One month from the expected revival of world tennis, stopped since early March, Davis Cup and Fed Cup, its two main team competitions, pass their turn this year due to the pandemic of new coronavirus, they announced Friday.
Originally scheduled for November in Madrid, the final phase of the Davis Cup is postponed from November 22 to 28, 2021, still in the Spanish capital. That of the Fed Cup, which was to take place in April, is now fixed from April 13 to 18, 2021, still in Budapest, on clay.
These two announcements, fell back to back, slightly cloud a sky that had recently cleared up with the recovery schedules from August unveiled by the WTA and ATP ten days ago. They are structured around the rhythmic sequence of US Open (August 31-September 13) - behind closed doors - and Roland-Garros (September 27-October 11).
They inevitably feed the persistent questions around the risk-free feasibility, in the sanitary conditions of the moment, of this kind of international gatherings, which is more indoors, after the exhibition tour set up by Novak Djokovic in the Balkans, the Adria Tour, turned into a fiasco with a series of contaminations at Covid-19, including that of the world No.1 and three other players.
Regarding the Davis Cup, "the competition was expected to welcome more than 90 players accompanied by large teams, as well as thousands of spectators, officials, managers, partners and other stakeholders from multiple countries, each to different stages of pandemic management, "says the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
- "Too big a risk" -
"It was a decision that was difficult to make, but to organize an international event of this magnitude while guaranteeing the health and safety of all the participants was too risky," added its president David Haggerty.
"We do not know how the situation will develop in each qualified country, or if the restrictions in Spain will be relaxed enough, so that it is impossible to predict the situation in November", details the Spanish footballer Gerard Piqué, whose fund Kosmos took control of the Davis Cup two years ago.
Same tone on the Fed Cup side, with the French women's team holding the title. However, it was added that "hosting the competition behind closed doors was not considered a desirable option, given the unique atmosphere created by the national supporters".
"The challenges of organizing an international gathering of this size, in a closed room, are considerable due to the pandemic, both in current and foreseeable conditions" in the medium term, repeats the ITF in its two press releases.
It must be said that the formulas largely revisited of these two team events - a one-week final phase bringing together 18 nations for the Davis Cup, 12 for the Fed Cup, instead of home / away duels over three days - do not play in their favor, in the midst of a pandemic.
The Davis Cup launched this new version in 2019. It ended with a coronation for Spain by Rafael Nadal at home. The Fed Cup was supposed to release it last spring.
In both cases, the teams qualified for what was to be the 2020 edition remain so and the tables already drawn are maintained.
Are also postponed to 2021 the different meetings that still appeared in the 2020 calendar of the two competitions.
© 2020 AFP