Stars steady themselves as battle in Paris commences | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 27, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:59 AM, September 27, 2020

Stars steady themselves as battle in Paris commences

Four months after it was originally scheduled to take place, Roland Garros will now host the final Grand Slam of the season from today.

The clay-court event features more of the top players than the US Open, but it remains notable for who isn't playing -- Roger Federer is still sidelined as he recovers from surgery on his right knee, and world No. 1 and reigning champion Ashleigh Barty, No. 3 and 2020 US Open champion Naomi Osaka and No. 7 and 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu are all missing the event due to concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic and lack of preparation time.

Still, this event is not lacking in star power. Rafael Nadal, a 12-time champion in Paris, makes his return after missing the U.S. swing, as does 2018 champion and top women's seed Simona Halep.

Novak Djokovic will look to redeem himself after a controversial early exit in New York, and Serena Williams will continue her quest for Grand Slam title number 24 after falling in the semifinals at the US Open. Players such as newly crowned major champion Dominic Thiem, US Open finalists Alexander Zverev and Victoria Azarenka, and surging American Jennifer Brady will look to bring their hot streaks to another continent. Supporting Nadal, Dominic Thiem also voiced his opinion regarding the slow pace of the Wilson ball as the Austrian, who recently won the US Open 2020, said that it will be challenging to play in the French Open 2020.

King of clay Nadal expressed his disappointment even before the tournament commenced. The Babolat balls have been replaced by the slower Wilson ones.

"I practiced for two days at home with the ball. Now, of course, here. As I said, I'm a little bit sad because the Babolat at Roland Garros, it was my favorite ball, it was perfect," Thiem said. "Obviously, it was the ball from my racquet company. Was fast, was taking the spin incredibly well.  But the Wilson ball is good as well. It's just a little bit slower. It gets a little bit bigger after a while. In general, the conditions are going to be slower. It can be rainy, it can be very cold. So we will see," he added.

Andy Murray said a delay in receiving his COVID-19 test result on his return to Britain made him wait to seek treatment for a pelvic issue, but he was fit ahead of the French Open.

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