How does Roland-Garros postponement impact tennis calendar? And what are the new dates?
Roland-Garros is moving again. After being shifted back four months in the tennis calendar last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be played a week later than scheduled in 2021 due to France going into a third national lockdown. What will the decision mean for other tournaments, the grass season and for players?
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The second Grand Slam of the year, the French Open at Roland-Garros, has been pushed back a week to start on May 30. The reason behind the decision is that France is currently in a third national lockdown which is expected to ease on June 1, almost in time for the start of the delayed tournament.
Both tours – the ATP and WTA – have backed the move in a joint-statement while Wimbledon have said it is "fully supported" by the Grand Slam Board, even though it means the grass season will be shortened from three to two weeks.
"Given the considerable challenges ahead of the French Tennis Federation in staging Roland-Garros, and to avoid further impact on the rest of the calendar, the grass court season between Roland-Garros and Wimbledon will be reduced by one week in 2021."
The start date for Wimbledon, which was the only Slam to be cancelled last year, will remain as July 28, but grass tournaments will have to reschedule or cancel.
The first week of Roland-Garros will now move into the week occupied by the WTA Nottingham Open, the ATP Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart and the mixed Libema Open in the Netherlands.
29th June 2019, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon, London, England; Wimbledon Tennis tournament preview day; Centre court overlooks the outside courts during Saturday practice at Wimbledon (photo by Shaun Brooks/Action Plus via Getty
Image credit: Getty Images
The Telegraph have reported that the Libema Open is "effectively off" while Stuttgart will go ahead if it "receives compensation" from the French Tennis Federation.
The Lawn Tennis Association, which organises Nottingham, said in a statement: “We are currently looking at the implications for our events and if we will need to make changes to our calendar. We will communicate any updates to all parties as soon as possible.”
The grass season was extended to three weeks in 2015 to give more time for players to adjust ahead of Wimbledon, but it will now be reduced again.
How will it impact the players?
If Stuttgart and Nottingham go ahead then some of the top players could be faced with the decision of whether to play them or play at Roland-Garros.
For clay-lovers like Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem that would be an easy decision, but Roger Federer, for example, may decide not to play Roland-Garros and instead focus on the grass as he looks ahead to Wimbledon. Andy Murray and Serena Williams may also take the same course of action, having cut down on their clay schedules over the last few years.
However, it was shown earlier this year that events can run alongside a Grand Slam as the WTA Phillip Island Trophy started in the second week of the Australian Open. Sofia Kenin and Bianca Andreescu were among the players to enter that after early exits from the Grand Slam.
Iga Swiatek and Rafael Nadal, Roland-Garros 2020 champions
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By the time Stuttgart and Nottingham are scheduled to start, 112 men and 112 women will be out of the singles draws at Roland-Garros, so there will be plenty of players to fill the draws.
But what about the week before Roland-Garros? There is also now an ‘empty’ week in the calendar from May 23, so how will that get filled? Will it be a time for players to rest? Or might Rome – the last big tournament before Paris – also move back a week?
That again would have implications to the calendar and impact players’ plans, although Marca have reported that Madrid (May 2) and Rome (May 9) are going to stay put.
What’s been said?
The potential idea of postponing Roland-Garros was put to French veteran Alize Cornet on Wednesday – and she made it clear she was not in favour.
She told Tennis Channel: "It stays between us, but our sport minister [Roxana Maracineanu] is a disaster. I’m sorry, I have nothing against her but she only takes bad decisions for sports. It’s like she doesn’t care. I know it comes from the government, I’m pretty sure. It might also come from the tournament…But still, I think it’s a pretty selfish decision to me because the calendar is going to suffer from this postponement."
None of the other players have commented yet, but they are likely to be asked about it over the course of the next week.
Last year Roland-Garros was delayed by four months and held in September and October.