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Will tennis season resume this year?

Last updated on: March 31, 2020 23:31 IST
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When you can travel globally is when tennis can come back, from a pro level. From a local level, we can start right away and that's what we would be focused on at the beginning, says Tennis Australia head Craig Tiley.

Novak Djokovic poses during the 2020 Australian Open Men's Trophy. The Australian Open, which started in January, has so far been the only Grand Slam that was not impacted in 2020 with the French Open organisers moving the claycourt major back to September from its May start.

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic poses during the 2020 Australian Open Men's Trophy. The Australian Open, which started in January, has so far been the only Grand Slam that was not impacted in 2020 with the French Open organisers moving the claycourt major back to September from its May start. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Former Wimbledon champion and World No 1, Amelie Mauresmo believes that the 2020 tennis season could be over, while Tennis Australia (TA) chief executive Craig Tiley has echoed that sentiment, saying that tennis could lose the remainder of the 2020 season to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The men's ATP Tour and the WTA, which runs the women's circuit, have suspended all tournaments until June 7 after countries started locking down borders to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The entire European clay-court season already wiped out by the coronavirus and Wimbledon expected to be officially cancelled on Wednesday.

The decision about holding the Wimbledon Championships will be taken during emergency meetings taking place among All England Club chiefs on Tuesday.

Mauresmo, the 2006 Wimbledon champion, tweeted on Tuesday: "I think that we are going to have to draw a line under the 2020 tennis season.

"The international circuit = male and female players of all nationalities including their coaching staff, spectators and people from all over the world who bring these events to life.

"No vaccine = no tennis."

But three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker replied to the French player on Twitter, urging a positive approach.

"We should stop with all this doom and gloom -- of course tennis will be played this year," he tweeted.

Earlier, two-time Grand Slam men's doubles champion Jamie Murray, said cancelling Wimbledon was the only realistic option.

"I think for them, it's difficult to move the tournament back because you're running into other tournaments that are for the moment still on the schedule," the 34-year-old Scotsman told the BBC.

"And also, just things like daylight to host the event. Each week that passes, you get less and less light to play the tournament."

The tennis season screeched to a halt in early March due to the respiratory illness, which has infected almost 800,000 in the world while killing over 38,500 since emerging in China late last year.

"My personal view is I think for tennis to come back this year is going to be tough," TA chief Tiley told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

"It relies on global travel, and I think that's probably the last thing that's going to come back. I think sports that have a domestic focus are in a strong position and sports that have a global focus are more challenged."

The Australian Open, which started in January, has so far been the only Grand Slam that was not impacted in 2020 with the French Open organisers moving the claycourt major back to September from its May start.

Wimbledon organisers will announce the cancellation of the grasscourt Grand Slam this week, according to German Tennis Federation vice-president Dirk Hordorff.

Tiley said TA was planning to run next year's Australian Open on schedule.

"We've got to plan for the worst and hope for the best," he said.

"Tomorrow morning we wake up and there is some miracle cure or some concoction of drugs that really helps, or they're on a path to a vaccine. (But) from all the literature you read, it doesn't seem likely in the immediate future.

"(When) you can travel globally is when tennis can come back, from a pro level. From a local level, we can start right away and that's what we would be focused on at the beginning."

The French Tennis Federation came under heavy criticism from tennis players around the world at the lack of communication as the new dates clashed with several other events already featuring on the calendar.

The new French Open dates mean the claycourt major will start at Roland Garros a week after the conclusion of the US Open on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows in New York.

It also clashes with the September 25-27 Laver Cup, a team event co-created by Roger Federer and sanctioned by the ATP.

TA is a stakeholder of the Laver Cup along with US Open organisers United States Tennis Association.

Tiley said "deep conversations" were underway to resolve the scheduling dispute.

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