Are the WTA and ATP powerless in their own calendar schedules?

The out-break of Covid-19 this year has been an incredibly tough test for many industries, those that rely on an event taking place in Tennis have been hit like no other.

The Coronavirus pandemic saw no less than 80 tennis tournaments on the ATP and WTA tour cancelled and some of the events did go ahead at risk of not welcoming players.

Earlier on this year the rash decision by Roland Garros to move their event without consultation of the WTA tour and ATP tour as well as the ITF or the other three Grand Slams highlighted problems in tennis. A lack of authority at the top with too many operating bodies and how powerless the ATP and WTA are with their own calendar schedules.

It showed how powerless the tours are and the lack of respect for the tournaments. This original move put 10 tournaments at risk of not having a usually competitive field and beginning just days after the US Open finished.

So, what happened? Tournaments were moved. A majority of the tournaments were called off as the Asian swing on both ATP and WTA tour were called off but this decision which was described by FFT President Bernard Giudicelli as “brave decision” and they have “acted responsbiliy” but basically told the events we matter more.

The majors are what players want to play but these tournaments matter to the tour, to players and to these cities that host them. The US Open did the right thing and consulted.

Something similar is happening now as the Australian Open is set to be moved back to the 8th of February as a start date.

It is expected players will need to arrive around mid-January and isolate in a bio-secure hotel with their team. They will be able to train at Melbourne Park on a day before hand and warm-up events are off the cards.

If this does happen it could see the tournament run until around 23rd of February putting fields of ATP and WTA events at risk. Depending on if they go ahead these tournaments could be affected:

  • WTA 500 – St. Petersburg
  • WTA 250 – Hua Hin
  • WTA 1000 – Dubai
  • WTA 250 – Acapulco
  • ATP 250 – Marseille
  • ATP 250 – Pune
  • ATP 250 – Cordoba
  • ATP 500 – Rotterdam
  • ATP 250 – New York
  • ATP 250 – Buenos Aires
  • ATP 500 – Rio
  • ATP 250 – Marseille
  • ATP 250 – Delray Beach
  • ATP 500 – Dubai
  • ATP 500 – Acapulco
  • ATP 250 – Chile

You’d think consultation is going on with the tournaments well it doesn’t sound like it. Two weeks isolation and two weeks of tennis could see 16 tournaments at risk of not taking place and it’s a tough decision for players but the tours need more say.

It is rumoured that some of the ATP events in South America could look at moving to a later date in the year after August but it is just rumoured. The ATP and WTA events in Dubai begin on the 22nd which will be the weekend of the Australian Open finals and could also see players use that as a closer travel option however it is understood international flights in and out of Melbourne will be chartered by Tennis Australia.

Not all tournaments listed above will go ahead as scheduled I believe due to different restrictions around the world and it will be up to players to plan their schedules with a period of isolation factored into their calendar.

One tournament which wouldn’t go ahead as planned if the Australian Open moves would be the ATP 500 in Rotterdam and the organisers have rightly spoken out on social media saying:

About a new date: At the moment it is the wish of the @AustralianOpen which has been communicated. The ATP (tournaments and the players) have not yet given a definitive response to this. We do not want to anticipate this, but assume that a good solution will be found.

This shows the problems not only Rotterdam are facing but the rest of the tour. The ATP has not communicated with them on a decision and with players also needing to plan their schedule they would have to head off to Australia in five weeks time.

As Rotterdam have said: “We do not want to anticipate this, but assume a good solution will be found”

The majors bring in the big crowds and money to the sport but why are the ATP and WTA tournaments an after thought who are left in the dark? The ATP and WTA have no control over the calendars, it seems like the majors shout “jump” and they respond “how high?”

Could this happen with other majors to? The ATP and WTA put out their calendars but in a time everyone needs to pull together and support on a whole it seems to be focused on the tune of a few and not the future of many.

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