French Open Sets Marquee Matchups but Virus Still Looms – The New York Times

Forget is arguing that the tournament has both the space and the requisite health and safety protocols to still host crowds of up to 5,000 daily. “We are playing this tournament outdoors on the equivalent of 15 soccer fields,” Forget said. “Everybody is wearing a mask, even the ball persons and the chair umpires.”

The French Open, like the United States Open, is the primary source of funding for its domestic tennis federation, with French tennis relying on the profits at the local and professional levels. According to Agence France-Presse, approximately 80 percent of the French Tennis Federation’s annual budget of 325 million euros ($379 million) in 2019 came from the tournament.

There were 520,000 spectators in 2019, accounting for about 18 percent of the French Open’s total revenue. There will also be major losses in sponsor hospitality and merchandising, but as with the U.S. Open, which finished on Sept. 13 and was played without spectators, broadcast rights revenue would remain largely untouched. Those rights are worth about 80 million euros ($93.3 million) annually, according to A.F.P.

Fans or no fans, if the tournament goes ahead it will have first-round matchups to savor. Murray and Wawrinka are both three-time major champions, and they last played at the French Open in 2017 with Wawrinka defeating Murray, then ranked No. 1, in five grinding sets.

Murray’s hip condition was becoming a major issue at that stage, and he would eventually require two surgeries. Wawrinka was developing knee problems that forced him to undergo surgery later in 2017.

Both have yet to return to the fore. Murray is ranked 111 and required a wild card to play in the French Open. Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open champion, is still seeded 16th. He and Murray practiced together earlier this week on Philippe Chatrier Court, which has been rebuilt since they last played and now has a retractable roof.

“Been a long journey to get back on Court Philippe Chatrier,” Murray wrote on Instagram. “Three and a half years since I played Stan Wawrinka in a brutal five-set semifinal which turned out to be the end of my hip.”

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