Sam Groth has made the stunning suggestion French Open officials acted deliberately in rescheduling the claycourt grand slam to clash with the Laver Cup in a bid to ‘kill’ the popular team event.
French officials threw the international tennis calendar into further chaos last week with the controversial decision to shift the start of the French Open from May to September, just a week after the US Open finals.
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However the new dates of September 20 - October 4 directly clash with the September 25-27 Laver Cup -an exhibition team event co-created by Roger Federer and run by the ATP.
The French Tennis Federation has previously thrown its support behind the Davis Cup, run by the International Tennis Federation rather than the ATP.
The Laver Cup (run by the ATP) acts as a massive threat to the future of the traditional Davis Cup, as does the new ATP Cup in Australia.
There have been major concerns from players about how the Davis Cup, Laver Cup and ATP Cup can all coincide with each other.
And according to former Aussie tennis player Groth, there might have been sinister motives behind the French Open’s new choice of dates.
“They were trying to be proactive but they've just gone rogue,” Groth said on Sports Sunday.
“They've just gone and thrown themselves in, in the middle of September, a week after the US Open but clashing with a handful of ATP events as well as the Laver Cup.
“The other thing that's been missed a little bit in this is the FFT, they're very much in cahoots with the ITF and they've been a big supporter of the new-look Davis Cup.
“They've gone and backed themselves in, put themselves in a situation where they're trying to - I feel - kill the Laver Cup before it starts to get as big as a (golf) Ryder Cup for example.”
French Open under fire over shock move
Laver Cup organisers said they were surprised by the move to switch Roland Garros to September 20-October 4 due to the coronavirus.
“This announcement came as a surprise to us and our partners - Tennis Australia, the USTA and the ATP. It raises many questions and we are assessing the situation,” they said in a statement .
“At this time, we want our fans, sponsors, broadcasters, staff, volunteers, players and the great city of Boston to know that we intend to hold Laver Cup 2020 as currently scheduled.”
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) also released a statement which said there were no plans to alter the schedule for the US Open and went on to blatantly criticise the French Open for making ‘unilateral changes’ to the calendar.
“At a time when the world is coming together, we recognise that such a decision should not be made unilaterally,” the statement read.
“Therefore the USTA would only do so in full consultation with the other Grand Slam tournaments, the WTA and ATP, the ITF and our partners, including the Laver Cup.”
A statement from @usopen, the last paragraph of which is pure shade toward Roland Garros’ brazen calendar grab gambit.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 17, 2020
“At a time when the world is coming together, we recognize that such a decision should not be made unilaterally…USTA would only do so in full consultation…” pic.twitter.com/pp9rWco9rF
Wimbledon organisers said they were still proceeding on the basis that the grasscourt grand slam would start on June 29, while organisers of the Australian Open are continuing to work towards the usual January start for the 2021 edition.
This is such a difficult time. Everyone is being impacted by this catastrophe. Enhancing communication & working together to find solutions should be the priority. Not going Rogue & making selfish/arrogant decisions to further impact the tour in a negative way. #RolandGarros— Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) March 17, 2020
Strong Move by French Open/FFT to move to end of Sept. I thought the powers that be in tennis were supposed to be all about working together these days? 🤔— Jamie Murray (@jamie_murray) March 17, 2020