Scrapping 2020 Season ‘The Right Thing To Do,’ Says Two-Time Grand Slam Finalist - UBITENNIS
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Scrapping 2020 Season ‘The Right Thing To Do,’ Says Two-Time Grand Slam Finalist

Former world No.4 Todd Martin sets out his case on why there shouldn’t be any more professional tennis events this year.

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The CEO Of The International Tennis Hall of Fame has called for this year’s tennis season to be officially cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Todd Martin, who peaked at a ranking high of fourth in the world during his career, believes such a decision would pave the way for a ‘clearer path’ in regards to the immediate future of the sport. All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Tour’s have a resume date of July 13th, but the suspension is expected to be extended in the coming weeks. As a result of the crises, Wimbledon have already been cancelled for the first time since 1945.

Speaking with Tennis365, Martin argues that scrapping the remainder of this year’s calendar would be the easiest option for both organizers and fans. However, both the ATP and WTA are not giving up on their hopes of restarting the sport. Furthermore, lower ranked players will be eager to return to action earlier than later in order to start earning again. Unlike team sports, tennis players have no contract as such and therefore don’t earn money during breaks. Unless they have alternative sources of income such as endorsements.

“Clarity comes from making a decisive decision that allows you to stand still. Once you make that decisive decision, you start to see a clearer path,” Martin told Tennis365.
“The easiest decisive decision we can make right now is to abandon 2020 and, to a point that is probably the right thing to do, but only because it gives the clarity to make all the important decisions and lay the groundwork for the future of the sport.
“Our sport has taken on tremendous amounts of water and we have to think about what does that means for the future.”

Martin has also become the latest tennis figure to cast doubt over the chances of the US Open taking place. A tournament which he reached the final at back in 1999. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has said they are optimistic about holding the event with a final decision set to be made during June. The tournament takes place in New York, which is the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in America. Part of the Billie Jean Tennis Center has been transformed into a temporary hospital to treat those affected.

“I don’t imagine it is possible,” he commented on the chances of the US Open taking place as planned.
“I served on the USTA board for six years and while there is always a way to consider putting on a different event, when you are talking about a massive core of your revenue stream going away (without spectators) it’s going to be tough.
“Also, you don’t know what the impact would be on sponsorship, as they expect a lot of hospitality for their clients when they sponsor the event, so there is a lot of revenue there that will be lost.”

In a recent interview with Inside Tennis, USTA chief Michael Dowse has confirmed that numerous options are on the table. Including changing the date and even relocating the event from Flushing Meadows. Should the second option take place, the most likely venue will be Indian Wells in California. The home of the BNP Paribas Open.

“Nothing is off the table,” Dowse told the magazine on April 30th.
“There’s too much speculation – we’ll know so much more in June. In reality it’s certainly possible to play without fans. No formal decision has been made about Indian Wells. Whatever we do, we’ll have to do it in alignment with the owners of Indian Wells, and the ATP and the WTA. These days the most energy is on social distancing.”

Such a move would be highly welcomed by officials in the region. USA Today estimates the cancellation of this year’s BNP Paribas Open resulted in a loss of $400 million for the Coachella Valley economy in terms of tourism.

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Kevin Anderson talks about the ATP-WTA merger, the vaccine and challenges of tennis in 2021

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Former Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson, a long-time member of the ATP Council, gave his opinions on some of the main topics in tennis in an interview to Tennis Majors. 

 

The South African star talked about the challenges faced by players amid the pandemic, the possible merger between the ATP and the WTA, the vaccine and the Professional Tennis Association (PTPA). 

Anderson admitted that the biggest challenge for players in the coming year is to continue playing on the ATP Tour despite the challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic. 

“Navigating the virus and trying to put as much tennis on the calendar as possible is going to be the biggest challenge. We only really a calendar through Miami. It’s a waiting game. Some tournaments had to cancel, most notably Indian Wells. They are potentially trying to postpone it. I mean, who knows when or how that’s even possible. That’s going to be the biggest challenge. Then secondary, we have obviously got a lot of other things we are working on. There is new ATP management and they are trying to put in different plans and working towards their version of improvements and changes they want to make to the sport, so I guess that’s going on in the background as well”. 

Anderson was asked if it is stressful to face protocols and quarantines, when he travels around the world. 

“I think it affects some people more than others. The biggest one, from my standpoint, was that it was really difficult travelling with my family. Obviously, there is a big difference not playing with fans. It really was nice, the few tournaments that allowed some fans. I think from what I am understanding, Australia will have a good number of fans, so I think everybody will be looking forward to that. If you test positive, you are going to be quarantined, you are not going to be able to play, and no matter how safe you are yourself, there is always a little bit of that uknown element. That part is a little bit tough to deal with, especially, we are not in a contained bubble the whole time we are travelling. A lot of tournaments that we are playing, it’s not. They are doing a good job with a lot of safety protocols, but it’s by no means a complete and protected bubble, which is obviously very hard to pull off logistically”. 

The biggest issue for the players has been the cut in prize money compared to the past tournaments. 

“From the Council standpoint It has worked pretty well with the tournaments. Obviously we understand that, whether you agree with them or not, the bottom line is the big revenue producer of these tournaments is fans and not just directly fans but the amount of sponsorship on site. I think everything just comes down. I think it’s a very reasonable position to work with the tournaments. I think it’s a good negotiation for the players to understand that and accep these prize money reductions. I think it’s a good system. It’s based on what percentage of fans are in the stadium. That’s a sliding scale. It’s something that we have discussed a lot about in the Council. It’s obviously not an ideal situation for everybody but I think it’s sort of necessary for these tournaments to take place”. 

Vaccines against Covid-19 are beginning to be rolled out. Anderson discussed the issue that players will have to receive the vaccine in order to play on the Tour. 

“I think rightfully so, vaccines are being administered to the first responders, the people who are at risk. Hopefully, when it becomes more widespread, we will probably have more discussions about it. Initially, there was talk about if you have a vaccine, you don’t have to be subject to the testing protocols that the ATP has in place. There was something discussed that even if you get the vaccine, you could potentially spread the virus. There are still questions to be decided and we still need to get more information before we start deciding what potentially is mandated within the ATP Tour”. 

There has been talks of a possible merger between the ATP and the WTA in the past two years. 

“There has been no real discussion on a merger. I don’t really have too much to discuss on that because it’s not been something that’s been on the table. I mean, other than just a sort of vague notion. There would be a lot of details that everyone would have to work out. Obviously the sport is strongest when everybody works together, but I can’t really comment on what it looks like from a logistical and a business standpoint. I know that part of ATP management’s new plani s to work together with these separate entities and from an ATP perspective, the WTA is a huge partner, so that’s really needs to be looke at carefully. I don’t know if the merger talk was something that some players wanted to chat about but maybe the pandemic sidetracked people. As for now that’s not a conversation we have had internally with ATP o any conversations with the WTA either. As far as the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), I don’t see how we can possibly work together. I don’t know what the PTPA’s visioni s and how they see them progressing forward”. 

Anderson has been plagued by a series of injury problems and was forced to withdraw from the Paris Bercy tournament with an injury. 

“There is the challenge of keeping the body as healthy as possible, but I feel like I have got a good team in place. We work as hard as we can, but I really looking forward to building some momentum. It’s been a couple of years for me in terms of injuries. So hopefully, I will be able to overcome that and give myself the best possible chance. The injury in Paris Bercy was very short, fortunately that just needed a few days. I am looking forward to heading down to Australia”. 

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Roger Federer trains with Dominic Stricker in Dubai

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Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has been training hard with his compatriot Dominic Stricker in Dubai, where he traditionally spends his off-season. Federer published a photo on his social media with Dominic Stricker, who won the Roland Garros Junior title and current world junior number three. 

 

Stricker made a comment on his Instagram account: 

“What three weeks. I really enjoyed every single minute in Dubai. What a great start to the new season. I am looking forward to playing some tournaments. Thanks to Roger Federer and his team for these great practices”, said Dominic Stricker. 

Federer will skip the Australian Open, but he may make his come-back in Rotterdam or Dubai. His main goals for the 2021 season are Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympi Games in Tokyo. He has pulled out of the Australian Open because his wife Mirka did not approve of the quarantine conditions set out for his family. 

“Roger had two options. He could come with the whole family and quarantine. The problem is that Mirka and his children could not leave the room. They would have to stay 14 days in the room”, said Australian Open director of player relations Andre Sa. 

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The Rotterdam ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament will be held behind closed doors

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Organisers announced that the 48th edition of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament will be held behind closed doors from 1 to 7 March 2021 because of the current epidemiological situation and the measures to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 

The tickets already sold for the 2021 edition will be moved to the 49th edition in 2022. It does not mean that there will not be fans in the arena. In the event that this turns out to be possible, fans, who have already bought the tickets, will be contacted. Because the capacity is expected to be limited with the latest information regarding the situation in the Netherlands, this will be announced at a later stage. It has alreaady decided to postpone the tickets from 2021 to 2022. 

“As much as we regret it, we are making the decision now to move all tickets for the coming edition to 2022. That way, every fan has the certainty that he or she can attend the tournament next year at the seat and the day he or she wants. Should it turn out last minute that we can offer tickets for 2021, we will give the people who have already tickets now the opportunity to be there”, said Rotterdam tournament Director Richard Kraijcek. 

The star-studded Rotterdam already features 2020 ATP Finals champion Danil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev (winner in Doha, Adelaide, Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Vienna in 2020), three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, former top 10 player and 2017 ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin, 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori and 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner. 

Medvedev will play in the Dutch city for the fourth time in his career. He made his debut at this tournament in 2018 as a qualifier, when he was ranked world number 57. He returned to Rotterdam in 2016 as world number 16. He reached the semifinal before losing to Gael Monfils, who went on to win the tournament. 

Wawrinka will make his fifth appearance in Rotterdam. The Swiss player has won 16 ATP titles, including Rotterdam in 2015, when he beat Tomas Berdych in the final. He won the Australian Open in 2014, Roland Garros in 2015 and the US Open in 2016 and reached a career-high of world number 3. He is one of the few players besides the big three to win multiple Grand Slam titles in the last decade. Wawrinka is now ranked world number 18. 

Nishikori will play in Rotterdam for the second time. The Japanese player reached the semifinal in 2019, when he was beaten by Wawrinka in three sets. Nishikori will chase the 13th title of his career. He claimed his first tournament in Delray Beach in 2008 and won five of his twelve titles in indoor court tournaments.  Sinner made his debut in Rotterdam in 2019 and beat then world number 10 David Goffin in straight sets, but he lost to Pablo Carreno Busta in the tie-break of the third set. World number 37 Sinner is the youngest player in the top 100 and won his first ATP Tour title in Sofia last November. 

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