Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon looks at what’s ahead for the rest of this 2020 tennis season.
Tennis is coming back, baby!
You might have heard that tennis and those in charge of the sport, agreed that the sport would be coming back at the very end of the summer. In light of this, after such a long wait, the above is probably how the powers that be would like us to react, right?
Yeah, it’s a little hard to muster much excitement but let’s back up a little bit before we jump into all of this.
We are excited to announce a plan for the WTA Tour to return to play this season!
— wta (@WTA) June 17, 2020
The ATP has issued a revised provisional calendar that sets a pathway for the resumption of the Tour.
The new-look ATP Tour calendar intends to resume on Friday 14 August.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) June 17, 2020
After something like 100+ days without the sport, both the ATP and the WTA announced this past week that they had settled on a provisional calendar and that at long last, tennis would come back on August 3 on the women’s tour, and on August 14 on the men’s tour, with Tennis Betting once again back in the fold.
Both tours would start with a couple of smallish events played on hard courts, including a revamped Western & Southern Open moving from its usual Cincinnati home to its new one in New York. The headline, of course, will say that the US Open will be played on August 31 as the final prize of a very abbreviated hard court season before things move expeditiously toward the clay court in Madrid, Rome and finally Paris for the French Open on September 27.
That’s right, not only will we finally get tennis this year but we’ll have tennis played on both hard court and clay court tennis—something that would have seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago—and in the span of a month no less.
We could highlight a few other things, including but not limited to the fact that the ATP announced that its revamped calendar would include a mere seven events while the WTA has a plan with as many as 20 tournaments, that there wouldn’t be spectators at all events or a ton of other things. We could highlight many things but ultimately the lesson is that tennis is technically coming back before the end of the summer and that enough is pretty insane on its own.
It’s pretty insane, yes, but it’s also a proposal that could be killed way before it ever gets underway. Remember, while both tours are confident in their sport coming back, they also hedge their bets with the typical qualification that “the calendar is subject to change and continued assessments will be made relating to health & safety,” etc. etc., and look what do you know we’ve already received bad news.
Over the past few days, some of the most talented in men’s tennis had competed in the Adria Tour exhibition but the final between Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev was cancelled after—get this—Grigor Dimitrov, who was among those competing in the field, announced he had tested positive for Covid-19.
Yep, we could be right back to square one without ever having left in the first place.
It would be too easy to extrapolate things from here and wonder what might happen once a player does test positive for the disease at a sanctioned event of this new 2020 calendar. In that sense, bringing tennis back at the one place in the world where folks seem intent and happy to fight the pandemic by digging their head in the sand and pretending it doesn’t exist, bringing it back yes in the United States in that sense might not be the smartest move—but who are we to say.
If nothing else, this is a good demonstration in the power of a good bit of leadership from those in the best position to exert this privilege. And yet, it also kinda, maybe, partially rewards Roland-Garros’s decision to act cavalier selfishly and postpone its 2020 edition to a random date all those weeks ago. It was a reckless decision then and it still is a reckless decision now, and the fact that this new calendar includes the French Open proves that being a nice guy is overrated.
Because the French Open has now been rewarded with both the ATP’s and the WTA’s stamp of approval.
This sucks, but it’s great to have tennis back.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG