French Open postponed, Roland Garros officials confirm

By Sports Desk March 17, 2020

The French Open has been postponed and will be played in September and October, tournament organisers have announced.

The coronavirus pandemic has meant the men's ATP and women's WTA tours have been put on hold, with no indication of when tennis can resume.

That meant the original French Open dates of May 24 to June 7 looked incompatible with the prospect of hosting the grand slam.

Tournament organisers said the clay-court tournament in Paris would instead go ahead from September 20 to October 4.

A statement issued by Roland Garros officials said: "The current confinement measures have made it impossible for us to continue with the dates originally planned.

"The whole world is affected by the public health crisis connected with COVID-19. In order to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in organising the tournament, the French Tennis Federation [FFT] has made the decision to hold the 2020 edition of Roland Garros from September 20 to October 4 2020."

FFT president Bernard Giudicelli confirmed the decision had been a reaction to the rapid spread of coronavirus.

France is currently on lockdown, in keeping with large parts of Europe.

Giudicelli said: "We have made a difficult yet brave decision in this UNPRECEDENTED situation, which has evolved greatly since last weekend. We are acting responsibly, and must work together in the fight to ensure everybody’s health and safety."

Qualifying for the French Open would have begun in the week ahead of the tournament, and with just two months until that point it seemed unimaginable that Paris would be ready to hold the event.

The Roland Garros statement added: "The current confinement measures have made it impossible for us to continue with our preparations and, as a result, we are unable to hold the tournament on the dates originally planned.

"In order to act responsibly and protect the health of its employees, service providers and suppliers during the organisation period, the FFT has chosen the only option that will allow them to maintain the 2020 edition of the tournament while joining the fight against COVID-19."

Rafael Nadal is the reigning men's champion and will be seeking a record-extending 13th French Open title this year, with Australia's Ash Barty the defending women's title holder.

With the French Open postponed, Wimbledon is due to be the next grand slam to be played, with a start date of June 29.

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    Fourth seed Medvedev became the biggest casualty in the men's draw at Roland Garros as Hungarian Fucsovics, ranked 63, won 6-4 7-6 (7-3) 2-6 6-1 on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

    It was after 11.30pm in Paris when the 28-year-old Fucsovics secured the first win against a top-five opponent in his career under the floodlights.

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    Nadal overcame Gerasimov 6-4 6-4 6-2 and made notable strides from his quarter-final loss to Diego Schwartzman at the Internazionali d'Italia, while US Open champion Dominic Thiem also cruised into the second round.

    The shocks came as eighth seed Gael Monfils, a semi-finalist in 2008, lost 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 to Alexander Bublik while 19th seed and rising star Felix Auger Aliassime was defeated by Yoshihito Nishioka 7-5 6-3 6-3.

    Monfils' compatriot Corentin Moutet was knocked out by qualifier Lorenzo Giustino in a marathon five-setter and clay-court specialist Fabio Fognini tumbled out in four sets in his match with Mikhail Kukushkin.

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    Having struggled on serve in his surprise defeat to Schwartzman in the last eight in Rome, Nadal was much improved in that regard against Gerasimov.

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    "I am trying to serve with high percentage. That's the first step that I have to do," said Nadal. "When I know that I can have a big percentage of first serves, then is the moment to increase the speed and increase the aggressiveness on the serve, no? Step by step. Today was the first step.

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