WASHINGTON, May 16, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
During Friday afternoon’s Tennis Channel Live broadcast, Tennis Channel insider Jon Wertheim interviewed New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey about the disappointing but not surprising Covid-19 suspension extensions announced earlier in the day by the ATP, WTA and ITF tours that means there will be no sanctioned tournament tennis before August 1. Also, Clarey was asked about the ongoing speculation concerning whether or not there will be a 2020 United States Open, and if he thought the 2020 season has become a total write-off.
“It’s almost news now if they play tournaments. I’m afraid that’s where we’re at,” said Clarey, who has covered pro tennis internationally for more than 25 years. “I think everyone kind of expects this to keep going on for a while. The odds are against 2020, people have been saying for a while. Personally, I have a little bit of hope for the fall, with tournaments coming back to Europe. You see European soccer leagues coming back like the (German) Bundesliga. I don’t think it’s completely inconceivable, but it’s going to be an uphill struggle. It’s tough to see these cancellations just drip, drip.”
Asked about the role of unsanctioned events like last week’s UTR Pro Match Series in Florida and the upcoming event at the Mouratoglou Academy, Clarey replied, “Normally, I’m not a big fan. The last thing you want to do is dilute the product or risk top players getting hurt. Now, I say bring it on. I’m loving anything that matters, that’s suspenseful. I watched quite a bit of the tennis from Florida and I thought it was enjoyable. A little rusty for sure, but it’s what we have right now and I think we’ll see a lot more of these regional events. Frankly, I think it’s the smart thing to do. Take what you have on the plate.”
Then, Wertheim asked Clarey the big question on the minds of tennis players and fans, alike: “Do we see a 2020 US Open? Should we see a 2020 US Open?” Clarey didn’t hesitate when he answered, “Look, I’m seeing it. It’s not going to be the US Open you and I know, that’s for sure. I feel like they’re going to try everything – and they need to.”
The US Open, whose main draw is currently scheduled from August 31 to September 13 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, is near the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak in the New York City borough of Queens. According to a report in The New York Times, the US Open generates $400 million annually, which represents more than 80 percent of the USTA’s annual revenues, and last year, more than $57 million in prize money was awarded.
“Obviously, theres is a huge amount of revenue, a huge amount at stake,” said Clarey. “So, they need to find a way to put it on there if they can. I think the odds are against many fans or any fans at all at this point. I think the odds personally are against a move. I keep reading about the possibility of Indian Wells or other places. I think they really want to have it on site (at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows). That’s where all of their infrastructure is; that’s where they know how to do it best. If they’re going to have no fans in California or no fans in New York, it’s better to have no fans in New York.”
A final decision on the US Open isn’t expected until mid-June.
“They’re gonna try everything…there’s a huge amount at stake.@christophclarey joins @BrettHaber and @jon_wertheim to talk about where tennis is at right now, including possible @usopen plans, and gives his own take on our trailblazers list →https://t.co/tPoe44TDv0#TCLive pic.twitter.com/6uMGTMJEJc
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) May 15, 2020
WTA announces further suspension of tournaments
On Friday afternoon, in conjunction with the further suspension of tournaments issued by the ATP Tour and ITF, the WTA Tour followed suit. “Following the announcement of the WTA Tour suspension through July 12, the WTA events in Bastad, Lausanne, Bucharest, and Jurmala scheduled for July will not be held, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” a statement posted on the WTA Tour website said.
“We regret this is the case but will continue to be guided by medical experts for when it is safe and possible to return to WTA competition. We continue to monitor the situation closely and are hopeful to be back on the court as soon as possible.
“A decision regarding the dates in which Karlsruhe and Palermo may be played along with further updates to the WTA calendar will be made in June.”
WTA events in Bastad, Lausanne, Bucharest, and Jurmala scheduled for July will not be held, due to the ongoing #COVID19 pandemic.
— wta (@WTA) May 15, 2020
Hall of Fame Open and induction ceremony cancelled to 2021
With news that the Hall of Fame Open, an ATP Tour event which was scheduled to be played July 11-18 on the grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, had been cancelled on Friday as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown of professional tennis, it also meant that the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2020 induction ceremony will not take place this year.
The induction ceremony and festivities for the Class of 2020 inductees Conchita Martinez and Goran Ivanišević had been scheduled for July 18. Now, they will be inducted alongside any new inductees elected for the Class of 2021.
“While we will miss the annual traditions of Enshrinement Weekend and the Hall of Fame Open this year, the health and safety of all those involved and our local community is the priority,” Todd Martin, International Tennis Hall of Fame CEO, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to providing Conchita and Goran the celebration they deserve in becoming Hall of Famers and bringing the best of professional tennis back to Newport next summer.”
Martínez said, “I am already looking forward to July 2021 in Newport. Moving the festivities to next year is the right decision for everyone. We can all hope the world will be in a better place by then and there will be much to celebrate.”
Ivanišević added, “Finding out that I was going to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame was already a huge joy and honor for me this year. I will gladly wait until next year for the actual celebration so we can all focus on what matters right now, which is of course, health.”
Currently, the museum, tennis club and grounds at the International Tennis Hall of Fame are closed until further notice.
As a result of COVID-19, the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Induction Ceremony and the 2020 Hall of Fame Open will not take place this July. Ticketholders will be contacted directly via email.
— Tennis Hall of Fame (@TennisHalloFame) May 15, 2020
Behind The Racquet – Daria Gavrilova
Australia’s Daria Gavrilova thinks everyone has off-court issues but “we don’t talk about them, so not many people know.” Recently, Gavrilova, 26, who is ranked No. 250 in singles and has won one career title, penned a first-person essay for the Instagram series Behind The Racquet in which she wrote: “Sometimes, we won’t even share our off-court problems with our closest friends on tour.
“I think as tennis players we’re so used to just protecting ourselves and not opening up but the little I started doing now has been helpful. We are still very competitive but I think we’re shifting a little bit from this mentality. When I was a kid I was told that you can’t be friends with your rivals and to just keep to yourself but I was never this way. I was always friendly and made many friends. I think you need that because it does get lonely and your team won’t always understand you. You don’t feel like they can relate to your feelings This is where I think it’s important to have other players to talk to. I have recently opened up to a few of them and it’s like ‘Oh, my God, I get you.’ There have been more interviews lately with people opening up and it seems like a cry for help. I see that players may find it easier to say it quickly in an interview rather than actually sitting down with someone and getting help. I think we’re still extremely competitive but I’m hoping we can shift even more away from this mentality.”
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“I still remember my first ever lesson, I was wearing a boy’s outfit because we couldn’t find anything else that looked like a tennis outfit. I went into my first lesson the coach told me to warm up by doing laps around the court. I refused to do it, “There’s no point because I’m not racing against anyone, I’m not just going to run for the sake of it.” I was about six and a half years old, useless unable to even catch a ball. I was a good visual learner and I eventually picked it up quickly. I remember when I used to go back home to Russia when I was younger and I’d always hit balls against the wall. The neighbors didn’t love it but they just had to deal with it. I moved to Australia end of 2013, when I was 18. I got my residency soon after and my passport citizenship after that. I started to officially begin playing for Australia in 2016. When I first moved to Australia, I had a busted knee, just after having torn my ACL. The first thing I did when I got to Australia was to have the surgery. My parents were very worried for about me being on my own, in a new place and for the surgery. I found a second family here with my best friends and my fiancé. Last year I was struggling with achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. My strength is my movement and all I had was pain. I remember Wimbledon last year, playing on court 17. I lost that match by basically convincing myself I didn’t deserve the win. I then completely crumbled in the second. I was staying really close to the site and immediately stormed out. I started walking towards the house and then turned around knowing it wasn’t the right decision. My whole team was waiting for me. I went back crying, not in a good place. I sat on the bench near the media center on level three. My coach came up to see me before I was supposed to do media and told me that no matter what they asked to not get overwhelmed with feelings. I lost it a little and told them I needed time off. I had all these emotions but ignored them and decided to play the clay season, US Open and hopefully love tennis again…” @daria_gav Read full story and others at behindtheracquet.com (link in bio @behindtheracquet )
What they’re saying
Hall of Fame great Martina Navratilova, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 59 Grand Slam titles overall, recently appeared on Tennis Channel Live: “Champions are self-movitated. We work just as hard whether there are 10 people watching or 50,000 people watching.”
What they’re podcasting
In the latest Lucky Letcord Podcast, host Chris Oddo is joined by Bret McCormick, who covers tennis for Sports Business Journal to discuss the reality of tennis without spectators: Is it economically feasible? What effect will tennis behind closed doors have on sponsors and TV?
What they’re sharing on social media
ATP Tour / Wishing Andy Murray a Happy 32nd birthday
A champion both on & off the court 🤗
— ATP Tour (@atptour) May 15, 2020
ATP Tour / Roger Federer to NYC nurse: “You are the hero.”
“You are the hero.” 😍
The moment @rogerfederer surprised a health worker in New York with a message of support!
— ATP Tour (@atptour) May 15, 2020
Tennis United / All-new episode now available for viewing
— wta (@WTA) May 15, 2020