Tennis calendar set for fresh chaos as sport prepares for potential domino effect of French Open delay
The 2021 French Open has been rescheduled with the French Tennis Federation (FFT) confirming it has been pushed back by a week due to the latest coronavirus lockdown in the country.
However, the big question on everybody’s mind is: How will it affect the 2021 ATP Tour and WTA Tour calendars, especially the grass-court tournaments?
Having been rescheduled from its original May-June slot to September last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s French Open was expected to revert back to its usual time slot with May 23 to June 7 the dates pencilled in.
However, France went into a third lockdown on April 3 due to an increase in coronavirus cases and the government had requested the clay-court Grand Slam be pushed back by a week with qualifying starting on May 24.
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has supported the move to run the main draw event from May 30 to June 13 as it will allow them to have more spectators.
The move, though, will have a ripple effect on the 2021 tennis calendars with the clay-court campaign already underway and Wimbledon due to start three weeks after the French Open.
From now until the May 23, there are several big tournaments taking place on the red dirt, including the Monte-Carlo Masters, Stuttgart Open, Madrid Open and Italian Open.
Will both the ATP and WTA clay-court calendars stay the same now that the French Open main draw starts a week later on May 30? What will happen to the extra week (May 23-29) that will be created by the tweak?
Most top players prefer not to compete the week before a Grand Slam and they will either be forced to enter the 250 events from May 17-23 or face the possibility of playing no tennis for two weeks.
What will happen to the grass-court season?
There are traditionally only three weeks between the French Open final and the start of Wimbledon. Well, traditionally since 2015.
On the ATP side, the Stuttgart Open, Rosmalen Grass Court Championships, Halle Open, Queen’s Club Championships, Eastbourne International and Mallorca Championships are warm-up events for The Championships.
As for the WTA, the Nottingham Open, Rosmalen Grass Court Championships, German Open, Birmingham Classic, Eastbourne International and Bad Homburg Open are the lead-up events to Wimbledon.
Will some of those events be re-organised and run in conjunction with other tournaments or will one or two lose their spots in the calendar as a result of the French Open being rescheduled?
As things stand, it is unlikely that Wimbledon – scheduled to run from June 28 – July 11 – will be rescheduled and the calendar is likely to remain the same after that the grass-court major.
For now though, it looks like there will only be a two-week gap between the French Open and Wimbledon, but quite a few blanks will need to be filled in by the powers that be as a result of the Roland Garros switch.
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