French Open considering tournament behind closed doors

The president of the French Tennis Federation said they are looking at playing the French Open behind closed doors. (Getty Images)

The French Open, which was postponed to September from May due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, could be held without fans, the organisers of the clay court Grand Slam have said.

Roland Garros had been scheduled for May 24 to June 7 before the French tennis federation (FFT) pushed it back to September 20-October 4 in a bid to save the tournament from falling victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Last week the FFT said all tickets purchased for this year’s French Open would be cancelled and reimbursed instead of being transferred.

But despite Nadal recently claiming the rest of the tennis year will most likely be lost due to the coronavirus pandemic, the FFT president is looking at all options.

“Organising it without fans would allow a part of the economy to keep turning, (like) television rights and partnerships. It’s not to be overlooked,” FFT President Bernard Giudicelli told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.

“We’re not ruling any option out.”

FFT widely criticised for French Open move

The tennis season was suspended in early March due to the pandemic and the hiatus will continue at least until mid-July with many countries in lockdown.

Wimbledon has been cancelled while the status of the US Open, scheduled to take place in late August, is still unclear.

The FFT was widely criticised when they announced in mid-March that the French Open would be switched, with players bemoaning a lack of communication as the new dates clashed with the hardcourt season.

Organisers said last week they had been in talks with the sport’s governing bodies to fine tune the calendar amid media reports that the Grand Slam tournament would be delayed further by a week and start on Sept. 27.

The delayed start would give players a two-week window between the end of the US Open, played on the hardcourts of New York, and the Paris tournament.

“The 20th or the 27th, that does not change much,” Giudicelli said.

Nadal not confident French Open will go ahead

Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais on Tuesday, the 19-time grand slam champion thought the rest of the year would be a write off.

"I wish, but I don't believe so. If you said we'll be ready for 2021 I would sign up for that," Nadal said.

"I am more worried about the Australian Open than what will happen at the end of this year.

"I think 2020 is practically lost. I have hopes that we will be able to start next year. Hopefully that's what will happen."