Barty says FFT didn’t get in touch over Roland Garros date change

andrewhendrie in News 20 Mar 2020
Ashleigh Barty with the French Open trophy (Photo by Nasser Berzane/ABACAPRESS.COM)

Roland Garros tournament director Guy Forget reportedly consulted with Rafael Nadal over the tournament changing dates – but defending women’s champion Ashleigh Barty didn’t receive a call.

The French Open caused a stir earlier this week when tournament officials announced the tournament would be moving to a start date of September 20 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Numerous tennis players and identities expressed their dismay on social media, with the tournament now set to begin just one week after the U.S. Open, while it also clashes with popular exhibition tournament the Laver Cup.

Forget, the French Open tournament director, was in touch with 12-time champion Nadal in regards to the date change, according to FFT president Bernard Giudicelli.

“We had Rafa on the phone (and) we tried to reach other players,” Giudicelli was quoted as saying by RMC Sport.

“It was Guy who got Rafa. His feeling was that it was a good decision that keeps the clay season on the calendar.”

However, Barty – who won her maiden major title in sensational fashion at Roland Garros last year – revealed she wasn’t kept in the loop when it came to the date discussions.

Speaking to AAP, Barty – the current World No. 1 – said she would defend her French Open title whenever the tournament was played.

“I haven’t spoken to Guy Forget but I’m happy to play the tournament whenever it is scheduled,” Barty said.

“I hope I get the chance to defend my title in September – any opportunity to compete is something I’ll grab with both hands.

“There are more important things going on in the world right now, though, and I will do whatever helps keep us all safe and healthy.”

Several players took to social media to vent their frustrations about the lack of transparency shown by Roland Garros officials, saying they were only finding out about the news online.

The U.S. Open and Laver Cup also took aim at Roland Garros in statements released earlier in the week, while the ATP and WTA also wrote a joint statement that seemingly took a swipe at the FFT.

“Now is not a time to act unilaterally, but in unison,” the statement said.

“All decisions related to the impact of the coronavirus require appropriate consultation and review with the stakeholders in the game, a view that is shared by ATP, WTA, ITF, AELTC, Tennis Australia, and USTA.”

All forms of tennis has been suspended until at least June 7, cancelling out the entire clay swing, with players’ rankings to be frozen during that period.