It was just over a week ago that the FFT moved Roland Garros to a September 20 start—a bold, unilateral decision made to give the organization better odds of staging the event this year. The following day, both the ATP and WTA released a joint statement conceding that the European clay-court season could not move forward as scheduled due to COVID-19.
On Monday, ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi spoke openly about the unknown future of the 2020 season. As of Tuesday, the beginning of the grass swing, June 8, remains the earliest date play could potentially resume. Doubts continue to creep in however, after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which were due to launch July 24, were postponed until 2021.
“We are in close discussion with all the grass-court events and they remain on the calendar as scheduled at this time. The reality is this is a rapidly evolving situation and there is no option other than to take this day-by-day and week-by-week,” Gaudenzi said on the ATP's website. “We continue to assess all options related to preserving and maximizing the calendar based on various return dates for the Tour. It goes without saying that full cooperation with the other governing bodies is essential.”
While both tours agreed on freezing their rankings, neither has made a final decision on its historical implications. It’s a hot topic of discussion for the ATP in particular, with current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic needing just four more weeks, as of March 9, 2020—the freeze date—to tie Pete Sampras for second all-time on most weeks spent atop the rankings. Roger Federer holds the record with 310.
“Unfortunately, the repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt across all areas of society, as well as by our players, tournaments, and the Tour,” Gaudenzi said. “This is bigger than any sport. The current situation raises many questions which we empathize with greatly, and we are working hard on evaluating all options.”
Gaudenzi is a native of Faenza, Italy and won three ATP singles titles, peaking at No. 18 in the rankings. The 46-year-old began his role on January 1, succeeding Chris Kermode.