After more than a year of dealing with the ravages and ever present questions relating to COVID-19, the world, along with tennis, is trying to return to a semblance of normal. In truth, it will be a “new normal”. Because of the losses and emotions that have become a regular part of daily life, it would be fair to ask fans of the game – Do you remember the Noventi Open?
After sorting through a mental tournament rolodex, most of those who follow the sport would respond – Isn’t that the ATP 500 series championship that takes place each June in Halle, Westphalia, Germany? It is, indeed. It is the tournament that Roger Federer promised to be a part of for the remaining days of his career. He’s still careering, although not as regularly as fans would like.
Last year, the persistence of the pandemic brought about the cancellation of the premier grass court event that has been a lead-up to Wimbledon since 1993. At the time, Tournament Director, Ralf Weber said, “It is an unfortunate. However, given the current situation, there is no alternative, but we’ll comeback even stronger in 2021…”
Often statements of this sort are nothing more than public relations fluff. That isn’t the case with the 28th Noventi Open. As things stand now, the tournament, with a few changes, will be held June 14-20 at the Owl Arena. Weber said, “Some weeks ago, we decided that the Noventi Open will take place this year but, unfortunately, without spectators and without on-site media.
“I am aware that this situation is not the one we all like but we have to live this year with a lot of restrictions. We are happy to have very good TV contracts with Eurosport and with ZDF and we are also happy to have a very good players field with (Roger) Federer, (Daniil) Medvedev, (Alexander) Zverev, (Andrey) Rublev, (Roberto) Bautista Agut, (David) Goffin and (Karen) Khachanov”.
A Bielefeld, Germany news source noted, “They had hoped to have, at least, a few fans but the situation in Germany is far from [being able to promise] that. As a result, the politicians have decided lockdown, lockdown, lockdown….”
Having served as the Tournament Director of the championship founded by his late father, Gerhard (Gerry) Weber, for whom the tournament was originally named, Ralf has weathered many a storm and still stands tall.
“During these times the organization and the planning of the tournament is not easy, especially with the announcement today (April 8th) that Roland Garros will begin one week later (which will affect the tournaments that are scheduled to follow).”
For now, preparations for the 28th Noventi Open are continuing. But do stay tuned… It will be interesting to see just how everything works out. It’s the new “normal” after all.
Title photo of Benoit Paire at the 2019 Noventi Open by Vanessa Taylor.