Andrea Gaudenzi (ATP Chairman) sits down to discuss potential plans going forward for 2020

On Wednesday after the new ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi sat down with Italian Journalists via a video link in one of his press conferences since taking over from Chris Kermode.

Andrea spoke in length for just under an hour about the current situation and what he hopes to bring to tennis in the future and also the effects and plans in place following the Coronavirus.

Gaudenzi calls French Open move ‘understandable”

I was quite surprised to hear Gaudenzi talk about the French Open’s move to September without consultation as ‘understandable’ especially as it puts the future of a number of ATP events at risk during this time. Andrea also said that “The French Open took a few steps back understanding the importance of dialogue.”

When asked about this the Chairman did say that: 

“It’s all hypothetical, so there’s no use in banging our heads against the wall for something that might not happen”

Could tennis not resume until next year?

Whilst talking about Roland Garros and saying the move to September was them “planting their flag” it is still hypothetical that the season would resume by then and would be the only time to potentially play.

Gaudenzi did finish this by saying:

“it might very well be that play won’t be resumed until next year.”

Guadenzi hopes to play as many tournaments as possible

With over 20 tournaments already off the calendar it does mean there are limited options for players and Andrea outlined his representation for the ATP events but has also said we want to see the biggest events played:

Our operating principle is very simple: we have to try and play as many tournaments as we can in the weeks we’ll have at our disposal, in order to preserve the rankings and the prize money, and above all in order to provide the entertainment for our spectators. I represent the ATP, but the Slams are the Slams. We have the ATP Finals in November, but my wish is that the players in London will have had the chance to prove that they are the best across three Slams and seven Master 1000 events, and that we will be able to crown the world’s best player as we usually do…

US Open’s plans…

The US Open are still continuing to plan for the event as scheduled but are looking at potentially pushing the tournament back a couple of weeks.

This would then have to go further back than the French Open which has rescheduled to begin 7 days after the conclusion in New York and it is a possibility right now it could be cancelled. 

Clay court swing?

When asked about a clay-court swing being introduced into the 2020 calendar the Chairman said this:

“We are working on the possibility of a four-weeks clay swing after the US Open. The best-case scenario would be to have the North American swing during the summer, then the clay, then Asia, and then the ATP Finals.”

“We are trying to cooperate with the WTA as well, since the women’s tour has such an extended Asian swing. Ideally, we’d like to re-schedule two Masters 1000 on clay, either before or after the French Open.”

ATP Finals: O2 availability, fines and pushing back to a new venue

One of the big talking points is the ATP Finals in London which take place between the 15th and 22nd of November. I have tickets and accommodation booked. It is frustrating but understandable that a decision won’t be made yet on what happens but the O2 is only available for that week:

“We also need to consider that a few things are already set in stone: for instance, the O2 Arena is available for the ATP Finals exclusively during that week (from 15th to 22nd November)”

An alternative might be to push back the ATP Finals, but we’d need to find another location, and that creates another problem. The players are having a long off-season already, so we’ll definitely play in November and December if necessary.

“We have a deal with London. If the US Open takes place, then there should be no problems. If not, then everything’s possible, if we find someone to host us, but at the moment we don’t have an answer. Let’s not forget that there are fines to pay in order to move an event somewhere else.”

Also you have to think over 240,000 people attended last year and if it can’t be played in that week of November in London fans would be entitled to a refund. If it were cancelled and another year in London would take place in 2021 it would be better for fans. The ATP however would have to pay a fine to move it. Refund over 200,000 tickets or pay a fine, how much would this be?

“Definitely play in November and December if necessary”

Andrea has said that the tours will “need a head-start of six to eight weeks before we make a decision, because we need some time on an operational level. It will depend on how many tournaments we’ll be able to re-schedule.”  It isn’t as if suddenly tennis can begin there will be a lot of rescheduling and preparation going into producing a calendar for the rest of the year.

Andrea has also said for some 32 draws it could be extended to 48 to give more players opportunities to play and the tour will continue into late November and December if needed. This time is currently a “long off-season” for the players as he called it but an issue with playing in December is there is no room to move the ATP Finals in to December at the O2 which is already had events reschedule.

Gaudenzi open to sitting down with ITF and Tennis Australia to create a “unified” event but it isn’t the “end of the world”

A lot of talk was surrounding how close the Davis Cup Finals and ATP Cup were together but being led by two different boards.

Two team competitions six weeks apart highlights the need for more unity in tennis.

Andrea has said he would sit down with both the ITF and Tennis Australia to try and bring a unified event together but the multi-year contracts prove problematic. 

“I’m definitely not against sitting down with Tennis Australia and with the ITF to discuss the creation of a unified event, and that would probably be the best solution. However, I’m not sure we’d be able to achieve that, because the deals are slated to run for many years and we have a great relationship with Tennis Australia, a relationship that we’ll respect and maintain, because it’s the right thing to do. I think it’s great to start the season with a bang, then a week off, then the Australian Open. It’s not the end of the world, if we can come up with a solution we will, or else it will just stay this way.”

“Focusing on a re-start after the Wimbledon slot”

I want to get back to normal as soon as possible but I think hoping to begin a worldwide tennis season in mid-July is extremely optimistic with the situation all over the world right now. 

Andrea has said they are constantly looking at ideas and considering playing in November and December. If the US Open doesn’t go ahead he says the “complexity of the situation would grow exponentially”.

There is a consideration on potentially limiting events to one continent if stringent travelling conditions are put in place for a period of time and with tennis being a global sport it would be “very problematic.”

— big thank you to those at Ubitennis for translating the interview and you can read more (and there is a lot more) of his interview here – https://www.ubitennis.net/2020/04/atp-chairman-gaudenzi-need-stop-infighting-everything-forgiven-french-open/

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