International Professional Tennis League (ITPL) - blessing or curse?! - UBITENNIS
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International Professional Tennis League (ITPL) – blessing or curse?!

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2014 will see the birth of ITPL, the planned International Tennis Premier League which has been modelled on the lines of the Indian Premier League (PL) by former Indian Tennis Pro Mahesh Bhupathi, who began the sports agency Globosports. Here players will be playing matches which are scheduled to be held from November 28 to December 14. Four Asian cities—Mumbai, Singapore, Bangkok, and Dubai. Participants will field teams and play each other in a round-robin format at all four locations. Each match will consist of a five-set series with one set each of men’s, women’s, doubles, mixed doubles, and legends competition. So far, the team owners have spent US-Dollars 23,975,000 on getting the players in their side, also there is talk about a fifth city expected to participate, but only four have been named up to now. This vast amount of money was spent assembling a first class player field with reports suggesting that top names like Nadal may receive one million US Dollar per match! Marquee names are expected to be able to pick how much they want to play.

 

Mixed echo among players and media

Players who have been drafted in the inaugural International Premier Tennis League are Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Muray and Serena Williams. “I think it’s a fantastic concept if it happens, obviously,” commented Novak Djokovic as a first response to this new format. Other top players, like Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and prominent Asian pros Na Li and Kei Nishikori have not signed up. “Firstly, I want to see whether it takes off or not,” Federer told the Gulf News. “I know a lot of people have invested in it or are part of it. Anywhere where tennis grows is a good thing, so I hope it takes off and becomes very successful. In Asia, there is enormous potential, in places like China and India due to the amount of people that live there and the excitement they have for tennis.”

There have also been questions about whether the league will receive the financial backing required to sustain it, as well as its scheduling during the offseason, which many players already complain is not long enough. “I think it will be great for tennis if it can be pulled off,” Sharapova and Li’s agent, Max Eisenbud, told CNN. “I just don’t see how it could ever work, but I hope I am wrong.”  In a column for Le Parisien, Montpellier tournament director Patrice Dominguez described the IPTL as having “no sporting interest and no credibility,” and said it was “wasting the health of the players.”

The teams for the first issue of the International Professional Tennis League are as follows, with each allowed to name up to a total of 10 players over the next few weeks:

Mumbai: Rafael Nadal, Ana Ivanovic, Gael Monfils, Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna, Pete Sampras, Fabrice Santoro

Dubai: Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Janko Tipsarevic, Malek Jaziri, Nenad Zimonic, Goran Ivanisevic, Martina Hingis


Bangkok: Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Victoria Azarenka, Daniel Nestor, Kirsten Flipkens, Carlos Moya

Singapore: Tomas Berdych, Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt, Daniela Hantuchova, Bruno Soares, Patrick Rafter, Nick Krygios.

Initially, it was said the league will be played in five Asian cities and surprisingly India`s top singles star Somdev Devvarman is not part of any team so far. The 2014 season will feature 24 matches across the four host cities. The four teams will compete in a round-robin format in each of the four cities. The matches will be played in one city for three days, beginning in Singapore from November 28.
From there it will move to Bangkok (December 2,3,4), Mumbai (December 7,8,9) and Dubai (December 11, 12,13).

Former world number one Carlos Moya, who attended the draft, said, “I`m very excited to be part of this competition, and look forward to playing for Bangkok. I have fond memories from the days I`ve played there.” The owners can have up to 10 players on their roster and they will make their own additionals announcements in their relative cities over the next few weeks.

Already clouds on the horizon – Agassi’s participation still not clear

With the credibility of the nascent International Premier Tennis League still standing in some doubt, it was revealing to hear that Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras – two of the “icon” names drafted in the inaugural auction – remain unclear about who they are playing for. Or even, in Agassi’s case, whether they will be able to attend at all, as the American admitted that he had experienced a breakdown in communication with the league’s managers. He had offered to make himself available for a few days in December, only to hear that he had been drafted by Singapore, who play their home matches at the end of November. Or, in other words, during what Americans know as ‘Thanksgiving’ weekend, being THE family festivity of the year. “I learned that (…) to my very big surprise,” said Agassi. “I don’t have all the facts and if that’s 100 per cent accurate, we will be connecting with the organisers of the event to make sure nobody is left in the lurch.” (Simone Kemler)

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Canada Thumps Australia To Win Historic Davis Cup Title 

The dream of the North American team has finally become a reality.

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MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

109 years after making their Davis Cup debut, Canada has finally claimed the trophy after producing two clinical wins over Australia in the final on Sunday. 

 

The duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime both shined in their matches to give the North American nation an unassible 2-0 lead in the three-match tie. It is the first time Canada has won the title with 2022 being only the second time they have reached the final. Three years ago they missed out on the title to Spain. 

“The emotions are tough to describe,” said Auger-Aliassime. “All of us here, we’ve dreamt of this. All of these guys grew up together dreaming of this moment, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for me and my country…. I am happy we were able to get our first Davis Cup with this group.”

Shapovalov kicked-off the final with a 90-minute 6-2, 6-4, win over Thanasi Kokkinakis who also lost his semi-final match against Borna Coric. The world No.18 blasted 28 winners past his opponent and broke him four times in the match. Besides handing Canada the crucial lead, it was a much-needed confidence boost for Shapovalov who earlier in the week lost to Lorenzo Sonego and Jan-Lennard Struff. 

“I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Shapovalov. “I had a long one against Sonego yesterday and was struggling with my back a little bit. So huge credit to the medical staff for putting me back in shape. There were a lot of doubts if I’d be ready to play today. It was amazing to play pain-free today.”

Closing in on the title, Felix Auger-Aliassime secured victory for his country with a 6-3, 6-4, triumph over world No.24 Alex de Minaur. Producing a total of six aces and saving all eight break points he faced. 

Canada’s run to their first title occurred with a bit of luck on their side. Originally they were eliminated from the finals after losing to the Netherlands at the start of this year. However, they received a wildcard to play in the group stages following the removal of Russia from the competition. Russia and Belarus are currently suspended from team events due to the war in Ukraine. 

In Group B they scored wins over South Korea and Spain to secure a place in the finale this week. Before dismissing Australia, they beat Italy 2-1 in the semi-finals and Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals. 

“From juniors it was our dream, growing up watching Vasek (Pospisil), Milos (Raonic), and [Daniel Nestor] taking Canada to new [heights],” Shapovalov said. “We wanted to grow up and help the country win the first title. It’s so surreal right now. After we lost in the final in 2019, we really wanted this bad. It’s such a team effort; everyone was putting in 120 percent every day.”

Canada’s team captain is former player Frank Dancevic who has held the role since 2017. 

 “This is a historic moment,” Dancevic commented on the achievement. “We’ve never won this title in the past. It’s the first time for us. It’s an incredible feeling.”

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Lleyton Hewitt Admits Pride After Australia Reach First Davis Cup Final For 19 Years

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he is proud after Australia reached their first Davis Cup final since 2003.

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Lleyton Hewitt (@CopaDavis - Twitter)

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he was proud of his Australian Davis Cup Team after they reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years.

 

Australia reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years after defeating Croatia 2-1.

After singles wins for Borna Coric and Alex De Minaur it was Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson who pulled off the upset over Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic to seal victory for Australia.

The Aussie pairing were victorious in a 6-7(3) 7-5 6-4 victory as they sealed Australia’s place in the Davis Cup final for the first time since 2003.

It’s a proud moment for captain Lleyton Hewitt, who will be competing in his fourth Davis Cup final but a first as captain, “I just couldn’t be prouder of these guys and the heart and the passion and the pride that they are playing with out there,” Hewitt told Tennis Australia’s website.

“It’s great. Obviously Australia has a really rich history in this competition, and we have been fortunate enough to win it on a lot of occasions, back a long time ago.

“I know how much it meant for me as a player to get the opportunity to play in finals. So I’m thrilled that these boys get that opportunity on Sunday.”

Sunday will be Australia’s 48th Davis Cup final as they seek to win a 29th Davis Cup title.

The last time Australia competed in a Davis Cup final was back in 2003 in front of a full house at the Rod Laver Arena where Hewitt was influential in a 3-1 victory over Spain.

Although Hewitt admitted it would be nicer to play the final in Melbourne, the Australian captain said that winning the title would mean a lot, “I’d love it to be in Australia,” Hewitt said.

“I’m disappointed the boys don’t get to play in front of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena. It would be very satisfying and especially if you do it with a lot of my good mates around in the coaching staff as well, it would mean a lot.”

The final will take place on Sunday with Australia facing the winner of the second semi-final between Italy and Canada.

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The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter

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By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.

 

We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

PositionPlayerCountryPts 
1DjokovicSerbia11540
2MedvedevRussia8640
3ZverevGermany7840
4TsitsipasGreece6540
5RublevRussia5150
6NadalSpain4875
7BerrettiniItaly4568
8RuudNorway4160
9HurkaczPoland3706
10SinnerItaly3350
11Auger-AliassimeCanada3308
12NorrieGB2945
13SchwartzmanArgentina2625
14ShapovalovCanada2475
15ThiemAustria2425
16FedererSwitzerland2385
17GarinChile2353
18KaratsevRussia2351
19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

PositionPlayerCountryPts
1AlcarazSpain6820
2NadalSpain6020
3RuudNorway5820
4TsitsipasGreece5550
5DjokovicSerbia4820
6Auger-AliassimeCanada4195
7MedvedevRussia4065
8RublevRussia3930
9FritzUSA3355
10HurkaczPoland2905
11RuneDenmark2888
12ZverevGermany2700
13Carreno BustaSpain2495
14NorrieGB2445
15SinnerItaly2410
16BerrettiniItaly2375
17ShapovalovCanada2105
18CilicCroatia2075
19TiafoeUSA2000
20KhachanovRussia1990

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?

BEST RANKING

Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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