Players have reacted with shock and disappointment following the extraordinary news the Indian Wells tournament will be cancelled over coronavirus concerns.
Often described as the sport's 'fifth major', Indian Wells will not go ahead in 2020 in a drastic response to the threat of the coronavirus outbreak.
“There is too great a risk, at this time, to the public health of the Riverside County area in holding a large gathering of this size,” said Dr. David Agus, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California.
“It is not in the public interest of fans, players and neighboring areas for this tournament to proceed. We all have to join together to protect the community from the coronavirus outbreak.”
The news was met with frustration from some players who are already at the tournament in the US.
World No.13 Diego Schwartzman and WTA stars Kirsten Flipkens and Sorana Cirstea hit out at tournament organisers after a lack of communication.
All three stars said they found out about the cancellation via social media.
@WTA isnt the least you can do is organizing an emergency meeting with the players????— Kirsten Flipkens (@FlipperKF) March 9, 2020
Yes i found out from twitter just now— Sorana Cirstea (@sorana_cirstea) March 9, 2020
Estaría bueno que @atptour comunique un poco mejor a los jugadores de una suspensión de semejante torneo cuando estamos todos acá... enterarse por redes sociales o whats app es bastante flojo.— diego schwartzman (@dieschwartzman) March 9, 2020
While doubles specialist Jamie Murray, Andy Murray’s brother, expressed his concern for future tournaments and what it means for tennis this year.
Doesn’t bode well for the tour if IW cancelled for 1 confirmed case in Coachella Valley. Broward county (Miami Open home) has more confirmed cases. Monte Carlo borders northern Italy currently in lockdown. Rome Masters? French Open? Wimbledon?!!!— Jamie Murray (@jamie_murray) March 9, 2020
Other players and fans were simply baffled it was cancelled after many had already made the trip to one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the year.
This included Aussie John Millman who travelled straight after his Davis Cup heroics to play in the tournament.
If the news is true and Indian Wells is cancelled I kind of wish I’d stayed and gone out after Davis Cup...— John Millman (@johnhmillman) March 9, 2020
Wild they canceled Indian Wells. Outdoor event. Players already there. Wild stuff— Mardy Fish (@MardyFish) March 9, 2020
Yeppp...didn't hit many people but the ones who got hit got hit real hard. Players, journalists, etc.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 9, 2020
If anything, Indian Wells waited too long for this cancellation. Even if they started the tournament, it would have been two weeks of precarious tightrope walking in high winds. https://t.co/wWQjZr0OeO
They just cancelled @BNPPARIBASOPEN ! Wow! Feel terrible for everyone.... the organizers, the fans, sponsors and the players. This is a crazy situation but it’s better to keep everyone safe.— Rennae Stubbs (@rennaestubbs) March 9, 2020
this is biggest sports cancellation yet; indian wells is the biggest us tennis tournament outside the us open; casually known as the "fifth" tennis major......very significant cancellation. https://t.co/GB3TVJlQTl— Jason Gay (@jasongay) March 9, 2020
After the cancellation of Indian Wells we need to get our head around Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome, Roland Garros and many other tennis tournament being at high risk of cancellation— Richard Ings (@ringsau) March 9, 2020
And absolutely to be expected.
Wow— Jan-Michael Gambill (@JanmikeGambill) March 9, 2020
Organisers not taking any chances at Indian Wells
Precautions for the tournament were already being ramped up with the event set to impose a ban on ball kids handling players' towels, among other measures.
The exchange of sweaty towels between players and ball-kids between points has long been a source of contention in the sport due to hygiene reasons.
The plans followed an announcement from California Governor Gavin Newsom who declared a statewide emergency following the death of an elderly person - the first fatality in the region from the virus.
The virus has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide, killed more than 3,400 people and spread across more than 90 nations.
The Indian Wells tournament, arguably the biggest outside the four Grand Slams, was due to begin in the States on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT).
It's the first major US sports event to be cancelled because of concern over the virus.