Tennis: Italian Open brought forward as ATP revises 2020 calendar

A person wearing protective gloves holds a tennis ball during an exhibition match in Germany in July 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

(Reuters) - Next month's Italian Open in Rome will be held a week earlier than scheduled following the cancellation of the Madrid Open due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the governing body of men's tennis (ATP) said on Friday (Aug 14).

The ATP announced several updates to the remainder of the 2020 calendar badly affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak, with no place for the NextGen ATP finals, the flagship event for the top players aged 21 and under, in its provisional schedule.

The Italian Open, a key preparation tournament for the French Open, will now begin on Sept 14 and have a Monday final.

It will be followed by the Hamburg European Open in the week prior to Roland Garros, which starts on Sept 27.

"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,"ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said in a statement.

"I would like to commend the tournaments for their continued commitment, flexibility and resourcefulness in finding solutions to operate under these challenging circumstances."

Among other changes, the St Petersburg Open will be elevated to ATP 500 status for its 2020 edition.

"The revised calendar also provides confirmation that the NextGen ATP Finals in Milan will not take place in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19," the ATP said.

The ATP added that the provisional calendar remains subject to change and it would explore options for additional events to be added to the schedule - including opportunities to issue a limited number of single-year licences.

Meanwhile, organisers of the season-ending ATP Finals have announced that Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Dominic Thiem are the first three players to qualify for the Nov 15-22 event.

The 50th anniversary edition of the finals in London, which features the best eight singles players and doubles teams, is set to be held without fans in line with British government guidelines, organisers said.

"However, ATP remains hopeful 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," they added.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.