FRENCH OPEN 2020: Nadal defends title; 2019 champ Barty out

A glance at the French Open, the third and final Grand Slam tennis tournament of 2020:


Red clay courts


Roland Garros in Paris


The 15-day tournament begins Sunday. The women’s singles final is Saturday, October 10; the men’s singles final is Sunday, October 11. The French Open normally starts in May but was postponed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Ash Barty of Australia


Rafael Nadal of Spain


Barty beat unseeded 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-3 in just 70 minutes in the women’s final for her first Grand Slam championship. It marked a quick-as-can-be rise to the top for Barty, who stepped away from tennis in 2014 to get a break from the week-in, week-out grind and played professional cricket instead for a bit. It also pushed Barty toward what eventually would be a stint at No. 1 in the rankings, a spot she still holds. But she sat out the U.S. Open and is missing a chance to try to defend her title in Paris, citing an inability to train properly amid the pandemic. Nadal broke open a tight men’s final against Dominic Thiem that was deadlocked at a set apiece by grabbing 16 of 17 points at the outset of the third set and 12 of the last 14 games for a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory. That gave Nadal his 12th championship at the French Open, breaking his own record. “He stepped on me,” Thiem said.


If Nadal can win the French Open yet again, he would raise his Grand Slam trophy total to 20, which would tie Roger Federer for the most by a man in tennis history. Federer will not be in Paris; he is sitting out the rest of the season after having two operations on his right knee. Another prominent player on the sideline is three-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, who won the U.S. Open this month.


The long-discussed and much-delayed project to revamp Roland Garros finally yields protection from the rain, because a retractable roof is ready atop Court Philippe Chatrier. Among other changes are artificial lights, which will be needed because the sun will set earlier in the autumn than during the tournament’s usual springtime dates. Also different: Court 1, known as “The Bullring” has been torn down.


The past four men’s Grand Slam finals went to a fifth set, including two that culminated in tiebreakers. That can’t happen at the French Open, now the only major tennis championship that continues to let singles matches continue until someone wins a decisive set — fifth sets for men; third sets for women — by two games.


93-2 — Rafael Nadal’s career record at the French Open


Total: 38.4 million euros (about $44.8 million), down from about 42.5 million euros (about $48 million) in 2019.

Men’s and women’s singles champions: 1.6 million euros each (about $1.9 million), down from 2.3 million euros each (about $2.6 million) in 2019.


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