French Open ‘postponed one week’ in news Rafa Nadal will welcome but Roger Federer may not
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This year’s French Open is reportedly set to be delayed by a period of one week ahead of a temporary period of tougher COVID-19 restrictions that are expected to take effect in France on Saturday. The French Tennis Federation is said to be preparing to make a formal announcement on Thursday, addressing the situation that will see reigning champion Rafael Nadal forced to wait an extra seven days to kick off his title defence at Roland-Garros.
The decision will mean that proceedings will get underway on May 30, as opposed to the previous start date of May 27, and spark a return of the traditional two-week gap between the tournament in Paris and Wimbledon.
Roger Federer will be hoping to compete for silverware at the All-England Club in June, and could be set to feel the effects of the French Open’s postponement on his dreams of returning to the very top of his game.
There is a chance that the rescheduled tournament could interfere with the Swiss legend’s preparations for the grass court season, with Wimbledon his priority this year alongside the Olympic Games in Tokyo later on.
After his Qatar Open elimination last month, Federer announced that he would be returning to the training court to get himself in the best condition for the summer months.
He is yet to rule out the possibility of playing at Roland-Garros and mounting a fresh challenge to Nadal’s dominance on clay.
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However, if the delay is announced as reported by L’Equipe, it could hand the experienced Spaniard a significant advantage as he continues his recovery from injury by allowing an extra week for him to reach peak fitness and optimise physical capability.
It remains to be seen whether Federer will compete at the French Open this year or decide to snub the event in order to divert his full focus to the grass-court season and his quest for that elusive Olympic gold medal.
The Minister for Sports in France, Roxana Maracineanu, revealed earlier this week that she had contacted the French Tennis Federation to discuss how to mitigate the incoming government regulations.
“We are in discussion with them to see if we should change the date to coincide with a possible resumption of all sports and major events,” Maracineanu told France Info Radio.
“Today, although high-level sport has been preserved, we try to limit the risks of clusters, of spreading the virus within professional sports.”
Federer admitted after his defeat at the hands of Nikoloz Basilashvili in Qatar that his main aim is to shake off the lingering effects of his troublesome long-term knee injury and find his best form ahead of a renewed shot at achieving his ninth Wimbledon singles triumph.
However, he also suggested that he would look to practice on clay beforehand, keeping his options open with regards to this year’s tournament at Roland-Garros.
“I might be better earlier, that would be a bonus and that means I’m at 100 percent before Wimbledon,” said Federer.
“I’ll just see how much workload the body and the knee still take and what’s the best way to prepare all the way for basically the beginning of the season for me, which is the grass court season.
“What comes before the grass courts are the clay courts, so from that standpoint, I have no choice but to play on clay if I want to play matches.
“It could be good for me, the clay. It could be bad for me, the clay. So I will only know in practice, but I don’t think it’s going to be bad, to be honest.”
Meanwhile, Nadal has also been struggling with a back injury that hampered his Australian Open campaign earlier this year, and will be hoping that an extra seven days on the treatment table can help him to see off the challenge posed by Federer at the French Open.
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