|Chrysanthemums in Paris (photo by Diane Elayne Dees)|
I don't have the perspective that Cole Porter had; the only time I was ever in Paris was in the fall. And I loved it. And my favorite major is the French Open (and for those who are constantly complaining that the French Open exists--what is wrong with you?). But this year, my love for the French Open has been dampened somewhat by the Covid crisis.
First, the defending champion, Ash Barty--who is also world number 1--won't be there. Also, U.S. Open champion and world number 3 Naomi Osaka won't be there. Those absences are Covid-related. Barty hasn't had adequate training because of the pandemic, and she is also cautious about participating in an event during a pandemic (and for that--as they say in her part of the world--good on her).
The absence of these two top players is unfortunate, not to mention the absence of 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu, whose injury-ridden career continues to be injury-ridden. I want to see Andreescu play in every major, and I worry that she hasn't solved the problem of her fragile body. The Canadian star's potential is huge, and she's a joy to watch. Fortunately, she's remarkably resilient, but resilience will take you only so far if you can't get your body to cooperate.
Belinda Bencic, Wang Qiang and Sam Stosur will also be absent from the red courts of Roland Garros. Bencic and Wang are injured, and Stosur has opted to stay home with her three-month-old baby.
As unfortunate as it is to have a French Open without Barty, Osaka and Andreescu, it could be much more unfortunate if some of the comments made by players and their team members are true (and there is no reason to believe they wouldn't be). There are reports that hotel housekeepers do not wear masks, and that dining tables are not adequately cleaned and disinfected.
Also, one thousand fans per day will be permitted in the stands. It still isn't clear whether these spectators (who must wear masks, and who is going to monitor that?) will be allowed in more than one court, or whether they will be permitted to wander the grounds.
In the meantime, here are some first round matches that should be interesting:
Iga Swiatek vs. Marketa Vondrousova
Johanna Konta (9) vs. Coco Gauff
Svetlana Kuznetsova (28) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Anett Kontaveit (17) vs. Caroline Garcia
Laura Siegemund vs. Kristina Mladenovic