Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek
Spanish veteran Rafael Nadal and Polish teenager Iga Swiatek received the singles titles final 12 months
Dates: 30 Might-13 June Venue: Roland Garros, Paris
Protection: Reside textual content and radio commentaries of chosen matches throughout BBC Radio 5 Reside Sports activities Further, the BBC Sport web site and app

After switching to an unfamiliar October slot in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the French Open returns to the late Parisian spring this 12 months.

Little was acquainted in regards to the match final 12 months – apart from Rafael Nadal profitable the lads’s singles for a record-extending thirteenth time.

The Spaniard is the favorite to defend his crown as soon as once more when the match begins on Sunday, though Serbia’s world primary Novak Djokovic will anticipate to supply the hardest problem at Roland Garros.

Nadal is aiming to win a document twenty first males’s main title and transfer away from Switzerland’s Roger Federer, who returns after lacking final 12 months’s match by harm.

Polish teenager Iga Swiatek is bidding to turn into the primary participant to efficiently defend a Grand Slam ladies’s title since Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2016, however faces competitors from Ashleigh Barty – the world primary and 2019 Roland Garros champion – who returns to the Paris clay following a 13-month hiatus in the course of the pandemic.

Followers allowed in as France begins to ease restrictions

With France nonetheless underneath coronavirus restrictions, the match will once more be performed in entrance of a restricted variety of followers.

Final 12 months 1,000 followers have been allowed day by day and this 12 months’s match was pushed again per week to allow spectators to attend.

From 30 Might to eight June, there will probably be 5,388 spectators allowed on website every day, cut up throughout six totally different zones.

The nation is lifting some restrictions on 9 June, which means Court docket Philippe Chatrier and Court docket Suzanne Lenglen will be capable of host 5,000 individuals for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. The variety of followers on the entire website will rise to 13,146.

Solely guests with a ‘well being passport’ – proof of a latest destructive take a look at, a vaccine certificates or proof of antibodies – will probably be allowed to enter.

Rafael Nadal plays under the Court Philippe Chatrier floodlights at the 2020 French Open
The floodlights on the revamped Court docket Philippe Chatrier have been on show in final 12 months’s match, though this 12 months’s occasion would be the first to have a separate evening session

In a significant break with custom, evening periods are being launched on Court docket Philippe Chatrier for the primary time, leaving Wimbledon as the one Grand Slam with out them.

However, with France’s curfew set to stay at 21:00 native time (20:00 BST) till 8 June, 9 of the ten scheduled evening periods will probably be closed to spectators.

When the nation lifts restrictions on 9 June and pushes again the curfew to 23:00 native time (22:00 BST), as much as 5,000 followers will be capable of watch the primary males’s quarter-final underneath the floodlights.

Will anybody cease the King of Clay?

The query we’ve got been asking in every of the previous 16 years continues to be the main matter within the males’s singles.

Nadal has received a document 13 titles at Roland Garros and, though he turns 35 in the course of the match, he stays the favorite to elevate the Coupe des Mousquetaires as soon as once more.

Djokovic, 34, is the participant probably to threaten Nadal’s dominance, little doubt with an added incentive of avenging defeats by the Spaniard in October’s showpiece at Roland Garros and the Italian Open remaining earlier this month.

Nonetheless, Nadal is seeded third as a result of it’s primarily based on the world rankings, which means he might meet Djokovic within the semi-finals after they landed in the identical half of the draw.

Russian world quantity two Daniil Medvedev is seeded above Nadal, regardless of the 25-year-old by no means having received a main-draw match at Roland Garros and brazenly discussing his dislike for the purple dust.

Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem completed runner-up to Nadal in 2018 and 2019, however suffered a “big step again” in his preparations by dropping to British quantity two Cameron Norrie in Lyon final week.

The 27-year-old took two months away from the tour earlier this 12 months, saying he wanted a “small reset” after the bodily and emotional results of profitable his maiden Grand Slam title on the US Open in September took their toll.

One other participant trying to unlock the grip of the ‘Huge Three’ on the game’s greatest titles, and earn his first Grand Slam, is Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The 22-year-old, who misplaced to Djokovic in an epic semi-final at Roland Garros in October, is the main males’s participant in 2021, having received extra matches than any of his ATP rivals and claimed clay-court titles in Barcelona and Lyon.

The top eight seeds in the men's singles are: Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Roger Federer.

Barty & Osaka return to problem Swiatek

Whereas Swiatek had lengthy been tipped for future success, her ascent to Grand Slam champion seven months in the past was as stunning because it was swift.

Now she is ranked ninth on the earth and, after profitable the distinguished Italian Open earlier this month, returns to Roland Garros as one of many favourites.

“If you win a Grand Slam all people will all the time do not forget that you received a Grand Slam,” Swiatek, who turns 20 on Sunday, told BBC Sport this week.

“I do not consider it like I’ve to defend the trophy and win the French Open as a result of what I did is all the time going to be with me.”

Barty, 25, received her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros two years in the past and stays the highest seed after a profitable return to motion in 2021.

The Australian received her third WTA title of the 12 months by beating Aryna Sabalenka on the Stuttgart clay, however was denied one other when the Belarusian – now fourth on the earth and likewise a number one contender in Paris – avenged that defeat a fortnight later within the Madrid remaining.

Barty retired from the Italian Open quarter-final towards Coco Gauff with an arm harm, however says she is “feeling 100%” after recuperating within the south of France.

The highest seed has been hitting at Roland Garros this week with Japanese second seed Naomi Osaka, who has created a stir by saying she will not take questions from the media at Roland Garros.

Osaka, 23, has received all 4 of her Grand Slam titles on arduous courts and isn’t snug on the clay, having received only one match on the floor since she final contested the French Open in Might 2019.

Williams will as soon as once more be going for a record-equalling twenty fourth Grand Slam title, the quantity received by Australian Margaret Court docket.

To date it has proved elusive for the 39-year-old American since getting back from maternity depart three years in the past and the Roland Garros dust is the place she is least anticipated to win one other main.

The top eight seeds in the women's singles are: Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka, Aryna Sabalenka, Sofia Kenin, Elina Svitolina, Bianca Andreescu, Serena Williams and Iga Swiatek

What in regards to the British curiosity?

In what’s an more and more acquainted prevalence, the match will probably be with out Britain’s former world primary Andy Murray.

Murray, 34, determined to overlook the clay-court Grand Slam to deal with overcoming a groin harm in time for the beginning of Wimbledon on 28 June.

After seeing his profession derailed by a critical hip harm, the three-time Grand Slam champion has now missed 10 of the previous 14 Grand Slams going again to Wimbledon in 2017.

At twentieth on the earth, Johanna Konta is the highest-ranked British singles participant in Paris, though Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie come into the match in higher kind. Heather Watson is the nation’s solely different consultant within the singles.

World quantity seven Joe Salisbury leads British hopes within the males’s doubles, with the 29-year-old and his American associate Rajeev Ram aiming to enhance on their quarter-final finishes in 2019 and 2020.

Jamie Murray has additionally by no means been past the final eight and features up once more with Brazil’s Bruno Soares, whereas Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski, Dom Inglot and Luke Bambridge, and Norrie and Jonny O’Mara are the opposite all-British partnerships.

Within the males’s wheelchair occasion, Alfie Hewett is the defending champion however is prone to face robust competitors from fellow Briton Gordon Reid. The pair will even crew up as they goal to defend their doubles title.

Jordanne Whiley is about to compete in each the ladies’s wheelchair singles and doubles, whereas Andy Lapthorne competes within the quad occasions.

Key dates in the French Open singles