Amelie Mauresmo Fears 2020 Season Is Over, But Becker Disagrees - UBITENNIS
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Amelie Mauresmo Fears 2020 Season Is Over, But Becker Disagrees

Two former world No.1 disagree on what will happen to the sport this year, but what is the current stance of the governing bodies?

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Former world No.1 Amelie Mauresmo has said she is doubtful that there will be any more competitive tennis played this year due to the covid-19 pandemic.

 

Both the ATP and WTA tours are currently suspended until June 8th due to the deadly virus. According to the John Hopkins University there has been an estimated 800,000 cases of Coronavirus globally that has killed over 37,500 people. The disease is particularly dangerous to the elderly and those with pre-existing medical problems.

In light of the epidemic, it is likely that the Wimbledon Championships will be officially cancelled later this week following a series of emergency meetings. Making it the first time the grand slam has been scrapped in peace time. Wimbledon wasn’t played 10 times during the first and second World Wars. It is expected that a decision concerning a potential extension of the tour suspension will be made after the announcement.

Weighing in on the situation, two-time grand slam champion Mauresmo believes officials could be soon forced to cancel the entire season. Echoing similar comments that were previously made by Craig Tiley, who is the chief of Tennis Australia.

“I think that we are going to have to draw a line under the 2020 tennis season.” Said Mauresmo.
“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,’ she added.

Due to the unpredictability of the epidemic, it is unclear as to when life around the world will return to normal. However, not everybody is thinking the worst when it comes to tennis this year. German legend Boris Becker has called for an end to what he describes as ‘doom and gloom.’

“We should stop with all this doom and gloom — of course tennis will be played this year,” he tweeted in a reply to an article concerning Mauresmo comments.

Looking beyond Wimbledon, two grand slam tournaments are still hoping to take place this season. The US Open is scheduled to get underway on August 24th in New York. Although the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which hosts the tournament, has been turned into a 350-bed hospital to help New York cope with the Covid-19 outbreak. Meanwhile, the French Open is optimistically intending to play their event the week after the US Open concludes.

What are the governing bodies saying?

In regards to planning for the future of the tennis season, the women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has shed some light on their potential plans. In a statement sent to Reuters News Agency on Tuesday, they are pondering the possibility of extending the calendar beyond the first week of November. Allowing more tournaments to be played and therefore more players can earn money.

“The WTA is diligently working with our tournaments to maximize earning possibilities when the professional tennis circuit is able to resume and is considering an extension to the current 44-week season to enable more tournaments to take place,” the WTA statement reads.
“It is our sincere hope to return to the court as soon as possible – when the health and safety or our players, fans and staffs can be guaranteed, we will be back competing.”

It is likely the male equivalent, the ATP, is considering similar approaches. Although they have yet to publicly comment on their potential plans. ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi admitted on March 24th that it is unknown as to when the tour will be able to resume.

“This is bigger than any sport. The current situation raises many questions which we empathize with greatly, and we are working hard on evaluating all options.” He said.
“Our ability to address any supportive measures will be best guided once we know the duration of the crisis and when the Tour will resume, which remains unknown at this time.“

Finally, the International Tennis Federation is also pondering what their next move will be. The ITF is responsible for the Olympic tennis event, as well as both the Davis Cup and Fed Cup. Later this year Madrid, which has been severely hit by Covid-19 cases, is set to hold the 18-team Davis Cup Finals. Although ticket sales for the event has been halted with a release date yet to be confirmed.

“Due to the current global situation caused by the impact of Covid-19 it is yet to be determined when tickets for the 2020 Finals will go on sale.” Officials said in a statement obtained by the Guardian.

There are also questions concerning how future decisions will be made. The suspension of play saw a joint-statement from the ATP and WTA. A rare glimmer of unity in a sport split up by various governing bodies with their own interests. Although the head of the WTA, Steve Simon, insists that all the relevant bodies are working together on a regular basis.

“It’s very important right now for our sport to be working together. We are in contact on a daily basis with the ATP, as well as the ITF and grand slams. I think the sport is working very well together. There are obviously, when you go through these things, blips in the script.” Simon told The Tennis Channel.

Both the men’s and women’s rankings have been frozen until play resumes.

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Roger Federer Named Highest Earning Tennis Player Of Past 12 Months

He may have only played in one tournament but the Swiss maestro has made an extraordinary amount of money in recent months.

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Roger Federer has made more money than any other tennis player over the past year even though he has only played in one tournament, according to Forbes magazine.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam has been named the seventh highest paid athlete in the world by the publication which takes into account both on-court and off-court earnings. According to Forbes, Federer has made a total of $90M between May 2020 and May 2021. However, $89.7M of that is from endorsements. The Swiss Maestro missed most of last season on the Tour due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures. Since then, he has only played one tournament which was at the Qatar Open in March where he reached the semi-finals.

Forbes notes that Federer’s earnings come from endorsement deals with the likes of Rolex, Credit Suisse and Uniqlo. In 2018 he signed a 10-year deal with Uniqlo which is estimated to have a total value in the region of $300M.

It is possible that Federer’s fortunes could rise even more in the coming months amid reports that shoemaker ON is planning to launch an initial public offering as early as this autumn. Meaning that they will be offering shares to the public. Federer bought a stake in the company back in 2019. According to Bloomberg, the business could be valued in the region of $5 billion.

On the court, Federer is tuning up his game ahead of his return to competitive tennis next week at the Geneva Open. The 39-year-old has previously stated that his goal is to reach peak condition in time for the Wimbledon Championships. As to his title chances, rival Dominic Thiem recently told reporters in Rome that he shouldn’t be ruled out.

“I think so. Why not?” Thiem replied when asked if could go deep in a Grand Slam draw. “I think otherwise he wouldn’t be playing. He’s too good. He had I think too much success in the past also. I guess if he knows that he’s not playing for the big titles any more, he wouldn’t be playing. So I definitely expect him, especially in Wimbledon, that he can go very, very deep and also play for the title.”

Federer has won 103 ATP titles so far in his career which is the second highest tally in the Open Era after Jimmy Connors.

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French Open 2021: ‘Philanthropic’ Prize Money, Hour Of Freedom For Players And Murray’s Possible Wildcard

Details about the upcoming Grand Slam event have been revealed.

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The French Open has vowed to support those who have been the most severely affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic after publishing details of their plans.

 

A ‘Philanthropic’ prize money fund has been set out by the French Tennis Federation (FFT) which has been designed to help lower ranked players on the Tour participating. The money pot for this year’s event will be 34m euros which is a fall of roughly 4m euros compared to 2020. However, there will be no changes made to the winnings on offer during qualifying and the first two rounds of the singles tournaments.

In light of the current situation, we are proud to have once again opted for a philanthropic prize fund, which allows us to support the players who have been severely affected by the health crisis, financially-speaking,” tournament director Guy Forget said.

After delaying the start date of the tournament by a week earlier this year, the French Open will welcome fans to their event. Under an agreement with the government, 5388 spectators will be allowed to attend each day between 30th May to 8th June. Then from the 9th June they will welcome 5000 spectators with a ‘health passport’ to the Philippe Chatrier Court and the number allowed inside the stadium will increase to 13,146. However, only one out of the 10 night sessions will be opened to the public this year due to the 9pm curfew. The only exception will be on June 9th when the curfew is extended to 11pm.

As for the players, they will have to abide by a strict health and safety protocol which has been ‘inspired by the one adapted by the WTA and the ATP.’ Upon arrival at their hotels, they will be required to have a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their first match. They will only be granted permission to attend Roland Garros if that test is negative. From then on, they will be tested every four days.

However, players will be allowed one hour each day to spend time ‘outside their social distance bubble.’ The idea being that they can go out for a jog or enjoy some ‘fresh air.’

“Our goal is not to put them in a necklace and attach them to their hotel or to the Roland Garros stadium,” Forget stated.

Forget says players will have access to restaurants and fitness facilities in their hotels but will not be allowed to train at Roland Garros on the day they don’t have matches.

Murray a wildcard contender

Former world No.1 Andy Murray faces a wait to see if he is eligible for a wildcard this year but Forget says he does ‘deserve’ one given his credentials. The Brit has fallen down to 123rd in the world and as it currently stands will have to take part in the qualifying tournament if he wishes to play at the Grand Slam.

“I know that Andy entered the qualifying (rounds), I know he’s practising right now in Rome, I saw him play some games and sets with Novak Djokovic,” Forget said.
“Andy is a great player, he sure deserves one (a wildcard). It is a discussion we have to have with him and our team. We want to see him in good shape, I hope he feels well.
“He hasn’t played any matches yet, which is obviously what any player wants to do before committing to a big tournament, especially when you are going to play the best-of-five sets.”

Murray is yet to play a singles match on the clay this season but is taking part in the doubles tournament at the Italian Open this week after receiving a last-minute entry. He is paired up with Liam Broady.

“It’s the French Open’s decision what they want to do – I’d love the opportunity to play there but I also respect they have lots of good players, lots of players ranked between 120 and 160, and I haven’t been fit for the last three or four months,” Murray told BBC Sport.
“I appreciate for them they would want to see me play matches. I’ve done all the training and physically I’m fit but it is different playing matches and that’s where I obviously need to prove myself.”

The French Open qualifying tournament will start on May 24th followed by the main draw a week later. Officials are yet to reveal which players they will issue wildcards to.

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Tennis Canada Considering Possibility Of Moving National Bank Open To Another Country

Whilst there is still hope of staging the tournament on home soil, Tennis Canada has had discussions with their American counterparts.

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Tennis Canada has held ‘productive dialogue’ with the government regarding staging this year’s National Bank Open but admits they are looking at a variety of options.

 

The staging of the tournament, which usually takes place during August, is critical for the national body as it generates 90% of their total revenue each year used to invest back into the sport. Known to some as the Canadian Open the event has been in existence for more than 100 years. It alternates every year between Toronto and Montreal in hosting the men’s or women’s event.

Providing an update on the status of this year’s event, Tennis Canada says they are confident in hosting the event in some capacity. The 2020 edition was forced to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More recently in April the country also cancelled six Challenger tournaments.

“We remain confident there are still multiple options for our tournaments to be held in Montreal and Toronto this August, such as in broadcast-only or limited-fan models, both of which have already been planned for in detail,” Eugène Lapierre, Tournament Director of the Montreal National Bank Open, said in a statement.

Among the discussions currently taking place is the possibility of moving the event across the border to America. A similar concept to what happened last year with the Cincinnati Open moving to New York prior to the start of the US Open last year. Officials say this option would only take place if discussions with Canadian authorities are ‘exhausted.’ However, negotiations are already underway.

“Tennis Canada has also held preliminary conversations with the USTA to discuss what options might be available as an alternative in the United States. However, it is important to understand this would be considered only after we have exhausted our options in Canada,” Lapierre commented.

UbiTennis has learned that officials are considering moving the event to Cincinnati where the men’s and women’s tournament would be played in consecutive weeks. It would take place before the start of the Western and Southern Open. The state will lift their mask mandate and all remaining coronavirus health orders except those for nursing homes and assisted living facilities on June 2.

On May 11th Canada reported its lowest number of daily COVID-19 cases since March. More than 16.5 million people in the country have received at least one dose of a vaccine which works out to be roughly 40.5% of the population.

As it currently stands, the tournament is scheduled to take place from Aug. 7-15 with the women and men playing in Montreal and Toronto, respectively.

The National Bank Open is categorised as a Masters 1000 event for the men and as a WTA 1000 for the women. Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu are the reigning champions.

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