The confirmation hasn’t yet come from the WTA Tour.
But a report in the Mexican media outlet Milenio (one of the largest in the country) indicates that tour CEO Steve Simon will be in Guadalajara early next week to finalize the details of a WTA 1000 tournament to be held in that city in October.
Guadalajara impressively stepped in last fall to host the WTA Tour finals, when the entire Asian swing was cancelled for the second straight year because of the pandemic.
According to the Milenio story, the main stadium in Guadalajara is fine, but the other courts on the site likely will have to be upgraded to “WTA 1000” standards. The site hosts a WTA 250 tournament in February.
Much left to determine for Guadalajara
It’s not yet known which of the Chinese WTA 1000 tournaments Guadalajara would replace.
And the difference is significant in terms of financial commitment for an event that may only be a one-year thing, should the WTA resolve its issues with China over the Peng Shuai situation.
In 2019, the last year the events were held in China, the Wuhan event (formerly a “Premier 5” event) had prize money totalling $2.8 million.
Beijing, as one of the four “Premier Mandatory” tournaments, had more than three times that at $8.285 million.
The “regular” WTA schedule had Wuhan the last week of September, and Beijing the first week of October.
Fall schedule could be chaotic
At this point, it also appears the WTA may return to Japan and Korea for the two non-China events in its traditional Asian swing.
But even that has yet to be confirmed, as the pandemic remains a factor.
An October date for Guadalajara means a gap after the US Open, the Grand Slam in this part of the hemisphere, ends Sept. 11.
There has been buzz about a WTA tournament in San Diego, which long was a staple on the WTA Tour years ago and hosted a pop-up ATP Tour event last fall.
But it does leave a hole. It will be interesting to see how the WTA fills it, and how the travel flow will make any kind of common sense.
Guadalajara is again an Octagon production, as the agency takes up increasing room and influence on the women’s tour.
So many more events – and prize money – to replace
The WTA’s Asian swing was far more than just those two bigger events.
Here are the tournaments that need to somehow be replaced during the last part of the 2022 season (2019 prize money in brackets). They included a couple of souped-up 250 events with double the usual prize money.
Zhengzhou (Premier – $1 million)
Nanching (250 – $250,000)
Ghangzhou (250 – $500,000)
Wuhan (1000 non-mandatory – $2.8 million)
Beijing (1000 Mandatory – $8.3 million)
Tianjin (250 – $500,000)
Zhuhai Elite Trophy ($2.4 million)
WTA Tour Finals ($14 million)
Add to that the Kremlin Cup, a Premier event held in the call with prize money of just over $1 million. That won’t happen in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
That’s a total of roughly $31 million US in prize money needing to be, at least in part, replaced by other tournaments.
We don’t envy the suits at the WTA, trying to handle all this. Especially in the fall where outdoor events have fewer options weather-wise. Indoor events are more complicated to schedule both logistically, and at this fairly late date considering that concerts and other events are coming back to life.
And what of the WTA Finals?
The biggest challenge, of course, is to once again find a replacement for Shenzhen, the city that committed to a 10-year stay for the WTA finals, but that has been besieged from the start.
The fact that Guadalajara is reportedly set to host this October WTA 1000 tournament would lead you to conclude that it will not repeat its excellent hosting of the Tour finals a year ago.
And the buzz is that it likely will be in Europe.
But where? And where will all the other tournaments be this fall?
The Billie Jean King Cup Finals are scheduled for the week of No. 8. But even the location of that event remains up in the air.
There is a lot of work to do.