France’s Jeremy Chardy says that players are concerned about lost earnings, prize money and ranking points while tennis is shut…
France’s Jeremy Chardy says that players are concerned about lost earnings, prize money and ranking points while tennis is shut down due to COVID-19.
The global pandemic means that instead of playing two of the biggest tournaments of the year – Indian Wells, often called the ‘fifth slam’, and Miami – players are now at home, uncertain when they are going to be able to resume competing.
‘I no longer know if I am unemployed, on paternity leave or [a] tennis player,’ Chardy, whose wife recently gave birth to their first child, told L’Equipe.
‘The whole economy suffers and we too will suffer. If we cancel our fifth biggest tournament of the season like that, it’s because we can expect difficult times. There is Miami, but also Monte-Carlo, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros at the end of the race.
‘We talk about Masters 1000 and a Grand Slam without knowing what can happen. […] In fact, I do everything except my basic job. If it is, I will only play three tournaments in six months, the three in January!
‘You lose money if you don’t play. Many players want to talk about it. It is not our fault what happens. If a lot of tournaments are canceled, it can be difficult when you are not an employee. And for ATP points, it can be complicated too.
‘If it lasts, I think we are going to have to freeze the ranking otherwise it may become too unfair. If the Challengers are going on, there are also some who will take points while we can’t play.’
There are no professional tennis tournaments until Monday 20 April at the very earliest, with the ATP Tour, on which Chardy players, suspended until Monday 27 April.
Should the ATP Tour be able to resume, there would be two tournaments that week – the BMW Open in Munich and the Millennium Estoril Open – followed by back-to-back Masters 1000 Series events in Madrid and Rome.
There are also four Challenger Tour events taking place on the week beginning 27 April, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Savannah, Georgia, USA; Ostrava in the Czech Republic; and Rome.
The WTA Tour has not officially suspended in the same way as the ATP, but all tournaments except one have been cancelled until the week beginning 27 April.
All ITF Tour events have been suspended until Monday 20 April, leaving the sporting world in an unprecedented situation with absolutely zero professional tennis being played.
Just arrived back home to Russia. Coronavirus pandemic has been announced, all tennis tournaments have been cancelled for six weeks. This situation leaves no one indifferent. The health and lives of people is the most important thing.#StayAtHome #CoronaOut pic.twitter.com/gw7jg9Ym3f
— Karen Khachanov (@karenkhachanov) March 14, 2020
Chardy, currently ranked world no. 59, last played at the Australian Open in January, when he lost in the first round to David Goffin.
As a new father, he sat out February’s events and was planning to resume competition at the BNP Paribas Open, better known as the Indian Wells Masters – a 96-player draw Masters 1000 Series event played in the second-largest permanent tennis stadium in the world. Main-draw men’s singles matches at Indian Wells should have begun on Thursday 12 March.
Instead, the tournament was abruptly cancelled on Monday 9 March after a single confirmed coronavirus case in the Coachella Valley.
‘Since Melbourne, I hadn’t played a game, and I really wanted to play. I missed it! I arrived in California on Saturday midnight,’ Chardy told L’Equipe.
‘On Sunday morning, I started in the morning with some training, I had eaten take a little nap, and I started to stretch with my physiotherapist when [former coach] Magnus came to me and said, “You can stop, the tournament is cancelled.”
‘I thought it was a joke. But the tour manager came to confirm it. Nobody expected it. There had just been the Challenger final between Sock and Johnson on site, everyone was training. It was really weird.’
Most of the players remained on site at Indian Wells, waiting to find out whether the Miami Open would be cancelled, although Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were among those who flew home immediately.
The Miami Open was confirmed cancelled on Thursday by Miami-Dade County Major Carlos A. Gimenez, who declared a state of emergency.
Keeping my focus on getting stronger on court right now with my team during these uncertain times we’re having. Hope everyone stays safe 🙏 pic.twitter.com/IfsQBZigYa
— Kevin Anderson (@KAndersonATP) March 14, 2020
If tennis players do not compete, they do not earn money, and only the privileged few can afford for that state of affairs to remain in effect for long.
Chardy, whose career earnings total $9,617,287 according to the ATP Tour, and others face an anxious wait to find out when competition will resume. With both Italy and Spain currently in a state of lockdown, Rome and Madrid must be considered under threat. French Open tournament director Guy Forget told L’Equipe that they had not ruled out playing the tournament behind closed doors.
‘It’s a solution but not a good thing. It’s not sport. It’s true, it can allow us to continue working, but the beauty of it is the atmosphere, the sharing with the fans. Sport is entertainment. If you take that away, you only play for yourself, it’s a shame.
‘With closed doors, nobody enjoys.’
The All-England Club, who run Wimbledon, have ruled out playing the July event behind closed doors.