A most unusual 2020 tennis calendar approaches finish line in London
- 19 Oct 2020
It has been a most unusual season on the pro tennis tours, with the COVID-19 pandemic constantly wreaking havoc on the calendar. A six-month stoppage included the cancellation of Wimbledon and a postponement of the French Open, but the sport returned just in time to stage the US Open on schedule—albeit without any fans.
Now the 2020 season is coming down the home stretch, still looking a little bit different than usual. Roland-Garros ended more than a week ago and the clay-court swing officially came to an end with last week’s festivities in Sardinia. That means the indoor hard courts will have centre stage the rest of the way, concluding with the Nitto ATP Finals in almost exactly one month’s time.
Let’s take a look at the remaining calendar, which should provide us with plenty of indoor entertainment.
European Open (Antwerp)
Antwerp, Belgium – ATP 250 – October 19-25 – Indoor hard
This week’s events in Antwerp and Cologne occupy the spot on the calendar previous held by Moscow and Stockholm (those two tournaments were cancelled). There will be no rematch of last year’s Antwerp final between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, as both men are absent this time around. The field is headlined by Belgium’s own David Goffin, who has a first-round bye along with Pablo Carreno Busta, Karen Khachanov, and Grigor Dimitrov.
bett1HULKS Championships (Cologne)
Cologne, Germany – ATP 250 – October 19-25 – Indoor hard
Alexander Zverev will be looking to make it two titles in two weeks in Cologne after triumphing over Felix Auger-Aliassime this past Sunday. The second straight tournament in the exact same place also features Auger-Aliassime, Diego Schwartzman (semi-finalist at the French Open) and Denis Shapovalov (semi-finalist last week in St. Petersburg). Schwartzman and Shapovalov are in contention for one of the last spots in London, although the Canadian was hurt by his St Petersburg loss to eventual champion Andrey Rublev. Zverev, the US Open runner-up, has already secured a return trip to the O2 Arena.
Erste Bank Open (Vienna)
Vienna, Austria – ATP 500 – October 26-November 1 – Indoor hard
Vienna marks the final 500-point tournament on the ATP calendar, and it should be a good one. Novak Djokovic has taken a wild card, and he will joined in a strong field by Rublev, Schwartzman, Shapovalov, Wawrinka, Auger-Aliassime, Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and many other notable players. Thiem lifted the trophy in front of the home crowd last fall. Basel, which is also a 500-point event, had been scheduled for the week of Oct. 26 but is cancelled in 2020.
Astana Open (Nur-Sultan)
Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan – ATP 250 – October 26-November 1 – Indoor hard
Nur-Sultan is making its unexpected debut on the main tour of the ATP calendar, having previously hosted nothing more than Challengers. It was a late addition, part of the coronavirus reshuffling ; and it helps make up for the complete cancellation of the Asian swing. Kazakhstan’s own Alexander Bublik will be a part of the proceedings along with Benoit Paire, Richard Gasquet, and Fernando Verdasco.
Rolex Paris Masters
Paris, France – Masters 1000 – November 2-8 – Indoor hard
As always, the Paris Masters will be the conclusion of the season for many players but also gives the London contenders one last chance to rack up a big chunk of points in hopes of qualifying for the year-end championship. Djokovic obviously doesn’t have to worry about London qualification; he will simply be going for a sixth title at this tournament – if he plays in Paris. The world No 1 triumphed three years in a row between 2013 and 2015 and then ended a three-year drought by lifting the trophy again in 2019. It remains to be seen if Rafael Nadal will be on hand in Paris, as he has not yet confirmed his remaining 2020 schedule.
Sofia, Bulgaria – ATP 250 – November 8-14 – Indoor hard
There is actually one tournament in between Paris and London this season, which is not normally the case. Previously in a February spot on the calendar, Sofia now comes at the end of the year instead of at the beginning. Medvedev, who captured the title in 2019, will be resting up for a return trip to London—hoping to better his 0-3 round-robin record at the O2 Arena last year. Among the Sofia favorites will be Schwartzman, Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime, Roberto Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreno Busta, and Karen Khachanov.
Nitto ATP Finals
London, England – Year-end championship – November 15-22 – Indoor hard
Because of the unusual schedule in 2020, there is no longer a race to London and instead the field of eight will be based entirely on the rankings. As those rankings currently stand, six men have already clinched their spots (Djokovic, Nadal, Thiem, Tsitsipas, Medvedev, and Zverev). Rublev and Schwartman are next in line, and the Russian is in especially good position following his title in St. Petersburg.
Shapovalov and a 2019 participant Matteo Berrettini are also in the mix. It should be noted that Roger Federer, of course, will not play due to his knee injury. Federer would have qualified as the No 4 player on the world despite his relative inactivity this year.
J&T Banka Ostrava Open
Ostrava, Czech Republic – WTA Premier – October 19-25 – Indoor hard
The penultimate event on the WTA calendar is taking place in Ostrava, where Elina Svitolina is the No 1 seed ahead of Karolina Pliskova, Aryna Sabalenka, and Victoria Azarenka. Pliskova will be especially motivated to get the job done in front of the home fans, especially since she has not won a tournament since January (Brisbane). Coco Gauff qualified for the main draw, adding even more intrigue to what was already an impressive field.
Upper Austria Ladies Linz
Linz, Austrian – WTA International – November 9-15 – Indoor hard
Because the WTA year-end championship has been cancelled, Linz is the final tournament on the calendar. Dayana Yastremska, Amanda Anisimova, and Ekaterina Alexandrova are top 50 players who are currently on the entry list. Gauff earned her first-ever WTA title at this event last year, but she is not on the initial entry list and would therefore require a wildcard in order to defend the trophy.