Madrid Open tennis cancelled because of virus spike in Spain

MADRID (AP) — The Madrid Open in September was cancelled because of a new spike in coronavirus cases in Spain.

The joint men’s and women’s tournament was originally scheduled in May, but moved when Spain became a hotbed for the virus. Its new slot in September allowed it again to be a major lead-in event for the rescheduled French Open at the end of that month.

But organisers last weekend were advised by local authorities not to stage the tournament due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.

“Following the strong recommendation of the local health authorities, and having monitored the situation for months, the organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open have no choice but to cancel the tournament due to the complex situation that COVID-19 continues to generate in every regard,” organisers said in a statement.

“After a spike in COVID-19 cases, the community of Madrid announced a few days ago a number of new measures to control the virus’ spread, including a directive that social gatherings are to be reduced to 10 people, both in public and private meetings, further reducing the feasibility of operating the tournament.”

Spain was one of the hardest-hit countries by the coronavirus. The pandemic had been under control until the recent spikes in cases across the country.

“We have given our all to stage the tournament,” Madrid Open Tournament Director Feliciano López said.

“The continued instability is still too great to hold a tournament like this in complete safety.”

The second edition of the revamped Davis Cup, set to be played again in Madrid this year, had already been cancelled as promoters didn’t want the event to go on without fans.

The Madrid Open was to mark the start of the European clay season, after the US Open.

Tour-level tennis resumed only this week after a five-month break at the Palermo Ladies Open in Italy. The ATP and WTA said they were assessing their provisional tour calendars and will update soon.

“We share in the disappointment that the Mutua Madrid Open will not be able to take place this year,” ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said. “The circumstances concerning COVID-19 are continually evolving and we continue to take guidance from local authorities in our decision-making.”

Last year’s Madrid Open was won by Novak Djokovic and Kiki Bertens.