French Open Sets Marquee Matchups but Virus Still Looms

Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray are scheduled to play in Round 1, three years after they met in a French Open semifinal. But new government restrictions may hinder plans of fans to see it.

By Christopher Clarey

Andy Murray is set to play Stan Wawrinka in the first round of the 2020 French Open: a matchup that could never have taken place so early at a Grand Slam tournament when both were at their peaks for much of the last decade.

But Murray, the former No. 1 from Britain, has dropped to 111 in the rankings after two hip surgeries. Now 33 years old, he was in need of a wild card to enter this unusual French Open, which was postponed from its traditional May and June dates to September and October because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the draw went ahead as planned in Paris on Thursday, French Open organizers are still facing big questions about this year’s event. The initial plan (after the postponement) was to host as many as 20,000 spectators per day at Roland Garros Stadium. But a resurgence in coronavirus cases in France in recent weeks has forced the tournament leadership to significantly reduce the number of people on site.

On Wednesday, Olivier Véran, France’s health minister, announced that large planned events in many parts of France, including the Paris region, would be limited to no more than 1,000 people beginning Saturday.

The French Open, which was still planning on hosting 5,000 spectators per day, is set to begin on Sunday. Guy Forget, the French Open tournament director, said the tournament was awaiting clarity from French authorities on how to proceed.

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