ATP keep fingers crossed on fan attendance



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ATP Tennis will return August 2020 Image: ATP

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) recently released a provisional schedule for the remainder of the 2020 men’s campaign, expressing hope that fans can grace the season-ending ATP Finals in London.

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) is a main men’s tennis governing body. It was formed in September 1972 by Donald Dell, Jack Kramer, and Cliff Drysdale to protect the interests of professional tennis players.

The ATP Finals is the second highest tier of annual men’s tennis tournament after the four Grand Slam tournaments. A week-long event, the tournament is held annually each November at the O2 Arena in London, United Kingdom. In 2021, it will move to Turin, Italy.

The announcement comes after the ATP’s calendar planning was hit this month as the Madrid Open, one of the leading tennis tournaments outside the Grand Slams, was canceled for 2020 following resurgence in COVID-19 cases in Spain.

The Madrid Open is an ATP Masters 1000 tournament on the men’s tour and Premier Mandatory event on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour. The revised calendar issued marks a continuation of the plan to resume the ATP Tour season, following suspension in March due to global outbreak of coronavirus which still has many of the countries in its death throes.

As part of the updated schedule the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Rome, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, will now be scheduled one week earlier from September 14, in the week previously assigned to the Madrid Open, and will have a Monday final. The Rome event will be followed by the ATP 500 Hamburg (Germany) European Open in the week prior to the French Open at Roland Garros.

The updated schedule includes the final section of the calendar comprising the European indoor swing, including events in St. Petersburg (Russia) (St. Petersburg Open), Antwerp (Belgium) (European Open), Moscow (VTB Kremlin Cup), Vienna (Erste Bank Open), Paris (Rolex Paris Masters) and Sofia (Bulgaria) (Sofia Open), ahead of the season-ending ATP Finals in London. Among the changes, the St. Petersburg Open will be elevated to ATP 500 status for its 2020 edition.

The revised calendar also confirms that the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan (Italy) will not take place in 2020 as COVID-19 is very much on the prowl.

Remarked Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman, “Tennis is starting to find its way back and, while we must first and foremost look after the health and safety of everyone involved, we are hopeful we will be able to retain these playing opportunities and produce a strong finish to the season. I would like to commend the tournaments for their continued commitment, flexibility and resourcefulness in finding solutions to operate under these challenging circumstances.”

The ATP said it continues to examine options for additional events to be added to the schedule, including opportunities to issue a limited number of single-year licenses for the remainder of the 2020 season.

The ATP Finals are being staged in London since 2009 and this year it is scheduled to take place from November 15-22 at The O2 (multipurpose indoor arena). However, this will be the final edition in London, with the tournament set to move to Turin, Italy, from 2021 to 2025.

In sync with existing UK Government guidance, the ATP said it currently plans to hold the ATP Finals behind closed doors as the coronavirus dust has still not settled down. Fans who have already purchased tickets or hospitality to the event through the tournament’s official partners will receive full refunds.

However, ATP said it keeps its fingers crossed that later this year fans will be allowed to return into stadia in a socially distanced manner, following a series of pilot events being undertaken in the UK that will resume this weekend. If this is confirmed ahead of the Finals, the ATP said it wants to reopen ticket sales for the tournament.

“The fans have played such an incredible part in the success of the Nitto ATP Finals over the years and there’s no question the capacity crowds will be deeply missed this year. Working within the guidelines issued by the UK Government is paramount as we look to prioritize the health and safety of the fans and everybody involved in the tournament in our efforts to deliver the event in the safest way possible,” Gaudenzi added.

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