issa-sbf-white-logo.png
ssflogo2.png

Tennis lovers worldwide should have been licking their lips in anticipation of the Wimbledon finals this weekend.

There were two contrasting singles championship matches last year, Simona Halep dismantling Serena Williams before Novak Djokovic got the better of Roger Federer in an epic marathon five-set thriller.

Centre Court crowds and millions watching all over the planet have been treated to classic finals over the years, but there have also been showdowns that many would have expected to see that never transpired.

While there was no 2020 grass-court grand slam this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, we look at a selection of finals that never occurred at the All England Club for one reason or another.

 

Steffi Graf v Martina Hingis

Graf and Hingis met twice at SW19 but the latest round in which they did battle was for a place in the quarter-finals.

German legend Graf was unable to go for a third consecutive Wimbledon title in 1997 due to injury and it was Swiss sensation Hingis who lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish for the first and only time, defeating Jana Novotna.

Novotna gained revenge by dumping Hingis out at the semi-final stage 12 months later after Graf - 12 years older than Hingis - was beaten by Natasha Zvereva in the third round.

Hingis never went beyond the quarter-finals after that, while in 1999 Graf fell to Lindsay Davenport in her last appearance at a tournament she won seven times.

 

John McEnroe v Boris Becker

McEnroe and Becker have shared a commentary box at Wimbledon, but they were never on the opposite side of the net in a final.

A packed crowd would have most certainly been on the edge of their seats to watch two of the most colourful characters in the sport throw everything at each other in pursuit of major glory, but it was not to be.

The closest it came to materialising was in 1989, when American legend McEnroe was denied a place in the final by Stefan Edberg.

Becker beat Edberg in the final to take the title for a third and last time. They may well have met in a final if McEnroe had not missed the 1986 tournament due to taking a break from the sport or suffered a back injury the following year.

 

Justine Henin v Kim Clijsters

Belgium would have surely come to a standstill if Henin and Clijsters had graced Centre Court in a final.

Henin won seven grand slam titles before retiring in 2008 aged only 25 and although she made a comeback in 2010, the former world number one called it a day again the following year as she struggled with an elbow injury.

She quit as a two-time Wimbledon runner-up, while Clijsters - who announced she was making a surprise comeback last year - has never reached the final at SW19.

Semi-final appearances in 2003 and 2006 are as far as Clijsters has been at Wimbledon, and it is a great shame the four-time major singles winner and her compatriot never contested a battle of Belgium for one of the biggest prizes in sport at the peak of their powers.

 

Andy Murray v Rafael Nadal

There have been 24 matches contested by Murray and Nadal, with three of those staged at Wimbledon.

Nadal broke the hearts of Murray fans by beating him on each occasion at his home grand slam, twice in the semi-finals and once in the last eight 12 years ago.

You have to go back to 2011 for Spanish legend Nadal's last appearance in a Wimbledon final, while Murray was crowned champion four years ago but has not played in the tournament since 2017 due to career-threatening hip injury.

While a fit-again Murray is hoping to work his way back to the top and Nadal remains a huge force, time is not on their side and it appears unlikely they will be opponents in a Wimbledon final.

Wimbledon has been praised for its "amazing" decision to pay players £10million from a prize money pot despite the 2020 tournament being cancelled.

The All England Club (AELTC) had pandemic insurance, meaning its decision to call off the championships in April was not one that risked becoming a huge financial blow.

It was revealed on Friday that 620 players would benefit, based on world rankings, potentially handing a lifeline to lowly players from across the world who may be struggling to make ends meet.

Wimbledon is paying out £25,000 per competitor to 256 players from the men's and women's singles, and £12,500 to a further 224 players who would have taken part in qualifying.

Doubles players and those from the wheelchair events will also collect money from the fund, with Wimbledon stressing there would be only one payment per player, meaning there could be no claims for multiple events.

Three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters wrote on Twitter: "Amazing news — always a class act and leader of our sport!! Well done @Wimbledon – can't wait to be back next year!"

Clijsters, 37, was in the early stages of a comeback after seven years in retirement when the COVID-19 outbreak led to tennis being suspended across the globe.

The Belgian is a two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist who would have almost certainly received a wildcard into this year's tournament.

Spain's Paula Badosa, the world number 94, indicated what the windfall would mean to rank-and-file players.

"Such a nice gesture @Wimbledon on these tough moments. Means the world for us, thank you," Badosa wrote.

Wimbledon said its decision was taken "in the spirit of the AELTC's prize money distribution in recent years".

This year marked the first time Wimbledon had been called off since World War II. Its finals would have been contested this weekend.

AELTC chief executive Richard Lewis said: "Immediately following the cancellation of the championships, we turned our attention to how we could assist those who help make Wimbledon happen.

"We know these months of uncertainty have been very worrying for these groups, including the players, many of whom have faced financial difficulty during this period and who would have quite rightly anticipated the opportunity to earn prize money at Wimbledon based on their world ranking.

"We are pleased that our insurance policy has allowed us to recognise the impact of the cancellation on the players and that we are now in a position to offer this payment as a reward for the hard work they have invested in building their ranking to a point where they would have gained direct entry into the championships 2020."

Novak Djokovic has described the criticism he has faced following the cancellation of the Adria Tour due to coronavirus infections as "a witch hunt".

Djokovic was the driving force behind the event that drew huge crowds in Serbia and Croatia before the Zadar final between the world number one and Andrey Rublev was cancelled after Grigor Dimitrov tested positive for COVID-19.

Borna Coric and Djokovic also later returned positive tests, leading to consternation from figures within the tennis community over the decision to stage such an event with large crowds in attendance, where players shook hands and posed for photos with volunteers, while some were also seen partying at a nightclub despite concerns over a lack of social distancing measures.

Nick Kyrgios has been the most vocal in criticising those involved, while Dan Evans said Djokovic had set "a poor example" by staging the event during a pandemic.

The manager of Dominic Thiem, who played in the Belgrade leg of the tournament, said the blame must lie at Djokovic's door for allowing it to become "misused as a publicity show" despite the initial "honourable motives" of raising funds for charity.

Djokovic, who has previously said the Adria Tour was staged "with a pure heart and sincere intentions", believes much of the criticism is fuelled by hidden motives.

"Lately, I just see criticism, some of it very malicious," he said in an interview with Sportski Zurnal.

"Obviously, there is something more than that criticism, as though there were an agenda, as if it were a witch hunt.

"Someone has to fall, somebody, some big name has to be the main culprit for everything."

Djokovic was back on the practice court on Tuesday with Viktor Troicki after having self-isolated following his positive test, but he says he is still uncertain if he will compete at the US Open, which is due to begin next month under strict health protocols despite a worrying rise in cases in the United States.

"I still don't know if I will play at the US Open," said Djokovic, who has expressed doubts previously about competing at Flushing Meadows under the revised guidelines.

"I certainly won't be playing in Washington or Cincinnati. My participation at Roland Garros [for the French Open in September] is safe for now, and Madrid and Rome are also planned."

Rafael Nadal has chosen to launch his clay-court season in Madrid during the week that follows the US Open.

The world number two could face a hectic schedule if he elects to travel to New York to defend his grand slam title.

That tournament will be behind closed doors at Flushing Meadows and it remains to be seen whether the Madrid Open, a Masters Series event, must also operate in the same circumstances.

Madrid's showpiece event was postponed from May and is now scheduled to begin on Sunday, September 13, the day of the men's US Open final.

Nadal may not need to play in Madrid until possibly the Wednesday, but it is possible he could be considering skipping the trip to the United States, focusing instead on the delayed clay-court swing.

After Madrid comes the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome, with the French Open, which Nadal has won a record 12 times, then beginning on September 27.

The 34-year-old Nadal has previously indicated he was unsure about travelling to New York, questioning whether that event should happen given the COVID-19 crisis.

Playing closer to home is more straightforward for Spain's 19-time grand slam winner.

Madrid tournament director Feliciano Lopez, who as a player won the Queen's Club singles and doubles titles last year, wrote on Twitter that Nadal had agreed to play his tournament.

"I've spoken with my friend @RafaelNadal and he's confirmed he will take part in Madrid this September," Lopez said.

He said Nadal would be welcomed "with open arms" at the event.

Nadal responded by writing: "Same with you Feli. See you in September in Madrid."

The ATP has confirmed its rankings system will be revised due to the impact of coronavirus.

Tennis across the globe had to be halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with exhibition tournaments taking place sporadically in June, albeit under strict social distancing guidelines.

The ATP Tour is now scheduled to restart in August with two tournaments ahead of the US Open.

There are then three planned events in Europe before the French Open, which is set to be played in front of crowds.

Ahead of the season's resumption, the ATP has now confirmed that the rankings will be revised to cover a period of 22 months, from March 2019 to December 2020, with the rankings having been frozen since March 16.

This temporary change will be comprised of a player's "Best 18" results in the 22-month timeframe. 

A player cannot count the same tournament twice, however, with the best of their two results counted.

Tournament points added in 2020 will remain on a player's ranking for 52 weeks, or until the event is played again in 2021.

In what should have been the opening week of Wimbledon, Stats Perform News revisits an interview with analyst Craig O'Shannessy.

 

"By the end of that match, Rafa's mind was scrambled eggs."

Craig O'Shannessy was part of Dustin Brown's coaching team when the German qualifier sensationally eliminated two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal at the All England Club in 2015.

Through numbers, patterns and data, Australian pioneer O'Shannessy orchestrated the gameplan to send Nadal packing in the second round almost five years ago.

"After the match, I described that as organised chaos," O'Shannessy told Stats Perform News prior to the Australian Open in January. "A lot of times with Dustin it's pure chaos. Sometimes he wins with it, sometimes he loses. What gelled was we organised his chaos so that people didn't know him, would've looked at that thinking all hell is breaking loose. Whereas I'm watching the match going 'he is running the patterns that we talked about perfectly'.

"It's about taking away what Rafa wanted to do. It's about attacking him early on the point, it's about attacking him wide of the forehand, going after returns simply because you know where the serve is going, about drop shots and bringing him in. It's just about messing with his mind and making it very unclear."

O'Shannessy – recognised as a world leader in teaching and analysis – has continued to transform the sport. He teamed up with Novak Djokovic as his chief strategist in 2017 and helped the Serb rise back to the top with four grand slams in three years.

Now working with 2019 US Open semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini, Jan-Lennard Struff, Alexei Popyrin and Tennis Canada, O'Shannessy crunches the numbers for his players.

Struff – with mastermind O'Shannessy in his box – threatened to derail Djokovic's quest for a record-extending eighth Australian Open title before the defending champion fought hard to survive in the opening round in Melbourne, where he eventually hoisted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup aloft.

"Every single match the player receives a pre-match report that has text, specific details about what the players like to do, I'll put in a bunch of numbers, tables and graphs particularly on serve patterns and rally length, then video," he said. "You just keep hammering away and supporting the winning strategy in as many different ways as you can."

At the forefront of analytics in tennis, how further can data go?

"Still a long away. We're only scratching the surface," O'Shannessy said. "There's a lot of numbers and data that we see but still don't know exactly what it means. The next five years will be incredibly important and we'll know way more than we do now. We're just at the start of the journey."

On data and patterns, O'Shannessy added: "For example, when you're returning, you can't cover everything. Players that try to cover everything, basically end up covering nothing. You look at it by the point score, if a player is at 30-30, they really need the point. If they're at 40-15, they don't necessarily need the point.

"So the players will have the tendency to gravitate to certain locations when they need that point and if you're sitting there waiting for it, all of a sudden the advantage of that point gets completely turned around. Instead of the returner being unbalanced, the server is off balance because the return is coming back harder and faster. They're on defence instead of offence.

"Early in my coaching career, I naturally put a big emphasis on the opponent, the idea being you're going to play 50 matches in a year and you may only play two or three where you think you've played incredible. The other 47 it's going to be your B or C game that triumphs, so the more you can understand it's not about you playing phenomenal tennis, it's about making them play bad. That mentality takes the pressure off and delivers it to the other side of the court."

Then there is artificial intelligence. Stats Perform harnesses the true power of sports data by leveraging advancements in AI to generate the industry's richest insights, though it is relatively untapped in tennis.

"AI is able to crunch some very big data and make sense of it," O'Shannessy added. "The ability to do forecasting through there about percentages and situations. I'm already looking at the best way to incorporate AI and the end result to basically help players win more matches."

World number 34 Struff also shared his thoughts on AI and numbers in an interview with Stats Perform News in April.

"Yes of course," Struff said when asked if AI will become more important in tennis. "I don't know exactly what the other players are doing on that area. You are always trying to hide these things. Nobody wants to talk about what he is doing, how his fitness training looks like and such things.

"Everybody is trying to hide himself, so the opponents don't see if certain things are working out or not. This is to prevent the other guys from copying certain things and actually catching up. But this is definitely going to come."

Frances Tiafoe has withdrawn from the All-American Team Cup exhibition event in Atlanta after testing positive for coronavirus.

Tiafoe announced he had contracted COVID-19 on Saturday, having played in Friday's opening session, beating Sam Querrey in straight sets.

The 22-year-old American and world number 81 has been replaced by Christopher Eubanks.

"Unfortunately, I tested positive late Friday for Covid-19 and have to withdraw from the All-American Team Cup special event in Atlanta this weekend," Tiafoe wrote via Twitter.

"Over the past two months, I have been training in Florida and tested negative there as recently as a week ago.

"I am scheduled to have a second test early next week, but have already begun the quarantine protocol as advised by the medical staff here in Atlanta.

"While I've been so excited to get back out there, the health and safety of everyone continues to be a top priority."

The tournament said in a statement: "Frances Tiafoe has tested positive for the coronavirus. Like all the players, Tiafoe was tested prior to or upon arrival in Atlanta and has passed daily temperature tests.

"Following his match, he was showing symptoms and was retested and tested positive. Tiafoe has left the event site and will not participate in the remainder of the event. Upon learning this information, we immediately began deep cleaning and sanitising the event site, and enacted protocols in place for contact tracing and alerting individuals who may have been exposed.

"The health and safety of our event participants, staff and attendees are a top priority, and we will continue to diligently enforce all guidelines from local health officials."

The ATP Tour season is scheduled to restart in August, having been suspended in March due to COVID-19.

French Open organisers are planning for this year's event to go ahead with spectators present at a level between 50 and 60 per cent of full capacity.

The grand slam event in Paris is scheduled to take place between September 27 and October 11.

It was recently pushed back by one week as the ATP Tour and WTA Tour announced their schedules to return, the tournament having initially been postponed from its May start date due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When confirming the new date in June, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) had expressed their determination to admit fans, with the number depending on the outcome of talks with public authorities.

Having held those discussions, the tournament set a target of 50 to 60 per cent of capacity on Thursday, as they confirmed ticket sales will open to the general public on July 16, with priority purchasers having the chance to buy from July 9.

"The Roland Garros tournament announces the opening of the ticket and specifies its conditions for welcoming visitors," read a statement.

"The French Tennis Federation – which is acting responsibly and in close collaboration with the French government authorities, while benefiting from the advice of a committee of multi-disciplinary experts – is adapting and will continue to adapt to the situation caused by the Covid-19 crisis." 

Explaining the measures, the statement continued: "On the three show courts, the tiered seating will follow a precise protocol: on every row, one seat will be left empty between every group of purchasers (a maximum of 4 people who wish to sit in adjacent seats). 

"On the outside courts, every other seat will be out of bounds, and spectators may sit in any of the available seats. This way, the number of spectators allowed inside the stadium will be 50% to 60% of its usual capacity, allowing us to ensure the barrier measures are respected.

"The FFT will adapt the way spectators move around inside the stadium in order to ensure that the barrier measures and social distancing are respected." 

Also confirmed were rules around cleaning standards, a commitment to ensure social distancing in areas around the grounds and instructing fans to wear marks while moving around the stadiums, with coverings recommended at other times too.

Strict protocols surrounding players and their entourage are due to follow, while the number of fans in attendance could end up being higher or lower than the current target range.

"If the situation continues to improve, more tickets may be put on sale at the beginning of September," added the statement. 

"However, if the situation requires more stringent hygiene standards that force us to reduce the number of spectators on site, the tournament organisers will refund any supplementary tickets sold."

Nick Kyrgios has hit back at Boris Becker after the German legend branded him a "rat" over his public criticism of Alexander Zverev.

World number seven Zverev was labelled as "selfish" by Kyrgios after he was apparently spotted partying despite vowing to self-isolate.

Zverev took part in the Adria Tour where several players, including world number one Novak Djokovic, tested positive for coronavirus and, although he returned a negative result himself, promised to isolate, with guidelines recommending 14 days.

Becker, a winner of six grand slams, called out Kyrgios' public criticism, leading to the duo exchanging a few virtual volleys on Twitter.

"We all live in the pandemic called #Covid_19 ! It's terrible and it killed to many lives...we should protect our families/loved ones and follow the guidelines but still don't like #rats @NickKyrgios," Becker wrote on Twitter.

Kyrgios defended himself, writing: "Rats? For holding someone accountable? Strange way to think of it champion, I'm just looking out for people. WHEN my family and families all over the world have respectfully done the right thing. And you have a goose waving his arms around, imma say something."

The argument was not done there, though, with Becker once again repeating his earlier insult.

"Don't like no #rats ! Anybody telling off fellow sportsman/woman is no friend of mine! Look yourself in the mirror and think your better than us...@NickKyrgios."

To which Kyrgios responded: "For goodness sake Boris, I'm not competing or trying to throw anyone under the bus. It's a global pandemic and if someone is as idiotic as Alex to do what he has done, I'll call him out for it. Simple."

The back-and-forth exchange did not end there, with Kyrgios saying Becker is a "bigger doughnut than I thought" and he "can hit a volley, obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed though".

Becker continued the argument, with the retort: "Your [sic] funny guy ....how is it down under? Respect all the guidelines?" before somewhat bizarrely attempting to change tact.

"I really would like to see @NickKyrgios fulfil his potential and win a grand slam! He would be an incredible role model for the youth of the world addressing the issues of equality/race/heritage! Man up buddy and deliver!" Becker commented.

Kyrgios, though, was in little mood to change the topic of discussion.

"Why are you now talking about tennis? It has nothing to do with tennis? How about the dude who you are defending mans up and gives us some sort of explanation? Not another average management apology," he wrote.

Nick Kyrgios hit out at Alexander Zverev for being "selfish" after apparently being spotted partying despite vowing to self-isolate.

Zverev, the world number seven, played at the Adria Tour, where Novak Djokovic was among several players to test positive for coronavirus, as social-distancing guidelines were ignored earlier this month.

In a statement released on Twitter on June 22, Zverev said he tested negative for COVID-19 but would follow self-isolation rules, with 14 days usually recommended.

But the German was reportedly spotted partying and Kyrgios blasted the 23-year-old.

"So I wake up and I see more controversial things happening all over the world," Kyrgios said in an Instagram video.

"But one just stuck out for me was seeing 'Sascha' Zverev again, man, again, again, how selfish can you be? How selfish can you be?

"I mean if you have the audacity to f****** put out a tweet that you made your management write on your behalf saying you're going to self-isolate for 14 days and apologising to the f****** general public for putting their health at risk, at least have the audacity to stay inside for 14 days, my God.

"Have your girlfriend with you for f****** 14 days, Jesus man. Pissing me off, this tennis world is pissing me off, seriously, how selfish can you all get?"

The ATP Tour season is scheduled to restart in August, having been suspended in March due to COVID-19.

There have been more than 10.2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 504,000.

The Davis Cup and Fed Cup have both been postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was confirmed on Friday.

Due to be hosted in Madrid, the Davis Cup Finals were supposed to have taken place from November 23-29, but following a three-month review it was deemed too challenging to stage this year.

Organisers Kosmos Tennis and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) pointed to the fact more than 90 athletes would have been expected to be involved, while the international event attracts thousands of fans, officials, staff and other stakeholders from across the globe, with many countries at differing stages of the pandemic.

With the competition now set to begin on November 22, 2021, it was confirmed the 18 teams that have already qualified for the men's global team tournament will have their places secured, while the draw for the finals remains the same.

Kosmos president and Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said: "It's a huge disappointment for all of us that the Davis Cup Finals will not be held in 2020.

"We don't know how the situation will develop in each qualified nation, or if restrictions in Spain will remain sufficiently eased, as such it is impossible to predict the situation in November and guarantee the safety of those travelling to Madrid.

"This postponement has no long-term bearing on our collective ambitions for the Davis Cup. The ITF and Kosmos Tennis look forward to delivering an outstanding competition in 2021, when it is safe and feasible to do so."

The women's equivalent, the Fed Cup, has also unsurprisingly hit a similar stumbling block and will now take place from April 13-18.

Budapest remains its location and, much like the Davis Cup, the teams that have already qualified will retain their places. The Fed Cup Play-offs will go ahead at the start of February.

Neither postponement has come as a surprise, particularly following the chaos caused by the Adria Tour event earlier this month.

Organised by world number one Novak Djokovic and played across locations in Serbia and Croatia, the event did not adhere to social distancing procedures and attracted large crowds. Legs in Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina were ultimately postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Several of the marquee players ended up testing positive for the virus, including Djokovic himself, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki, and the event was met with widespread criticism.

As Novak Djokovic and the Adria Tour gang cavorted in a Belgrade nightclub, the limbo-dancing tennis stars demonstrated precisely how low the sport could go.

If the president of the ATP player council can get it so egregiously wrong in a time of global crisis, and if Nick Kyrgios can pipe up as the voice of reason, then tennis has just thrown up the most shocking of double faults within its established conventions.

So tennis is in crisis: Wimbledon is cancelled, the US Open will attempt to go ahead without fans, and the French Open is clinging to hope it could happen starting in September.

People have lost their jobs, tournaments have been scrapped and might struggle to return, and coronavirus has caused untold damage, aided and abetted by bewildering human assistance.

A relief fund for low-ranked players whose livelihoods were under threat was openly scorned by multi-millionaire Dominic Thiem, whose argument was put brutally dismantled by near-penniless Algerian player Ines Ibbou.

This is tennis then, midway through 2020.

What's happened so far?

The season was suspended on March 12, days after the Indian Wells Masters was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, and there has been no tennis on the ATP or WTA Tours since.

Rafael Nadal said in May that he doubted there could be any more tennis played in 2020, but the harsh economic reality means there is a strong will to find a way.

And that means tennis is coming back in August, public health and player buffoonery permitting, with a string of tournaments leading up to the US Open, which has kept its regular place on the calendar.

The Cincinnati Masters is moving to Flushing Meadows, but Washington is staying in D.C., and Kitzbuhel, Rome and Madrid are all billed ahead of Roland Garros.

On the women's side, tennis will relaunch in Palermo, Italy, with 20 tournaments scheduled to happen before the end of the year.

Wimbledon, to which the eyes of the sporting world routinely turn at this time of year, looks poised to come out of this intact because of pandemic insurance cover.

Other tournaments have not been so prudent, and are feeling the pinch.

How realistic is a resumption?

If anyone needed a warning about how badly wrong this could all go, Djokovic's exhibition Adria Tour at least provided that. That he, Borna Coric, Grigor Dimitrov and Viktor Troicki – others too – should test positive for COVID-19 was a damning indictment of an event set up with good intentions that descended into an apparent free-for-all.

Tennis within a bio-secure bubble, with regular testing and restrictions on movement, should allow the sport to push ahead with some of its plans.

But that is a highly expensive exercise and many tournaments will inevitably come to rely on self-policing.

Tennis without fans, living out of hotels, promises to be an austere experience. At the US Open, the stars will be able to see the Manhattan skyline, but they reportedly face being banned from visiting the island.

For the players that cannot afford to rent a house – which will come from a limited supply – then the US Open fortnight will see them split their time between Flushing Meadows and a hotel next to JFK airport.

It will take discipline to make not only the US Open work, but every tournament until the end of the season and beyond. Pockets of infection could be economically ruinous, and from a health perspective the worst-case scenario ought to be lost on nobody.

What has been said?

Serena Williams says she "really cannot wait to return to New York". Her involvement is a huge boon to the US Open, with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in need of good news, having made 110 job cuts during the pandemic period, change in the organisation hastened by the crisis.

In a recent conference call, USTA chief executive Mike Dowse said US Open net operating income stood to be down by "about 80 per cent" for 2020, but he said keeping prize-money at a high level by delving into reserves amid the fall in revenue was "not a model that can continue".

Expect that to be the case practically across the board, with tournaments pulling out all the stops this year in the hope of saving tennis from the prospect of a season all but wiped out.

While the grand slams can just about cope without fans, many other events face an uncertain future if they face behind-closed-doors orders.

Herwig Straka, who manages Thiem and is tournament director of the Vienna Open, told German newspaper Der Standard the event would be "doable" provided it could operate at least at 50 per cent of crowd capacity.

"It is of course not enough," Straka said. "We'd be in the red. We don't want the public to take a year off. It would be impossible below 40 per cent."

Saint Nick?

Australian firebrand Kyrgios has quite the rap sheet, punished at various points for insulting umpires, his vulgar tongue, and even showing a lack of effort.

But this has been open season for the mercurial 25-year-old, who sniped after the news of Djokovic's positive test: "Don't @ me for anything I've done that has been 'irresponsible' or classified as 'stupidity' - this takes the cake."

If Kyrgios is enjoying his break from the tour, so too must the umpires be relishing their time away from him.

His greatest misstep during the pandemic, however, appears to have been going perhaps a touch heavy on the red wine during an Instagram live session with Andy Murray in May.

What happens next?

For all the best intentions, it remains hard to imagine every ATP and WTA tournament going ahead as planned, once the season resumes.

Tennis, like golf, relies on its biggest stars travelling from city to city, country to country, and the speed at which this virus moves and takes hold is hardly conducive to such a lifestyle.

Golf's PGA Tour is already encountering problems, and so will tennis.

The sport is living on the edge. At this point, it needs its star players to be setting a high bar, rather than going low, danger-dancing like nobody's watching.

Andy Murray was unsurprised by Novak Djokovic and others contracting coronavirus after the Adria Tour, while saying it was a bad look for tennis.

World number one Djokovic and his wife Jelena tested positive for COVID-19, with Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki also contracting coronavirus.

Djokovic was a driving force behind the creation of the Adria Tour, which took place in Serbia and Croatia in front of large crowds and saw players shaking hands despite concerns over social distancing, and the 17-time grand slam champion has faced widespread criticism.

After beating Liam Broady at the Battle of the Brits exhibition event on Tuesday, Murray said he was unsurprised to see the virus spread at the Adria Tour.

"I hope that him and his wife are well and that they recover and that their families and everyone who's affected by that event is healthy and safe," he told a news conference.

"In hindsight, it's not something obviously that should've gone ahead, it's not surprising really that the players and how many people have tested positive when you see the scenes that were going on there, seeing some of the images and the videos at the players' party and the kids' day. There was no social distancing and things like that in place."

Murray added: "I've seen some people have said that maybe this sort of puts the US Open in doubt which it may well do, but the measures and protocols that they have in place so far the USTA [United States Tennis Association] is completely different than what was going on in Serbia and Croatia.

"Obviously there'll be no fans for a start. I think all of the players now will be extremely aware that we can all be affected by this, coronavirus doesn't care who we are or what we do and we need to respect it and respect the rules."

Murray, who plans to play the French Open and US Open if they go ahead, said the Adria Tour could be a warning for tennis.

"It's something that would've been avoidable and certainly in this country I think we're all aware of how serious the virus is," he said.

"I don't think it's been a great look for tennis, but like I said the only positive that can come from something like this is that we make sure that up until it's safe to do so we have these measures in place, like social distancing and having no fans and things at the event to limit the risk or reduce the risk as much as possible."

There have been more than 9.3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 479,000.

Andy Murray expects to find it tough going against Kyle Edmund in his second match despite making a promising start to his campaign at the Battle of the Brits event. 

In his first competitive action since appearing at the Davis Cup Finals in November, the three-time grand slam winner recorded a 6-2 6-2 win over Liam Broady on Tuesday. 

Murray admitted beforehand that he had little chance to practice before taking part in the exhibition tournament at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, stating before his opener that his main aim was to "get through" it with his body holding up.

The Scot has been troubled with a pelvic injury but, with his serve working well and showing the occasional glimpse of his undoubted quality, he proved far too strong for Broady. 

Still, he refused to get too carried away with his performance, describing it as "okay" during his post-match interview with Amazon Prime Video.

"I served pretty well, I thought I served well throughout the match. A lot of free points there – I've been working on my serve quite a lot," Murray said.

"I didn't hit the ball that well from the back of the court, quite a lot of errors and my balance didn't feel great. I wasn't timing the ball very well, but it was alright. 

"For a first match in seven months, I've not been practising much and not even doing that well in practice matches, it was alright."

However, Murray is expecting to have problems on Wednesday when he attempts to deal with Edmund, who began his campaign by beating James Ward. 

"He's fit, hitting a big ball, so I'd be surprised if I manage to come through that one," the world number 129 said of his next opponent.

"If I serve like I did today and hit the ball better a little bit cleaner from the back of the court, I'll give myself some chances. But it will be tough."

The event, organised by Jamie Murray, is following strict health guidelines as it is taking place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Page 1 of 32
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.