Recent comments from Gilles Moretton - the president of the French Tennis Federation - indicate that 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal could possibly have to wait a whole year before he can play at his favorite Slam again.
According to Moretton, there is a chance that Roland Garros 2021 could get canceled if France's new lockdown measures continue until the end of May.
French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced a nationwide lockdown to combat the rising COVID-19 cases in the country. As things stand, the restrictions are expected to last for at least one month.
Gilles Moretton has now revealed to The Times that in case there is a one-month extension to the lockdown period, there may be a scenario where Roland Garros would have to be scrapped.
"At the moment, we are on track, the tournament is on the scheduled dates," Moretton said. "But if we are told there is a general confinement for two months, we will necessarily have to take measures, the worst being the outright cancellation. But I dare not imagine that."
Last year's Roland Garros was held in the months of September and October instead of the usual May-June slot, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But judging from Moretton's comments, a similar rescheduling may not be possible this year.
Needless to say, Roland Garros getting canceled would put a serious spanner in Rafael Nadal's assault on the history books. The Spaniard is widely expected to win his 14th title in Paris this year, which would take him past Roger Federer's record tally of 20 Grand Slams.
Given that Rafael Nadal hasn't won Wimbledon since 2010, his chances of breaking Federer's record on grass seem unlikely. So if Roland Garros is indeed canceled, Nadal will likely have to wait for the US Open to try and win his 21st Major.
Rafael Nadal and Co. won't have to quarantine for 2 weeks ahead of Roland Garros 2021, if the tournament happens
Unlike the Australian Open, Roland Garros will not require the players to quarantine for two weeks ahead of the event. This will come as music to the ears of several players - including Rafael Nadal - who had been unhappy with the strict quarantine conditions in Melbourne.
Gilles Moretton explained that the tournaments taking place before and after the claycourt Major are geographically close to France, in addition to being outdoor events. That, as implied by the Frenchman, would possibly mitigate the risk of infection.
"Before us, there are other tournaments like Monte Carlo, which takes place on the same territory and which is outdoors," Moretton said. "After us there are tournaments not too far away so we are not like the situation in Australia."
Gilles Moretton further revealed that if Roland Garros does go ahead, the number of spectators permitted into the grounds would be lower than normal. With 100% capacity having been ruled out already, Moretton mentioned that the authorities could even consider a tournament held behind closed doors.
"We are studying a lot of options for Roland Garros 2021 because I dare not imagine a 100 percent crowd level," Moretton said. "But that [the options] can start from behind closed doors to a level that will not be 100 percent. We meet all the players regularly and we wait to see how things will turn out."