French Open to defend its Grand Slam turf against Madrid

May 27th, 2009 - 6:23 am ICT by IANS  

Paris, May 27 (DPA) Madrid’s new-found millions in government money, three new roofed, clay-court stadiums and dreams of becoming a fifth Grand Slam will be knocked back by the rival French Open, tournament boss Gilbert Ysern warned Tuesday.
“Roland Garros is going to be a Grand Slam forever, and Madrid will never be a Grand Slam,” Ysern said as he unveiled plans for a $168-million stadium to be built off the cramped site of Roland


The planned stadium in the upmarket neighbourhood, 500 metres from the edge of the current grounds, is set to debut by 2014. Plans to have built in the Bois de Bolougne - a much nearer but protected site - were dashed when Paris lost the 2012 Olympic bid to London.

The city and the state are kicking in 20 million euros ($32 million) with the rest of the bill to be paid from the French federation.

Madrid’s Caja Magica (Magical Box) was the venue little more than a week ago for a blockbuster men’s and women’s event. With dreams of grandeur never far from the mind of Madrid supremo Ion Tiriac, Paris may be wise to be worried by the Romanian billionaire whose solution for any project is to throw money at it.

In the pipeline is a possible roof for the Roland Garros showcase Chatrier court, but local politics and zoning issues might make that a long-term dream. It could take the form of a temporary roof due to height regulations currently in place.

Ysern warned that night play is the wave of the future for the event.

“The plan would be for us to stage separate sessions for the new stadium at night. We are mindful of the way things are done at both the Australian Open and the US Open. We see this as something that would benefit this tournament.”

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