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2020 French Open Preview

The 2020 French Open is held at the Stade Roland-Garros in west Paris, France. Photo: World Tennis
There will certainly be a very different feel to the 2020 French Open when it starts this coming Sunday in Paris. Roland Garros traditionally takes place in late May and early June though the coronavirus pandemic scuppered those plans, with the tournament controversially rescheduling the event for late September after it became clear in early March that holding the event as normal would be impossible. Four months after it traditionally begins the event will finally take place. 

Originally it had been hoped that 11,500 fans a day could enter the site but a rise in covid cases has prevented that, with 5,000 fans set to be allowed on Court Philippe Chatrier this year but no other fans allowed elsewhere. Another noticeable change this year is the roof on Chatrier which will guarantee that some play can take place at all times, with night sessions also being introduced this season.

Legendary players such as Chris Evert, Ivan Lendl, Justine Henin and Bjorn Borg have all lifted the French Open title in the past and it will be intriguing to see who can emulate their success in unusual circumstances this autumn, in what is the 124th staging of the event which began in 1891.

Noticeable absences include 2009 Men’s singles champion Roger Federer and defending Women’s champion Ashleigh Barty, with US Open champions Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu also missing from the 128-player draws. 

Men’s singles 

When discussing the Men’s singles at Roland Garros there is only one man we can start with; Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard’s 12 titles in Paris and 93-2 win/loss record is incomparable in the sport and the world number two will be backed by many to win a 13th title this coming fortnight, though there were some signs in Rome that Nadal may be vulnerable this year. 

Nadal chose to skip the US hard court tournaments meaning his appearance in Rome was his first tournament in over six months, and he suffered a shock loss to Diego Schwartzman in the last eight. That loss may have made Novak Djokovic the favourite for the title. The Serbian won a record 36th Masters 1000 title in Rome on Monday and his shock default at the US Open is the only time he has lost this season. 

A second title at Roland Garros would make the world number one the first man to win all four Grand Slam titles on multiple occasions in the open era, though he and Nadal face a major threat in Dominic Thiem. The Austrian has reached the final in Paris the past two years and beat Djokovic at the tournament in 2017 and 2019. Having won the US Open, Thiem may play with less pressure at the French Open this year though he has not played any warm-up tournaments heading in. 

Outside of Nadal, Djokovic and Thiem, the field seems fairly open. It will be interesting to see how recent US Open runner-up and two-time French Open quarter-finalist Alexander Zverev fairs in his first tournament since Flushing Meadows, whilst Stefanos Tsitsipas will be looking to rebound after a disappointing third round loss in New York. Former Grand Slam finalist Daniil Medvedev has never won a match in Paris and will be looking to break that run this time around.

Nadal’s conqueror in Rome, Schwartzman, went on to reach the final there and is a former quarter-finalist in Paris. He could well feature in the latter stages with a good draw, as could young Canadian’s Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Also keep an eye out for 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka and former runner-up Andy Murray, who is playing his first French Open since 2017. French hopes will be pinned on Gael Monfils, who will be seeded eighth at his home Grand Slam tournament. 

Women’s singles 

There can be little doubt that 2018 champion Simona Halep is the favourite to win a second title at Roland Garros. The Romanian is on a record-equalling 14-match win streak and has won titles on clay in Prague and Rome since the restart. Aside from her triumph at the French Open two years ago the world number two has also reached two further finals in Paris, and will be the top seed this tournament.

Also likely to feature will be Halep’s fellow two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka. The Belarusian has been in resurgent form this summer and could well match her run to the semi-finals from 2013. Azarenka lost to Garbine Muguruza in Rome and the Spaniard is another potential contender. 

After a disappointing 2019, Muguruza reached the final of the Australian Open in January and, under the coaching of Conchita Martinez, has demonstrated the type of form that has seen her be a two-time Grand Slam champion. The Spaniard won her first major at Roland Garros in 2016 and could well add a second title this autumn. A large amount of attention will also be on Serena Williams

The American is still searching for a 24th Grand Slam title after her semi-final loss to Azarenka at the US Open and it would be unwise to rule the three-time French Open champion out from winning here. However, there are fitness doubts surrounding Williams after she sustained an achilles injury in New York, and clay is unlikely to be the surface where she will find the most success in the latter stages of her career. Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina are arguably the leading contenders for a maiden major title. 

Pliskova reached the last four in Paris three years ago and was the runner-up in Rome earlier this week, with the former world number one looking to end a run of disappointing slam performances, whilst two-time French Open quarter-finalist Svitolina will be looking to match and improve on her runs to the Wimbledon and US Open semifinals last season. 

Former semifinalist and 2019 Madrid Open champion Kiki Bertens could also feature, whilst Marketa Vondrousova’s run to the last four in Rome showed some signs of the form that saw her reach her first Grand Slam final in Paris in 2019. Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, who beat Serena Williams in the third round last season, may also feature.

Where is the tournament held?

The French Open is held at the Stade Roland-Garros in west Paris every year.

When will the tournament be held?

The main draw will be held from the 27th September- 11th October.

How many players will be present?

The singles draws at Roland Garros will both feature 128 players, with the top 32 players in the draw being seeded.

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