Rafael Nadal is a famously organized pro who plans his schedule with utmost care. Thanks to the coronavirus, his plans are up in the air. He returned to Spain following the cancellation of the Indian Wells Masters 1000 tournament and is uncertain whether he will return even if The Miami Open is played, as planned, starting March 25.
Karolina Pliskova, who would have been Nadal’s counterpart as the No. 2 seed among the women, made a different decision. After initially deciding to return home to the Czech Republic, she is staying in California until there is more detail regarding Miami.
The situation is emblematic of the dilemma faced by scores of players in the wake of the Riverside County Public Health Department’s declaration of a public health emergency Sunday, a decree that forced promoters of the combined Indian Wells tournament to call it off. With the Miami Open in limbo, they’re wondering, “Should I stay or should I go?”
Players already on site in the desert city were offered continued hospitality and use of the facilities (including food service, transportation and medical services) until March 16. Miami officials are said to be working on offering early hospitality when the players leave Indian Wells.
A number of players elected to remain at Indian Wells, where one insider who asked not to be identified said the atmosphere was “relaxed.” That’s partly because the tournament has withdrawn all media credentials, and both tours have halted their customary practice of making players — and tour officials — available for interviews, including ones conducted by telephone.
The WTA tournament in Charleston, S.C., immediately following Miami, is also still on schedule, but the decision is not really in the hands of the tours or promoters. Kelly Wolf, a vice president at athlete management giant Octagon, told ESPN on Monday, “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what tournaments want to do, it’s up to what the local government wants to do.”
Wolf represents American star Frances Tiafoe, who remained in Indian Wells to complete some sponsor obligations on Monday. According to Wolf, Tiafoe is contemplating asking for a wild card into the Phoenix Challenger, which begins on March 16. The event is still scheduled, and it has attracted some top names, including Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and rising Serbian star Miomir Kecmanovic.
The ATP and WTA are in an unofficial lockdown as they wrestle with the challenging administrative problems created by the disruption.
Newly tenured ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi wrote in an official statement: “We are committed to exploring all options for the operation of upcoming tournaments as the health and safety of our players and all other stakeholders remain our top priority. Any further updates will be communicated on ATP platforms.”
Players, officials and tournament directors worldwide are waiting to hear what measures the ATP and WTA will take to address the crisis as well as the disruptions it has caused in the structure of the tour. The tours may have to adjust prize money figures, the way rankings points are allocated, and other rules in response to the ongoing emergency.
“The issues are complicated,” Wolf said. “The tours will have to look at all sorts of things, including those governing withdrawals. Players may be afraid to travel or maybe won’t be able to travel. And there will be concerns by some who may want to play about whether or not they can get home if they do go to a tournament.”
Officials in Florida have issued a self-isolation request to all people who have recently traveled internationally.
“This has major implications for our athletes,” WTA president Micky Lawler wrote in an email on Monday. “We are working fast and furiously through all of this.”