Mutua Madrid Open In Doubt – Again

WASHINGTON, August 1, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

El Confidencial, a Spanish digital newspaper, reported on Friday that the Madrid government has sent a letter to the Mutua Madrid Open recommending against playing in its new September dates (Sept. 12-20) due to uncertainty and rising coronavirus cases.

The ATP Masters 1000 tournament, owned by Ion Tiriac’s Super Slam Limited, is considering its options. The clay-court event that annually is part of the European spring clay season was originally scheduled for early May, but was postponed due to the coronavirus crisis. It was rescheduled for the middle of September following the U.S. Open. Until recently, it was hoping to have limited spectators.

The implications of a cancelled Mutua Madrid Open, an ATP/WTA mixed tour event, are many. It would be a blow to both the ATP and WTA tours, which have tried to salvage part of the clay season with tournaments in Madrid and Rome leading up to the French Open. The tournament also has a commitment from World No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain, a five-time Madrid champion. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is the defending champion.

In addition to hosting a Masters 1000 tournament, the WTA also holds one of its four Premier Mandatories in Madrid. On Friday afternoon, New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey wrote on Twitter: “Could also impact field of US Open, which is pushing ahead. If Madrid is off, could increase the number of European players willing to make the journey to New York and leave more time for the field to make transition back to clay for French Open if it happens.”

A copy of a letter that Tiriac has sent to Madrid authorities, obtained by El Confidencial, suggests that he’s not giving up hope on this year’s Mutua Madrid Open. “We will work closely with them to see what the safest way can be to organize the event,” Tiriac wrote.

On Saturday afternoon, the Mutua Madrid Open said in an official statement: “…the organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open have been in close communication with the competent health organizations in the Community of Madrid, represented by Antonio Zapatero, Deputy Secretary of Public Health, and with the National Sports Council (CSD). The aforementioned organisations have always shown the utmost cooperation, resolving all the issues put forward by the organisers and facilitating the process at all times in order to be able to hold the 2020 Mutua Madrid Open.

“In the last meeting, on 29 July, due to the increase in cases of covid-19 in Madrid in recent days, the organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open stated their concerns about being able to stage the tournament free from health complications that might affect the players, fans and staff. In view of the situation, the organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open requested the help of Antonio Zapatero, Deputy Secretary of Public Health, and were advised not to stage the tournament due to the current trend of covid-19 cases.

”…At all times, the organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open have valued the support of the competent health organisations in the Community of Madrid and have heeded the opinion of experts, while always reserving the right to make the final decision on the staging of the Mutua Madrid Open.

”In light of the advice of the competent health organisations, and given the difficult situation caused by covid-19 (with a considerable increase in cases in Madrid and in Spain), the organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open are analysing and closely evaluating all the possible options, while always focusing on guaranteeing the safety of all those involved in the tournament.

“The final decision of the staging of the 2020 Mutua Madrid Open will fall to Ion Tiriac and Super Slam Ltd., the tournament’s licence holder.”