Season should resume next March at Indian Wells, says Jabeur - GulfToday

Season should resume next March at Indian Wells, says Jabeur


Resuming the season later this year is not ideal as it would not be fair when calculating ranking points, insists Ons Jabeur. File / Reuters

The tennis season stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic should only resume next March and tournaments that have already been completed this year should not be played in the 2021 season, Australian Open quarter-finalist Ons Jabeur said.

Professional tennis has been suspended since March due to the coronavirus outbreak when Indian Wells became the first major tournament to be cancelled. The ATP and WTA Tours said the hiatus will continue at least until mid-July.

Tunisian Jabeur, the first Arab woman to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, said resuming the season later this year was not ideal as it would not be fair when calculating ranking points.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to start the season this year. Start the season again next year in March,” Jabeur said in Eurosport’s Tennis Legends vodcast.

“Don’t start by playing the Australian Open since we already played it this year ... start from Indian Wells, where everybody stopped. It’s fair for the other Grand Slams, it’s fair for the points and for everything.”

This year’s French Open was moved to Sept. 20-Oct. 4 while the Wimbledon championships, which were set to begin in late June, were cancelled. US Open organisers said last week that playing the hardcourt Slam without fans is unlikely and Jabeur, ranked 39 in the world, believes it would not be fair on the players if only certain majors could be completed in a season.

Former world number one Andy Murray said on Wednesday tennis will be one of the last sports to return to action after the world has recovered from the pandemic and Jabeur expects the Tours to restart in September.

 “Honestly, I think, September is going to be where everything is going to start,” she added. “Let’s say even if we start in July – what about the other tournaments?

“What about the other Grand Slams if we can play around two or three Grand Slams for a year and just skip the other one? How is it fair for the points, how is it fair for the other players?

“Everybody lost a lot of things... We don’t stop playing tennis, we will start playing tennis again, but not with the ranking.”

Meanwhile, with no tournaments and earning potential on hold, these are worrying times for rank and file tennis players such as Noah Rubin, the American ranked 225th in the ATP rankings.

But he thinks that tennis needs to hit “rock bottom” during the coronavirus pandemic so that things can change for the better for the sport’s lesser lights.

Rubin, 24, inhabits a vastly different world to the likes of Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal whose vast earnings mean, financially at least, they are insulated against the shutdown.

According to the ATP website, Rubin has earned $33,000 this season, although deduct expenses and that doesn’t offer much financial security, especially with professional tennis on hold until at least mid-July.

Many are even worse off and there are fears some lowly-ranked players will be forced to quit.

“It’s a tough thing to say, but I am almost hoping that it hits rock bottom,” Rubin told Eurosport’s Tennis Legends podcast.

“But I am hoping because I have spoken to ATP and WTA before and the urgency to change tennis... hasn’t been there. So, I am hoping that rock bottom almost like lights a fire under their butts and says ‘hey, we’re in trouble. Other sports aren’t in trouble as much as we are, let’s do something.”

World number one Novak Djokovic has called on the tennis world to contribute to a relief fund for players struggling financially during the coronavirus shutdown.

Federer believes the ATP and WTA should merge to improve the health of the sport while Andy Murray has called for Grand Slam prizemoney to be more equally distributed.

The ATP and WTA, along with the International Tennis Federation and organisers of the four Grand Slams, are creating a coronavirus relief fund to help struggling players.

Rubin says that in these “crazy times”, tennis bodies must take radical steps to sustain the depth of the Tour, rather than just apply band-aids that will have no long-term benefit.

“We have some of the most incredible minds in the world in the sport of tennis,” New Yorker Rubin said.


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