French Tennis Tournament 2020: An Unfamiliar trip to Paris
The Covid-19 Pandemic has forced a lot of tournaments across the globe to be canceled. Under a similar threat, the organizers of the tournament held in France have taken a courageous call of moving the tournament to the 3rd week of September
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Playing tennis on the red dirt in the month of September, while not unusual for the local player, surely poses a new challenge for the professional players. The Covid-19 Pandemic has forced a lot of tournaments across the globe to be canceled. Under a similar threat, the organizers of the tournament held in France have taken a courageous call of moving the tournament to the 3rd week of September. Previously canceled only due to the World Wars, the organizers were in no mood to keep the gates of Philippe Chatrier closed and came up with several protocols to keep the event a safe place to be for everyone involved.
One of the biggest news from this year’s tournament is the inclusion of spectators. This makes it the first Tennis event since the resumption of the tour to feature a paying audience. The magic number for the audience has been set at 5000 with a strict social distancing regime to be brought into action. The players will be tested twice within 72 hours upon arrival to the event and will remain in a safety bubble like during the tournament in the US. The multi-tier safety bubble system used in the US proved to be an effective strategy to keep the players, organizers, and volunteers safe from the Covid threat and was highly praised by both players and support staff.
This year’s tournament has taken into account not only the physical safety of players but has also considered the financial safety of the players. An average 30% hike in the prize money for first-round losers has been announced that will ensure that all players participating can cope with the losses due to Covid-19 lockdown a little better. It comes as no shock that the tournament is seeing much higher participation and support than the one in the US.
Keeping with the participation, the tournament will see its Favourite son return to Grand Slam action. After having missed the tournament in the US, Nadal is expected to return to his most successful Grand Slam hoping to take home another title after the high octane Final last year where he beat the newly crowned Grand Slam champion, Dominic Thiem. With a big list of players headed by Djokovic, Thiem, and Medvedev coming at Nadal for the Roland Garros trophy, this might just be one of the most closely contested Grand Slam in recent years. In the women’s side of the draw, reigning the US tournament, champion Naomi Osaka has pulled out with a hamstring injury. Genie Bouchard fans get a much-needed boost with the famous Canadian being handed a wild card. Sumit Nagal remains the highest-ranked Indian involved in the tournament.
The event venue in itself sees a major upgrade this year. Court Philippe Chatrier has a fully functional roof and is set to host its first Indoor match. This comes as an exciting upgrade for aggressive baseliners that traditionally flourish under a closed roof. However, the timing of this year’s Roland Garros brings an interesting twist in the behavior of the courts. A damper atmosphere will play its role in making the already slow clay courts of Paris even slower while keeping the balls a little lower than usual. This helps players that enjoy long rallies from the baseline while making it difficult for big-hitting players to finish points early. It will be very interesting to see how the first indoor match plays out with the conditions being anything but those like a typical Roland Garros fixture.
Different dates, different players and different conditions. What does not change is the excitement of fans and the commitment of players. This unfamiliar trip to Paris has the potential to make for a tournament like never before.