Rain wipes out play at French Open; first washout since 2000
By Pritha Sarkar
PARIS (Reuters) - Persistent rain accompanied by a flood warning washed out an entire day's play at the French Open on Monday for the first time since 2000, throwing an unwelcome spotlight on delayed plans to build a retractable roof over Center Court.
The abandonment also created a scheduling headache for organizers, who called off play shortly before 2pm local time, pushing 10 fourth round singles matches, including those featuring world number ones Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, back to Tuesday.
While the three other grand slams -- Wimbledon, U.S. and Australian Opens -- all have at least one showcourt with a roof, Roland Garros fans will have to wait till 2020 or later before any covering appears.
French Open director Guy Forget said Monday's non-event -- coming on top of four rain-affected days earlier in the tournament -- proved that installing a roof as soon as possible was essential.
Roland Garros's redevelopment plans have been put on hold by environmental activists looking to protect nearby greenhouses.
"For those in our country who still have doubts and who ask themselves 'do we absolutely need to modernize our stadium?', look at the facts. Today offers proof that this is absolutely necessary," Forget told reporters.
Monday's flood warning from the French national weather was at orange -- the second highest alert level -- and covered parts of northern France including Paris and surrounding areas, and said heavy rains could continue until Tuesday afternoon.
Instead of staging just four quarter-finals on Tuesday, organizers -- who told soggy and disappointed fans to apply for refunds from the tournament's website -- will have to clear the backlog of last-16 matches first. Continued...