French Open organisers are planning for this year's event to go ahead with spectators present at a level between 50 and 60 per cent of full capacity.

The grand slam event in Paris is scheduled to take place between September 27 and October 11.

It was recently pushed back by one week as the ATP Tour and WTA Tour announced their schedules to return, the tournament having initially been postponed from its May start date due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When confirming the new date in June, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) had expressed their determination to admit fans, with the number depending on the outcome of talks with public authorities.

Having held those discussions, the tournament set a target of 50 to 60 per cent of capacity on Thursday, as they confirmed ticket sales will open to the general public on July 16, with priority purchasers having the chance to buy from July 9.

"The Roland Garros tournament announces the opening of the ticket and specifies its conditions for welcoming visitors," read a statement.

"The French Tennis Federation – which is acting responsibly and in close collaboration with the French government authorities, while benefiting from the advice of a committee of multi-disciplinary experts – is adapting and will continue to adapt to the situation caused by the Covid-19 crisis." 

Explaining the measures, the statement continued: "On the three show courts, the tiered seating will follow a precise protocol: on every row, one seat will be left empty between every group of purchasers (a maximum of 4 people who wish to sit in adjacent seats). 

"On the outside courts, every other seat will be out of bounds, and spectators may sit in any of the available seats. This way, the number of spectators allowed inside the stadium will be 50% to 60% of its usual capacity, allowing us to ensure the barrier measures are respected.

"The FFT will adapt the way spectators move around inside the stadium in order to ensure that the barrier measures and social distancing are respected." 

Also confirmed were rules around cleaning standards, a commitment to ensure social distancing in areas around the grounds and instructing fans to wear marks while moving around the stadiums, with coverings recommended at other times too.

Strict protocols surrounding players and their entourage are due to follow, while the number of fans in attendance could end up being higher or lower than the current target range.

"If the situation continues to improve, more tickets may be put on sale at the beginning of September," added the statement. 

"However, if the situation requires more stringent hygiene standards that force us to reduce the number of spectators on site, the tournament organisers will refund any supplementary tickets sold."

Nick Kyrgios has hit back at Boris Becker after the German legend branded him a "rat" over his public criticism of Alexander Zverev.

World number seven Zverev was labelled as "selfish" by Kyrgios after he was apparently spotted partying despite vowing to self-isolate.

Zverev took part in the Adria Tour where several players, including world number one Novak Djokovic, tested positive for coronavirus and, although he returned a negative result himself, promised to isolate, with guidelines recommending 14 days.

Becker, a winner of six grand slams, called out Kyrgios' public criticism, leading to the duo exchanging a few virtual volleys on Twitter.

"We all live in the pandemic called #Covid_19 ! It's terrible and it killed to many lives...we should protect our families/loved ones and follow the guidelines but still don't like #rats @NickKyrgios," Becker wrote on Twitter.

Kyrgios defended himself, writing: "Rats? For holding someone accountable? Strange way to think of it champion, I'm just looking out for people. WHEN my family and families all over the world have respectfully done the right thing. And you have a goose waving his arms around, imma say something."

The argument was not done there, though, with Becker once again repeating his earlier insult.

"Don't like no #rats ! Anybody telling off fellow sportsman/woman is no friend of mine! Look yourself in the mirror and think your better than us...@NickKyrgios."

To which Kyrgios responded: "For goodness sake Boris, I'm not competing or trying to throw anyone under the bus. It's a global pandemic and if someone is as idiotic as Alex to do what he has done, I'll call him out for it. Simple."

The back-and-forth exchange did not end there, with Kyrgios saying Becker is a "bigger doughnut than I thought" and he "can hit a volley, obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed though".

Becker continued the argument, with the retort: "Your [sic] funny guy ....how is it down under? Respect all the guidelines?" before somewhat bizarrely attempting to change tact.

"I really would like to see @NickKyrgios fulfil his potential and win a grand slam! He would be an incredible role model for the youth of the world addressing the issues of equality/race/heritage! Man up buddy and deliver!" Becker commented.

Kyrgios, though, was in little mood to change the topic of discussion.

"Why are you now talking about tennis? It has nothing to do with tennis? How about the dude who you are defending mans up and gives us some sort of explanation? Not another average management apology," he wrote.

Nick Kyrgios hit out at Alexander Zverev for being "selfish" after apparently being spotted partying despite vowing to self-isolate.

Zverev, the world number seven, played at the Adria Tour, where Novak Djokovic was among several players to test positive for coronavirus, as social-distancing guidelines were ignored earlier this month.

In a statement released on Twitter on June 22, Zverev said he tested negative for COVID-19 but would follow self-isolation rules, with 14 days usually recommended.

But the German was reportedly spotted partying and Kyrgios blasted the 23-year-old.

"So I wake up and I see more controversial things happening all over the world," Kyrgios said in an Instagram video.

"But one just stuck out for me was seeing 'Sascha' Zverev again, man, again, again, how selfish can you be? How selfish can you be?

"I mean if you have the audacity to f****** put out a tweet that you made your management write on your behalf saying you're going to self-isolate for 14 days and apologising to the f****** general public for putting their health at risk, at least have the audacity to stay inside for 14 days, my God.

"Have your girlfriend with you for f****** 14 days, Jesus man. Pissing me off, this tennis world is pissing me off, seriously, how selfish can you all get?"

The ATP Tour season is scheduled to restart in August, having been suspended in March due to COVID-19.

There have been more than 10.2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 504,000.

As Novak Djokovic and the Adria Tour gang cavorted in a Belgrade nightclub, the limbo-dancing tennis stars demonstrated precisely how low the sport could go.

If the president of the ATP player council can get it so egregiously wrong in a time of global crisis, and if Nick Kyrgios can pipe up as the voice of reason, then tennis has just thrown up the most shocking of double faults within its established conventions.

So tennis is in crisis: Wimbledon is cancelled, the US Open will attempt to go ahead without fans, and the French Open is clinging to hope it could happen starting in September.

People have lost their jobs, tournaments have been scrapped and might struggle to return, and coronavirus has caused untold damage, aided and abetted by bewildering human assistance.

A relief fund for low-ranked players whose livelihoods were under threat was openly scorned by multi-millionaire Dominic Thiem, whose argument was put brutally dismantled by near-penniless Algerian player Ines Ibbou.

This is tennis then, midway through 2020.

What's happened so far?

The season was suspended on March 12, days after the Indian Wells Masters was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, and there has been no tennis on the ATP or WTA Tours since.

Rafael Nadal said in May that he doubted there could be any more tennis played in 2020, but the harsh economic reality means there is a strong will to find a way.

And that means tennis is coming back in August, public health and player buffoonery permitting, with a string of tournaments leading up to the US Open, which has kept its regular place on the calendar.

The Cincinnati Masters is moving to Flushing Meadows, but Washington is staying in D.C., and Kitzbuhel, Rome and Madrid are all billed ahead of Roland Garros.

On the women's side, tennis will relaunch in Palermo, Italy, with 20 tournaments scheduled to happen before the end of the year.

Wimbledon, to which the eyes of the sporting world routinely turn at this time of year, looks poised to come out of this intact because of pandemic insurance cover.

Other tournaments have not been so prudent, and are feeling the pinch.

How realistic is a resumption?

If anyone needed a warning about how badly wrong this could all go, Djokovic's exhibition Adria Tour at least provided that. That he, Borna Coric, Grigor Dimitrov and Viktor Troicki – others too – should test positive for COVID-19 was a damning indictment of an event set up with good intentions that descended into an apparent free-for-all.

Tennis within a bio-secure bubble, with regular testing and restrictions on movement, should allow the sport to push ahead with some of its plans.

But that is a highly expensive exercise and many tournaments will inevitably come to rely on self-policing.

Tennis without fans, living out of hotels, promises to be an austere experience. At the US Open, the stars will be able to see the Manhattan skyline, but they reportedly face being banned from visiting the island.

For the players that cannot afford to rent a house – which will come from a limited supply – then the US Open fortnight will see them split their time between Flushing Meadows and a hotel next to JFK airport.

It will take discipline to make not only the US Open work, but every tournament until the end of the season and beyond. Pockets of infection could be economically ruinous, and from a health perspective the worst-case scenario ought to be lost on nobody.

What has been said?

Serena Williams says she "really cannot wait to return to New York". Her involvement is a huge boon to the US Open, with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in need of good news, having made 110 job cuts during the pandemic period, change in the organisation hastened by the crisis.

In a recent conference call, USTA chief executive Mike Dowse said US Open net operating income stood to be down by "about 80 per cent" for 2020, but he said keeping prize-money at a high level by delving into reserves amid the fall in revenue was "not a model that can continue".

Expect that to be the case practically across the board, with tournaments pulling out all the stops this year in the hope of saving tennis from the prospect of a season all but wiped out.

While the grand slams can just about cope without fans, many other events face an uncertain future if they face behind-closed-doors orders.

Herwig Straka, who manages Thiem and is tournament director of the Vienna Open, told German newspaper Der Standard the event would be "doable" provided it could operate at least at 50 per cent of crowd capacity.

"It is of course not enough," Straka said. "We'd be in the red. We don't want the public to take a year off. It would be impossible below 40 per cent."

Saint Nick?

Australian firebrand Kyrgios has quite the rap sheet, punished at various points for insulting umpires, his vulgar tongue, and even showing a lack of effort.

But this has been open season for the mercurial 25-year-old, who sniped after the news of Djokovic's positive test: "Don't @ me for anything I've done that has been 'irresponsible' or classified as 'stupidity' - this takes the cake."

If Kyrgios is enjoying his break from the tour, so too must the umpires be relishing their time away from him.

His greatest misstep during the pandemic, however, appears to have been going perhaps a touch heavy on the red wine during an Instagram live session with Andy Murray in May.

What happens next?

For all the best intentions, it remains hard to imagine every ATP and WTA tournament going ahead as planned, once the season resumes.

Tennis, like golf, relies on its biggest stars travelling from city to city, country to country, and the speed at which this virus moves and takes hold is hardly conducive to such a lifestyle.

Golf's PGA Tour is already encountering problems, and so will tennis.

The sport is living on the edge. At this point, it needs its star players to be setting a high bar, rather than going low, danger-dancing like nobody's watching.

Andy Murray was unsurprised by Novak Djokovic and others contracting coronavirus after the Adria Tour, while saying it was a bad look for tennis.

World number one Djokovic and his wife Jelena tested positive for COVID-19, with Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki also contracting coronavirus.

Djokovic was a driving force behind the creation of the Adria Tour, which took place in Serbia and Croatia in front of large crowds and saw players shaking hands despite concerns over social distancing, and the 17-time grand slam champion has faced widespread criticism.

After beating Liam Broady at the Battle of the Brits exhibition event on Tuesday, Murray said he was unsurprised to see the virus spread at the Adria Tour.

"I hope that him and his wife are well and that they recover and that their families and everyone who's affected by that event is healthy and safe," he told a news conference.

"In hindsight, it's not something obviously that should've gone ahead, it's not surprising really that the players and how many people have tested positive when you see the scenes that were going on there, seeing some of the images and the videos at the players' party and the kids' day. There was no social distancing and things like that in place."

Murray added: "I've seen some people have said that maybe this sort of puts the US Open in doubt which it may well do, but the measures and protocols that they have in place so far the USTA [United States Tennis Association] is completely different than what was going on in Serbia and Croatia.

"Obviously there'll be no fans for a start. I think all of the players now will be extremely aware that we can all be affected by this, coronavirus doesn't care who we are or what we do and we need to respect it and respect the rules."

Murray, who plans to play the French Open and US Open if they go ahead, said the Adria Tour could be a warning for tennis.

"It's something that would've been avoidable and certainly in this country I think we're all aware of how serious the virus is," he said.

"I don't think it's been a great look for tennis, but like I said the only positive that can come from something like this is that we make sure that up until it's safe to do so we have these measures in place, like social distancing and having no fans and things at the event to limit the risk or reduce the risk as much as possible."

There have been more than 9.3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 479,000.

Andy Murray expects to find it tough going against Kyle Edmund in his second match despite making a promising start to his campaign at the Battle of the Brits event. 

In his first competitive action since appearing at the Davis Cup Finals in November, the three-time grand slam winner recorded a 6-2 6-2 win over Liam Broady on Tuesday. 

Murray admitted beforehand that he had little chance to practice before taking part in the exhibition tournament at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, stating before his opener that his main aim was to "get through" it with his body holding up.

The Scot has been troubled with a pelvic injury but, with his serve working well and showing the occasional glimpse of his undoubted quality, he proved far too strong for Broady. 

Still, he refused to get too carried away with his performance, describing it as "okay" during his post-match interview with Amazon Prime Video.

"I served pretty well, I thought I served well throughout the match. A lot of free points there – I've been working on my serve quite a lot," Murray said.

"I didn't hit the ball that well from the back of the court, quite a lot of errors and my balance didn't feel great. I wasn't timing the ball very well, but it was alright. 

"For a first match in seven months, I've not been practising much and not even doing that well in practice matches, it was alright."

However, Murray is expecting to have problems on Wednesday when he attempts to deal with Edmund, who began his campaign by beating James Ward. 

"He's fit, hitting a big ball, so I'd be surprised if I manage to come through that one," the world number 129 said of his next opponent.

"If I serve like I did today and hit the ball better a little bit cleaner from the back of the court, I'll give myself some chances. But it will be tough."

The event, organised by Jamie Murray, is following strict health guidelines as it is taking place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

World number one Novak Djokovic has tested positive for coronavirus. 

The 33-year-old and his wife Jelena returned positive tests in Belgrade after returning from the curtailed Adria Tour, while his children tested negative. 

The 17-time grand slam singles champion is asymptomatic and will now isolate for 14 days. 

"The moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested. My result is positive, just as Jelena's, while the results of our children are negative," a statement from Djokovic via the Adria Tour's Instagram account read. 

"Everything we did in the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions. Our tournament meant to unite and share a message of solidarity and compassion throughout the region. 

"The Tour has been designed to help both established and up and coming tennis players from south-eastern Europe to gain access to some competitive tennis while the various tours are on hold due to the COVID-19 situation. 

"It was all born with a philanthropic idea, to direct all raised funds towards people in need and it warmed my heart to see how everybody strongly responded to this."

Djokovic was a driving force behind the creation of the Adria Tour, which took place in Serbia and Croatia in front of large crowds and saw players shaking hands despite concerns over social distancing. 

However, the final between Djokovic and Andrey Rublev was cancelled when Grigor Dimitrov tested positive for COVID-19 and Borna Coric later confirmed he too had contracted coronavirus. 

Viktor Troicki, who played in the tournament in Belgrade, and his wife also tested positive for the virus.

The decision to hold the event during the pandemic has been criticised by Tour players including Nick Kyrgios and Dan Evans, while long-term rival and friend Andy Murray described the fall-out as "a lesson for all of us". 

"We organised the tournament at the moment when the virus has weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the Tour had been met," Djokovic said. 

"Unfortunately, this virus is still present, and it is a new reality that we are still learning to cope and live with. 

"I am hoping things will ease in time so we can all resume lives the way they were. 

"I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection. I hope that it will not complicate anyone's health situation and that everyone will be fine.

"I will remain in self-isolation for the next 14 days, and repeat the test in five days."

Andy Murray will be focusing on the US Open and French Open when professional tennis returns, but only if they are "safe".

The ATP Tour has been suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic but is scheduled to get back under way with the Citi Open on August 14.

However, questions have arisen after Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric tested positive for COVID-19 after participating in the Adria Tour, which was backed by world number one Novak Djokovic.

Strict health and safety protocols will be in place for the US Open, with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) potentially limiting players to just one member of support staff for the tournament.

Djokovic branded that "extreme" and "impossible", but Murray would be happy to abide by such a rule if it reduced the risk of exposure to the virus.

"Playing the grand slams would be my priority. I think the schedule is tricky and I understand the reason why it is like that," said Murray, who will take part in the Battle of the Brits exhibition event this week.

"I don't know exactly which tournaments I will and won't play in terms of the lead up to the grand slams.

"The proposals that the USTA have made, I don't know if all of them are set in stone. They seemed to have changed quite a bit over the last couple of weeks.

"I don't mind what the situation is, providing it's safe. If I was told I could take one person with me, for example, you can make that work.

"I would probably go with a physio in that situation, with some coaching done remotely. That's not a perfect situation, obviously. From a performance perspective, that's tricky.

"But I also appreciate that these are unprecedented times, so you have to make do with what's possible. That sort of thing wouldn't bother me much. For me it's more about safety."

The US Open is slated to start on August 31, with the French Open scheduled to begin on September 27.

Having seen players dancing together at nightclubs and playing basketball during the Adria Tour events, Murray questioned how US Open authorities will stop players breaking protocol.

"In a bubble – if that's what people are doing – what's the punishment for people who are not sticking to the rules there that have been put in place?" Murray said.

"You imagine a situation where you're in the last stages of the US Open but, because someone's gone out [of] that bubble and broken those rules and gone into Manhattan or done something he shouldn't have been doing, and you then contract the virus and are not able to compete in the quarter-finals and semis of the US Open. It would be extremely frustrating.

"So how do they police that exactly? I don't know how they go about it."

Murray has not played competitively since November due to a bruised pelvis and now feels in better shape than he did in March, when he was initially planning to return.

"My hip has been feeling better for probably the past three or four weeks. It feels better than it did in March," said Murray.

"Right now, I feel a little bit more confident because I've had more training under my belt, more practice. In March time, I'd only been practising for four or five weeks since I'd had the issues."

Roger Federer has been urged to quit tennis by Novak Djokovic's father, who claims his son and Rafael Nadal are destined to topple the Swiss on the all-time list of male grand slam winners.

The bold comments from Srdan Djokovic came as he spoke to Serbian broadcaster Sport Klub, in a week where Novak Djokovic described Federer as "possibly the greatest tennis player in history".

It remains to be seen which of the men's tennis 'big three' finish with the most grand slam singles titles, but 38-year-old Federer leads the way with 20 at present.

That puts him one ahead of Nadal and three clear of Djokovic at the top of the list, with the coronavirus interruption to this season having seen Wimbledon cancelled.

Federer is taking the rest of the year off after undergoing knee surgery, which rules him out of the US Open and the French Open, with both tournaments still hoping to go ahead in 2020, the latter having been delayed from its scheduled May start.

Srdan Djokovic has suggested the eight-time Wimbledon champion, who turns 39 in August, takes a permanent break from the tour.

"Why do you think he is still playing at 40?" said Srdan Djokovic.

"Imagine that, a 40-year-old man still playing tennis, when he could go home and do some more interesting things.

"But since both Nadal and Novak are breathing down his neck, he simply cannot accept the fact that they will be better than him. Go man, raise children, do something else, go and ski, do something."

According to his father, Novak Djokovic, at 33, has "another two, maybe three years" left in tennis.

"After that, he will be as successful as he was successful in tennis," said Srdan Djokovic.

The French Open has been provisionally put back a week, while the WTA and ATP Tours are set to resume in Palermo and Washington respectively in August.

US Open organisers on Tuesday confirmed the grand slam will start as scheduled behind closed doors on August 31.

September 20 was due to be the revised date for the French Open to begin, but the Paris major was listed as getting under way seven days later when the WTA and ATP announced their revised calendars on Wednesday.

The tournament could not be held in May and June due to the coronavirus pandemic, which brought sport all over the world to a halt in March.

Five months after the season was suspended, it is hoped WTA Tour action will return at the Palermo Ladies Open on August 3.

Events will only take place if medical experts give the green light along with governments and travel restrictions are relaxed.

There were 20 tournaments listed on the new WTA schedule, including the Western and Southern Open, which has been switched to New York, and the Madrid Open leading up to Roland Garros.

August 14 is the proposed date for the resumption of the ATP Tour, with the Citi Open the first tournament for the men to return if the all-clear is given.

There were just seven events listed on the ATP Tour schedule, with the potential for an Asia swing to be included on the next update in the middle of next month.

As with the Madrid Open and Western and Southern Open, both the men and women have the prestigious Internazionali BNL d'Italia clay-court tournament in Rome on the calendar.

The US Open will go ahead as planned without spectators beginning in August, New York governor Andrew Cuomo has confirmed.

Both the ATP and WTA have been suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the respective Tours announcing in May no competitions would take place until at least the end of July.

Consequently, Wimbledon was postponed for 2020, while the French Open was controversially rescheduled to begin a week after the final of the US Open.

The future of the slam at Flushing Meadows remained unclear but Cuomo announced on Tuesday that the event will take place between August 31 and September 13.

 

 

Nick Kyrgios accused US Open organisers of being "selfish" for reportedly pushing on with plans to stage the grand slam amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports on Monday suggested the United States Tennis Association will confirm the tournament will begin on August 31 as planned, even though New York City continues to grapple with COVID-19.

This year's Wimbledon was cancelled in April while the French Open has been pushed back from May to September.

However, the US Open appears set to start on time, albeit without fans present and with protocols in place because of the pandemic.

Men's world number one Novak Djokovic expressed reservations about remaining at a hotel between matches and only being allowed one other person with him at Flushing Meadows.

Rafael Nadal, the defending men's singles champion, indicated he would be unwilling to travel to the United States to defend his title while the virus remains prevalent.

Australian Kyrgios has now added his voice to the chorus of disapproval.

He wrote on Twitter: "Smh [shaking my head] - people that live in the US of course are pushing the Open to go ahead. 'Selfish' I'll get my hazmat suit ready for when I travel from Australia and then have to quarantine for 2 weeks on my return."

There have been over two million cases of coronavirus in the USA, where more than 118,000 people have died due to the virus.

Andy Murray is "really pumped" about the US Open, according to Feliciano Lopez.

Three-time grand slam champion Murray was nearing a return from injury when the ATP Tour season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There remains uncertainty over when the campaign will resume and whether the US Open, scheduled to start in August, will be played.

Lopez said Murray, who he has played doubles with in the past, was looking forward to the event in the United States.

"We are in touch every two weeks or so. We text each other," the Spaniard told UK media.

"Two days ago I was talking to him, and he was really pumped about the US Open. He was starting to practise again. I asked about the hip, how it was feeling, and he was positive.

"He might be able to compete again. I'm crossing my fingers to see Andy playing again, of course. It would be great for everybody, especially for him."

With travel restrictions in place in many countries around the world, just how the ATP Tour season can resume remains to be seen.

But Lopez is eager for it to get back underway, saying: "I think we need to start playing tennis as soon as possible, this situation can't last for longer.

"We need to play, the players, the tournaments, the ATP, we need to resume. It's been already a long time, there's a lot of people struggling."

Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Benoit Paire in his first match in the 2020 Ultimate Tennis Showdown.

The event in France, created by Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou, is aimed at attracting new fans to the sport and is one of the first tennis tournaments to take place since the coronavirus pandemic struck Europe.

The event is played in a league format, with each match consisting of four quarters and a sudden-death fifth if the scores are level.

On Sunday, world number six Tsitsipas defeated Paire 3-1, hitting more than 30 winners en route to victory.

Gasquet beat David Goffin 3-2 after sudden death, with Feliciano Lopez overcoming Lucas Pouille by the same scoreline.

The UTS' first match was won by Alexei Popyrin against Frenchman Elliot Benchetrit, while Matteo Berrettini also claimed a 3-1 victory over Dustin Brown.

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