Milan (AFP) – ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said Thursday he hopes the clay court season and the French Open can be played in September as tennis struggles to save a season in danger of being swept up by a coronavirus pandemic.
“If we succeed in starting again in August, we will save three Slams and six Masters 1000, otherwise the problem will increase tenfold,” Gaudenzi said in interviews with several Italian media outlets.
“We are working on a four-week hypothesis on clay after the US Open, with Madrid and Rome before Roland Garros.”
Tennis has been locked since the beginning of last month and is not rescheduled no later than July 13 after the cancellation of Wimbledon for the first time since World War II.
The decision to stop the oldest and most prestigious Grand Slam event in the sport follows the unilateral change of the French Open from the traditional slot May-June to September-October.
Gaudenzi said no sanctions would be taken against Roland Garros for making his own decision to delay.
“Now we work together,” Gaudenzi, 43, who took over as head of ATP in January, told Gazzetta Dello Sport.
“Tennis requires unity, Paris acts out of fear, makes mistakes. But they have realized this.”
All this will depend on the virus which has killed more than 87,000 people and infected more than 1.5 million with the United States and Europe devastated.
“We have made 50 calendar versions that we change day by day,” Gaudenzi said.
“I am convinced that the season in America can begin with the August Masters 1000 in Toronto and Cincinnati and then the US Open.
“In this way three Slams and six Masters 1000 will be played (there are also Shanghai and Bercy) and this season will be 70 percent safe.
“Of course, if all the American slots are passed, the difficulty will increase tenfold.”
– ‘last resort’ –
Gaudenzi said the option was being reviewed together with the ATP Players Council including Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
He stressed it was expected to maintain the ATP Final, scheduled for London on November 15-22.
“Arena 02 is only available in a week and it’s been fixed. I don’t like closed doors, it’s a last resort.”
To compensate for the blows against low-ranking players and tournaments, ATP also learns financial measures to help.
“Our system is solid, it can last a year without tennis, but not more than that,” the ATP head warned.
“(But) speaking of August, September, November everything is hypothetical, we can’t bang our heads against the wall for something that might not even happen, because we can even start next year.”