By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Gone are the queues of spectators and gone is the solar because the French Open kicked off in underwhelming vogue on Sunday with persistent drizzle and a chill wind sweeping the almost-empty Roland Garros grounds.
Play began at 1100 native time (0900 GMT) on courtroom Philippe Chatrier underneath the brand new retractable roof with Belgian eleventh seed David Goffin taking part in Italian Jannik Sinner in entrance of some dozen spectators.
Matches have been suspended on the opposite two essential courts – Suzanne Lenglen and Simonne Mathieu – after quarter-hour, with former world primary Victoria Azarenka fuming in regards to the situations.
“It is ridiculous, it is too chilly,” she mentioned as her first-round match towards Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic was interrupted.
Azarenka walked on courtroom sporting a pink puffer jacket underneath gray skies with solely a few dozen spectators courageous sufficient to take a seat within the windswept stands.
She resumed taking part in after a 45-minute interruption, sporting tights and a wind jacket.
Azarenka was all smiles, nevertheless, after an emphatic 6-1 6-2 victory through which solely 9 spectators witnessed the ultimate level.
“I am glad I managed to complete early now I can watch the others play,” she mentioned in a coutside interviewer.
On the grounds, alleys have been nearly abandoned as little teams of followers milled round aimlessly.
Some stewards wore rain boots as they waited to test credentials in entrance of the courts’ gates.
The claycourt Grand Slam was moved from its ordinary Might-June spot to Sept. 27-Oct. 11 amid the COVID-19 disaster and only one,000 spectators are allowed on website every day after organisers had initially hoped to welcome 20,000 – about half the conventional capability.
“I do not know what I am doing right here, it is freezing, I am undecided I will see loads of play right this moment other than these on central courtroom,” mentioned Yannick, a 22-year-old pupil who was among the many few individuals to maintain his ticket following a draw after the capability was lower from 5,000 to 1,000 this week.
Rain is forecast at Roland Garros for the subsequent 10 days.
The match is being held amid a resurgence of COVID-19 instances in France with gamers and friends being submitted to a compulsory coronavirus check earlier than being despatched to 2 motels, which they’ll solely go away to play at Roland Garros or practise within the neighbouring Jean Bouin stadium.
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