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French Open 2020: 'Optimism' that tournament will take place in autumn

  • Posted: May 23, 2020

The French Open tournament director says there are grounds for optimism that the championships will be able to take place in the autumn.

The Roland Garros main draw was due to get under way on Sunday but has been postponed until September.

Guy Forget says he is not resigned to playing the tournament behind closed doors, and hopes to “welcome as many people as possible”.

“At the moment, the signs are heading in a positive direction,” he said.

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“You can imagine that will also be the case for restaurants and bars in the weeks to come,” Forget told the French radio station Europe 1.

“Now, we don’t know what’s going to happen in a month or two. We will adapt to whatever the government tells us.

“We should be ambitious and optimistic. We hope Roland Garros will take place, and under favourable circumstances.”

The French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has said no large sporting events will be allowed to take place in the country before September.

A start date of 20 September was initially announced by Roland Garros, but that is likely to be pushed back by a week or even two once the tours have considered their options.

“We are working very closely with the ATP, the WTA and the ITF so that we can make a comprehensive announcement about how the schedule will look from now until the end of the year,” Forget continued.

“There are still so many question marks.

“The city of New York is even more affected by coronavirus than France. They also have some big organisational problems and will make an announcement around about mid-June to explain how the US Open will look.”

There is very little chance of any tour events resuming before August. The US Open is due to begin on 31 August.

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US Open behind closed doors could be iconic, says Dan Evans

  • Posted: May 23, 2020

A US Open staged behind closed doors could become iconic in years to come, British number one Dan Evans says.

The US Tennis Association (USTA) is still hoping to stage the tournament in New York from 31 August.

But given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the USTA is now exploring more seriously the option of proceeding without spectators.

“Me, personally, I would love it to go ahead,” Evans told The Guest List on BBC Radio 5 Live.

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“I think it would send out a real statement that we can get back going.

“It could be an amazing spectacle that tennis goes ahead with no-one in the stadium, and everybody watching on telly.

“Arthur Ashe Stadium being empty, and Federer and Nadal or whoever playing the final would be so strange, but it would also be iconic. How good that would look in years to come.”

The Arthur Ashe Stadium holds more than 23,000 spectators, and last year’s US Open attracted a record 737,000 fans.

The USTA expects to make a decision about the viability of this year’s tournament at the end of June.

Evans, meanwhile, is hoping to return to action earlier in the summer, as Jamie Murray is finalising plans for a behind-closed-doors exhibition event in London.

“It’s great what Jamie’s doing,” Evans said.

“He’s represented Britain for so long in the Davis Cup, and this is just another thing that says: ‘I really am a team player.’ He’s trying to help the British players, and get a tournament on at a time where we could really do with some tennis.”

Evans has been back in training for a week, and admits that in an ideal world he would need another four or five to return to full fitness.

“But, as tennis players, there’s a bit of give and take as well,” he continued.

“We should sacrifice a bit if, say, television wanted a tournament to go ahead. As long as we’re not putting ourselves in danger or hurting our bodies, our game doesn’t have to be in a perfect position.”

Evans – who turned 30 on Saturday – is at a career high world ranking of 28, and reached the semi-finals at his most recent event in Dubai.

“I have some good tennis ahead of me,” he said. “Probably in a better place than I was when 23 or 24, so I’m pretty positive about it.”

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Canadian Legends Gretzky & Nash Dish On Federer, Nadal & Djokovic

  • Posted: May 23, 2020

Canadian Legends Gretzky & Nash Dish On Federer, Nadal & Djokovic

Learn what the sports legends think about each member of the Big Three

Wayne Gretzky and Steve Nash are legends in the hockey and basketball worlds, respectively. Besides both of them being Canadian, they share something else in common: a love for tennis.

Gretzky, 59, and Nash, 46, both followed the sport closely before this era, but both stars are in awe of the Big Three: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

“If you could see a Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal final, and Djokovic is pretty good, but there’s something [special] about Nadal and Federer playing and competing for a championship,” Gretzky said on Tennis United. “For me, that gets my blood flowing and I can’t wait to watch it.”

Gretzky’s favourite match of all-time is the 1981 Wimbledon final, when John McEnroe — who is now the hockey legend’s good friend — won The Championships for the first time by defeating Bjorn Borg.

“McEnroe-Borg was a unique rivalry because it was more of my era, so I’m probably a little more comfortable with that,” Gretzky said. “As you know, the athletes of today are so much better and so much more conditioned… it’s a different sport now, and every sport is like that.”

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Nash’s love of tennis began with McEnroe, too. The American intrigued the Canadian with his personality, and reeled him in with his talent.

“You couldn’t take your eyes off him because you never knew what was going to happen. He wore his emotions on his sleeve,” Nash said. “But I just think the touch, the creativity, the feel at the net, those things were just so beautiful. He was an artist out there in many respects. It was this crazy mix of this big personality, you never knew where his emotions were going to go. At the same time, he’d hit a drop volley… he was mesmerising with his play, his competitive fire.”

But like Gretzky, Nash is consistently in awe of the Big Three. The basketball star is perhaps most impressed that they all have different styles, yet each has enjoyed tremendous success.

“I never really felt like I had to choose between Federer and Nadal. I felt like I could really appreciate both of them to reach their limit, their max, their potential, and may the best man win,” Nash said. “It’s just amazing to see the modern game with Djoker, Roger and Rafa, how they’re all so different. They all get it done in different ways. But if you individually looked at their resumés, you can make a case that each of them is the best player to ever play the game.

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“Roger started out being so mesmerising. He was a great athlete, but he also has so much variety, beautiful strokes. He slices the backhand, he comes over the top of it hard, he finds angles. The forehand is obviously mastery, but then he has the serve, the volleys and all the variety in between.

“Rafa, when he started playing you thought, ‘Wow, this guy’s just a beast of an athlete and he’s mentally as tough as anyone we’ve seen maybe in any sport.’ But as the years go by you realise, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Rafa miss a volley. He’s an artist, too.

“Then you look at Djokovic, the way he moves, his flexibility, his consistency. If he’s playing at his best, to beat him is almost impossible. He makes you hit so many extra balls and then he puts so much pressure on you to hit the lines. He’s in his own right as good as anyone we’ve ever seen.”

Gretzky and Nash are both proud of the recent success of Canadians. Gretzky was in attendance at a memorable match three years ago, when Canadian star Denis Shapovalov stunned Rafael Nadal in Montreal at the Coupe Rogers.

“We were lucky enough to be at the [Coupe Rogers] when Denis had his run. We were at the Nadal match, which was so exciting,” Gretzky said. “My wife kept hitting me a little bit saying, ‘Every time you cheer for Denis, Nadal is watching you.’ So I had to back down a little bit out of respect for the opponent.”

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