Tennis: Laver Cup will go ahead despite French Open switch, say organisers

The Laver Cup, an exhibition event co-created by Roger Federer which has always featured the Swiss great and one of Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS) - Laver Cup organisers say the exhibition event will go ahead in September as planned despite the French Open moving to the same dates as the implications of the French Tennis Federation (FFT)'s shock gambit began to reverberate on Wednesday (March 18).

In a move that stunned the tennis world, French Open organisers on Tuesday postponed the claycourt Grand Slam at Roland Garros from May until late September because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The switch has placed the tournament a week after the U.S. Open final and results in clashes with ATP tournaments in Metz, St. Petersburg, Chengdu, Sofia and Zhuhai as well as WTA events in Guangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo and Wuhan.

It also clashes with the Sept 25-27 Laver Cup, an exhibition event co-created by Roger Federer which has always featured the Swiss great and one of Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic.

Laver Cup organisers said they were surprised by the move to switch Roland Garros to Sept 20-Oct 4 due to the coronavirus.

"This announcement came as a surprise to us and our partners - Tennis Australia, the USTA and the ATP. It raises many questions and we are assessing the situation," they said in a statement .

"At this time, we want our fans, sponsors, broadcasters, staff, volunteers, players and the great city of Boston to know that we intend to hold Laver Cup 2020 as currently scheduled."

The men's ATP Tour, women's WTA Tour and International Tennis Federation have yet to respond publicly to the move but players around the world have hit out at the lack of communication from the game's governing bodies.

Canadian Vasek Pospisil, a member of the ATP's Players Council, slammed the FFT decision as "selfish" and "arrogant" while some women's tour players posted memes on social media to voice their ire.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) earlier released a statement which said there were no plans to alter the schedule for the Aug 25-Sept 13 U.S. Open and went on to obliquely criticising unilateral changes to the Grand Slam calendar.

"At a time when the world is coming together, we recognise that such a decision should not be made unilaterally," it read.

"Therefore the USTA would only do so in full consultation with the other Grand Slam tournaments, the WTA and ATP, the ITF and our partners, including the Laver Cup."

Wimbledon organisers said they were still proceeding on the basis that the grasscourt Grand Slam would start on June 29, while organisers of the Australian Open are continuing to work towards the usual January start for the 2021 edition.

Organisers of the Korea Open said they had yet to hear from the WTA about the implications of the French Open move on their tournament, which was scheduled to take place in Seoul from Sept 21-27.

"We are still in talks of adjusting the Korea Open tour schedule, but nothing has been decided yet," an official told Reuters.

"The schedule would probably change according to amendments in WTA calendar."

The China Open in Beijing and Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo did not have any clarity on their events.

"China Open has not received any notice of schedule adjustment from WTA and ATP, and is currently preparing for the event according to the original schedule," a tournament official said.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected over 190,000 and killed more than 7,500 people worldwide.

The ATP Tour have announced a six-week suspension, the WTA Tour have cancelled events until May 2, and the ITF has called off all its events including next month's new-look Fed Cup Finals in Budapest.

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