While the WTA Tour remains out of the “tennis in China” business for the foreseeable future, the ATP still planned to have its tournaments there, after a three-year absence, this fall.,
You know what they say about the best-laid plans.
COVID restrictions in China are still basically unworkable. And so the ATP has finally announced what most expected, that they will bypass the country again in 2022.
The word a few days ago that the Asian Games, scheduled for Hangzhou in September and far more important to China than the tennis tours – would be postponed to 2023 was pretty much the biggest heads up. But even before that, it appeared fairly clear that it was going to be nearly impossible to return this year.
Four tournaments on ice again in 2022
That means four tournaments – the Masters 1000 in Shanghai, the ATP 500 in Beijing, Chengdu and Zhuhai are cancelled for another year.
The situation with Shanghai, which is one of the ATP Tour’s biggest events, is always tricky because of the presence on the ATP Tour board of Charles Smith, who runs that event.
Even in 2021, when Indian Wells stepped up and postponed its event to October to help fill in the “Asian swing” gap, it took until quite late in the game for the Shanghai tournament to be officially cancelled, and for the men to join the women in the desert in October.
Tel Aviv, Gifon, Seoul step up
Six tournaments will replace the Asian swing – all on short-term, one-year licenses that are hardly ideal for the events, which cannot plan for or invest in the future. But on the plus side, it brings men’s tennis to new places, and it also gives the ATP players opportunities to compete to replace the cancelled Chinese tournaments.
Here’s the schedule:
- Week 38 (19-25 Sep): San Diego, USA (Hard)
- Week 39 (26 Sep-2 Oct): Seoul, KOR (Hard); Tel Aviv, ISR (Indoor Hard)
- Week 41 (10-16 Oct): Florence, ITA (Indoor Hard); Gijon, ESP (Indoor Hard)
- Week 42 (17-23 Oct): Naples, ITA (Hard)
As well, the tournament in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, a new event which had been a 250-level tournament, will be upgraded to a 500 and played the same week as the Tokyo tournament.
That’s a much better slot than where it was – the same week as Laver Cup, and a longtime tournament in Metz, and right after the US Open.
The Astana Open had existed on single-year licenses in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic, but now is a “permanent” ATP Tour member as the licence for the event in St. Petersburg, Russia was transferred and relocated.
Here’s what the schedule looked like BEFORE all the changes.
Italy the new “it” place for men’s tennis
As we can see, Italy is basically taking over the last part of the season. In addition to these one-year events in Florence and Naples, both indoors on hard courts, the Next-Gen Finals are in Milan, and the ATP Tour Finals in Turin.
Here’s the quote from ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.
“As a global sport we continue to manage the impacts of the pandemic. Event cancellations are an unfortunate reality, and we wish our affected tournament members and fans well. At the same time, it’s incredibly encouraging to have many great cities step up to host ATP Tour tennis this season. This shows the strong international interest in our product and validates the agile approach we’ve taken in responding to fast-changing circumstances. We would like to thank all stakeholders involved in this process and look forward to an exciting second half of the season.”
San Diego, who proved an impressive hit in that part of the world when it stepped up to host its first ATP event last year, before Indian Wells, is rewarded with another opportunity this year.
The tournament reported it was sold out for the last four days of the event, despite being staged on short notice.
It won’t be able to attract the best of the North American players, though, because those might be snapped up for Laver Cup’s “World” team.
The city also will host a WTA 500 tournament the week of Oct. 10.