The coronavirus has brought no love to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, as director Zeljko Franulovic is forced to cancel next month’s tournament.
On a typical mid-April day at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, a boisterous outdoor lunch crowd perched above the clay courts is immune to the fact that there is a tennis tournament in play, even when it’s Rafal Nadal, 11-time winner of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
“As a matter of fact, I love this tournament because it’s played at a real tennis club and that always gives it a special feeling,” Nadal told Forbes Monaco. “The noise? Yes, it’s a big social event but this doesn’t particularly bother me. I’m sure that people enjoy their lunch and watch some tennis at the same time.”
Unfortunately, that won’t be the case for Monaco tennis goers for the 114th edition of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, which was scheduled from April 11 through April 19.
In a bid to stop the coronavirus from spread- ing, tournament director Zeljko Franulovic had been contemplating playing behind closed doors but then ATP Tour announced on March 12 that it was suspending all men’s pro- fessional tennis events for six weeks until April 27.
Adding to Franulovic’s dilemma, the Monegasque and French authorities had banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
The official cancellation came late on March 12. Speaking to Forbes Monaco, Franulovic articulated, “Confronted with Covid-19 epidemic, this was the only way for us to protect the health and safety of our players, spectators and staff, and the general public.”
The former tennis player further commented, “It goes without saying, I was extremely saddened by the cancellation of our event. Not only for myself, personally, but for my entire team who have worked so hard over the past few months and for the play- ers, fans and spectators, as well as for our loyal sponsors and partners.”
Tournament director since 2005, the 72-year-old Croatian assured ticket holders that they would be directly refunded, although the procedure for reimbursement would be detailed at a later time.
The cancellation of Indian Wells, which was an- nounced on March 8, prior to the ATP Tour decision, could have an estimated economic impact on the Coachella Valley of more than $400 million, based on a George Washington University 2017 study.
For Monaco, “The exact financial ramifications are not known at this point and will only be available after a thorough analysis of all tournament reve- nues, costs and budgets,” Franulovic clarified.
“Monaco loves tennis, and the players love the Principality,” Franulovic stated at a press conference during the 2019 tourna- ment, which reached a record high attendance of 135,656 spectators, 45% of which were Italian. No doubt this mutual appreciation will resurface next year, when the 2021 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters takes place April 10-18.