The days are numbered for clay-court tennis in Latin America. The clay-court circuit mislaid a vital eventuality several years ago when a Mexican Open in Acapulco switched to hardcourts. The contest is on this week.
The Rio Open, that finished on Sunday, is expected to be next. And it could vigilance a finish of several smaller clay-court tournaments in Quito, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo.
The supposed “Latin American clay-court swing” comes in Feb and early Mar – just after a Australian Open on hardcourts, and only before Acapulco and dual timeless hard-court events in Indian Wells, California, and Miami.
“We’re in a center of nowhere,” Rio Open contest executive Luiz Carvalho told The Associated Press.
The pushing force for change is a new tennis locus built in Rio for final year’s Olympic Games. The $50 million venue in suburban Barra da Tijuca is vacant, being run by Brazil’s sovereign government, and needs events. And it’s built for hardcourts, not clay.
Carvalho speaks cautiously, yet acknowledges he’s in talks with ATP President Chris Kermode and a other South American contest directors about creation a move.
“The judgment of relocating to tough (courts) we all agree,” pronounced Carvalho, vocalization for a other South American tournaments. Carvalho’s long-term idea is to ascent Rio to what a ATP calls a 1,000-level eventuality _ like Indian Wells, Miami, and a handful of others opposite North America, Europe and Asia.
The Latin American clay-court circuit struggles to pull tip players. This year, Rio captivated No. 5 Kei Nishikori and No. 9 Dominic Thiem, who eventually won a event.
By comparison, Acapulco has 4 players in a tip 10 this week _ and 7 in a tip 20 _ including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, a aristocrat of clay who has won a record 9 French Open titles on a aspect during Roland Garros. It also had No.4 Milos Raonic, who pulled out with an injury.
Nadal chose to play in Mexico this deteriorate instead of Rio, where has been a marquee pull a final several years.
“Imagine what we could get in Rio if we were personification on hard,” Carvalho said. “I consider we could get a margin as good as Acapulco. Maybe more.”
Carvalho pronounced a “ATP doesn’t have to be frozen” and needs to change to adjust to younger players.
“We trust a hard-court eventuality would fit improved since of a stream conditions of a tour,” Carvalho said. “The subsequent era is hard-court focused.”
Thiem, who has won 6 of his 8 singles titles on clay, sees a change coming.
“The whole debate goes some-more and some-more to hardcourt,” he said. “Except for Roland Garros and Wimbledon, all a many critical tournaments are on hardcourts. If it changes to hardcourts, we’ll have to get used to it.”
There are still a run of clay-court events in Europe heading adult to a French Open, including Masters 1,000 tournaments in Monte-Carlo, Madrid and Rome. After a French, there’s a precipitated weed justice widen of tournaments forward of Wimbledon before a debate primarily reverts to hardcourts.
The Rio Open has been played for 4 years during a proxy clay-court venue set adult during Rio’s Jockey Club, a city’s equine racing track. It is located in a city’s many upscale area, and a pierce to suburban Barra would chase a eventuality from a heart of a city.
The eventuality is a corner try between IMG, a selling company, and Mubadala, a state-owned investment arm of a United Arab Emirates.
The International Tennis Federation, a world-governing body, wants a Olympic venue used. And a earlier a better.
“The ITF retains a wish that a venue will see world-class events in a future,” a ITF pronounced in a matter to AP.
The ATP contingency approve any change, and it’s observant small publicly. In an email to a AP it pronounced a 2019 calendar competence be a judicious place to make any changes, yet Carvalho suggested it competence come sooner.
“Imagine what we could have here,” Carvalho said. “It would be amazing. It creates sense. The segment is prepared for something big.”
But a initial pierce means removing off a clay.