The future of the Australian Open remains unresolved, throwing up another major threat to the men’s calendar with reports indicating the Indian Wells organisers are now unsure about going ahead with its ATP-WTA event.
With the Open in locked-down Melbourne now unlikely to be held before February 8 – three weeks later than usual – the domino effect on subsequent ATP events looks to be massive.
Prestige sports daily L’Equipe reported on Sunday that Indian Wells bosses – the March 10-21 Masters 1000 is owned and bankrolled by tech billionaire Larry Ellison – have asked for an extension to their decision deadline date.
Rules call for the call to be made by the end of December, but IW is reportedly asking for another two weeks to decide.
The newspaper said that if crowds (usually in the 500,000 range over 10 days) are limited to 25 percent of capacity, then the show in the Californian desert will not go on due to a huge financial handicap.
Should the Australian Open wrap up on February 21, there would be only three weeks to try and play a dozen ATP events, including 500-level showpieces Dubai, Rio, Rotterdam and Acapulco.
If Indian Wells opts out – LA has just gone into COVID-19 lockdown – then it means two free weeks to cram in more missing play.
The prospect of any tournament being willing to spool up for the first two weeks of 2021 prior to the mandatory 14-day Grand Slam lockdown in Melbourne from mid-January, is expected to be non-existent.
So far, the paper reports, only Delray Beach in wide-open Florida has expressed any desire to fill in the early-year gap.
Indian Wells is only half of the ATP’s March puzzle – there is alo the 10-day Miami event to consider, though it lacks the prestige of its Californian cousin.
L’Equipe also reports that the ATP is hesitant to lay on too many optional events during the Open period for fear that players might just skip the trip to the Southern hemisphere to avoid the massive hassle which playing in Australia will surely entail.