Both the 2021 Maharashtra Open and the Bangalore Open Challenge which were due to be hosted in early February have been postponed indefinitely.
The Maharashtra Open in Pune is the only senior ATP tour event to be staged in India, whilst the Challenger tournament attracts players from just under the top tier normally.
The postponements will come as no surprise to many. They had seemed likely anyway because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the current suspension of sporting events in India.
But it became inevitable once news began to emerge from Australia that the first Grand Slam of 2021, the Australian Open in Melbourne is likely to be delayed.
That is because the government of the State of Victoria is now stipulating that players should only begin arriving in Australia ahead of that tournament in early January. Given that they must then complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, during which time they might not even be allowed to train.
That would make it impossible to begin the tournament on its scheduled date of January 18th let alone play in any warm-up tournaments first.
Now organisers of both events have told the ATP that they wish them to be held later in the year, and have suggested September to November as a possible time frame.
That may prove to be impossible for the Maharashtra event. First of all, the ATP calendar is already crowded and there may not be room to squeeze in another tournament.
And then there is a conflict between the ATP tour and the Indian government. The ATP tour does not want international tennis players to be quarantined, whereas the government insists on it. The ATP also insists that any Tour event must be held in a bio-secure environment, without fans and with the players confined to an exclusive hotel, something that would add to the cost for the organisers.
It is also unlikely to be popular with sponsors, especially coming so close to the 2022 event.
Last, but not least, there is the question of how many top players would want to come to India in the current circumstances. This year’s event in Pune attracted considerable criticism because none of the top-ranked players in the world chose to enter it. Without big names, sponsors will not be interested nor will spectators, whether in the stands or sat in front of their televisions.