Earlier this summer, the ATP Tour put out the call that anyone interested in hosting a tournament during this pandemic-ravaged 2020 season could do so on a one-year license.
And several entities have taken up the offer.
Four more fall events were announced Thursday, including two back-to-back 250-level tournaments to be held at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany.
Two days ago, a story in the German media advanced those events, and put out a call for sponsors.
The Cologne tournaments, to be held indoors on hard courts, are called the “Bett1Hulks Indoors” and the “Bett1Hulks Championship”.
(You’d be forgiven for thinking “Bett1” sounds like a betting company; it’s actually a mattress manufacturer).
According to the Cologne Stadt-Anzeiger, which broke the original news, the prize money will be 325,610 Euros for each event. They expect Alexander Zverev to be on hand, along with Andy Murray.
e|motion adds to its stable
The organizer of the events is the e|motion group, which has gotten very involved in tennis of late both with the ATP Mallorca tournament (which because of the virus didn’t hold its inaugural edition in 2020) and the grass-court tournament in Berlin (same, but they did have an exhibition there). The company already ran Stuttgart and Vienna.
The e|motion press release already has a quote from Zverev, so clearly they have already come to terms with him. The tournament director is former player and German Fed Cup captain Barbara Rittner.
“It’s great that there will be two ATP tournaments in Cologne in such a complicated season. It is always special for me to play in Germany and I would be very happy if there could be as many fans in the arena as possible. I had a good re-start on the ATP Tour in New York and I’m confident that I will carry on my great form to Cologne”, Zverev is quoted as saying.
The same week as the first Cologne tournament, an event outdoors on clay in Sardinia has been added, called the Forte Village Sardegna Open.
The week of Oct. 26 (the same week as the 500 Vienna tournament, there will be another 250 indoors in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan called the Astana Open.
Monfils also expected?
The “Bett1hulks.de” domain was just registered a couple of days ago. But the tournament already has a website up, and it prominently features two other big names in German Alexander Zverev and Gaël Monfils of France.
The ATP statement says the granting of these one-off licences “follows applications by tournament promoters and host localities able to satisfy strict health & safety, international travel, and ATP event requirements.”
Pretty full fall schedule
The fall ATP schedule now includes three tournaments the week after Roland Garros (one of them the existing event in St. Petersburg, Russia) three 250-level events the week of Oct. 19 and two the week of Oct. 26.
But of course, the coronavirus decides; they are subject to the now familiar caveats.
All of these events are being put on with almost no notice at all, where most tournaments plan all year for their event. So it’ll be fascinating to see how they all manage.
“Adding new events to the Tour calendar is a positive step given the many challenges our sport has faced this year, and I would like to thank all the event organisers on the calendar,” was the statement from ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.
“Our goal was to create additional opportunities for players and entertainment for our fans, and to do so in a safe and practical way. We are delighted to have tennis back on court again and these new events will help us finish the year strongly, as we build towards the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals.”
ATP and Nitto extend partnership
In addition to the tournament news, the ATP also announced that Nitto has extended its sponsorship of the ATP Tour Finals, which are still set to go in London in November.
In 2021, they will still be the Nitto Finals even after a move to Turin, Italy.
As well, Nitto becomes “a year-round Gold Partner and the Official Athletic Tape of the ATP Tour. The partnership will provide Nitto medical taping products for use by ATP medical team at Tour events with Nitto branding featured on ATP physiotherapists’ official clothing.”