Gaudenzi Addresses Tour Suspension, Acknowledges Uncertainty
Chairman encourages tennis community to unite to help defeat COVID-19
ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi says that resuming play in time for the grass-court season remains the Tour’s goal but acknowledges that definitive planning is difficult while the severity and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unknown.
The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells earlier this month was the first ATP Tour event to be hit by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The current suspension of the Tour is scheduled to run through 7 June, inclusive of the entire Spring clay-court season.
“Unfortunately, the repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt across all areas of society, as well as by our players, tournaments, and the Tour,” said Gaudenzi, who began serving as ATP Chairman on 1 January. “This is bigger than any sport. The current situation raises many questions which we empathize with greatly, and we are working hard on evaluating all options.
“Our ability to address any supportive measures will be best guided once we know the duration of the crisis and when the Tour will resume, which remains unknown at this time. This remains an evolving situation that will require significant time to deal with in the coming weeks and months, and we must avoid making any rushed decisions without knowing first when the crisis will end. Understanding the full duration and scale of this crisis will be critical to addressing any measures related to its repercussions.
Despite acknowledging the current uncertainty, Gaudenzi said that the calendar is under continuous review and further clarity about the likelihood of the grass season should come next month.
“We continue to assess all options related to preserving and maximising the calendar based on various return dates for the Tour. It goes without saying that full cooperation with the other governing bodies is essential. We are in close discussion with all the grass-court events and they remain on the calendar as scheduled at this time,” he said. “The reality is this is a rapidly evolving situation and there is no option other than to take this day-by-day and week-by-week.”
On 12 March ATP announced a six-week suspension of play at Tour and Challenger level through 20 April. Last week ATP and WTA jointly announced that no ATP and WTA tournaments in the Spring clay-court swing would be held as scheduled. This includes the combined ATP/WTA tournaments in Madrid and Rome, along with the WTA events in Strasbourg and Rabat and ATP events in Munich, Estoril, Geneva and Lyon.
Additionally, both Tours have frozen their rankings.
“It is hard to fathom what has happened in the world in the past few weeks and it’s remarkable to think that, in ordinary times, last Sunday would have seen the culmination of the first ATP Masters 1000 of the year in Indian Wells,” Gaudenzi said.
“The current suspension of the Tour leaves a big void in all our lives. However, we are seeking to play our part over the coming weeks through our digital and social media platforms which, among other initiatives, has included the launch of a #tennisathome content campaign to deliver some positive and fresh content to our fans.”
A native of Italy, the country hardest hit by the COVID-19 virus, Gaudenzi has implored players, tournaments and tennis fans to spread word of key countermeasures to combat the pandemic.
“This is a time of considerable uncertainty for all and there is nothing more important than prioritising health. On a personal level, the stories I have heard from acquaintances at home in Italy are harrowing. The need to take this seriously, stay at home and practice responsible social distancing, is paramount and we urge everyone in the tennis community to spread this important message in the days and weeks ahead.”