Tennis might be starting sooner than we thought but it will be in a different form for now. The likes of Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou are looking to host exhibition tennis matches in their academies.
With the tennis calendar suspended at all levels till nearly mid of July because of the coronavirus outbreak, fans have been starved of any action.
And while the Mutua Madrid Open has organised the Virtual Pro competition to get fans back in touch with the sport, watching players on court has been missed in these trying times. That could change in May if Nadal and Mouratoglou could successfully carry out their plans.
According to reports, there is a string of exhibition tournaments planned including one as early as in the first week of May. The first of these planned exhibition competitions is the Tennis Point Exhibition Series to be held in Germany.
The aforementioned competition will be played in Rhineland-Palatinate but will only consist of players ranked outside the top 100.
On the other hand, Mouratoglou is set to kick-start the Ultimate Tennis Showdown in Nice, France. This will see played in the top 100 take on each other in a series of 50 matches spread over five weeks. The tournament will be played to shut doors.
Some might wonder whether playing sport in times like these makes too much sense given the obvious risk of spreading the virus. However, Mouratoglou has also announced a slew of measures which will be taken to avoid the risk of aggravating the situation.
Speaking to the media, Mouratoglou said everyone associated with the tournament will be tested and following that, there will be a 15-day quarantine for each of them.
“Of course, they will be absolutely no crowd watching. And of course, for safety reasons, we won’t be able to have coaches and families on the court, but we will find different ways to make them interact, as with headphones.”
“Players, instead of turning on the same side of the court at the changeover, are going to turn on the opposite side and sit on the opposite side. All the ball boys will wear gloves. The ball will be different for the two players, and they will be marked.”
The Rafael Nadal Academy will also bring tennis players together in a bid to allow them to train at a time when no tennis is on. This will be open to players from both, the men’s and women’s tour.