The French Open Will Probably Finish. But This Tournament Has Not Been Normal.


When they failed to show up to watch one of his practices, Nadal sent a text jokingly asking if they had forsaken him. No, they replied. They were intent on doing everything in their power to protect the sanctity of his bubble. With Nadal chasing a 20th Grand Slam singles title, which would equal the career men’s mark held by Roger Federer, his loved ones would rather keep a safe distance than be sorry.

The weather throughout the tournament has been cold and rainy, conditions that settle into one’s bones like winter. It is the perfect incubator for influenza, but in the prevailing climate, one cough can send chills through a room.

When the United States Open finalist Alexander Zverev lost in the fourth round while playing with what he later described as a 100-degree fever, coronavirus was the invisible contagion in the room. Such was the frenzied response to his mention of his temperature, Zverev made public his next coronavirus test result, which was negative, as soon as he received it.

The acute focus on the health of the players — instead of the haleness of their games — frustrated the American Danielle Collins, who dismissed questions about her physical well-being as “frivolous” after she was seen blowing her nose repeatedly during changeovers in her fourth-round victory.

“I think one of the best things about sports is that people get to watch sports,” said Collins, whose tournament run ended in the quarterfinals.

She continued: “They get to engage in something that’s not Covid-related, not political. I’m not going to comment any further on anything going on in terms of the bubble or Covid protocols or what’s going on in Paris. I think that this event brings a lot of positivity to players’ lives, to people’s lives watching, and I would really just like to focus on the great tennis that’s being played here.”

The French can exasperate with their pas possible attitude toward the most mundane tasks. But the players have heaped praise upon the tournament organizers, led by the French Tennis Federation, for their fortitude in going forth with the year’s last major after Wimbledon was canceled. After a second wave of the virus caused the late curtailing of fans to a maximum of 1,000. After the city was placed on maximum alert.



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