In times of crisis it is important for Tennis to unite however the FFT’s decision to move Roland Garros without consultation could jeopardise the future of ten tournaments and highlights the need for a united tennis authority

In times or uncertainty it is important for people and organisations to come together. Usually in times or crisis we can turn to sport for a distraction but without that it really is an uncertain.

Something that isn’t uncertain and came to light yesterday is the sheer selfishness from FFT (Francois federation de Tennis) who run Roland Garros.

Without any consultation with ITF, WTA, ATP or any of the other three Grand Slam events they have decided to move the event to mid-September and will begin just seven days after the conclusion at Flushing Meadows.

Two weeks in New York is scheduled to finish on the 13th of September with two weeks in Paris set to begin on the 21st of September until the 4th of October.

With France on lockdown currently and with many countries following suit it did begin to look day by day that Roland Garros would not be able to be completed as scheduled. Moving the event does make sense as it would be pretty tough to cancel Roland Garros but the fact the organisers and the FFT did this without consultation is outstandingly selfish and highlights the need for an authoritative governing body in tennis.

It sounds like a one star choir, singing from multiple hymn sheets. ITF, ATP, WTA, Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open, FFT, Tennis Australia, LTA, USTA Olympics etc… it goes on and on with no one there to board major decisions which affect the tour.

I’ve said this for some time but tennis needs to bring together organisers, ex- players and players from both tours into one overall governing body to sort out major issues like this. A vote system by players and federations would be a fair way of voting members in.

These situation were are now in is absolutely chaotic and this does not help,

On Tuesday afternoon the FFT president Bernard Giudicelli released this statement regarding the decision:

“We have made a difficult yet brave decision in this UNPRECEDENTED situation, which has evolved greatly since last weekend. We are acting responsibly, and must work together in the fight to ensure everybody’s health and safety,”

Over night the US Open released a statement on social media and have taken a dig at Roland Garros and the FFT for this decision without consultation, the statement reads:

“The USTA is continuing to plan for the 2020 US Open and is not at this time implementing any changes to the schedule.

These are unprecedented times, though, and we are assessing all of our options, including the possibility of moving the tournament to a later date.

At a time when the world is coming together, we recognise that such a decision should not be made unilaterally and therefor 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.”

It’s to the point, respectful and might as well have rightfully tagged Roland Garros in it.

On the other side Roland Garros saw a gap and took it as they don’t want to cancel but they have to consult others before doing this.

The week after the US Open is a week off naturally and then 6 days later the French Open will begin. It is understood as well that matches are likely to begin at 9am local time.

Not only does this disturb the tour but will clash with ten tournaments during this time.

This decision could put future tournaments in Asia and Europe in jeopardy with players playing at the French Open.

This is how the tournament schedule for that time will look across ATP and WTA tours:

Screenshot 2020-03-17 at 17.18.49

This is going to disturb the tour majorly. WTA Premier and Premier 5 events will not have the players to fill the draw and a day after the conclusion in Paris you have two ATP 500 events and a Premier Mandatory on the WTA tour.

There will be no immediate clay warm-up for players. Madrid and Rome are in major doubt. After Wimbledon if even that goes ahead there are clay events on the ATP tour in Hamburg, Bastad, Gstaad and Umag but then you are hit with the Olympics and then American hardcourt swing. Similar situation is there on the WTA tour with clay events in Bucharest, Lausanne, Latvia and Palermo following Wimbledon.

Wimbledon itself is in an uncertain place at the moment and could also be postponed or at worse cancelled. The time frame on the calendar and British weather doesn’t leave much of a gap to play if needed to be moved.

Even on the ATP tour, Roland Garros in the last week of September also puts one of their home tournaments at risk in Moselle.

How will this work?

Over 700 players are due to go to a Grand Slam whether it is Mens, Ladies, Doubles, Juniors or qualifying the whole of tennis descends so who will fill the quotas at the WTA and ATP events due to be played then?

If they delayed their start time to pick up those who didn’t qualify or early exits from Roland Garros it would just eat into the rest of the tour that year and it just isn’t a feasible option.

There just isn’t a way tournaments can be successfully completed alongside a Grand Slam. Even if the opened up the draws for the WTA and ATP events to lower ranked players not involved in Paris it would give them huge points and pivotal prize money but wouldn’t do anything for the events hoping to make money.

The uncertainty will continue. We don’t know how long this will continue for and the future of many events will be a major discussion. There are some events that won’t be played this year, some at risk and some that won’t be able to reschedule.

I just hope more decisions like this are made with a proper consultation and not an act of selfishness.

UPDATE

An hour after publishing a joint statement from ITF, WTA, ATP, USTA, Tennis Australia and AELTC but not Roland Garros or FFP states tennis will be cancelled until at least 7th of June.

During this time ATP and WTA Rankings will be frozen. The end of the statement seemed to take a swipe at FFT/Roland Garros:

“Now is not a time to act unilaterally, but in unison. All decisions related to the impact of the coronavirus require appropriate consultation and review with the stakeholders in the game, a view that is shared by ATP, WTA, ITF, AELTC, Tennis Australia, and USTA.”

Screenshot 2020-03-17 at 16.52.15

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