Following negotiations between the French Tennis Federation and both ATP and WTA, the leading French daily Le Parisien has reported the dates for French Open will be moved for a second time and could now be played from September 27 -11 October.
Originally scheduled in it’s traditional late springtime slot of May 18- 7 June before the COVID 19 pandemic locked down the whole tennis calendar until at least July 13, the FFT had unilaterally claimed the new start date to be September 20 after the cancellation of the 2020 Japan Olympics.
This meant a start date just one week after the final of the US Open with little time for the players to adjust to the French terre battue after the whole clay season was wiped out.
So after a sudden re-think the new start date facilitates a two-week gap between the Slams, which gives the added bonus of FFT playing a qualifying tournament.
All of this of course is hypothetical at the moment since the New York borough of Queens and home to the Flushing Meadows tennis venue is currently the COVID 19 pandemic epicentre, and the USTA facilities being turned into a temporary 350 bed field hospital and a food preparation support centre, and it’s ability to produce a slam on schedule is seriously in doubt.
The French government is expected to start to progressively lift their lockdown on 11 May, but this first phase will not include restaurants, bars and cafes.
Former world No.1 Andy Murray has already indicated that he would play at Roland Garros, if it happens, however he admits he has doubts in part due to the complexity of hosting a tournament featuring players from all over the world.
“If you took the French Open, let’s say things in Europe have improved, but there are certain countries that might still have issues,” Murray said on CNN.
“Let’s say it was still an issue in South America, for example, and France was not allowing flights in from South America or certain countries.
“And you then have a tournament basically where people or players from a certain continent or countries are not allowed to come in to compete. I think the tournament loses.”
Also expressing doubts on the event proceeding is former champion Yannick Noah the last Frenchman to win the tournament in 1983. Speaking with Radio Monte Carlo Noah said he believes the 2020 season is ‘dead.’
“It’s going to be difficult, in my opinion. It’s very hard for tournaments,”he said following a discussion with tournament director Guy Forget.
“For Roland-Garros, losing a year economically is a real disaster.”
The last time the French Open didn’t take place was during the World War, II over70 years ago.