A major ATP calendar clash is coming in the autumn after officials at the prestige Indian Wells Masters announced that their March event will be staged in October following cancellations in 2020 and earlier this year.
That kind of on-the-fly timing presents a threat to the equally posh Shanghai Masters, whose place on the annual schedule is fixed for the middle of that month.
While Indian Wells, whose budget is basically unlimited thanks to the deep pockets of tech titan owner Larry Ellison, has not announced dates, the possibility for conflict looms large.
For ATP No. 1 Novak Djokovic, players will likely end up making a choice between one of the other events on either side of the Pacific.
“It’s not ideal, really. Many of us love to play both Shanghai and Indian Wells, two tournaments with great organization, but they are on two opposite sides of our planet,” the Serb said.
“Traveling from Shanghai to Indian Wells, more than 10 hours traveling … I think many players will decide to play one of those two tournaments if in the end they both find themselves stuck on the schedule.”
Djokovic added that he’s yet to make up his mind and will await further details.
“I don’t know what my schedule will be after the US Open , I’ve not committed to any event.
“I’ll probably play some indoor tournament before Turin (ATP Finals) or Davis Cup. We’ll see, I don’t know yet. “
The choice might end up being made for players on the Chinese end: the country has yet to open up 18 months after the COVID outbreak in Wuhan with no indication that tennis might resume in five months.
Any decision will weigh even heavier on the WTA, which has for years based much of its autumn schedule in the Far East with Chinese events predominating.