|Dates: 30 May-13 June Venue: Roland Garros, Paris|
|Coverage: Live textual content and radio commentaries of chosen matches throughout BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, the BBC Sport web site and app|
After switching to an unfamiliar October slot in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the French Open returns to the late Parisian spring this 12 months.
Little was acquainted in regards to the match final 12 months – aside from Rafael Nadal successful the lads’s singles for a record-extending thirteenth time.
The Spaniard is the favorite to defend his crown as soon as once more when the match begins on Sunday, though Serbia’s world primary Novak Djokovic will count on to supply the hardest problem at Roland Garros.
Nadal is aiming to win a report twenty first males’s main title and transfer away from Switzerland’s Roger Federer, who returns after lacking final 12 months’s match via damage.
Polish teenager Iga Swiatek is bidding to develop into the primary participant to efficiently defend a Grand Slam girls’s title since Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2016, however faces competitors from Ashleigh Barty – the world primary and 2019 Roland Garros champion – who returns to the Paris clay following a 13-month hiatus in the course of the pandemic.
Fans allowed in as France begins to ease restrictions
With France nonetheless beneath coronavirus restrictions, the match will once more be performed in entrance of a restricted variety of followers.
Last 12 months 1,000 followers have been allowed day by day and this 12 months’s match was pushed again every week to allow spectators to attend.
From 30 May to eight June, there shall be 5,388 spectators allowed on website every day, break up throughout six totally different zones.
The nation is lifting some restrictions on 9 June, which means Court Philippe Chatrier and Court Suzanne Lenglen will have the ability to host 5,000 individuals for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. The variety of followers on the entire website will rise to 13,146.
Only guests with a ‘well being passport’ – proof of a latest unfavorable check, a vaccine certificates or proof of antibodies – shall be allowed to enter.
In a significant break with custom, night time classes are being launched on Court Philippe Chatrier for the primary time, leaving Wimbledon as the one Grand Slam with out them.
But, with France’s curfew set to stay at 21:00 native time (20:00 BST) till 8 June, 9 of the ten scheduled night time classes shall be closed to spectators.
When the nation lifts restrictions on 9 June and pushes again the curfew to 23:00 native time (22:00 BST), as much as 5,000 followers will have the ability to watch the primary males’s quarter-final beneath the floodlights.
Will anybody cease the King of Clay?
The query we have now been asking in every of the previous 16 years continues to be the main subject in the lads’s singles.
Nadal has received a report 13 titles at Roland Garros and, despite the fact that he turns 35 in the course of the match, he stays the favorite to raise the Coupe des Mousquetaires as soon as once more.
Djokovic, 34, is the participant most certainly to threaten Nadal’s dominance, little question with an added incentive of avenging defeats by the Spaniard in October’s showpiece at Roland Garros and the Italian Open closing earlier this month.
However, Nadal is seeded third as a result of it’s based mostly on the world rankings, which means he might meet Djokovic in the semi-finals after they landed in the identical half of the draw.
Russian world quantity two Daniil Medvedev is seeded above Nadal, regardless of the 25-year-old by no means having received a main-draw match at Roland Garros and overtly discussing his dislike for the purple filth.
Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem completed runner-up to Nadal in 2018 and 2019, however suffered a “huge step back” in his preparations by dropping to British quantity two Cameron Norrie in Lyon final week.
The 27-year-old took two months away from the tour earlier this 12 months, saying he wanted a “small reset” after the bodily and emotional results of successful his maiden Grand Slam title on the US Open in September took their toll.
Another participant seeking to unlock the grip of the ‘Big Three’ on the game’s largest titles, and earn his first Grand Slam, is Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 22-year-old, who misplaced to Djokovic in an epic semi-final at Roland Garros in October, is the main males’s participant in 2021, having received extra matches than any of his ATP rivals and claimed clay-court titles in Barcelona and Lyon.
Barty & Osaka return to problem Swiatek
While Swiatek had lengthy been tipped for future success, her ascent to Grand Slam champion seven months in the past was as stunning because it was swift.
Now she is ranked ninth in the world and, after successful the distinguished Italian Open earlier this month, returns to Roland Garros as one of many favourites.
“When you win a Grand Slam everybody will always remember that you won a Grand Slam,” Swiatek, who turns 20 on Sunday, told BBC Sport this week.
“I don’t think of it like I have to defend the trophy and win the French Open because what I did is always going to be with me.”
Barty, 25, received her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros two years in the past and stays the highest seed after a profitable return to motion in 2021.
The Australian received her third WTA title of the 12 months by beating Aryna Sabalenka on the Stuttgart clay, however was denied one other when the Belarusian – now fourth in the world and in addition a number one contender in Paris – avenged that defeat a fortnight later in the Madrid closing.
Barty retired from the Italian Open quarter-final in opposition to Coco Gauff with an arm damage, however says she is “feeling 100%” after recuperating in the south of France.
The prime seed has been hitting at Roland Garros this week with Japanese second seed Naomi Osaka, who has created a stir by saying she will not take questions from the media at Roland Garros.
Osaka, 23, has received all 4 of her Grand Slam titles on onerous courts and isn’t snug on the clay, having received only one match on the floor since she final contested the French Open in May 2019.
Williams will as soon as once more be going for a record-equalling twenty fourth Grand Slam title, the quantity received by Australian Margaret Court.
So far it has proved elusive for the 39-year-old American since coming back from maternity go away three years in the past and the Roland Garros filth is the place she is least anticipated to win one other main.
What in regards to the British curiosity?
In what’s an more and more acquainted prevalence, the match shall be with out Britain’s former world primary Andy Murray.
Murray, 34, determined to overlook the clay-court Grand Slam to concentrate on overcoming a groin damage in time for the beginning of Wimbledon on 28 June.
After seeing his profession derailed by a critical hip damage, the three-time Grand Slam champion has now missed 10 of the previous 14 Grand Slams going again to Wimbledon in 2017.
At twentieth in the world, Johanna Konta is the highest-ranked British singles participant in Paris, though Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie come into the match in higher type. Heather Watson is the nation’s solely different consultant in the singles.
World quantity seven Joe Salisbury leads British hopes in the lads’s doubles, with the 29-year-old and his American associate Rajeev Ram aiming to enhance on their quarter-final finishes in 2019 and 2020.
Jamie Murray has additionally by no means been past the final eight and contours up once more with Brazil’s Bruno Soares, whereas Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski, Dom Inglot and Luke Bambridge, and Norrie and Jonny O’Mara are the opposite all-British partnerships.
In the lads’s wheelchair occasion, Alfie Hewett is the defending champion however is more likely to face robust competitors from fellow Briton Gordon Reid. The pair will even crew up as they goal to defend their doubles title.
Jordanne Whiley is about to compete in each the ladies’s wheelchair singles and doubles, whereas Andy Lapthorne competes in the quad occasions.