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French Open delays by a week due to Covid and crunches grass-court season

The French Open has been postponed by a week due to Covid-19 measures in the country. The French Tennis Federation confirmed on Thursday that the second major of 2021 will be moving to a 30 May start instead of 23 May, with the tournament now due to finish on 13 June. The postponement means that there will only be a two-week gap between Roland Garros and Wimbledon, with the grass-court season cut by one week as a result.

The FFT’s decision to move the tournament back a week comes in the wake of France entering a third national lockdown, with the anticipation that Covid measures will relax from 1 June. This could potentially allow the tournament a greater number of fans and hospitality partners on-site in Paris. The clay-court season started this week.

Shortly after Roland Garrros’s announcement, the ATP and WTA released a joint statement noting the necessity of an “agile approach to the calendar” while Wimbledon confirmed the shortening of the grass-court season.

Roland Garros has assumed the week in the calendar reserved for the Nottingham Open women’s event, the men’s Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart and the mixed Libéma Open in the Netherlands. Those tournaments may now be forced to move back in order to avoid clashing with the major or potentially even cancel for 2021. In a statement, the LTA – which organises the Nottingham event – said it is “currently looking at the implications for our events and if we will need to make changes to our calendar”.

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For this reason, the postponement has not been received kindly by all. Alizé Cornet, the veteran French player and world No 59, was told the news late on Wednesday night while being interviewed on Tennis Channel: “It stays between us, but our sport minister [Roxana Maracineanu] is a disaster,” Cornet said. “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 be because the calendar is going to suffer from this postponement.”

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