The French Open is set to join the grand-slam trend of becoming a day-night tournament by 2014 when it completes the construction of a £105 million covered centrepiece court.
Gilbert Ysern, the Roland Garros tournament director, made public his projections for an event that he said used to be the pioneer among grand-slam meetings but was now playing catch-up.
The promise of extended days, with the requisite scheduling dilemmas that afflict the US and especially the Australian Open, is not a popular move in France. However nothing, Ysern insisted, would ever be done to undermine the event’s prestige and the players would be the most important consideration.
The French Tennis Federation is stumping up €80 million towards the expense of the new court, which will feature a roof that has become the norm, the rest of the cost will be shared between city and central government. Any consideration of putting a roof on the present main hub, Court Philippe Chatrier, was a non-starter because local laws specify that nothing can be built above it.
Bit by bit the grand-slam tournaments constantly try and find ways of outdoing each other while not losing the magic that makes them stand out individually.
“Wimbledon are way ahead of us at the moment, competition between us raises standards and is good for the game.” Ysern said, reflecting on the completion of the All England Club’s Centre Court roof in time for this year’s Grand Slam.