PARIS (Reuters) - Two days after Victoria Azarenka questioned the presence of fans at the French Open, Czech Petra Kvitova said she was very glad she could play in front of spectators at Roland Garros.
The claycourt Grand Slam in Paris is allowing 1,000 fans each day despite rising COVID-19 infection rates in France while the recent U.S. Open Grand Slam in New York was played in front of empty stands.
“I think we are very glad and very pleased, honestly, that we are here and we can play here, even with few spectators,” Kvitova said on Monday after her opening win over Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin under the closed roof of Court Philippe Chatrier.
“I really miss them, so it’s really nice that they could come. I know it’s not full, but it’s still better than nothing, for sure.”
Azarenka, who reached the final in New York, said she was surprised with the decision of French Open organisers and a bit nervous about it.
The French Open, pushed back to start in late September from its normal May-June slot because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, initially planned for 11,000 fans per day.
That was cut to 5,000 and on Thursday it was reduced further to 1,000 by the French government.
German Alexander Zverev, the losing finalist to Dominic Thiem at Flushing Meadows, praised the organisers of both the French and the U.S. Opens.
“Here maybe is a little bit different,” Zverev said on Sunday. “Here the hotel, there are other guests staying. But still I think Roland Garros is doing everything they can to make it as well run as possible.
“Here the plus side is that we do have spectators, a little bit. Not obviously the full crowd. But we do still have spectators, which is quite nice.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Ed Osmond
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