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Ricky’s Pick • Golf Tours Have Revamped The 2020 Schedules, Can Tennis Do The Same?

By Ricky Dimon

What is the fate of the 2020 tennis season? Like all other sports, tennis is entirely at the mercy of the continuing coronavirus crisis. Only after this COVID-19 disaster is under control–and right now there is no telling when that could be–can sports think around resuming.

The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells was cancelled just days before it was to begin the week of March 17, and with that a domino effect was kicked off. Shortly thereafter the Miami Open got the axe, followed by the entire spring clay-court spring. Next on the chopping block (last Wednesday, to be exact) Wimbledon and all other grass-court tournaments were cancelled.

So is all hope lost?

Perhaps not.

Golf, which is the sport most similar to tennis in terms of its individual aspect and in that it is played all over the world by players coming together from places all over the world, is pressing forward with a revamped schedule. Obviously all dates are subject to change based on what happens with the coronavirus, but golf inspired some semblance of optimism with Monday’s announcement.

Various golf organizers across multiple tours revealed a rearranged schedule, highlighted by the Masters from November 12-15. The Masters was previously set for this week. Although the British Open (July 16-19) was cancelled, three of the four majors are holding out hope. Joining the Masters as puzzle pieces still in play, the PGA Championship is moving from May 14-17 to Aug. 6-9 and the U.S. Open has switched from June 16-19 to Sept. 17-20.

“We want to emphasize that our future plans are incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials,” said chairman of Augusta National and the Masters Fred Ridley. “Provided that occurs and we can conduct the 2020 Masters, we intend to invite those professionals, and amateurs who would have qualified for our original April date and welcome all existing ticket holders to enjoy the excitement of Masters week.”

As Ridley mentioned, health officials will have the final word before any sport can get started again. But can tennis go ahead and plan for the best-case scenario of a summer and fall resumption? As it stands right now, the post-Wimbledon swing beginning on July 13 in Newport (grass), Hamburg, and Bastad (the latter two on clay) remains on the schedule. All tournaments through the rest of 2020 do the same, with the only difference being the Roland Garros rescheduling from May and June to September and October.

Could additional drastic changes be in the cards, just as they were for golf?

It’s possible–and for multiple reasons. For many players, almost all of November and December is normally the offseason. Given 2020’s unique circumstances, there is no real need for such an offseason. After all, at minimum the current pause is going to last more than twice as long as a traditional offseason. There are plenty of open spots in November and December for events, especially of the indoor variety. Moreover, the rogue move by the French Open to late September puts the U.S. Open in a sticky spot. In fact, the U.S. Open is now scheduled to begin just one week after RG ends. That is not ideal for anyone involved. Nor–given the current state of affairs in New York–do the chances of the USO proceeding as scheduled look promising.

The U.S. Open could conceivably get pushed back six weeks or so and still see pleasant conditions in New York City, also allowing more time in between the two slams–with RG going first. That would also allow for additional clay-court tournaments such as Madrid to be played both before and after the French. Those would take the place of the Asian and European indoor seasons, which could now follow the USO in November and December. Those are perfect months for indoor tennis and the Laver Cup could also shift to December, which is really where it belongs during the exhibition season.

Although the chances of any of this happening may be slim, it may not be a bad idea to at least take some hopeful notes from golf.

“Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.


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