French Open

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French Open changes dates due to coronavirus

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The French Open tennis Grand Slam has been postponed from a May 24 start to Sept. 20-Oct. 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Roland Garros will now start one week after the end of the U.S. Open, traditionally the season’s last Slam.

“Though nobody is able to predict what the situation will be on 18th May, the current confinement measures have made it impossible for us to continue with our preparations and, as a result, we are unable to hold the tournament on the dates originally planned,” according to a tournament press release.

Previously, the ATP and WTA Tours called off all tournaments into late April, including the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, considered the sport’s fifth-biggest annual tournament after the four majors.

The next scheduled Grand Slam is Wimbledon from June 29-July 12.

The French Open was scheduled to be the final tournament in the Olympic qualifying window. ATP and WTA rankings after the event were to determine the Olympic singles fields.

The new French Open dates coincide with the Laver Cup, a men’s team event that drew Roger FedererRafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic among its first three editions. This year’s Laver Cup is scheduled for Boston from Sept. 25-27.

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MORE: Top U.S. male tennis player to skip Tokyo Olympics

Roger Federer has surgery, out through French Open

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Roger Federer will be out three months, through the French Open, following surgery after right knee pain.

“My right knee has been bothering me for a little while,” was posted Thursday on his social media. “I hoped it would go away, but after an examination, and discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery in Switzerland yesterday.”

Federer, 38 and a record 20-time Grand Slam singles champion, will miss upcoming tournaments in Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami, plus the French Open that starts in late May.

“I can’t wait to be back playing again soon, see you on the grass!” was posted.

By that timeline, Federer is not in danger of missing Wimbledon in June and July and the Tokyo Olympics in July and August.

Federer had been relatively healthy the previous three years, since missing the Rio Olympics and 2016 U.S. Open due to a left knee injury. He had undergone arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in February 2016.

Last year, Federer played the French Open for the first time since 2015, a sign that he was feeling very fit.

He’s played one tournament in 2020, reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open. He was swept by Novak Djokovic and said after that he went into the match believing he had a three percent chance to win coming off a groin muscle injury.

At this year’s French Open, Rafael Nadal will tie Federer’s male record for Grand Slam singles titles if the Spaniard can win Roland Garros for a record-extending 13th time.

MORE: Top U.S. tennis player leaning toward skipping Olympics

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Rafael Nadal wins 12th French Open, closes in on Roger Federer’s Grand Slam record

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For Rafael Nadal, make it 12 French Open titles. And 18 Grand Slams overall, moving closer than ever to Roger Federer‘s total.

Nadal dug deep, like only he can do at Roland Garros, to extinguish the world’s second-best clay-courter, Dominic Thiem, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 in a rematch of last year’s final.

“I still hold the passion for what I am doing, that’s all,” Nadal told John McEnroe on NBC. “Then, of course, you need to be a little bit of lucky and be ready for these two weeks. Happened a lot of times in my career.”

Nadal, 93-2 in a 15-year French Open career, now has twice as many titles at this Slam than any other man (Björn Borg). He became the first player, man or woman, to win any Slam 12 times. Margaret Court won 11 Australian Championships, though some were played in an amateur era.

“Twelve times here,” Thiem said in the trophy presentation, followed with an incredulous cackle. “It’s unreal.”

Nadal moved within two Slams of Federer’s record tally for the first time in his career, after failing in all 14 previous majors with a chance to do it.

“It’s a motivation, but it’s not my obsession,” Nadal said of the chase. “If you ask me whether I would like it, of course. If that’s a goal in my career, no. It’s not what makes me get up every morning or go and train and play.”

Sunday’s turning point came at the beginning of the third set. Nadal, after dropping a set to Thiem for the first time in four French Open meetings, won the first 11 points in breaking the Austrian twice. Broken is a good term. Thiem won just two games the rest of the match.

“I dropped in my game for some reason,” Thiem said. “It’s not that bad against some other guys, but Rafa stepped on me.”

Thiem’s task was unprecedented, to beat Novak Djokovic and Nadal in back-to-back matches at a Slam (and on back-to-back days).

“I just come from heaven to hell, I guess,” he said. “You have to beat seven good players to win this tournament, and then towards the end, you have to beat one or two true legends.”

Still, he padded an argument the last two weeks as one of the greatest in history not to win a Slam. He is the only active man younger than 30 to reach a final and not win a major. The men to make four Grand Slam semifinals and two finals, like Thiem has done, and never lift a trophy: Todd Martin, Miloslav Mecir and Cedric Pioline.

“Sorry,” Nadal said to Thiem. “Keep going. You will win this for sure.”

Nadal opened his year by withdrawing from an Australian Open tune-up event with a thigh strain, raising concerns for a player who has missed Slams due to wrist and knee problems.

After making the Australian Open final, where he was routed by Djokovic, he had to withdraw again before a Federer clash in Indian Wells in March. This time, a knee injury. Then Nadal lost his first three clay-court events this spring: to Fabio Fognini in Monte Carlo, Thiem in Barcelona and Stefanos Tsitsipas in Madrid.

In his last event before Roland Garros, Nadal beat both Tsitsipas and Djokovic in Rome, consolidating his favorite status with his first title of 2019.

“I have been going through some very tough moments, the last 18 months,” he said. “When I started the clay-court season without the best preparation, have been some low moments for me. The thing that I am proud of, more than even the trophy, that I was able to, with the help of my family and team, keep going.”

Nadal heads to the season’s last two Slams with a chance to draw even with Federer. But it will be difficult, no more so than at Wimbledon in three weeks. Nadal last won the grass Slam in 2010 and has made it past the fourth round just once in the last seven years.

Djokovic should enter as the favorite, but he’s now three Slams behind Nadal. The Spaniard is doing his best to distance himself from and draw near to, arguably, his two biggest rivals for greatest in history.

There are no arguments, though, when it comes to spring time in Paris.

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