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Tennis-ATP to make call on 2022 China events within a month, says Gaudenzi

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MUMBAI — The prospects of the Shanghai Masters and three other men’s tournaments taking place in China this year look bleak unless there is a rapid improvement in the COVID-19 situation in the country, ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has told Reuters.

China hosted the Winter Olympics under strict health protocols in February but almost every other international sporting event in the country this year has been canceled or postponed.

The four events, including the Masters, are scheduled for September and October and Gaudenzi said a decision on their fate will be taken within the next month.

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“The decision will be made soon. We are discussing with them on the protocols and on the way (forward),” Gaudenzi said during an interview.

“But I think if the protocols are too strict, it will be quite unlikely that we can have the players fly there and do quarantines. The situation is pretty challenging in China.

“We haven’t made a decision but we expect to make a decision in the coming month or so.”

The French Open was recently held without any health restrictions and it is unlikely players would agree to go to China if there was any period of isolation involved.

In addition to the Oct. 9-16 Shanghai Masters, China is scheduled to host the Chengdu Open and Zhuhai Championships, both starting on Sept. 26, and the China Open from Oct. 3-9 in Beijing.

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Last year, the ATP Masters event in Indian Wells was moved to October from its usual March spot to fill the gap left by the cancellation of the China tournaments.

Finding a similarly prestigious substitute if they were to be canceled again this year was unlikely, Gaudenzi said.

“We need to be prepared to readjust the calendar and find replacement single-year events if necessary, like we have done in the past two years,” Gaudenzi said.

“But there is always hope that situation might also change over there. We’ll adapt as best as we can.”

The women’s tour has no events scheduled in China for 2022 as the WTA works to find a resolution to the standoff with China over the Peng Shuai issue.

The ATP remains committed to putting on tournaments in the country and announced last week that the Shanghai Masters was among the five ATP 1000 events that will be played over 12 days from 2023. (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Nick Mulvenney and Peter Rutherford)