ATP event strips off entire court after players refuse to play

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The Tennis Napoli Cup has been postponed after players refused to compete on their courts. The Naples tournament has been upgraded from a Challenger to an ATP 250 this year but has faced trouble with the poor condition of its courts, which have now been entirely stripped off after complaints, with the surfaces from last week’s Florence tournament being shipped in as a replacement.

The qualifying tournament at the Napoli Cup was moved to a different venue over the weekend after players complained about the court surface being used for the event at the  Tennis Club Napoli 1905. And the main draw has now been postponed until Tuesday after the courts were ripped up entirely to be replaced.

It comes after photos showing the court covered in dents and scuff marks circulated on Twitter, a big blow to the tournament that was upgraded to ATP 250 status from its usual Challenger standing on a one-year licence. Italy also hosted another 250-point event in Florence last week, and the court surface used at the Firenze Open is now travelling to Naples to be used for this week’s tournament.

In a statement over the weekend, tournament organisers confirmed that the qualifying event had been moved as a result of the court conditions. “Due to problems related to the material used to build the courts by a company, world leader of the industry and therefore independent from the organisation, it has become necessary to postpone the tournament qualification matches scheduled for today and tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, to allow the necessary interventions,” the Tennis Club Napoli 1905 said.

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The statement said that the tournament would start “as usual on Monday” but it has now been put off to allow time for the Florence tournament surface to arrive and be installed. It spells trouble for organisers with their one-year tournament licence, as they could now be unlikely to have this renewed to stage another ATP 250 next year given the troubles presented before the main draw has even started.

In contrast, players in Florence were full of praise for the tournament and shared their wishes to see it return this year, with a number of one-off events in Europe staged this year to replace the Chinese tournaments cancelled as a result of Covid-19. “I had a great time, I hope this tournament comes back, it’s been an amazing week,” Felix Auger-Aliassime said after winning the Firenze Open on Sunday.

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The Tennis Napoli Cup will see an impressive player field including Montreal Masters champion Pablo Carreno Busta, last year’s Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini and world No 22 Roberto Bautista Agut, but it will be some time before fans see them finally take to the court after the teething problems carried over from the weekend.

The tournament also suffered a blow when its original top seed Andrey Rublev withdrew last week during his run at the Gijon Open, where he ended up lifting his fourth title of the season on Sunday.

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