Tennis Tours Hope to Salvage Their Seasons. It’s Not Getting Easier.


The path continues to get bumpier for the skilled tennis excursions as they try and salvage seasons disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

For now, each the ATP Tour and the WTA are set to renew play in August: the boys in Washington, D.C.; the ladies in Palermo, Italy.

But final week got here information that, for now, the European Union would deny entry to vacationers from sure international locations, together with the United States and Russia. It is unclear whether or not athletes will probably be exempt, and there are nonetheless issues about the potential of obligatory quarantines.

Then on Thursday, The Associated Press reported that China’s General Administration of Sport stated the nation wouldn’t host any worldwide sports activities occasions for the rest of 2020.

If that does certainly occur, it could be a big blow to the boys’s tour, which has tournaments scheduled in Beijing and in Shanghai. But it could be a a lot greater blow to the ladies’s tour, which has made China certainly one of its focal factors and has seven occasions provisionally scheduled there in October and November.

Those embrace the Wuhan Open, a doubtlessly symbolic occasion for the town that was hit first by the coronavirus, and above all of the WTA Finals, the year-end championships in Shenzhen, which offer the tour with the majority of its income and award $14 million in prize cash.

“There haven’t been any final decisions,” Steve Simon, the chief govt of the WTA Tour, stated of the Chinese authorities in an interview on Thursday.


Simon stated his understanding was that the report from the sports activities administration was a advice, not a ruling. He stated the WTA was nonetheless engaged in dialogue with the Chinese Tennis Association and authorities officers.

“It’s obviously something that ultimately the central government will utilize to make decisions,” Simon stated. “There’s still a conversation being held and an evaluation being done within the region.”

With its China swing in peril, Simon stated the tour was contemplating staging tournaments in different places late within the season. But he stated the possibilities of shifting the WTA Finals elsewhere on quick discover have been “remote.”

The WTA has no pandemic insurance coverage for the occasion, however Simon stated the tour would survive a cancellation. “The hole that we have will certainly be bigger and deeper,” he stated. “But we do have plans in place that will allow us to come out of it and be OK. It will be a challenge, but we will be able to continue.”

Resuming play stays the target for 2020. But it has change into more and more clear that if there’s a restart, the excursions will probably be even farther from enterprise as traditional than anticipated.

Many occasions, together with the United States Open, have lengthy deliberate to go forward with out spectators. But travel restrictions and up to date changes to the excursions’ rating programs might lead to unequal entry for gamers and considerably weaker fields for occasions just like the U.S. Open, which is scheduled for Aug. 31 to Sept. 13 in New York.

Chris Widmaier, a spokesman for the United States Tennis Association, stated U.S.T.A. officers have been working with the federal authorities to make clear the rules on quarantines and entry for athletes and their groups once they enter the nation.

He stated the united statesT.A. was additionally working with the excursions, the French Tennis Federation and different entities to make sure that gamers would be capable of travel freely to Europe after the U.S. Open.

There are main clay-court occasions in Madrid and Rome within the two weeks instantly after the U.S. Open. The French Open, the ultimate Grand Slam occasion of 2020, is scheduled from Sept. 27 to Oct. 11. The concern is that gamers would possibly merely select to remain in Europe moderately than travel to New York. Rafael Nadal, the reigning U.S. Open males’s singles champion, already has dedicated to Madrid however not but to the Open.

“We are trying to cast as broad a net as possible,” Widmaier stated. “We have also been in discussions with the United States Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee and talked to different ambassadors over in Europe. We are also working with a couple of different immigration specialists who have a much more detailed understanding of the rapidly changing travel requirements as it relates to travel to Europe.”

Roger Federer, the Swiss star who’s out for the season due to knee surgical procedure, stated this week that he had spoken with the united statesT.A. and been informed {that a} choice on holding the U.S. Open could be made by the top of July. But Widmaier stated there “was no specific date that we will make a determination on moving forward.”

“Our goal is to conduct the U.S. Open in its scheduled date; that has always been our goal and continues to be,” he stated.

If immigration issues will be resolved, logistical points would nonetheless stay for the Open and the excursions.

“Even if you release travel restrictions, you still have the availability of flights and getting the airlines back up to levels that allow you to travel,” Simon stated.

Concern about participant entry is likely one of the large causes the WTA has authorized a plan for an adjusted rating system just like the ATP’s. It will lengthen the normal 52-week rolling system to nearly two years, eradicate obligatory occasions and permit every participant to make use of the higher consequence from 2019 or 2020 at a given occasion.

That means if Serena Williams have been to lose within the first spherical of the 2020 U.S. Open, she would nonetheless be capable of rely her factors from reaching the 2019 last towards her present rating as certainly one of her high 16 singles outcomes.

“I think the players have really embraced it,” Simon stated. “And they’ve seen this as, How do you create fairness in an imperfect and unfair situation?”