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By Tennis Now | Monday, May 11, 2020

 
Roland Garros

FFT president Bernard Giudicelli isn't ruling out playing Roland Garros behind closed doors without fans and moving the tournament start date by one week.

Photo credit: Christophe Guibbaud/FFT/Roland Garros Facebook

Roland Garros now has a roof and could play behind closed doors in September.

The clay-court Grand Slam, which moved from its traditional May start date to September 20th due to the coronavirus pandemic, is considering playing the tournament without fans, FFT president Bernard Giudicelli told French publication Journal du dimanche.

More: Roland Garros to Refund Ticket Holders

"We don't rule out any options," Giudicelli told Journal du dimanche. "It would be lost in guesswork to favor one as the lack of visibility is real.

"Organizing it behind closed doors would allow maintaining part of the economic model, television rights and sponsorships."

The roof over Court Philippe-Chatrier was completed in February.

Tournament organizers says Roland Garros won't play official night sessions under lights until 2021 so that the tournament can be fully prepared for night play.

"The night sessions in 2021 impose an organization which requires methodical and deep work, so that's why we scheduled them in 2021 and not in 2020," Giudicelli said.




Roland Garros drives French tennis generating about 80 percent of the French Tennis Federation's annual revenue, the Journal du dimanche reports.

Last week, Roland Garros announced it will refund all ticket holders for the 2020 tournament.

While the tournament would obviously lose money playing behind closed doors without fans, rights fees from television networks around the world account for about 30 percent of French Open revenues.

French media has reported Roland Garros could move to a September 27th start time. Giudicelli said moving the start date is under consideration.

"We are not working by probability but with options to which each of the FFT teams is fully dedicated, behind [managing director] Jean-Fran├žois Vilotte," Giudicelli said. "We are determined and we think we have made the right decision.

"An undated tournament is a boat without a rudder, we don't know where we're going. We positioned ourselves as far in the calendar as possible, anxious not to harm major events, so that no Masters 1000 or Grand Slam are affected. The turn of events seems to prove us right."

 

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