Three Major Tennis Tournaments Cancelled Due to COVID-19
Tennis Season Put on Hold Until Mid-April
Not a single professional tennis tournament will be held until April 20, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the world.
Some of the biggest tournaments on the tour—Indian Wells Masters, Miami Open, and Monte-Carlo Masters—will not be part of the 2020 season.
The Monte-Carlo Masters takes place just 13 km away from Italy, a country with over 31,000 COVID-19 cases as of March. 18. As the worst affected country in Europe, according to the World Health Organization, Italy counted 3,526 people who tested positive from the virus in the last 24 hours.
Held in California, the Indian Wells Masters will be postponed until next year. A tournament of such magnitude would pose a threat to public health, as it has the world’s third largest tennis stadium with a capacity of 16,100. Some tennis fans consider it the fifth Grand Slam.
The Miami Open faces the same situation in America’s fourth most infected state. In 2019, the competition witnessed a record daily attendance of 32,831 and could therefore expose thousands to the threat of contracting the novel coronavirus within a few hours.
While cancelling the upcoming tournaments is expected to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and prioritize public safety, it also leads to a sudden drop in the rankings for many accomplished tennis players.
The winner of each competition would have received 1000 points, the highest number awarded in tennis after Grand Slams and the year-end finals. However, last year’s winners and finalists will not get a chance to defend their points in 2020. It will be as if they all lost in the first round of each tournament.
Andrea Gaudenzi, Chairman of the Association of Tennis Professionals, has made it clear that everyone’s safety remains the top priority, regardless of any changes in the rankings.
“This is not a decision that was taken lightly and it represents a great loss for our tournaments, players, and fans worldwide,” said Gaudenzi.
“This is not a decision that was taken lightly and it represents a great loss for our tournaments, players, and fans worldwide.” Andrea Gaudenzi
“However, we believe this is the responsible action needed at this time in order to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health in the face of this global pandemic,” he added.
Montreal’s Félix Auger-Aliassime, 19, is one of the players left at a disadvantage, since he reached the semifinals of the Miami Open last year. As a result, he will lose a total of 360 points and will be outside of the Top 25 for the first time in 10 months.
Meanwhile, seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, 39, will drop out of the Top 100, since she had a deep run at both Indian Wells and Miami Open in 2019. The American veteran has not experienced such a fall in the rankings since 2012.
John Isner, America’s highest-ranked ATP player, has already questioned the current ranking system on Twitter, implying that the rules might not be objectively fair.
“So tennis fans, should the ATP/WTA ‘freeze’ ranking points during this hiatus or let all the points fall off?”, said the tennis star in a tweet.
Andres Mena, a recreational tennis coach at Concordia, also thinks the ATP should modify its rules in such circumstances.
“Players should keep all their points because they can’t control the situation,” he said. “It is unfair to penalize them when they didn’t even lose.”
Current top players will therefore be seeded differently at the upcoming Wimbledon Championships in London. This means the world’s best players are likely to face each other in earlier rounds, instead of fighting for the Grand Slam title in the finals.
Set to begin on June 29, Wimbledon is going to be the second Grand Slam of the season, instead of the French Open in Paris. The French Open’s organizers have postponed the Slam until Sept. 20 due to the increasing threat of the novel coronavirus in Europe.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, the French Open is unlikely to be the last tournament to get postponed. The 2020 Wimbledon Championships’ fate remains undetermined.
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