The World Rugby Sevens Series, the top tour for the discipline that debuted at the Olympics in 2016, canceled this season’s remaining stops in September and October, prematurely ending the 2019-20 campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic.
New Zealand led the women’s and men’s standings a little more than halfway through each season and have been awarded the titles. The U.S. women finished fifth and the men seventh, one year after each team registered program-best second-place finishes.
“While it is very disappointing for players, fans, organizers and everyone involved to have to cancel these events due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the health and well-being of the rugby community and wider society remains the number one priority,” World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said in a press release. “These difficult decisions have been taken following detailed consultation with our union partners and in line with advice from the various government and public health agencies around the world, given the global nature of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.”
The last 2019-20 season stops were originally scheduled for April and May. Those events — Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, London and Paris — were postponed to September and October due to the virus before being canceled altogether in Tuesday’s announcement.
The season ended after five of eight women’s events and six of 10 men’s events.
The 2020-21 World Series schedule has not been announced. The last two women’s seasons began in October. The men’s season traditionally begins in late November/early December.
But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.
She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seleswon the 1996 Australian Open.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, who lost in the French Open first round in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, is improved on clay. He won the Italian Open, the last top-level clay event before the French Open, and is the No. 2 seed ahead of Djokovic.
No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.