The 2020 pandemic season has shaken up the world of sports and long-term consequences will be felt in most of the sports organizations, clubs, and players around the globe. The world of tennis is no exception. The biggest men’s tennis tour in the world, the ATP Tour 2020 had to cancel every single event from April until August. The financial damage is enormous, some players got infected by the virus, others felt depression is getting the best of them. The whole tennis world had come to a standstill after decades of on-going events. The organizers have decided to allow the tour to continue again from the middle of August on, but is tennis without the crowd roaring after every rally, really still the same sports that we’re all used to and love so much? You can get all the latest news and updates about the ATP Tour 2020 if you click here.
Men’s tennis during the COVID lock-down
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When the epidemic situation settled down in Europe a bit, just before the summer holiday season, Novak Djokovic known for his charitable actions and causes, decided to organize a short exhibition tournament called the Adria Tour, with fans on the stands, from which all of the proceedings would go to different charities. Since the ATP Tour 2020 was on hold, it was the perfect opportunity for the top players in the world to start getting back into the competition rhythm. The tour would start in Belgrade, Serbia, then move on to Zadar, Croatia and then continue its way to Montenegro and Bosnia.
The first leg of the tour in Belgrade was finished successfully and won by Dominic Thiem. The second leg moved to Croatia but was canceled on the final day because 4 players tested positive for Covid-19. Djokovic, Dimitrov, Coric, and Troicki’s tests were positive and then the panic kicked in. All of the players we’re seen partying in a nightclub in Belgrade and since they were all exposed to fans and kids picking up tennis balls in the event, the media went into the attack mode right away.
Djokovic was accused of negligence and the rest of the tour was immediately canceled. Talk about the Adria Tour gone bad, luckily no further virus infections were reported on from local Serbian and Croatian media.
Game of rankings
The talks of possible restarts of the ATP tour 2020 also flamed the debate about how the 2020 season should end. A lot of veteran players like Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray were against making the players restart the season in the middle of the year with full throttle, as they believe it would not be safe for the health of the players.
So the first time after the implementation of the 52 week system, the ATP organization was considering freezing the rankings of the 2020 season and continue with the rankings in 2021. That would basically transform most of the tournaments still left on the schedule for the 2020 season to exhibition tournaments.
The idea was harshly opposed right away from most of the event organizers. This idea would definitely put some pressure on the players to expose themselves to injuries right away but would weaken the quality of big tournaments like the U.S. Open and Rolland Garros. Some of the ATP tour 2020 tournaments will be played without spectators anyways and with significant health restrictions, so taking the ranking points off the table would only decrease the interest and appeal of the coverage of the events in the eyes of the organizers. So the ranking system still stands unchanged.
ATP Tour 2020 restarts but…
Whoever thought the pandemic drama would end after the summer was very wrong. The U.S. Open player participants are dropping out one after the other. Roger Federer is still recovering from his surgery and Rafa Nadal just decided he does not want to travel to the U.S. Ken Nikoshiri is one of the latest victims infected by the virus, so he is another top player who pulled out of the tournament because of health issues.
One of the biggest ATP Tour 2020 events of the year, the Madrid Open was also canceled as Spanish authorities do not want to risk hosting the event, even though the event itself brings almost 100 million euros to the city budget every year. Nothing seems to be going right for the ATP organization at the moment. The organizers are trying desperately to save the rest of the season, but even with all of the safety precautions in the lower tournaments, players are getting exposed to fears of the 2nd wave of the epidemic spreading across the world.
The only things static is the unpredictability
Nobody knows what’s in the cards for the rest of the ATP Tour 2020 tennis season. The schedule is changing every week as a result of health issues and players are putting their health first, as it should be. The organization is trying to calm the minds of their top competitors by keeping the events like the ATP Tour Finals in London, behind closed doors. But unlike the London event, one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world, Rolland Garros is still planning to fill their venues to 50-60 % of capacity. Even the Australian Open in Melbourne that is set for January is now under question as the epidemic is raging through the down and under the land.
Some of the health organizations with the support of the players are encouraging that ATP Tour 2020 should stay interrupted indefinitely or at least until the world’s health crisis calms down a bit. This is probably the last worse scenario as the ATP organization has a lot of financial agreements that are depended on the continuation of the tour itself. So it’s expected for the men’s tennis season to continue normally with no spectators at least until the scenario of total lockdowns in most of the countries is reinstated again.
The fans and the players all miss the sport itself, but should it continue and at what cost. The future of tennis will probably reveal itself after the summer season comes to an end.