According to recent reports, the 2021 Noventi Open in Halle will be held without fans. This new development will likely put a dampener on local fans' hopes of watching the great Roger Federer try to win his 11th title at the ATP 500 event this year.
The Halle organizers have reportedly sent a collective message to all ticket holders, informing them that the venue won't be able to host any fans on-site this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Since the health of our visitors, players, partners and employees is, of course, the top priority for us and our tournament name partner, Noventi Health SE, we unfortunately only have the option of holding the tournament without visitors this year. It will not be possible for us to hold the Noventi Open in front of an audience again until next year," the organizers said in their message.
Further reports claim that Roger Federer will play the Halle event not just this year, but also in 2022. That would be music to the ears of his fans, who have been speculating and fearing about his retirement for the better part of a year.
It was revealed a few weeks ago that Federer had added his name to the entry list at the 2021 Noventi Open. The Swiss will be joined at Halle by the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov and David Goffin.
Having said that, Roger Federer's participation in Halle will depend on how his body copes with the rigors of the tour in the coming months. Federer is also on the entry list of the 2021 Madrid Open, a claycourt tournament that will serve as a tune-up for Roland Garros.
Roger Federer had earlier suggested he might have to play the clay season if he wanted to be at his best level during the grass season. But it remains to be seen whether the 39-year-old will commit to so many events in an already packed season.
Roger Federer has dominated Halle in a way that very few players have ever dominated any event
Roger Federer will be playing at Halle this year for the 18th time in his illustrious career, having reigned supreme at the grasscourt event a whopping 10 times. Such has been Federer's dominance there that back in 2012, the town in Westfalen even named one of its streets after the Swiss.
Roger Federer won his career's first grass title at the 2003 Halle Open, defeating Nicolas Kiefer in the final. The victory served as the platform from which the Swiss maestro registered his maiden Grand Slam triumph at Wimbledon that same year.
Federer went on to win five more Halle titles in as many appearances, playing spell-binding tennis to beat some of the world's best players in the mid-2000s. He then experienced a slump in form at the turn of the decade, dropping championship matches to Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Haas in 2010 and 2012 respectively.
But Federer soon restored order at Halle as he added five more titles to his bag. The 20-time Major champion has always used the Halle event as a tune-up for Wimbledon, which means the Swiss' performance at this year's Noventi Open could possibly influence his campaign at the All-England Club as well.