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French Open postponed: Here are the implications

  • The French Open has been postponed to take place just 1 week after the US Open.
  • This decision was made without the consultation of the players, ATP, or the WTA.
Aakash Kumar
ANALYST
Feature
Modified 18 Mar 2020, 12:05 IST

The four Grand Slams in tennis are the most important tournaments on the circuit every year, with players putting in their best in all of them. There are several reasons for this. First is the historical significance of the Slams. Any debate on the greatness of a tennis player starts with asking how many majors they've won. Then there is the huge number of points the Grand Slams offer, more than any other tournament in the circuit. And then comes the prize money. The huge importance and popularity of each Slam enables them to give a handsome pay-check to even those players who bow out of the tournament in the first rounds.

Historically, the majors have taken place around the same time every year. The Australian Open happens in end of January, the French Open takes place in May, Wimbledon happens in end of June/beginning of July, and the US Open takes place in the last week of August and the first week of September. This routine has been going on for years now and is the most comfortable for players as it gives them ample time to transition from one surface to another, as the playing conditions like ball speed and bounce change in each surface. This makes the players change their playing style as well, to better suit the surface they are playing on.

Now due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the whole world is in a frenzy. NBA has suspended their season, ATP and WTA have both suspended their respective tennis seasons (the ATP till April 20th and the WTA till May 2nd), and all major sporting events have been suspended for now.

Due to all the frenzy caused by COVID-19, the French Open yesterday announced that they will be postponing the tournament and now instead of May, the tournament will take place from 20th September till 4th October.

This came as a shock to everyone as apparently, the tournament organisers didn't discuss this decision with the ATP, WTA, any other Grand Slam tournament or even the players themselves. Vasek Pospisil, a Canadian tennis player, even tweeted the following :

Now there are some severe implications due to the decision made the French Open organisers.

First, the tournament is now going to be held only one week after the US Open ends. That means tennis players will have to play 2 Slams in 5 weeks. This will take a huge toll on the health of tennis players, as players need ample rest to play events at their best level.

Second, making the transition from hard courts to clay courts is extremely difficult. That's why there are as many 3 Masters 1000 tournament and around 2 months of gap between the last hard court tournament and the French Open, so that players get time to adjust to the red dirt. The French Open deciding to hold the tournament just 1 week after the US Open will have an immense impact on players' ability to play at their highest player, as it would be near to impossible to play a clay-court grand slam just one week after playing a hard-court grand slam.

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Third, all the other tournaments that are scheduled at the same time will be impacted. There are 5 ATP 250 level tournaments scheduled to take place during the time the French Open will be taking place. And then the increasingly popular Laver Cup, a 3-day exhibition like tournament made by Roger Federer, also has its dates clashing with the French Open. The Laver Cup released a statement earlier today that they intend to go on with the current schedule as of now.

Hasty step

Fourth, the decision to postpone the tournament and keep it one week after the US Open was taken by the tournament organisers without the consultation of the ATP, WTA, or any of the players. This is not the way a decision that's going to affect the tour in such a major way should be taken. The ATP and the WTA should've been consulted, and especially the players as at the end of the day it is they who have to play the tournament. This shows a complete lack of transparency and even a sense of arrogance, by not consulting any of the respective tennis bodies or the players. As Vasek Pospisil rightly said in the above tweet, 'Enhancing communication & working together to find solutions should be the priority'.

What do you think? Was the decision to keep the French Open just one week after the US Open a good decision? Or should the players have been consulted first? Reveal your thoughts in the comments below.


The king of the Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal.
The king of the Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal.
Published 18 Mar 2020, 12:05 IST
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