31 May 2016

French Open washed out

5:32 am on 31 May 2016

Persistent rain accompanied by a flood warning washed out an entire day's play at the French Open for the first time since 2000, throwing an unwelcome spotlight on delayed plans to build a retractable roof over Centre Court.

Rain washes out the day's play at the French Open.

Rain washes out the day's play at the French Open. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The abandonment also created a scheduling headache for organisers, 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.

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 today'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 modernise our stadium?', look at the facts. Today offers proof that this is absolutely necessary," Forget told reporters.

Instead of staging just four quarter-finals on tomorrow, organisers -- 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.

Now only two men's quarter-finals will take place tomorrow, defending champion Stan Wawrinka's showdown with Albert Ramos Vinolas and second seed Andy Murray's highly-anticipated duel with French favourite Richard Gasquet.

The delays will also affect competitors as those hoping to win the title will have to play matches on successive days if the tournament is to finish on Monday as scheduled.

More than 50 first-round matches were held over during the previous washout on May 30, 2000. That tournament finished on time.

Rain forced the postponement of the 2012 men's final between Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, which was held over two days.