Already in May, tennis lovers could see worrying news about the coronavirus epidemic, as the Association of Professional Tennis Players (ATP) announced in April and reaffirmed in May that there would certainly be no professional tennis tournaments until August. At the time, ATP president Andrea Gaudenzi talked about the fact that, along with all the fans and players, they too are very sad about the developments, but this is how they see the most assured that the fight against the epidemic is going well. With the announcement, it also became clear that, among other things, the tournaments of Hamburg, Bastad, Newport, Los Cabos, Gstaad, Umag, Atlanta, and Kitzbuhel would not be held despite the originally planned schedule.
What we can expect from August?
But these are just highlights, there are many more tournaments involved, and all the women’s competitions have been canceled or postponed, so it can be said that there will be no tournaments from March 9 to July 31, and even the Summer Olympics have been postponed. The ATP world rankings have also been frozen for this period, with the last official rankings being released on March 16th. Now, in July, we can already know much more about the upcoming tournaments, and in August, the official website of the ATP already lists tournaments that are not suspended or canceled. The biggest event expected in August will be the U.S. Open starting in late August, which was recently approved by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“We are looking forward to this year’s US Open, which will be hosted by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) from August 31 to September 13. The tournament will be without spectators, but it can be watched on TV, so I will follow myself as well. This is what we should accept” said Andrew Cuomo when he announced the news, with ideas previously unveiled about US Open that players coming to training would not be allowed to use the locker rooms but would return to the hotel near the airport immediately after training. They couldn’t leave this site during the tournament, nor could they travel to Manhattan.
The tournaments will be held in a very different environment
If male tennis players so request, their matches may only last up to two winning sets. Games would favor Hawk-Eye technology, fewer line judges would work on the tracks, and only adult ball pickers would be employed. Players would be “gathered” in Paris, Vienna, Frankfurt, Buenos Aires, and Dubai and then – in the event of a negative virus test – chartered to New York, but this was no longer confirmed at the last press conference. At the site in Queens, organizers would then check the players’ temperature daily and test them afterwards. Among the best, the world first Novak Djokovic and second Rafael Nadal have already indicated that they are unlikely to start at the US Open due to extremely strict precautions.
For the time being, however, it is also uncertain whether enough tennis players will gather in New York due to different quarantine measures in different countries, and whether they will have 14 days of isolation in advance. The East Coast metropolis is one of the biggest focal points of the epidemic not only in the United States but around the world. The USTA health team promises to create safe conditions for athletes who have to live in a single 512-room hotel, but can also rent a house for 40,000 dollars outside of Manhattan – which may make it even more attractive for the Djokovic.
Novak Djokovic’s initiative was a failure
Outside of trainings and matches, players must always wear a face mask at the tennis center and in the hotel’s public areas and they can travel to New York with up to three guests, provided the two available rooms are shared. The locker rooms can eventually be used, but players need to be extra careful to keep the social distance there and during meals – what will help them is that they can use the entire complex, which served 850,000 fans last year. Tennis players and their staff will be tested for the coronavirus at the airport immediately upon arrival and then repeated at least weekly – anyone who tests positive will be segregated and will not be able to continue the tournament, but health professionals are confident this will not happen.
It is planned to hold the masters in Madrid and Rome which were adjourned in the spring after the US Open, and then the postponed Roland Garros would take place from 27 September. They also want to hold qualifiers at the Grand Slam in Paris, but no restrictions have yet been announced due to the epidemic – although according to French newspapers Guy Forget (the director of the organizing company) could not confirm that players from all over the world, such as South America, will be accepted. And if we continue browsing the official website of the ATP, we can see that in addition to the US Open and the aforementioned major tournaments, the tennis world is slowly coming back again, there are quite a few tournaments on the calendar for October, and we can see tournaments in China for September and October. Although, as in March, a tournament may be canceled at any time.
And then we were just talking about the fact that the tournaments can start, it wasn’t too much talk about when spectators would be able to return to the tracks for the first time to support their favorites. But there was an event in tennis not so long ago, as Novak Djokovic, the world’s first in May, announced a promotional tournament called the Adria Tour in the Balkans, which would have been held in four different cities. The first match in Belgrade on June 13 was followed by nearly 4,000 spectators as Djokovic played tennis against Viktor Troicki. At that time, it was not possible to guess what was coming, but unfortunately at the second stage of the tournament, in Croatia, the news began to come out that many players were infected by coronavirus and it later turned out that Djokovic himself was infected with the virus. With that, the Adria Tour was ended, so now it is certain that spectators will not return to the tracks in the coming months, hopefully, the US Open will be able to take place in the planned form and the tennis life will start again at some level.