Return of fans at French Open will be weird, says Rogers

New York (Reuters) - Shelby Rogers said it was “quite an experience” to play at Arthur Ashe Stadium without fans on Tuesday and the American feels it will be “weird” to have spectators in the stands at the French Open later this month.

Sep 8, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Shelby Rogers of the United States serves the ball against Naomi Osaka of Japan in the women's singles quarter-finals match on day nine of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. Open is taking place without fans and with strict protocols in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus but the Sept. 27-Oct. 11 French Open will allow up to 11,500 spectators per day.

“My first match on Ashe without fans, so that was quite an experience. Check that off the bucket list,” said Rogers after her 6-3 6-4 quarter-final defeat to Naomi Osaka. “I played there before with a packed stadium, and it was very, very different.”

The American, who was unseeded at Flushing Meadows, was excited about getting back to the red clay at Roland Garros, where she reached the quarter-finals in 2016.

“It will be nice to go back, train on clay, get ready for Paris where I’ve had a lot of good memories,” she added.

“On the flip side, I think it will be really weird to have fans. Maybe a little standoffish from players not used to being around people.

“We’ve been scolded, if you will, for doing the wrong things. It will be just another adjustment.”

The 27-year-old said there were plenty of positives she could take away from her campaign at her home Grand Slam.

“One is that I am able to adapt to these new conditions, the new normal,” she said. “I know I can handle it and make the most out of that, which is encouraging.

“I feel healthy. I’m happy with where my game is. The confidence is just building with each match.”

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Peter Rutherford