With a number of professional sports now up and running again, such as football leagues like the Premier League and the Bundesliga, tennis fans are eager to see their favourites in action again as soon as possible. Thankfully we will not have much longer to wait for that.
A strange new normal
The ATP Tour is scheduled to resume on August 24th, with the Cincinnati Masters in New York, followed by the US Open. However, much like the return of the Bundesliga and other major sporting events, this Grand Slam tournament will take place with no spectators – the first time that this has ever happened. Although they will regret not being able to attend, tennis fans throughout the world will be delighted to see one of the four Grand Slam events taking place and at the date on the calendar when it would normally be held. Back in the spring there was speculation that it might be moved from its usual venue in Flushing Meadows, New York to California, because the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre was being used as a temporary hospital, but that will not be the case.
There will be other notable differences though, including the cancellation of the qualifying rounds and the mixed doubles. This has angered many of the players who are ranked below the top 100, because they rely on these qualifiers and doubles tournaments for income. It has led some of the players in this position to vent their anger in public over the changes, but the USTA has to balance this against public health concerns with the virus still raging in the US.
What about the other Grand Slams?
The remainder of the 2020 ATP appears likely to be played out in the same way, but what of the Grand Slams? Of course, the Australian Open benefited from being the first of the ‘big four’ on the calendar and was won by Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin back in January, while the All-England Club announced the cancellation of Wimbledon in April. It is the first time that Wimbledon has not taken place since World War Two and the decision was made when the lockdown was at its height, but many may now be wondering whether postponing would have been better.
After all that is the strategy that was adopted for the French Open, which would normally have been held in late May, but was pushed forward to late September when Covid-19 first hit. The tournament is still scheduled to go ahead starting on September 28th, minus the crowds, and while it would have been difficult to fit Wimbledon into the remaining calendar – not to mention fitting it in with the British autumn weather – it might still have been preferable to cancelling it.
The wait for the ATP tour and the Grand Slams to return is almost over, but fans will have to watch from home for the remainder of this season.