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In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, tennis seeks to reinvent itself


The actors of the game explore avenues to relaunch an activity in neutral.

Silence, we don't play anymore. And it could last. Surely weeks, probably months. World tennis has been at a standstill since the beginning of March, after notably the postponement of Roland-Garros to the autumn and the historic cancellation of Wimbledon. While the planned resumption of the circuit on July 13 seems more than ever hypothetical, the specter of a white season looms. Difficult for the moment to imagine a world elite circuit, if certain players are prevented from traveling in the coming months for health reasons But the appeal of the courts is urgent for the players of the game confined and unraveled. During a recent direct on Instagram, Rafael Nadal admitted "not really understanding why we cannot play tennis when a lot of people go to work. Especially in our sport, where we keep great safety distances. "

"All countries will have their own model for breaking out of confinement and it will be difficult to restart our circuit"

Novak Djokovic

Pending the return to normalcy which could take months, initiatives are starting to emerge. The world number one in person, Novak Djokovic confirmed, still on Instagram: "All countries will have their own model to break out of confinement and it will be difficult to restart our circuit, because it takes place every week in a different country. So I think there will be more regional tournaments with prizes, but probably no points (ATP) at the moment. ”

To restore a minimum of game and competition (and money), countries like Spain, Great Britain or France with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's trainer, Thierry Ascione, under the patronage of the FFT , have announced in recent weeks the idea of ​​national elite circuits when the time comes for deconfinement. With the possibility for players to train again, the German and Austrian Federations have already announced competitions. Before the resumption of the "real circuit", they will be televised and will compete in camera with local players from May 25 in Austria from June 8 in Germany.

If Rafael Nadal's academy plans to organize exhibition matches in Mallorca, the very active and influential Patrick Mouratoglou sees further. In this period of scarcity, he wants to strike a blow with the creation of a new league: the UTS (Ultimate Tennis Showdown). The French coach of Serena Williams will thus launch from the weekend of May 16 and 17 a closed match circuit in his academy in the south of France. Circuit he hopes to see continue after the health crisis.

"Nothing will fall over the next few months"

Quentin Halys

Faced with the complete cessation of the circuit due to the pandemic, many players in the tennis world find themselves in financial difficulty. If the stars of the circuit can afford not to earn money for several months, the more modest players do not have the same luxury. The Frenchman Quentin Halys, 157th in the world, accustomed to the challenger circuit (2nd division) more than to the big circuit, confided to us, worried, at the start of the confinement: "Nothing will fall in the coming months."

The French Tennis Federation, which is praying more than ever for Roland-Garros to take place in the fall, announced on April 10 a support and recovery plan "for the entire ecosystem of French tennis and associated disciplines ”up to 35 million euros. The Grand Slams, ATP, WTA and ITF have confirmed the creation of a support fund for players who are ranked lower and directly affected by the coronavirus. Over $ 6 million is expected to be released and distributed. The three best players in the world (Djokovic, Nadal and Federer) have also launched a line of thought to create a support fund to help players ranked from 250th to 700th place. First steps in calling others. "With Stefanos Tsitsipas (6th player in the world) we set up a platform, Beyond 100 Support, which will raise funds to help players ranked outside the top 100 at ATP and WTA," announces Patrick Mouratoglou. It is not acceptable that these players beyond the top 100 do not earn a living while winning it for example in golf. We must find a better distribution of wealth and that the pyramid of earnings is acceptable. There is still a malfunction. " And far from these financial anxieties, the best, they work their brakes while waiting to be able to find the training courts, the competition, the return of the trips and the routine of the circuit, as in the world before.

Federer advocates the fusion of women's and men's tennis

The coronavirus pandemic could lead to a real revolution in the governance of this traditional sport, where no key leader emerges with these different bodies with diverging interests. With a simple tweet, Roger Federer himself spoke about the fusion of the female and male circuits (WTA and ATP) last week. A statement that has received the support of Rafael Nadal or the legend Billie Jean King. "It's a good thing to simplify the way tennis works," adds Mouratoglou. But what would seem more logical to me is that all of the professional male and female circuits are merged with ATP and WTA. However, today, the International Federation (ITF) manages the secondary circuits. "

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Source: lefigaro

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