August 8, 2020

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French keep door “Open” on closed-door tournament

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It’s far too soon to even put a percentage on the chances of the postponed French Open making its dates in late September.

But for the moment, French Federation president Bernard Giudicelli isn’t eliminating any options – including holding the Grand Slam event behind closed doors, without fans.

Speaking for the first time since mid-March, when the FFT took the proactive step of pushing the tournament back to September – without discussion or approval from the other tennis stakeholders – Giudicelli told le Journal du Dimanche that the decision was made “conscientiously and responsibly. I’d even say with due diligence.” 

Will Rafael Nadal get to defend his title this year? The jury’s still out. (Stephanie Myles/Opencourt.ca)

Major revenue source for French tennis

Giudicelli said the tournament, which generates 260 million euros in revenues, is the motor of French tennis and accounts for fully 80 per cent of the financing of the French federation’s myriad activities. So the first thought was to protect and prioritize that.

He didn’t rule out playing the tournament, which was pushed back another week with the main draw to begin Sept. 27, behind closed doors. He said television rights made up more than a third of the tournament revenues, which is not insignificant.

“The virus decides. And it’s neither optimistic nor pessimistic,” Giudicelli said.

He added that he and ATP president Andrea Gaudenzi, WTA head Steve Simon and ITF president David Haggerty have a call this coming week to see where they are.

Clubs to get most of financial help

Giudicelli also outlined how the 35 million Euros promised by the federation to support the French tennis ecosystem would be broken down.

He said the clubs will get 60 per cent (21 million euros) of the total. Another 17 per cent will go to the international tournaments and professional umpires. A little more than 10 per cent will go to independent teaching pros, and 10 per cent to players who rank among the top 100 in France, but don’t get help from the ATP and WTA relief funds. That also includes padel, beach and wheelchair tennis players.