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French Open Officials Say Tournament Needs Makeover

March 23rd, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

The 2010 French Open championship in tennis does not begin until the end of May, but it is already making headlines due to the French Tennis Federations’ insistence on making the tournament bigger and better, or moving on.

The goal of the Federation is to remain current with the other three Grand Slams in tennis, Wimbledon, the U.S Open and the Australian Open.  Director of the federation Gilbert Ysern, stated that a possible venue or plan of action to relocate the event could be implemented if nothing changes.

Ysern eluded to the fact that as many as four new places were looked at, and case studies were conducted, with one venue being situated adjacent from the Versailles castle

Currently, the French Open is held at Roland Garros, and Ysern said that new facilities must be erected.  It is estimated that a renovation would cost approximately $270 million.  When compared to the $810 million is would cost to move the site and construct an entirely new facility, it is a viable option.

“We live in a very competitive environment. The three other Grand Slam tournaments improved a lot during the past 20 years and we are behind them,” Ysern remarked, “both in terms of the services we can offer to the players and regarding the stadium facilities.”

Ysern disclosed that there are two main problem areas with the current facility.  First, the total space has become entirely too confined for the amount of spectators they receive.   Second, players have mentioned a lack of space that is closed off from the public to allow them to prepare for the tournament.

“I spoke with Roger Federer last year in Monte Carlo and he had a long list of complaints,” Ysern stated. “And it was not just because he was still looking for his first win at the French at the time. He was particularly upset by the problems that can occur during the first week.”

Last year, an undertaking to build a new clay court and retractable roof fell through, which Ysern said were due to politics.

“There is no consensus over this project and we decided we won’t continue,” he said. “But if we stay here in Roland Garros, we will need a roof for the center court. We can build a new indoor court inside the stadium or add a roof to the center court.”

No decision is said to be made until February of 2011, and Ysern said there are still many issues to consider.

“Whatever the general assembly decides, it will be a historic decision,” Ysern stated. “There is no room for mistake because we can’t go backwards. After all, relocation could mean the best future for our tournament.”

Online Sportsbooks have yet to post odds for the French Open, but will likely favor top-ranked player Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, as he makes his comeback from injury.

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