atpten
The ATP and WTA calendars have been revised Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Professional tennis will once again get under way with the ATP and the WTA — the professional bodies for men’s and women’s tennis — announcing fresh updated calendars.

The new-look ATP Tour calendar intends to resume from August 14 in Washington, DC, with the Citi Open, while the WTA has intentions of returning to play with the Palermo Ladies Open in Italy from August 3.

The revised provisional calendars now set a pathway for the resumption of the tours for the first time since the suspension of professional tennis in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ATP 500 event in DC will be followed by the Western & Southern Open, the displaced Cincinnati ATP Masters 1000 event being played at Flushing Meadows in New York this year, during the lead-up to the US Open scheduled from August 31 to September 13.

After New York, action will shift to the clay courts of Europe starting with the Mutua Madrid Open and the Internazionali BNL d’Italia — the ATP Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Rome — ahead of the French Open in Paris from September 27 to October 11 that will also feature a singles qualifying draw the week prior.

The ATP calendar is subject to change and there will be continuous assessments made relating to health and safety, international travel policies and governmental approval of sporting events.

In the meantime, the ATP will continue to explore all options for additional events that could be added to the schedule, only if circumstances allow. A further update on the intended schedule beyond the French Open is expected to be made public by the middle of July.

ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi insisted that only the initial ground work has been done to ensure things get back on schedule. “Our objective has been to reschedule as many tournaments as possible and salvage as much of the season as we can,” he said.

“It has been a truly collaborative effort and we hope to add more events to the calendar as the situation evolves. I would like to recognise our tournaments’ efforts to operate during these challenging times, as well as our players who will be competing under different conditions. At every turn, ensuring that the resumption of the Tour takes place in a safe environment will be paramount.”

Meanwhile, the ATP Challenger Tour will also resume from the week of August 17, in cohesion with the ITF World Tennis Tour.

The 2020 WTA calendar includes a total of 20 tournaments, beginning in Palermo and then moving on to the Western & Southern Open that will be hosted this year at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York City — the same site as the US Open. After the US Open, the WTA Tour will continue to Europe with several red clay events, including the Madrid Open leading into Roland Garros.

After that, the WTA Tour will move around Europe and Asia Pacific, including the China Open in Beijing, with another few weeks of tournament competition leading into the season-ending Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen set from November 9-15.

With the provisional plan to return to play this summer, the Porsche Race to Shenzhen will resume, with all points earned in 2020 eligible to count for qualification towards the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen. Due to various circumstances brought on by COVID-19, several WTA tournaments are unable to be held this year and will sit off the calendar in 2020.

It is currently anticipated that tournaments will be held without fans and each tournament will have a limited footprint, with players and essential personnel only.

The WTA Rankings have been frozen since March 16 and a determination on the rankings process will be made in the coming weeks with respect to the most appropriate and fair way for the rankings to resume in parallel with the resumption of the Tour.

WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon assured the women players that everything is being done to ensure safety of all concerned when the Tour eventually gets under way. “Having assessed the global outlook for travel in the latter half of the year, working with our medical experts on providing the safest environment possible, and working through the diverse operational challenges for running events safely in the context of COVID-19, the WTA is pleased to release a calendar for the remainder of the 2020 season,” he said.

“For now, the vital energy of spectators in stadiums will be greatly missed, but our broadcast and social media partners are exploring new ways to engage with our fantastic fans. It is our sincere hope and desire that we will be able to return to play this summer.”