Roger Federer wins Basel 2019
Roger Federer’s home event, the Swiss Indoors, looks to be in serious risk of cancellation in October due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 lockdown,
Even as Switzerland continues to keep the virus under control, the boss of the indoor showpiece fears that it might not be able to take place in four months due mainly to the financial hit of social distancing.
Should the 50th edition of the tournament which has been Basel native Federer’s personal playground – he’s won it 10 times including the last three editions – be able to be played, that would still not be enough to balance the books.
Event supremo Roger Brennwald told local radio: “Unfortunately, the corona virus has several match balls with which to spoil the tournament,” adding that rental on the St. Jakobshalle would prove to be an impossible budget ask – even with a 40 per cent prize money reduction plan now in the hands of the ATP.
Switzerland is in the process of opening up more, with wildly popular ice hockey said to be able to host fans by October.
“Social distancing is not feasible in an indoor tournament with more than 10,000 visitors and employees per day,” Brennwald said,
“In our view, the protection of people, players and guests from all over the world cannot be guaranteed, even if all preventive hygiene measures are observed.”
Whatever the final outcome, the show would go on without the main attraction, with the 38-year-old Federer out for the rest of 2020 as he recovers from a medical procedure on his right knee.
Reports indicate that Basel has been looking to cancel for some months now, with the matter now kicked upstairs to the ATP.
Basel could prove to be an important lynchpin in the abbreviated autumn schedule as tennis struggles to return to the courts starting in early August; the alpine nation has already lost the Gstaad and Lausanne summer clay events through virus cancellations..
“The Swiss Indoors has survived many storms in the course of half a century, but no deal could be made with Corona,” Brennwald said.
Meanwhile in Vienna, tournament organisers of that October event are hoping to get at least some fans through the door of the Stadthalle, where world No. 3 Austrian Dominic Thiem is due to headline as he defends his title.
TD Herwig Straka is encouraged by the decision to go ahead with the US Open starting August 31 to be followed a month later by Roland Garros as well as the Madrid and Rome Masters 1000s..
“Publication of the ATP (autumn) calendar is a first important step for official tennis on the way back,” he said. “We will continue to prepare with confidence,” adding that the event is hoping to allow fans in
“Players will be fit and extremely hungry for matches after the long tournament break – especially with a tournament in a country like Austria, which has come through this challenging time very well by international comparison.”