Guy Forget, the tournament director of Roland Garros, is expecting most of the world's top tennis talent to appear at the rescheduled tournament this year.
Rather than taking place during its usual timeslot at the end of May and beginning of June, the French Open will take place at the end of September and beginning of October. This date is controversial, since it was widely seen as a unilateral declaration taken without the consultation of the wider tennis community, and it comes just a fortnight after the end of the US Open, which is taking place as originally scheduled across the end of August and beginning of September.
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With the tennis calendar massively backloaded this year because of the coronarivus pandemic, there had been suggestions that some players could elect not to play but Forget, himself a two-time doubles finalist in Paris, is expecting to see a stellar cast take their places in the French capital.
"Well, you know, the ATP and the WTA have been working really hard with us and the Grand Slams together to be able to put a schedule for the end of the season where players can play as much as possible," he exclusively told Eurosport.
You know a lot of players have been suffering a lot by not being able to make a living, so what we’re trying to, all of us, do now is to offer a schedule where they can actually perform. There’ll be a lot of events as you know, some of them are following each other.
"None of the events are mandatory so players will basically choose where and when they want to play. I think it’s fair, you know, as a Grand Slam – New York or Paris – we’re expecting most of the players to come to our event, but eventually some will not depending on where they come from."
"I'm looking forward to see all of the players, the women and the men, because I know we'll see a smile on their faces. I can't wait for them to discover the new Philippe Chatrier court with the roof because it's something we've been dreaming about for so many years. And I can't wait to see the competition because the level of tennis we are witnessing every year is just incredible.
"And every year I am amazed when I sit on the side of the court for a while and I see these women and these men playing such a high level of tennis. Hopefully it will be with fans. So far, we are talking about a 50 percent of fans, and I'm sure all the people will be lucky enough to be in the grounds for those matches. We'll be thrilled."
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"We thought about at one stage or maybe not having the qualifying, but, you know, qualifying is a major event. It's part of the tournament. And so we'll have qualifying for men and women in Roland-Garros, same thing for the juniors. In the past, with juniors a player trying to dream and eventually participate in the main event one day is a great step and a major improvement. Doubles. Same thing again, you know, I mean, a lot of people enjoy doubles in our country.
"Wheelchair tennis as well is very popular now. And we want to support as well wheelchair tennis. So probably the mixed doubles and the legends is probably one of the two events we are thinking about not having this year."
But first and foremost, Forget is looking forward to a celebration of tennis, which has been one of the sports most afflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.
"We are very excited as you can imagine. You know, it’s been emotionally pretty hard the last few weeks and months, but I guess like [it has been for] everyone else. When you walk throughout the grounds now, it’s very satisfying to see the roof that’s finally on the top of the Philippe-Chatrier court. We’ve been waiting for that for so long. It’s actually working and operating really well and we are almost done with all the outside courts as well.
"Now the worry was once again to be able to have the tournament in autumn at the end of September and so many of our friends, you know, tournament directors had to cancel their events. Tennis has been hurt a lot lately and to be able to actually hope that we’ll succeed in having our event, you know, is one of our goals and it seems like for now, you know, we are on that path and we are pretty positive."