The approaching COVID-19 January tennis scheduling squeeze in the Gulf on Wednesday forced organisers to cancel the Abu Dhabi exhibition.
The deep-pocketed event had for a decade drawn top players to the UAE capital for a few days of well-paid hit-and-giggle around Christmas time before most moved onto Australia to prepare for the Southern summer of tennis.
But as the ATP and WTA scramble to throw together some kind of a tournament schedule amid the virus pandemic, it was the non-official event which ultimately had to bow out.
Organisers dropped their news on social media “after consultation with stakeholders and tennis governing bodies”
“The decision is a result of scheduling challenges in the tennis calendar of events due to the international response to COVID-19.”
The decision was forced due to pure logistics after reports that the WTA is preparing to announce a 500 series tournament from January 5-13.
The timing would allow eligible players to make it to Melbourne by January 17 prior to 14 days of mandatory quarantine before the late February 8 start of the Open.
Organisers have yet to announce the WTA project.
Also to be confirmed: Australian Open qualifying rounds which are likely to be staged in nearby Dubai, since players will not be allowed into locked-down Australia for that necessary preliminary competition.