PARIS    -   Canada’s Milos Raonic and Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic have pulled out of the French Open, organisers said on Thursday as they made the draw for the final Grand Slam of the year.

Raonic, ranked 20th in the world, played the Italian Open last week and was eliminated in the second round. Meanwhile, women’s world number 10 Bencic was knocked out in straight sets in her first match in Rome after getting a bye into the second round. Bencic’s withdrawal means only six of the top 10 ranked women’s players will compete at Roland Garros, with defending champion Ash Barty, U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu skipping the tournament. Spain’s Fernando Verdasco was also a late withdrawal. The French Open, usually held in May-June but postponed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, begins on Sunday. 

Meanwhile, French Open tournament director Guy Forget is still waiting to know whether Roland Garros will be able to welcome 5,000 spectators a day despite new restrictions on gatherings in Paris amid the COVID-19 crisis. Health minister Olivier Veran on Wednesday said that a maximum of 1,000 would be allowed at major sports events starting on Monday but for now Forget is sticking to his plans for the Sept. 27-Oct. 11 Grand Slam tournament.

“We followed the minister’s speech but we have not received any notification from the government or the prefect, we stick to 5,000 spectators (per day). We’re waiting to know more in the coming hours,” Forget told a news conference on Thursday. “We are able to welcome 5,000 persons on an 8-acre surface (area), which is the equivalent of eight football fields.” The number of spectators allowed at the French Open was cut from 11,500 to 5,000 last week as the daily number of coronavirus cases continued to rise.