Season should resume next March at Indian Wells, says Jabeur


(Reuters) – The tennis season stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic should only resume next March and tournaments that have already been completed this year should not be played in the 2021 season, Australian Open quarter-finalist Ons Jabeur said.

Professional tennis has been suspended since March due to the coronavirus outbreak when Indian Wells became the first major tournament to be cancelled. The ATP and WTA Tours said the hiatus will continue at least until mid-July.

Tunisian Jabeur, the first Arab woman to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, said resuming the season later this year was not ideal as it would not be fair when calculating ranking points.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to start the season this year. Start the season again next year in March,” Jabeur said in Eurosport’s Tennis Legends vodcast.

“Don’t start by playing the Australian Open since we already played it this year … start from Indian Wells, where everybody stopped. It’s fair for the other Grand Slams, it’s fair for the points and for everything.”

This year’s French Open was moved to Sept. 20-Oct. 4 while the Wimbledon championships, which were set to begin in late June, were cancelled.

U.S. Open organisers said last week that playing the hardcourt Slam without fans is unlikely and Jabeur, ranked 39 in the world, believes it would not be fair on the players if only certain majors could be completed in a season.

Former world number one Andy Murray said on Wednesday tennis will be one of the last sports to return to action after the world has recovered from the pandemic and Jabeur expects the Tours to restart in September. [nL5N2CA856]

“Honestly, I think, September is going to be where everything is going to start,” she added. “Let’s say even if we start in July – what about the other tournaments?

“What about the other Grand Slams if we can play around two or three Grand Slams for a year and just skip the other one? How is it fair for the points, how is it fair for the other players?

“Everybody lost a lot of things… We don’t stop playing tennis, we will start playing tennis again, but not with the ranking.”

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar