Jan de Witt, the coach of tennis player Nikoloz Basilashvili, says he was very surprised by the decision of the French Tennis Federation to delay the French Open Grand Slam tournament and would not be surprised if many players did not take part in the rescheduled event.
In an interview to the Tennisnet website, de Witt says, “It is like that of many others: very surprised. Nevertheless, I would have expected that there would be considerably more coordination. I called my player the evening before the decision – and he didn’t know anything either.
I think more communication should have taken place here. We cannot now proceed to the fact that everyone simply does what is best for them individually. We have a calendar that has grown over the years. Whirling around in this way is certainly not a good idea.
I can only express my amazement at how this decision was made. I can understand that the French are in a difficult situation. But the way they did it, we shouldn’t do it in our sport. I am very excited to see how the players react now, because ultimately they are the key players for an event.
Even the French Open can forget that – when the players say we stand by our agreements with the ATP and with the other tournaments. The problem is that you have to play through two slams within five weeks, which is physically difficult for the top players.
We have often seen how difficult it is to move the calendar for even a week. I would not be surprised if this leads to further protests. De Witt, who is also an avid footballer, talks about the two sports. “We have a big advantage and a big disadvantage compared to football.
If the situation improves again at some point, the soccer players have the advantage that they can simply get on the bus, i.e. the 20 people plus the staff that is really necessary. Then they drive to the next city and play there, probably without spectators.
The big disadvantage, however, is that there is a lot of physical contact in football. And so the chance of a broadcast is much higher than that of our tennis players. From a purely sporting point of view, tennis can be played much earlier than all team sports.
No physical contact is relatively easy to ensure in tennis. Tennis is of course also a perfect TV sport – the whole world sits at home and would like to watch something, but there is nothing. Those responsible will certainly be concerned.
Our big disadvantage is traveling. Our players come from all over the world. If travel cannot be carried out, the picture I have drawn will of course not work.” Finally, speaking about his player Basilashvili, De Witt says, “I am currently unable to work with my player.
He was with our fitness coach in the USA and then flew home. Niko is now in Georgia. But even if I had a tennis hall, it couldn’t even come here because the EU is closed. However, we assumed that the break will last longer than six weeks.
And our plan was and is that we do a second season preparation because in December after Niko’s elbow surgery we didn’t have time to go through with our plan 100 percent. We got him fit for competition, but nothing more than that.
Now the idea would be that he did rehabilitation and fitness for another four weeks, only to be completely fit and resilient afterwards, that if we can predict that we’ll be playing again, we concentrate fully on tennis.”