The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is wrecking the schedules of every sport, including tennis. The Miami Open is the latest tournament to get called off due to health concerns. This will impact every player’s career, including the game’s greatest athletes. What are players missing out on the most during this period of unease?
The scourge of Coronavirus hits the tennis world
The Coronavirus pandemic is here in America, and the culture of sports won’t be the same for a while. The virus caused every major sports league in Asia and Europe to postpone their seasons, and is doing the same here.
One of the first events to raise the white flag was the BNP Paribas Open, also known as the Indian Wells Masters. The tournament was canceled after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Coachella Valley, where Indian Wells takes place.
It’s only been a week since that cancellation, but the dangers emanating from the Coronavirus have already gotten worse since. The amount of confirmed cases grows exponentially by the day and testing isn’t even readily available across the country.
As a result, large sporting events are now a nonstarter. The next tennis tournament to fall by the wayside is the Miami Open. It was canceled after the mayor of the tournament’s hosting city declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 concerns in Miami-Dade County. The governing bodies of tennis have gone even further by suspending the sporting calendar indefinitely.
There are no good options in times like this. The runners of these tournaments must prioritize health and safety above everything else, but both the players and the fans miss out on an exciting sporting spectacle.
The loss of the Miami Open hurts some stars more than others
While Novak Djokovic may be the best tennis player in the world right now, the loss of the Miami Open will have a larger effect on two other top players.
For Andy Murray, the Miami Open was set to mark his return to the court. Murray’s multiple hip surgeries, the recovery from which was shown in a documentary last year, wrecked the last two years of his career. He’s either underperformed or been forced to drop out of tournaments all together.
The former ATP number one only has two tournament wins to his name since 2016. After recovering from a pelvic injury, Murray tentatively targeted the Miami Open for his latest comeback, but that obviously isn’t going to happen now.
Not having the Miami Open will also frustrate Rafael Nadal. Nadal is a living tennis legend, alongside Djokovic and Roger Federer, who has defined the sport during this century. Nadal is particularly known for being an incredible player on clay.
He’s won 59 titles and has a 92% win (436-39) percentage on the surface. Nadal is pretty old for a tennis player, but his excellence remains intact. Last year, he won the French Open for the third year in a row, and the 12th time overall. He also won the Davis Cup and got to the final of Wimbledon, losing a four-set match against his longest rival, Federer.
This tournament would’ve given Nadal another chance to add to his title tally, especially with Federer sidelined by a knee injury.
When will normalcy return?
No one knows how bad the fallout from the Coronavirus outbreak will be, but it will certainly be substantial. From a financial standpoint, both the Miami Open and the Paribas Open are worth approximately $9.7 million.
While the likes of Nadal and Murray have plenty of financial security, the lower-level players with less established careers will feel the loss of that money much more than the stars. And it could be a few months before any sporting events are considered safe enough to take place.
It remains to be seen how long it will take for any sense of normalcy to return to society. The current CDC guidelines recommend that no group activities with more than 50 people take place for the next two months. The amount of COVID-19 cases may not peak in the U.S. for a couple of months.
And while some countries are dealing with the outbreak better than others, the fact is that this is a global problem that needs to be solved before any of the sports we love return to action. For now, all we can do is wash our hands, stay inside and hope that medical professionals find effective treatments as soon as possible.