The return to tennis is imminent. WTA events in Palermo in early August followed by Prague and Kentucky will kick off the restart.
Due to more cancellations the ATP tour’s return has been hit and won’t return until the joint Cincinnati event held in New York.
There are more restrictions in place making it tougher for players to travel, China has cancelled all sporting events this year with tennis losing eleven more events. Isolating in Europe could be a problem for those heading out of the US to Madrid and the Australian Open have also set out their plans for 2021 as well as the Roland Garros ticket loop-hole…
Welcome back tennis!
Tennis is returning, we don’t know how much we will get this year but the green light for Prague, Palermo and Kentucky is a welcome sign but who has signed up where?
Palermo – Jo Konta, Petra Martic, Marketa Vondrousova, Maria Sakkari, Donna Vekic, Anett Kontaveit and Elise Mertens are the top eight seeds. Karolina Pliskova has been confirmed as a potential wildcard by the tournament.
Update on Palermo – as this was being published Simona Halep has pulled out of the competition. There does seem to be an issue with arriving from Romania to Italy and isolating and has expressed her concerns over travelling with Romania
Kentucky – Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff, Victoria Azarenka, Johanna Konta, Garbine Muguruza, Amanda Anisimova and Aryna Sabalenka are all signed up for the debuting event replacing Washington this year.
Prague – Simona Halep, Belinda Bencic and Eugenie Bouchard have already signed up. Expectancy is on more top players to sign up depending on how easy it will be to get out of America if they go.
13 events cancelled, 11 in China!
Big news came out of China a few weeks ago that events have been cancelled and it has been confirmed in the last 48 hours by the WTA and ATP.
Events that have been cancelled and will not be played this year include:
ATP 250 – Chengdu
ATP 250 – Zhuhai
ATP 500 – Beijing
ATP Masters 1000 – Shanghai
WTA Finals Shenzhen
WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai
The big hit is for the WTA, losing seven events is catastrophic for the tour and hopefully there can be something done to put some events on. Losing events like the WTA Finals and Elite Trophy which is the season finale is what these players aim for and to lose more when the tour is returning shows the sad situation the world is fine.
The ATP 500 in Washington due to begin in two weeks is off following travel issues which were not assured with when planning the event. Indoor event in Basel later on in the year is also cancelled as well as the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid.
ATP and WTA events in Tokyo are also looking unlikely but no official warning yet, both are currently suspended.
You can see the update calendar below:
Travel to US Open not a problem? What about returning?
It is understood that players travelling to the USA for Cincinnati and US Open will be exempt from isolating once entering the country.
The news from New York is it is full steam ahead for the US Open, the cases of Covid-19 in New York has dropped and it’s better than it was a while back.
The only issue is, returning? Players will head to Europe after the US Open but will there be an exemption on players isolating in some countries?
Do the tour know something that isn’t being communicated. Semi-finalist in New York will receive a first round BYE in Madrid so it looks like they can play?
Right now, travelling from USA to Madrid or Europe is not possible. EU has opened borders to 13 non EU countries around the world but not America so there does seem to be a case of confusion. With cases continually on the rise in America and now in Spain will there be an exemption?
Who isn’t expected to travel to New York?
As players preparations for the return of tennis continue some of the preparations indicate quite a few will skip the US Open and will focus on Madrid on the ATP tour as a starting block but for WTA players they can play Palermo and Prague on the clay and then have a break before Madrid.
Nadal and Wawrinka have been pictured doing a lot of their practice on clay courts so a switch to hard seems unlikely and I cannot see Nadal risk missing Madrid.
Dominic Thiem and Garbine Muguruza have both signalled their intentions to play as much as they can once tennis resumes. Simona Halep’s double up in Palermo and Prague all but confirms she won’t be going.
It is all a bit quiet in the Djokovic camp lately, the expectancy is he will go to New York if he doesn’t have to isolate on return which seems to be the deal many players are looking for.
Roland Garros tickets…
There is a slight loop hole with the Roland Garros tickets which wasn’t actually put out before information on ticket sales was put out.
When you purchase tickets you can obviously chose the day and court and category but not specifically where you are sat. This was known when they released the information and exact seating will be sent to guests a week before the tournament.
There is a resale of tickets, fans can re-sell their tickets but because you cannot choose precisely where you sit it does still leave it up in the air if someone maybe wanted a better seat.
Unfortunately its a guessing game! As the resell for tickets ends before the tickets are allocated to specific seats!
Will tennis need another relief fund?
With a further scheduled 17 events not taking place this year once the season resumes is another relief needed to support those who can’t play.
The US Open isn’t doing qualifying but is handing out prize money, Roland Garros is doing qualifying which gives more opportunities for players but losing events is tough on those athletes outside the top 70.
There are still 14 WTA/ATP events to be played but the draw sizes won’t be bigger than 64 and in some cases at 32. Increasing the draw size is an option but then where is the extra prize money coming from to be able to do that with events having to be played behind closed doors.
I think it will need another effort. There is a possibility someone ranked 130 could play Roland Garros main draw and that’s it for the season. Even qualifying draws might miss that cut off of ranking depending on popularity. Right now the WTA has one event after Roland Garros and that’s in Moscow.
Where would the money come from for another relief fund? All the majors and ATP and WTA have already donated. Wimbledon also put out extra from their insurance, will the cancelled events be able to chip in? Players will be getting prize money from US Open, Cincinnati, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros but for those outside top 140-300 it will be a tough and I hope something can be done.
Australian Open 2021 plans!
The plans for the 2021 Australian Open are beginning to fall into place.
Tournament director Craig Tiley has expressed that Tennis Australia will continue to monitor what happens in the delivering of US Open and Roland Garros to essentially better the practices they will put in place.
Tickets don’t usually go on sale until September/October time and about 15% of spectators are from overseas and that is expected not to happen in 2021 only spectators from Australia and New Zealand.
Not only is there set to be a restriction on overseas spectators but also on seating allocation and they are planning to operate a reduced seating plan on all stadiums and less ground pass’ available on a day.
From a players perspective there might have to be a period of isolation in Australia which I cannot imagine being too much of a problem as players usually spend almost a month there. They will be tested on arrival and regularly and players and their teams will stay at the official bio-secure hotels and transport.