Tennis is all set to resume in August, with fans across the world finally being treated to the sight of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Co playing competitively for the first time since March.
A month and a half ago, the ATP had announced the revised schedule for the 2020 men's tour, which includes both the US Open and the French Open. The tour was expected to resume from 14 August with the Citi Open in Washington, but that event has now been cancelled owing to the coronavirus-enforced travel restrictiosn.
The two hardcourt tournaments to be held at Flushing Meadows by the end of August - Cincinnati Open and the US Open - will be the first big events of the year since the global health crisis prompted the tour to being suspended.
The clay season, meanwhile, will begin with the Generali Open in Kitzbuhel from 8 September, followed by the ATP 1000 Masters Madrid Open from 13 September. Before Roland Garros gets underway from 27 September, the tour will move to Rome for the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, which will kick off from the 20th.
However, in what is a major blow to the tennis fans of Italy, the Rome Masters will take place behind closed doors as per the new health protocols.
Will Rafael Nadal be happy about playing without fans?
With so many tournaments packed into a span of around two months, Rafael Nadal is expected to skip the US Open in order to fine-tune his claycourt preparations. Rafael Nadal had earlier expressed his reluctance about traveling to the US amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country, while adding that the tournament shouldn't take place unless players from every part of the world can travel safely.
If that was not enough, both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer had also previously declared that they were not keen on playing tennis without fans.
“Coming back without a crowd I think will be tough and strange," Rafael Nadal had said a few months ago. "Hopefully, it will not happen, but sadly we will probably have to do it that way. Well, I am not okay with playing without fans. I want to play with the fans.”
Rafael Nadal's reservations about playing behind closed doors are now moot, as the CTS (Committee of Technical Science of Italy) rejected the Italian Tennis Federation's proposal to organize the Rome Masters with a controlled crowd. the Committee found the proposal to be "unsuitable" given Italy's history with the COVID-19 contagion curve.
Expecting a daily presence of about 17,000 spectators at the Rome Masters, the CTS believes that social distancing will not be possible with such big crowds at the Foro Italico.
One of the reasons behind this development is the fact that Italy's healthcare will be put to the test soon as schools in the country are about to reopen. It remains to be seen how Rafael Nadal, the defending Rome champion, will react to the absence of fans in the stadium.Published 30 Jul 2020, 23:59 IST