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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Rafael Nadal Boosts Olympic Preparations With Norrie Victory, Advances To Maiden 2024 Quarter-Final

Rafael Nadal reached his first ATP quarter-final in Bastad.

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Rafael Nadal boosted his preparations for the Olympics with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Cameron Norrie in Bastad.

The win means that Nadal is into his first ATP quarter-final of the season with an impressive straight sets win.

It didn’t all go Nadal’s way as the Spaniard was tested in the opening set with Norrie producing some consistent and attacking play.

The British number two managed to create some tough moments for Nadal but ultimately Norrie lacked that killer instinct to make it count.

That was the difference between him and Nadal as the Spaniard used the forehand to move Norrie out of position, therefore finishing the points off with ease.

A break in the seventh game put Nadal in control but the former champion in Bastad had to work hard to close out the opening set with Norrie pushing for the break.

However, Nadal did secure the opening set 6-4 with some incredible hitting.

As expected though Nadal’s level dropped in the second set as he still hasn’t managed to find his consistent level.

A sensational passing shot at the net saw Norrie break before consolidating to take a 4-1 lead.

It was an incredible turnaround for the Brit but a lack of composure and concentration allowed Nadal a chance to get back in the match.

Get back in the match Nadal did as he managed to sustain a high level of play throughout the next period of the match, securing five games in a row to claim the win.

After the match Nadal spoke about how crucial it was for him to improve his rhythm, “I think I played in some moments good tennis, in some moments I need to play a little bit more aggressive, but that is part of the journey today,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“Great feelings. I’ve been a while without playing on the Tour, since Roland Garros.  To have the chance to compete well against a great player like Cameron is a great feeling.

“I haven’t been competing very often, so matches and victories like today help. To be in rhythm the whole match and hold the pressure on the opponent the whole match, that’s something that I need to improve, because I didn’t play enough.”

Nadal will now aim for a tenth win of the season when he plays fourth seed Mariano Navone on Friday.

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Billie Jean King Cup Relocates From Sevilla To Malaga, Takes Place Alongside Davis Cup Final Eight Tournament

The Billie Jean King Cup has been relocated from Sevilla to Malaga.

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The Billie Jean King Cup Finals will now take place in Malaga and will be alongside the Davis Cup final eight tournament.

The ITF announced the news today that the Billie Jean King Cup Finals will be relocated from Sevilla to Malaga.

It will take place on the 13th-20th November and will be alongside the Davis Cup final eight tournament which will start on the 19th of November and will conclude on the 24th of November.

Speaking about the change tournament director Conchita Martinez spoke about the passion Malaga will bring to the event and has revealed that they have contacted existing ticket holders about the change, “I know that Malaga, just a two-hour drive from Sevilla, will deliver the exceptional atmosphere and passion that fans of the Billie Jean King Cup have come to know and love,” Martinez stated.

“We have informed all existing ticket holders of the changes and will be reissuing tickets for the new location, with the option of refunds for those who require them. We are set for a blockbuster fortnight of tennis this November and I can’t wait to welcome the tennis world to Malaga this November.”

The news will be disappointment to some ticket holders about the late change as the ITF continue to be unorganised when it comes to logistical events around the team competitions.

However, Malaga will aim to bring a unique atmosphere as the event will aim to boost the attendances of both team competitions.

The event will see four first round matches, four quarter-finals, two semi-finals and a final.

Here is the draw below with Canada looking to defend their title from last year.

Canada v BYE

Germany v Great Britain

Australia v BYE

Slovakia v USA

Spain v Poland

Czech Republic v BYE

Japan v Romania

Italy v BYE

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays Carlos Alcaraz for the Gentlemen’s Singles Championship

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Carlos Alcaraz after winning his semifinal on Friday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 14 at The Championships hosts the championship matches in gentlemen’s singles and mixed doubles.

One year ago, Novak Djokovic was on a 34 match Wimbledon win streak, playing for his fifth consecutive title, and had not lost a match on Centre Court in a full decade.  But in a spectacular five-hour five-setter, Carlos Alcaraz upset the all-time great to win his first Wimbledon title.  On Sunday, we get the rematch, as Djokovic looks to avenge that painful loss, and Alcaraz looks to defend a Major title, and win back-to-back Majors, for the first time.


Carlos Alcaraz (3) vs. Novak Djokovic (2) – 2:00pm on Centre Court

They followed up last year’s championship match here with another fantastic final just a month later in Cincinnati, where Djokovic saved championship point to eventually win in a third-set tiebreak, and after nearly four hours of play.  Novak would go on three weeks later to win the US Open, while Carlitos was not the same player for some time.  Alcaraz would not reach another final at any event for over six months, until this past March in Indian Wells. 

Despite a few surprising losses, and an injury that disrupted his season, Alcaraz is now a strong 32-6 on the year, and a superb 17-1 at Majors.  Carlitos has been able to quickly rebound from upsets at smaller events, like his loss to Jack Draper a few weeks ago at Queen’s Club, and up his level for the big events.  He’s dropped five sets through six matches, most of which have contained some sloppy play at times, yet Carlitos has played his best when it mattered most to reach his fourth Major final.  And he’s 3-0 thus far in Major finals.

2024 has been a surprisingly subpar season in the illustrious career of Djokovic.  Not only has he not won a title to date, he hadn’t advanced to a final until now.  Playing a more limited schedule, he’s just 23-6 this season.  And it was just a month ago that he was forced to withdraw from the Roland Garros quarterfinals after suffering a knee injury, which required surgery and put his Wimbledon status in doubt.  Yet Novak has recovered almost miraculously, dropping only two sets to this stage, though he did receive a quarterfinal walkover of his own from an injured Alex de Minaur.

Overall Djokovic is 3-2 against Alcaraz, and they’ve split two meetings at Majors, both of which took place a year ago.  In the 2023 Roland Garros semifinals, Carlitos started cramping after just two sets of play, and provided little resistance in sets three and four.  That made his five-set victory in this final a month later all the more surprising.

Novak has not appeared to be significantly hampered by his surgically-repaired knee, though there’s no way it can be 100%.  So if another five-setter takes place on Sunday, that has to favor Carlitos, especially since he is an amazing 12-1 when pushed to five sets in his young career.

But the Djokovic CV at this tournament, and at this stage of Majors, is beyond formidable.  Since the start of The Championships in 2014, he is 59-3 at SW19.  And during the same span at all Majors, he is 42-8 in semifinals and finals.  Novak just very rarely loses matches like this, especially on Centre Court.

On a that surface usually favors the aggressor, Djokovic has been able to change that narrative with his stifling defense and court coverage.  However, Alcaraz is one of the only players Djokovic has ever faced who can match him defensively, and at times dictate play against him with his risk-taking style.  We saw here a year ago just how frustrated Novak became by Carlitos’ game, damaging the net post by breaking his racket against it after getting broken in the fifth set.

Yet as many have mentioned these last two weeks, Djokovic “has that look about him,” meaning the steely determination and confidence that he was lacking during the first six months of this year appear to be back.  He is extremely motivated to reassert himself atop the game, in a season where the new generation of Alcaraz and Sinner won the first two Majors. 

If Carlitos gets off to another slow start on Sunday (he’s lost the first set in three of his six matches thus far), or suffer lapses in his level again, Novak will take advantage of that better than any of the defending champion’s previous opponents.  And while he’ll surely do so at some point in his career, until Alcaraz defends a Major title, or wins back-to-back Majors, it’s hard to favor him to do so.  I’m backing Djokovic to win his eighth Wimbledon title, and his historical 25th Major singles title, the most of all-time.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Santiago Gonzalez and Giuliana Olmos vs. Jan Zielinski Su-wei Hsieh (7) – The Mexican team of Gonzalez and Olmos are playing for their first Major title, as Olmos is 0-1 in Major finals, while 41-year-old Gonzalez is 0-4.  Zielinski and Su-wei won this year’s Australian Open as a team, the first Major title of Zielinski’s career, while Su-wei has now won eight between women’s doubles and mixed, and is 8-1 in Major finals.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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