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Coronavirus: The fallout as French Open announces surprise September switch

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Image credit: Getty Images

ByCarrie Dunn
17/03/2020 at 16:25 | Updated 18/03/2020 at 09:30
@carriesparkle

Why the French Open have switched their event from May to September - and how the players have reacted

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

With both tennis tours suspended for six weeks - meaning the absence of big events such as Indian Wells - the French Open has now announced that the second Grand Slam of the year will not happen in May, and will now be taking place in September.

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  • French Open moves to September
  • WTA suspended until May
  • All-England Club would rather cancel Wimbledon than play with no fans

WHY?

Obviously, it's due to the impact of coronavirus. Even if tennis is up and running again by the end of May - when Roland Garros was scheduled to take place - it's unlikely that the players will be all set to compete, and the qualifying events before the main draw will not happen in time.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Of course it's best to look after everyone's health - players, officials and spectators alike. The tennis tour, on the move every week, seems particularly likely to contribute to a spread of the virus due to the sheer amount of travel involved.

But this is a very busy part of the tennis calendar. The US Open ends on Sunday September 13 - but then there are other events running in the weeks immediately after as the Asian Swing begins.

The week commencing September 14th sees the start of Zhengzhou, Hiroshima and Nanchang; the week after that is Tokyo, Guangzhou and Seoul, with Wuhan starting on September 28th. Neither the ATP nor the WTA have made any official statement about this change of dates yet.

And if the French Open does now start just a few days after the end of the US Open, it'll be a very busy and expensive few weeks for those players lower down the rankings who want to go through qualifying at both Slams.

On the practical side of things, Roland Garros does now have a retractable roof on Philippe-Chatrier - so if the weather is poor in the autumn, there are potential solutions to that at least.

WHAT DO THE PLAYERS THINK?

They seem to be surprised. Certainly the announcement via Twitter took them unawares, with former world number one Naomi Osaka making her feelings known.

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