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Tennis-French Open to get retractable roof
PARIS May 31 (Reuters) - Roland Garros will eventually get a showcourt with a roof, French Open general director Jean-Francois Vilotte said on Thursday.
A retractable roof to deal with capricious skies is a necessity but it will probably not be ready before the 2011 tournament, Vilotte said.
Rain washed away all but 14 matches on the opening two days of the claycourt grand slam, frustrating fans, players and broadcasters alike.
World number one Roger Federer reacted by saying he wanted organisers to follow the example of the Australian Open and Wimbledon by building a roof over a showcourt.
"The first few days of the tournament, with heavy showers, have demonstrated the interest of having both a larger stadium and a centre court with a retractable roof to limit scheduling problems," Vilotte said.
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has been working for years on an ambitious plan to extend the Roland Garros stadium, on the leafy western edge of the French capital.
The project, including the construction of a court with a retractable roof, was part of the Paris bid to stage the 2012 Olympics, of which Roland Garros would have been the tennis venue.
Paris's defeat by London in the Olympic race has slowed down the project, which also has to deal with environmental issues.
The stadium cannot be extended towards the nearby Bois de Boulogne, which is a protected area, but there is another option, on a spot close to the nearby Porte d'Auteuil crossroads.
"Contacts have already been made and the works could start in 2009," Vilotte said. "Ideally, the 2011 French Open would take place on the extended venue."
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