Cole Porter, the composer of the 1953 Broadway musical Can Can, wrote of loving Paris in the springtime. Fortunately, he also loved it in the fall.
For nearly 100 years, the French championship has been the culmination of the spring pro tennis season. Played from late May until early June at Roland Garros in Paris, the tournaments long, gritty matches on red clay often stretched into darkness.
But with the tennis calendar upended like a chess board in a windstorm because of the coronavirus, this years French Open is now being contested in autumn, just one week after the United States Open in New York. With Wimbledon canceled this year, the French Open is the final major of the season instead of the second.
As soon as the French Tennis Federation announced it would hold the tournament from late September into early October, after the U.S. Open, questions arose as to how players would feel about traveling to the United States for one major tournament on hard courts and then flying right to France for another major on a completely different surface.
The transition obviously was not easy, said Victoria Azarenka, who flew from New York City to Rome for the Italian Open the day after she lost in the final of the U.S. Open and then played her first match on clay two days later. Change of surface can be a challenge for a lot of players. For some who practiced longer on clay and played matches in Europe it may be a benefit.
Five of the top 10 women on the WTA Tour are European, and four of them Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Belinda Bencic opted out of the U.S. Open. Ashleigh Barty, an Australian ranked No. 1, skipped the U.S. and French Opens because of Covid-19, and last years U.S. Open champion, Bianca Andreescu, withdrew because of injury. Naomi Osaka, the current U.S. Open champion, pulled out of the French Open with a hamstring injury.
Among the men, nine of the top 10 are from Europe, though all but Rafael Nadal and Gael Monfils traveled to New York. Roger Federer is out for the rest of the season following knee surgery.
Playing on clay demands a vastly different skill set than competing on hard courts. Balls bounce higher, mobility and agility can be tested as sliding side to side is often required and long matches are physical and mental endurance tests.
When the season is on, everyone is playing every week so the game is there, Yulia Putintseva, who lost in the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open and then headed straight to Europe for the Italian Open, said. Jumping so quick from hard courts to clay courts, there can be injuries because you have to get used to sliding and to the conditions.
Conditions at this years French Open will also be different because of the time of year it is being played. In May, sunset in Paris isnt until about 9:30; in late September it is just after 7:30. The sun is at a different angle later in the year, which can have an impact on a players serve and overhead shots. Playing in chilly night air, as well as under the lights, can slow the ball and make it tricky to track. It also tends to rain more in the fall, making courts slower and balls heavier.
The later in the year, the lower the bounces, Martina Navratilova, winner of 18 major singles championships, including two French Opens, said. You have a slower court, slower balls, heavier conditions over all. Rafa doesnt like that. He likes a sunny, dry day and a high bounce.
Nadal may get his wish because Paris has experienced an unusually warm September, though it is expected to cool a bit midway through the tournament. At the Italian Open in Rome, temperatures soared into the mid-90s. That helped Nadal cruise through his matches against Pablo Carreo Busta and Dusan Lajovic before he was upset in the quarterfinals by eventual runner-up Diego Schwartzman. Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, the mens finalists at the U.S. Open, withdrew from Rome after Thiem won a four-hour, five-set battle in New York to claim his first major championship.
There will be other big differences at this years French Open. For the first time, the main stadium, Court Philippe Chatrier, will have a retractable roof, allowing for play on rainy days. (Unlike hard courts, clay absorbs water, allowing play to continue during drizzles.) Lights have been added to 12 additional courts, enabling more matches to be played at night. And, unlike the U.S. Open, a limited number of fans will be allowed on site.
I actually think it will be weird to have fans, Shelby Rogers, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist, said. Maybe a little standoffish from the players not used to being around people. It will be another adjustment, something to adapt to.
As they did in New York, players at Roland Garros will be restricted in their movements from hotel to tournament site and will be subjected to health protocols, including wearing masks and using only designated routes to and from the courts to avoid interaction with spectators. For Thiem, runner-up the last two years to Nadal, recovering in time will be the hardest part.
Physically, Im going to be fine, 100 percent, Thiem said. The question is how Im going to do it with the emotions mentally. Obviously, Ive never been in this situation.
And then there is Nadal, the 12-time French Open winner who is looking to tie Roger Federers mens record of 20 career majors with another Roland Garros win. Nadal did not touch a racket for two months at the beginning of the pandemic and only resumed practice in May. He did not play a match from early March when he won a hard-court tournament in Acapulco to the Italian Open last week.
Lets see how it all turns out, Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 and the Italian Open champion, said. Rafa decided to stay and practice, and surely that gives him more advantage. But even if he didnt practice for that long on clay, hed still be the No. 1 favorite at Roland Garros or any other clay court tournament, just because hes Rafa.
See more here:
- U.S. Championship: So On The Brink of Title - Chess.com - October 30th, 2020
- Can you solve these real 'Jeopardy!' clues about the '70s? - North Platte Telegraph - October 29th, 2020
- 14-year-old Mendonca wins chess tournament in Hungary - The Tribune India - October 28th, 2020
- Arnold Schwarzenegger Test Drives New Aortic Valve on Cleveland Walkabout - Vanity Fair - October 28th, 2020
- Gibraltar to host the final stage of FIDE Women's Grand Prix - Chessbase News - October 24th, 2020
- Can you solve these real 'Jeopardy!' clues about the '70s? - Buffalo News - October 24th, 2020
- Aronian Says He Is Ready to Join Armenian Army - The Armenian Mirror-Spectator - October 23rd, 2020
- Nakamura Just Won't Stop Winning Titled Tuesday - Chess.com - October 23rd, 2020
- Gibraltar to host the final stage of the Women's FIDE Grand Prix - Chess Daily News - October 23rd, 2020
- Play blitz and win prizes on playchess.com! - Chessbase News - October 21st, 2020
- Bel Airs Shelby Getz survives unforgettable chess battles with legends of the game at U.S. Senior Championship - Baltimore Sun - October 21st, 2020
- Levon Aronian: I haven't slept since war started - chess24 - October 21st, 2020
- Asian Online Team Chess: India finishes 6th in preliminary round, qualifies for quarterfinals - Outlook India - October 19th, 2020
- FIDE Candidates Tournament Postponed Until Spring 2021 - Chess.com - October 17th, 2020
- Bel Air resident and chess champion Shelby Getz to battle for national senior championship online this weekend - Baltimore Sun - October 16th, 2020
- Baltimore man looking to win $50k prize in national chess tournament - wmar2news.com - October 16th, 2020
- $100+K awarded at 2020 SPFNO Online, with 100% Fair Play on National Chess Day! - Chess Daily News - October 16th, 2020
- Meet Zico, The First 17yo Malaysian To Receive The SENIA World Changer Award - WORLD OF BUZZ - October 16th, 2020
- Blast from the Past / 1959: a summertime parade of toys - Lewiston Morning Tribune - October 16th, 2020
- The Queens Gambit Tries a Risky Play: Betting Chess Can Be Good TV - The New York Times - October 16th, 2020
- The Best Chess Games In History - Boss Hunting - October 14th, 2020
- New research reveals mentally demanding tasks are more difficult to handle at home - ResponseSource - October 14th, 2020
- Igors Rausis: Chess cheat resurfaces after an infamous toilet break - The Indian Express - October 14th, 2020
- King to king - Chessbase News - October 14th, 2020
- 10-year-old Minnesota girl puts the chess world in checkmate - KARE11.com - October 9th, 2020
- How To Play In US Chess Online Rated Tournaments - Chess.com - October 9th, 2020
- The tech company Play Magnus today been admitted trading - The FINANCIAL - October 8th, 2020
- IM Bhakti Kulkarni to represent Women Indian Team in the Asian Nation's Cup Online Chess - Oherald - October 8th, 2020
- CCPS hosting in-person chess tournament, limited to students in Grades 4-12 - The Southern Maryland Chronicle - October 7th, 2020
- ESL Mobile Open Europe and MENA announced with a prize pool of nearly $100000 - Dot Esports - October 7th, 2020
- Meet these mini-grandmasters of chess - two brothers from Cork - EchoLive.ie - October 7th, 2020
- Irshad Mohammed walks away with top spot in latest round of chess tournament - Stabroek News - October 7th, 2020
- NRX is king of Call of Duty Mobile in Southeast Asia - Manila Bulletin - October 5th, 2020
- Surya Shekhar Ganguly in conversation with Vladimir Kramnik - Chessbase News - October 3rd, 2020
- On Chess: Returning To Over The Board Chess Tournaments - St. Louis Public Radio - October 3rd, 2020
- Fresh Surface Firmware Updates Are Out for Pro 7 and Book 3 - Best gaming pro - October 3rd, 2020
- Why Utah's new Teacher of the Year wants his students of color to play chess - Salt Lake Tribune - October 3rd, 2020
- x64 emulation is coming to Windows on ARM - Best gaming pro - October 3rd, 2020
- When did they get it? - The ten highest-ever rated players - Chessbase News - October 3rd, 2020
- SANDCAST: Answering beach volleyball's questions in a year with no shortage of them - Volleyball Magazine - October 1st, 2020
- Chess and coffee - Chessbase News - September 30th, 2020
- Altibox Norway Chess 2020: Live and over-the-board! - Chessbase News - September 29th, 2020
- The Queen's Journey with chess and ballet: In conversation with Jason Kouchak - Sportskeeda - September 29th, 2020
- Goodbyes and well-wishes: PBA players leave home to start life in Clark bubble - Manila Bulletin - September 29th, 2020
- Diamond-clad Pearl Royale is worlds most expensive chess set - dlmag - September 29th, 2020
- Spanish Team Championship, Round 3: Andreu Paterna in the lead - Chessbase News - September 28th, 2020
- Adesanya retains UFC title with early TKO of Costa - Manila Bulletin - September 28th, 2020
- 5 Amazing Chess Players You've Never Heard Of - Chess.com - September 26th, 2020
- John Leguizamo Is Sick of Latinos Being Excluded in Hollywood: 'Were 1 Percent of the Stories' - PEOPLE - September 26th, 2020
- Chess in the movies: "Critical Thinking" - a fine film by John Leguizamo - Chessbase News - September 26th, 2020
- Two locals in contention for top spot - The Daily Star - September 26th, 2020
- Tournament from tomorrow - The Daily Star - September 23rd, 2020
- AlphaZero (And Other!) Chess Variants Now Available For Everyone - Chess.com - September 23rd, 2020
- Guess the child prodigy - Chessbase News - September 23rd, 2020
- Int'l online chess event to mark 74th birthday of PM Hasina - Dhaka Tribune - September 23rd, 2020
- Ranindu, Nethmi win top titles at Chess Nationals - Ceylon Daily News - September 23rd, 2020
- Mechanics' to Host U.S. Cadet National Championship this Weekend - uschess.org - September 22nd, 2020
- The Only Problem In Fischer Random Chess - Chess.com - September 22nd, 2020
- Today's Top Sports News: Who can become the captain of Team India after Kohli, Sunil Gavaskar said this - Pledge Times - September 20th, 2020
- Pushed to the limit, Djokovic finds a way to win - The Tribune - September 19th, 2020
- The True Story Behind Critical Thinking, Movie Based in Miami - Miami New Times - September 19th, 2020
- Summer Knights stands as school year's first chess tourney - The Madison Record - themadisonrecord.com - September 19th, 2020
- So Leads Saint Louis Tournament Before Blitz Games - Chess.com - September 19th, 2020
- Mobile Premier League bets on advertising to create niche in e-sports market - Mint - September 19th, 2020
- Magnus Carlsen has conquered the world of chess. Now he's setting his sights on fantasy football - erienewsnow.com - September 19th, 2020
- Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz: Live! - Chessbase News - September 16th, 2020
- Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat a series where each team must make tough choices: Youre not expecting it to b - MassLive.com - September 16th, 2020
- US Open: Winged Foot looks to humble the Professionals - Pro Golf Now - September 15th, 2020
- Kasparov Holds Carlsen In 1st Clash In 16 Years - Chess.com - September 12th, 2020
- Is There Going to be an 'Alpha Flight' Movie? - Book and Film Globe - September 12th, 2020
- 'Chess player' Daniil Medvedev looks the one to beat at US Open - Eurosport.com - September 12th, 2020
- Nihal Beats Tang In Junior Speed Chess Championship - Chess.com - September 12th, 2020
- Mikoto interview: I'm kind of getting motivated after losing to TNC - VPEsports - September 11th, 2020
- Stars, Golden Knights reach chess match part of West final - NHL - September 11th, 2020
- FIDE Candidates Tournament Resumes November 1 - Chess.com - September 9th, 2020
- Chess prodigy Ajitesh Nair on the cusp of history - Telangana Today - September 9th, 2020
- Amid a lockdown and development of livestreaming technology, chess is going through a renaissance - Firstpost - September 8th, 2020
- Nathanael Paul crowned county champion for the first time - shropshirestar.com - September 8th, 2020
- Junior Speed Chess Championship Begins This Week - Chess.com - September 7th, 2020
- Is Critical Thinking on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime? Where to Watch Critical Thinking? - The Cinemaholic - September 5th, 2020