Roland Garros chief bemoans lack of progress on roof project

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  • Guy Forget.

    A frustrated Guy Forget, the French Open tournament director, urged the media to put pressure on officials in France to approve proposed expansion plans at Roland Garros that include a centre court roof.

    All matches were cancelled on Monday in Paris due to torrential rain wiping out an entire day of French Open play for the first time in 16 years.

    Unlike the three other grand slams, Roland Garros does not have a retractable roof on at least one court. The Australian Open has three, the US Open will have one on Arthur Ashe stadium this summer and one on Louis Armstrong stadium in 2018, while Wimbledon has one on Centre Court and will be constructing one for Court 1 by 2019.

    Initial plans to have a court constructed on Court Philippe Chatrier in Paris by 2018 were pushed back to 2020, with the extension projects currently held up by legal action from local residents and environmental activists.

    The need for a roof at Roland Garros has become glaringly evident this year with rain disrupting play on most days so far this tournament, while organisers were forced to cancel all matches yesterday as early as 13:40 due to non-stop showers.

    The forecast for Tuesday is not much better and more rain is expected throughout the week.

    Earlier in the week, Forget had said that works on the new roof already started two years ago and that he was “quite confident” it will be ready by 2020. But yesterday he reiterated his grievance over having to play catch-up with the other majors in terms of facilities.

    “I’m coming in front of you tonight just to express my frustration,” Forget told reporters on Monday.

    “Once again, I think having a roof is a necessity…

    “For those in our country who are still doubting on the necessity to expand, to modernize our stadium, I think right now the fact, you know, there is proof that it’s a necessity and we have to do it.

    “We have talked about that roof in Paris 15 years ago already. It’s a long process. Once again, I have joked about it the other day, saying things were slow, a bit slow in France. But, you know, today I think is the day to just say ‘stop’.”

    Forget is hoping that Paris’ bid for the 2024 Olympics would push officials to help speed up the process of the Roland Garros expansion project, but the leader of the Paris Olympic bid, Bernard Lapasset has said that “Roland Garros is already a fantastic venue for the Olympics. We can do more, but it’s not crucial.”

    Monday’s cancelled matches forced organisers to reshuffle Tuesday’s schedule, with the remaining men’s fourth round clashes set to take place along with the men’s quarter-finals from the bottom half of the draw.

    With four rounds left to be completed and six days left in the tournament’s original schedule, the possibility of the men having to play best-of-five matches on consecutive days is highly likely, especially with more rain expected today.

    Forget has not ruled out a Monday final – originally scheduled for Sunday.

    Asked if the players will be consulted when making the schedule in the coming days, Forget said: “It’s going to be our call, our decision. The tournament committee will meet, and they will make the fairest decision.”