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There will be no ATP Tour action until at least August amid the coronavirus pandemic, while the WTA Tour season is also on hold for an extended period.

The men's and women's tours had previously been halted until July 13 due to the global crisis.

Wimbledon has been cancelled, while the French Open was moved to September, with the US Open still scheduled to go ahead in August.

The ATP confirmed a further raft of postponements on Friday, with events in Hamburg, Bastad, Newport, Los Cabos, Gstaad, Umag, Atlanta and Kitzbuhel no longer able to go ahead as scheduled.

"Tournaments taking place from August 1, 2020 onwards are still planning to proceed as per the published schedule," a statement read. "A further update on the ATP Tour calendar is expected in mid-June."

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi added: "Just like tennis fans, players and tournament hosts all over the world, we share in the disappointment the Tour continues to be affected in this way.

"We continue to assess all of our options in an effort to resume the Tour as soon as it is safe to do so, including the feasibility of rescheduling events later in the season."

The WTA has not yet ruled out all July tennis, but Bastad, Lausanne, Bucharest and Jurmala tournaments are off.

"A decision regarding the dates on which Karlsruhe [slated for July 28 to August 2] and Palermo [July 20 to July 26] may be played, along with further updates to the WTA calendar, will be made in June," a statement read.

Elite tennis has been delayed since early March, although a number of other sports similarly affected are now aiming to return.

The UFC returned behind closed doors last weekend, while Germany's Bundesliga will resume this week ahead of further potential restarts across European football.

Novak Djokovic is "very confident" he will end his career with a record tally of grand slam titles.

Djokovic has 17 major triumphs to his name after retaining his Australian Open title in January, three fewer than Roger Federer's record haul.

Rafael Nadal is also above the Serb in the list for the most men's grand slam singles titles with 19, as the best players in the world wait to discover when they will be back in action after the season was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Djokovic, who turns 33 next Friday, has won five of the last seven grand slams and is the youngest of the 'big three'.

The world number one not only has his sights trained on winning more majors than his rivals, but also the record for most weeks at the top of the rankings.

Djokovic, officially the best player in the world for 282 weeks compared to Federer's record of 310, said in an interview on In Depth with Graham Bensinger: "I don't believe in limits. I think limits are only illusions of your ego or your mind."

He added: "I'm always very confident in myself. I believe I can win the most slams and break the record for longest number one. Those are definitely my clear goals."

That positive outlook is a far cry from when Djokovic declared he was ready to quit after a defeat to Benoit Paire at the Miami Open two years ago.

Djokovic's wife, Jelena, recalled: "He said to me that he's quitting and that's the truth. He lost in Miami. It was a terrible loss. And then he just, you know, gathered all of us and said, 'You know guys, I'm done.'

"And I was like, 'What?' And he goes like, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Edoardo [Artaldi, his agent], you can speak with my sponsors. I want to be clear with them. I don't know if I'm stopping for six months, a year or forever.'"

Rafael Nadal is like a Formula One racing team with the way he operates at the French Open, says Henri Leconte.

After winning on his first appearance at Roland Garros as a 19-year-old in 2005, Nadal has gone on to take the title 12 times in 15 editions to establish himself as the 'King of Clay'.

The left-hander has only lost two matches at the Paris major, going down to Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015. He withdrew due to a wrist injury ahead of the third round in 2016.

Former French Open finalist Leconte, who lost in the 1988 showpiece to Mats Wilander, believes tweaks to Nadal's game each year at Roland Garros often go unnoticed.

Leconte told Stats Perform: "When you think about it, 12 Roland Garros in 15 years (whistles). You don't think it would be possible. If someone told you that, you'd say, 'You're crazy.'

"What's astonishing to me is how he evolved physically, how he changed his game, how he improved.

"I like to compare him to an F1 racing team which is producing a new car every year, he is coming every year with a new way of playing and adapting. He works on his serve, on his right hand, his left hand, and he's always changing some things.

"He's been able to improve every year which allowed him to win Roland Garros, this is amazing. And mentally, he's out of this world. To play at his level at Roland Garros, under these circumstances, physically and mentally, I couldn't even play one set like that.

"During my time, [Sergi] Bruguera was a bit like him, and when I had to play him on clay, with my style, I knew it was over, I was about to run everywhere and get destroyed.

"Rafa is extraordinary. This is what's impressive and people don't realise how much he works."

Leconte lauded Nadal's ability to take a match away from his opponent on clay, likening him to "a cheetah" and "a bottle of champagne exploding".

"When they tell you, 'You play Rafa in the first round'. If you play him at Wimbledon or the Australian Open, you're like (sighs). It's going to be hard.

"But on clay, and it's five sets, so three sets to win, you just started the match, it's 2-2, you visited Roland Garros, the Bois de Boulogne, you ran everywhere, and it's only 2-2 and you've been playing for 25 minutes. You are thinking, 'I have three more sets like that.'

"This is where he is really strong. He's like a cheetah, he's toying with you, and he decides to kill you, it's over. He's playing with you, 2-2, 3-3. We've seen many players going to 3-3, 4-4, they even get a set point, and suddenly, it's like a bottle of champagne exploding, and then they lose 6-1, 6-2.

"They implode, they can't take it physically. Some players can contain him, but he still can overcome them on clay, someone like Stan Wawrinka who can hit very hard, or Novak Djokovic, or [Andy] Murray who could match him at one point.

"Or you have a guy who did it once in his life, Soderling, he hit flat, full strength on the lines, and it worked. Rafa is amazing."

Nadal will aim to win the French Open for a 13th time when the tournament, which was pushed back to September due to the coronavirus pandemic, takes place.

Henri Leconte hit out at plans to hold the French Open behind closed doors, saying it made "no sense".

Originally scheduled to begin in May, the French Open was pushed back to start in September, likely without fans, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 led to Wimbledon being cancelled for the first time since World War II, while the US Open is still scheduled to proceed at this stage.

Leconte, the 1988 French Open runner-up, believes Roland Garros should not be played without fans in attendance.

"I honestly think [playing Roland Garros behind closed doors] is not the best solution," he told Stats Perform.

"I think it's more a way for the [French Tennis] Federation to keep people alert following the lockdown. It's only been two days since the lockdown was eased.

"We've realised that the French public are not [very careful]. We see kids and youngsters not being careful. I just hope that we won't face another wave.

"I also think that playing Roland Garros behind closed doors makes no sense. I don't think that it serves the sponsors, it's a complicated thing to deal with for the players. It's more of a political decision.

"The federation hopes that in a few months everything will be behind us and that we will be able to play Roland Garros. They're trying to keep that hope alive. That's my opinion."

France has seen more than 178,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with its death toll exceeding 27,000.

It is still too early to write off the whole 2020 tennis season despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi. 

World number two Rafael Nadal recently said he would sign up to halting plans for any tournaments to be held this year in order to ensure the 2021 Australian Open can go ahead.

But Gaudenzi has not reached that point yet, saying it may be premature when playing without fans remains an option at a time the extent of future international travel restrictions is unclear.

"It would be unwise to call it quits now," he told reporters, per Sky Sports. "Nobody knows what will happen, we want to keep an optimistic overview.

"Obviously, there could be a subset of options, which is playing with closed gates or deciding how to deal with travel restrictions. 

"But we have not made these decisions so far because they are all hypothetical scenarios."

Wimbledon has been cancelled, but the US Open is still scheduled for August 31.

The French Open was previously postponed from May until September, with organisers last week saying it could be played without fans and subject to a further delay.

"We have set a deadline of May 15 for the tournaments in July, post Wimbledon and June 1 for the tournaments in August," explained Gaudenzi.

"So we are, in principle, dealing it on I would say six to eight weeks in advance in time for making a decision. Longer than that, it would be foolish to make decisions in my opinion.

"The [US Open] announcement might be a little bit later, we don't know. Once we get to the beginning of June, we will probably know more about the US summer."

Gaudenzi concedes travel restrictions, and how they may differ across nations, is among the toughest challenges to solve.

"You can have an estimate that it's going to be fairly difficult and unlikely that all these countries will align to one single policy relating to travel restrictions," he said.

"Australia today for example is probably in a completely different phase than the United Kingdom. You look at Sweden, they have taken a completely different approach. 

"So we could play a tournament in Sweden probably today. But can we travel 100 players to Sweden today? No. So that's the challenge."

Venus Williams hailed Ines Ibbou as "my hero" after the low-ranked Algerian tennis player criticised Dominic Thiem for speaking out against the Player Relief Fund.

Ines Ibbou, a 21-year-old from Algiers, pleaded with Thiem to recognise the inequalities in tennis, and how some players are battling on the breadline to make their way in the game.

Thiem said last month he would not be donating to the fund that has been promoted by Novak Djokovic. it has been designated as a means to lend a helping hand to players down the rankings whose income has been decimated by the coronavirus crisis.

Austria's world number three said there were certain players who "don't give everything to sport", questioning why he should support a fund that might benefit those individuals.

Ibbou said his remarks were "hurtful to say the least".

Once a promising junior who played the grand slam girls' events, Ibbou has been struggling to make a successful transition to the women's tour, citing injury and a near-total lack of support from within Algeria as factors in her tough quest to make the grade.

However, at 620th in the world, she is her country's only female player with a world ranking.

She pointed to Thiem's privilege, as a European in a "magical world" where federation backing and sponsors have allowed his career to flourish.

“I was wondering what could have changed for me at that time if I was part of your closed circle, shared the same environment and rules,” Ibbou said in an Instagram video.

She added: "I'm wondering, Dominic, what is it like to have a coach who assists you on tour, a personal trainer, a physiotherapist, a mental coach, a dedicated staff?"

She went on to say: “Dear Dominic, unlike you, many share my reality.

"Just a reminder, it's not because of your money that we survived until now. And nobody requested to you anything. The initiative went from generous players who showed instant compassion with a classy touch. Players eager to spread solidarity and find solutions to make a difference. Champions at all cost."

She said the COVID-19 crisis was "revealing who people truly are".

"Dominic, I told you we did not ask anything from you," Ibbou said.

"Except a bit of respect to our sacrifice. Players like you make me hold on to my dream. Please don't ruin it.”

Five-time Wimbledon champion Williams responded, “You're my hero”, to which Ibbou replied: "You always been mine too, and now you're even more to me. Thank you so much."

Australian maverick Nick Kyrgios, an ATP rival to Thiem, told Ibbou: "Respect. Keep doing you!! I'm always willing to support."

French Open organisers say the tournament could be staged behind closed doors as they prepare for more talks over scheduling.

The clay-court grand slam was postponed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and put back to September.

Wimbledon has since been cancelled amid the COVID-19 crisis, but the US Open and French Open are to go ahead as it stands.

French Tennis Federation (FFT) president Bernard Giudicelli knows what would be the final major of the year may have to take place without spectators.

"We haven't ruled out any option. Roland Garros is first and foremost a story of matches and players," he told the Journal du Dimanche.

"There is the tournament taking place in the stadium, and the tournament on TV screens.

"Millions of viewers around the world are waiting. Organising it behind closed doors would allow part of the business model - television rights [which provide more than a third of French Open revenue] - to go ahead. This cannot be overlooked."

Guidicelli added that the action in Paris may not start until September 27 - a fortnight after the US Open is due to finish.

He said: "I have regular discussions with Andrea Gaudenzi [ATP president], Steve Simon [WTA president] and David Haggerty [head of the ITF] and another call is planned next week to see how we have progressed.

"We are working well together, but it is still a bit early to precisely determine the schedule."

The transformation of Barcelona under Johan Cruyff took an important step forward on May 10, 31 years ago.

The Catalans won their first trophy since the great Cruyff's return to his old club, beating Sampdoria to claim the Cup Winners' Cup.

Liverpool became European champions for the second time on this day in 1978 as they defended the trophy by defeating Club Brugge.

More recently, May 10 has brought about historic achievements from Stephen Curry and Rafael Nadal.

 

1978 - Liverpool defend European Cup

Liverpool became the first English team to retain the European Cup in 1978 – and they did so at the national stadium, too.

A solitary goal from Kenny Dalglish in the second half secured a 1-0 victory over Club Brugge at Wembley in a game that was a far cry from the thrilling 4-3 aggregate win for Liverpool against the same opponents in the UEFA Cup final two years earlier.

The Reds will not have cared too much, though. It was their second European Cup triumph, following on from 1977's 3-1 defeat of Borussia Monchengladbach, and they would go on to lift the trophy twice more in the next six years.

 

1989 - Barcelona win Cup Winners' Cup to kick-start Cruyff legacy

Johan Cruyff was a legend as a Barcelona player, but he returned as coach during a time of real strife at his old club.

Within a year, he had secured his first trophy in charge, as the Catalans claimed a 2-0 victory over Sampdoria to lift the 1988-89 Cup Winners' Cup.

Goals in each half from Julio Salinas and Luis Lopez Rekarte were enough to seal the win and kick-start the sustained success of Cruyff's fabled 'Dream Team'.

By the end of the 1993-94 season, Barca had won four LaLiga titles in a row, a Copa del Rey, three Supercopas de Espana, the UEFA Super Cup of 1992 and the European Cup of the same year, where they beat Sampdoria again.

 

2016 - Curry becomes first unanimous NBA MVP in history

Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors to a historic 73-9 in a regular season in which they seemed to break records at will, only to lose the Finals 4-3 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Still, there was little argument against Curry being named MVP for the second year in a row. In fact, it seems there was no argument at all.

He swept all 131 first-place votes to become the first unanimous winner of the award in history, with Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs a distant second.

2018 - Nadal breaks McEnroe record for consecutive set wins on single surface

Rafael Nadal is quite good at tennis on clay courts, if you were not aware.

Two years ago, he reminded everyone just how imperious he can be on the red dirt (if 12 French Open singles triumphs since 2005 was not proof enough).

By beating Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-4 at the Madrid Open, Nadal broke the record for winning consecutive sets on a single surface. He reached 50 set wins in a row on clay, surpassing the 49 on carpet set by John McEnroe in 1984.

Remarkably, the run ended in rather meek fashion in his next match, as Dominic Thiem won their quarter-final 7-5 6-3.

Tennis Australia (TA) chief executive and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said preparations are underway for next year's grand slam to be held in Melbourne amid coronavirus concerns.

During the week, Tiley conceded the 2021 Australian Open could be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc globally.

Both the ATP and WTA Tours are suspended until at least mid-July as a result of the coronavirus crisis – Wimbledon has already been cancelled for 2020, while the French Open has been pushed back to September amid uncertainty over the Roland Garros and US Open events.

Speaking on Sunday, Tiley said the tournament has drafted contingency plans, though he is confident the Australian Open will be in a "positive position" come January.

"It's very uncertain times as we all know well. We are preparing for multiple futures. We don't know what January will bring," Tiley told Channel Nine's Wide World of Sports.

"At this point today, we are preparing for an Australian Open, with finding a way to get our 500 internationals into Australia. At the same time, hopefully we have fans. Likely, at least it will be Australia-New Zealand fans in the first instance.

"Seven months is a long time away but we are planning for an Australian Open. We also have to plan for the scenario of players only and no crowds, and also the possibility of moving it or not having it at all."  

"We are planning an Australian Open with all the players and with Australian, and likely, New Zealand crowds as a starting point," he added. "We'll have some guidelines for social distancing."

There have been more than four million confirmed cases across the world, with over 280,400 deaths.

In Australia, 97 people have succumbed to the virus as the country starts to relax lockdown measures.

A player relief fund of more than $6million has been created to support those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

World number one Novak Djokovic said last month he had spoken to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal about a relief fund that would see money distributed to lower-ranked players.

The ATP and WTA Tour seasons are suspended until at least July 13 due to COVID-19.

While Australian Open runner-up Dominic Thiem was opposed to the idea, the governing bodies of tennis came together to raise more than $6m, it was announced on Tuesday.

"The initiative has seen the ATP, WTA, the four grand slam tournaments – the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, The Championships, Wimbledon and the US Open – and the ITF, unite in a show of support to players who are facing unprecedented challenges due to the global impact of COVID-19. Professional tennis is currently suspended until July, 13 2020," a statement read.

"In addition to contributions of their own, the ATP and WTA will administer the financial distributions of the player relief programme, which sees respective contributions from the four grand slam tournaments and ITF split equally between men and women.

"The player relief programme will target a total of approximately 800 ATP/WTA singles and doubles players collectively, in need of financial support. Eligibility for the player relief programme will take into account a player's ranking as well as previous prize money earnings according to criteria agreed by all stakeholders.

"The move by the seven stakeholders provides the financial backbone of the programme, with opportunities for additional contributions to follow. Funds raised through initiatives such as auctions, player donations, virtual tennis games and more, will provide opportunity for further support of the programme moving forward and are welcomed.

"The creation of the player relief programme is a positive demonstration of the sport's ability to come together during this time of crisis. We will continue to collaborate and monitor the support required across tennis with the aim of ensuring the long-term health of the sport in the midst of this unprecedented challenge to our way of life, and our thoughts remain with all those affected at this time."

There have been more than 3.7 million cases of coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 257,000.

Rafael Nadal is sceptical about the prospect of the ATP Tour returning in 2020 and is already thinking ahead to next year's Australian Open.

Both the ATP and WTA Tours are suspended until at least mid-July as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked havoc with the global sports calendar.

Wimbledon has already been cancelled for 2020, while the French Open was put back to September but the major at Roland Garros and the US Open remain in doubt.

Nadal still wishes to return to competitive action before the end of the year but says a more realistic approach is to plan towards 2021 and the Australian Open.

"I hope we can return before the end of the year but, unfortunately, I don't think so," Nadal told El Pais.

"I would sign up to being ready for 2021.

"I'm more worried about the Australian Open than what occurs at the end of this year. 

"I think 2020 is practically lost. I hope we can start up again next year, I really hope that's the case."

Yannick Hanfmann defeated fellow German Dustin Brown to win the first behind closed doors Tennis-Point Exhibition Series event, although the trophy might not take pride of place in his collection.

The eight-player tournament at the Base Tennis Academy in Hohr-Grenzhausen concluded on Monday, with the top-ranked Hanfmann prevailing in the first fairly surreal experience of tennis during the coronavirus pandemic.

World number 143 Hanfmann and Brown entered the court wearing face masks, while there were no spectators, ball boys and girls or line officials present.

Under the best-of-seven-game sets format, Hanfmann prevailed 4-2 4-0 in dominant fashion.

His reward was a makeshift trophy fashioned out of a tennis ball and a roll of toilet tissue, which was handed to him by a gentleman wearing a mask and surgical gloves.

The second Tennis Point event gets under way on Thursday and, although the pool of players is somewhat limited by travel restrictions, organisers tweeted to say "there might be a surprise or two at the next tournament".

Nick Kyrgios looked to be out to make amends with rival Rafael Nadal as he offered the Spanish great a video call.

Kyrgios' unique style of play has repeatedly provoked spiky responses from Nadal throughout his career.

And with neither man in action amid the coronavirus pandemic, Kyrgios is keen to entertain fans by sharing an Instagram Live with Nadal.

Kyrgios responded to a BBC Sport post that suggested a series of potentially spicy calls - including a possible conversation between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Rafa, let's do Instagram Live together," he commented. "I'm down with it."

Nadal was asked about the Australian in Melbourne at the opening grand slam of 2020.

"I don't know [if I like him]. I don't know him personally, honestly, to have a clear opinion," Nadal said.

"It's clear, of course, that when he does stuff that in my opinion is not good, I don't like."

The 19-time major champion more complimentary of Kyrgios later in the Australian Open after battling past his opponent, but their rivalry endures.

Andy Murray believes there is strong support among leading players on the ATP Tour for a merger with the WTA.

Roger Federer tweeted his backing for a unified tennis tour last month, amid the coronavirus-enforced halt to major sporting action.

Rafael Nadal immediately backed the Swiss star and Murray, another supporter of the idea, is encouraged by the discussion, though he insists female players must also be heard.

"When you have a lot of the top male players now starting to discuss and talk about it, that's definitely very promising," the two-time Wimbledon winner said to CNN.

"When these discussions happen it's quite important not just to see this merger through a man's eyes and to bring more women into the decision-making positions so that everyone's voice gets heard."

Murray, who was previously coached by Amelie Mauresmo, has long been an advocate for the women's game, but explained challenges remain in changing the views of some.

"I spoke to some of the male players... who were unhappy because the prize money was equal," he said.

"I said, 'Well would you rather there was no increase at all?' And they said to me, 'Yeah, actually.'

"That's some of the mentalities that you're working with in these discussions."

Boris Becker does not believe the US Open should go ahead as scheduled due to the coronavirus crisis.

Over 23,000 people have died in the state of New York after contracting COVID-19, but US Open organisers are still planning for the grand slam to start at the end of August.

Wimbledon was cancelled as a result of the pandemic, while the French Open has been put back until September - although there remain doubts over whether the Paris major will go ahead. 

Six-time major champion Becker thinks it would be unwise for what is usually the final grand slam of the year at Flushing Meadows to be held in four months' time.

He told Laureus.com: "New York was pretty much the worst city hit by the virus a couple of weeks ago. I don't think it would be wise to have a tournament there."

Becker has also thrown his weight behind calls for a merger between governing bodies the ATP and WTA.

He added: "I think we are having a moment in crisis in tennis. Apart from, let's say, from the top 10, the top 50 and maybe the top 75 men and women, the rest of the professional players need their weekly pay check, they need their prize money.

"The fact is they can't play, they can't even go to a club and give lessons because of social distancing.

"We have to ask ourselves whether tennis is good enough to give jobs for a thousand people. Until the crisis started, the quick answer was yes, but I'm sure a lot of smaller tournaments that couldn't take place are struggling to come back financially, they've lost a lot of money by not hosting. So it's also a question of time.

"Roger Federer started the ball rolling with his splendid idea of joining forces and I think Nadal agrees. Not every top guy agrees, that's fine, but I think Federer, [Rafael] Nadal and [Novak] Djokovic have a strong following. For Federer to suggest that, speaks for his intelligence and also that he truly cares about the game.

"Just think of the equal prize money we have in the majors. You know men and women earn the same which I don't think is happening in every sport. We are always progressive about going with the times, with equal rights, certainly on the tennis court.

"So a joint organisation would be the next step. It's a big step. He suggested maybe having joint tournaments. We already have a few. In the US in Miami, you have men and women participating around the same time.

"The other ones, talking about the Masters series, are not there yet, but obviously would, in my opinion, be a step in the right direction. Once we get out of the tunnel, the new normal will be different. We still lie in a position to control the future if we get together and work together."

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