Tennis coach Darren Cahill says the cancellation of the Indian Wells Masters event has left the sport in limbo. Picture: Michael Klein
Tennis coach Darren Cahill says the cancellation of the Indian Wells Masters event has left the sport in limbo. Picture: Michael Klein

Coronavirus cancellation leaves tennis in limbo

Darren Cahill says the global tennis circuit is in limbo after a tournament regarded as the sport's fifth major was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The US-based Australian coach of world No. 2 women's player Simona Halep was driving to Indian Wells on Monday when he received news the BNP Paribas Open had been called off.

Organisers had originally planned for the ATP Tour Masters 1000 and WTA Premier Mandatory event to go ahead with additional health measures in place.

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But it was scrapped after local authorities declared a public health emergency in the area following a confirmed case of COVID-19 nearby.

Cahill said the move had cast uncertainty over this month's Miami Open and the upcoming European clay court season, headlined by the French Open in May.

"We're all guessing at the moment," Cahill said from his home in Las Vegas.

"It's not just tennis, it's every sport and there are sporting events being cancelled or postponed left and right at the moment here in the US.

"Everybody is so unsure about this.

"Even the medical officers seem to be a little bit unsure as to how quickly this is spreading.

"If Miami gets cancelled then everything sort of has to be reset a little bit, because … straight after Miami for us, the tennis tour, everything moves across to Europe.

"Italy has a major lockdown happening at the moment (and) we've got the Italian Open happening in a couple of months leading into the French Open.

"Around those tournaments, you've got eight to 10 clay court events in different countries.

"It's wise for everyone to take a breath, see what happens in the next two to four weeks and then I think we'll have a better understanding of everything."

The tournament cancellation follows last week's announcement that Port Adelaide's annual AFL match in China had been called off over coronavirus concerns.

Marvel Stadium in Melbourne will now host the clash with St Kilda, originally scheduled for May 31 in Shanghai, on June 7.

Cahill, also a Port board member, said he had received an email from the ATP advising anyone travelling from overseas to the Miami Open to self-isolate for 14 days.

The governing body said the instruction was mandatory for those arriving into Florida from areas hardest hit by coronavirus, such as China, Italy South Korea and Iran.

 

Cahill said holding tournaments with empty stadiums would not address the issue, given players would still come into contact with hundreds of volunteers and staff at the events.

The 1988 US Open semi-finalist backed the decision to cancel Indian Wells, but said questions remained over the season ahead.

"Common sense has prevailed in this instance," said Cahill, who was due to commentate for ESPN at the tournament after Halep withdrew due to a foot injury.

"The crowds that come to this tournament are enormous.

"It is the fifth Grand Slam.

"The access to the players with the fans at this particular tournament is greater than any other tournament.

"With everything taken into account, they wanted to play it safe and make sure the health of the players, the fans and everybody was taken into consideration.

"Everybody understands there's more to life than playing a tennis tournament.

"I think we'll have a better indication once we know what happens in Miami."

The Miami Open is due to begin on March 23.



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