general dissatisfaction with how French tennis is currently being run clear.
Alize Cornet not happy to be told of the reported postponement of Roland Garros on Tennis Channel.
(I also love that she says “it stays between us” during a live television interview.) pic.twitter.com/IKkS96VQJo
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) April 7, 2021
Therefore, while the postponement may be a good thing for the French Open itself, and the wider game, it is likely to impact preparation for Wimbledon negatively. How much of an effect will this decision have? Only time will tell, but it is certainly going to provide another challenge to players.
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