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What now for tennis in 2020?

Undefeated: Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the Dubai title in February © AFP/File / KARIM SAHIB

PARIS, France, Apr 3 – Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War II and no resumption of the ATP and WTA Tours until July 13 at the earliest as the coronavirus continues to cause havoc.

AFP Sport looks at what happens next for tennis in 2020.

Djokovic, biggest winner or loser?

— Before the season went into cold storage, Novak Djokovic had captured an eighth Australian Open and was on an 18-0 winning streak since the turn of the year.

Talk was of Djokovic, now a 17-time Grand Slam title winner, going on to match his 2011 and 2015 seasons.

In 2011, he built a 41-match win streak before ending the year with a 70-6 record and 10 titles, including the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open crowns.

In 2015, Djokovic won the same three Slams again out of 11 titles in a win-loss record of 82-6.

After taking the 79th title of his career in Dubai on the last day of February this year, the 32-year-old proclaimed: “One of the targets is to go unbeaten the whole season. I’m not kidding.”

However, with the French Open, which he has won once, and Wimbledon, where he was the defending champion, respectively postponed and scrapped, has his bubble burst?

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“The big loser is Djokovic,” former world number one and seven-time major winner Mats Wilander told L’Equipe.

“He hasn’t lost this year yet, but this virus has stopped him in his tracks.”

Will there be any more tennis at all in 2020?

‘Season over’: Amelie Mauresmo © AFP/File / Glyn KIRK

— After Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time in 75 years on Wednesday, All England Club chief Richard Lewis was hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

“I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say that there may be no more tennis this year,” he said.

“But I would like to think that things will settle down so that tournaments can be played sooner rather than later. Who knows what will happen?”

The clay-court and grass-court seasons have already been binned.

In all, 21 tournaments on both tours have been affected.

The rescheduled French Open has been shoehorned into September-October, starting just a week after the US Open final in New York.

Two different continents; two radically different surfaces.

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Also, a rebooted Roland Garros now clashes with six ATP and WTA events, some of which form part of the lucrative and high-profile Asian hard-court swing.

The Laver Cup in Boston, where Roger Federer is likely to feature, is another direct rival to the Paris showpiece.

Furthermore, there are no guarantees that the spread of the deadly coronavirus will have stalled by the summer.

“I think that we are going to have to draw a line under the 2020 tennis season,” tweeted former world number one and two-time major winner Amelie Mauresmo.

“The international circuit = male and female players of all nationalities including their coaching staff, spectators and people from all over the world who bring these events to life.

“No vaccine = no tennis.”

End of the road for low-paid?

‘Help us’: Georgia’s Sofia Shapatava © AFP/File / PATRICK KOVARIK

— The likes of Djokovic, Federer and Rafael Nadal have all banked over $100 million in prize money in their careers.

However, the world rankings stretch beyond the 1,200 mark where an army of under-achieving and low-paid players barely make ends meet.

Currently at 1,283 in the world is 27-year-old Ksenia Kolesnikova of Russia – in 2020, she has officially made just $68.

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“Players lower ranked than 250 will not be able to buy food in two-three weeks’ time,” warned Georgia’s world number 371 Sofia Shapatava.

She has organised a petition calling on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to provide a financial safety net for the hundreds who toil in second and third-tier events.

But she is not optimistic the ITF will look favourably on her plea.

“I honestly don’t think so,” she told AFP.

“They replied that their plate is full and they will come back to me as soon as they can. But after that email they did not reply with anything.”

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