The Covid-19 pandemic is turning the lives of millions of people across the world. For tennis players, the 2020 season is becoming more complicated than a Rubik’s cube. ATP and WTA officially stopped all competitions until 2020 May 7th, cancelling or postponing many tournaments.
The French Tennis Federation, in full autonomy and receiving some criticisms, postponed Roland Garros to Autumn, precisely from 20 September to 4 October 2020. The tournament will therefore only be played two weeks after the end of the US Open.
Considering that it will be an outdoor tournament on clay-courts, the differences will be a lot compared to the original period, which is always between late May and early June. Will Rafael Nadal still be the favorite for the final victory? Or is his Parisian kingdom in danger this season? If all goes well and the pandemic will overcome its peaks before summer, the first Slam tournament will be Wimbledon, with all players fresh and rested.
The problem will come at the end of Summer, when, after the two weeks on the hard-courts of Flushing Meadows, players will have to return to playing a tournament at the best of the 5 sets, quickly changing the surface. So there won’t be the usual two months to adapt to the surface.
Furthermore, the physical conditions will be different: much will depend on what will happen during the New York Slam. And much will depend on Rafa’s decisions. Nadal can win in both New York and Paris, but, being the two Slams so close, all tennis players will have to make a choice: either prepare for the US Open or for the Roland Garros.
Rafa will look for the all-in, but he will certainly give precedence to the Parisian Slam. The clay-courts will be another unknown factor to consider. At the end of September the Parisian weather could be very variable: either similar conditions of the end of May, or cold and humidity, which will surely play a fundamental role, both for the heaviness of the clay and of the balls.
Nadal, thanks to his great experience and intelligence in scheduling his season, may again be the favorite of the Roland Garros 2020, and may even decide to skip the US Open to prepare for Paris. Obviously all these hypotheses and considerations must be validated by the trend of the pandemic curve: if by the end of May it has subsided or stabilized we could again see the players on the courts.
What about Roger Federer? Will the delay of the second Grand Slam of the season be able to change the idea of the Swiss to skip the French tournament?