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France, the home of tennis

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TENNIS ATP – They haven’t won a major since 1983, but they can boast 12 players in the top 100 and they organise 6 tournaments; this is why France can be considered the most tennis friendly nation at the moment. Antonio Garofalo, translated by Paul Sassoon

Let me start with a premise, this article isn’t an accurate statistical analysis of the state of tennis around the world and it isn’t meant to be an analysis of the quality and capabilities of the various tennis federations. This is just a bit of fun and it should be taken as such even if the results do provoke some interesting thoughts.

First I looked at the tournaments that each nation organises and added the amount of ATP points that these tournaments give to the winner (2000 for the Grand Slams, 1000 for the Master 1000 and so on…). I have included every tournament in the ATP calendar for 2014 except for the ATP Finals as the points the winner collects is variable and because the event does not have a fixed home.

Obviously this table is dominated by the countries that host the 4 Majors. The USA lead this special ranking with 11 tournaments. The US are the only country that hosts more than one Master 1000, three, as well as the US Open. Behind the States there is France with 5 tournaments plus the Roland Garros (and the Monte-Carlo Master 1000 that is almost a French event). Australia and England follow the top two, but there is a big gap. In both countries the focus is on their Grand Slam event and almost all the other tournaments are in preparation for the Major.

The first country that does not organise a Major to come up in this table is Spain (Master 1000 of Madrid, ATP 500s of Valencia and Barcelona) followed by China (Master 1000 Shanghai, ATP 500 in Beijing and the ATP 250 in Shenzen). Germany is seventh followed by Italy, Canada and Monaco which have just their own Master 1000.

COUNTRY TOURNAMENTS POINTS
1 USA 11 7.000
2 FRANCE 6 4.000
3 AUSTRALIA 3 2.500
3 GREAT BRITAIN 3 2.500
5 SPAIN 3 2.000
6 CHINA 3 1.750
7 GERMANY 5 1.500
8 ITALY 1 1.000
8 CANADA 1 1.000
8 MONACO 1 1.000
11 SWITZERLAND 2 750
11 BRAZIL 2 750
11 HOLLAND 2 750
14 SWEDEN 2 500
14 AUSTRIA 2 500
14 CROATIA 2 500
14 RUSSIA 2 500
14 JAPAN 1 500
14 MEXICO 1 500
14 UAE 1 500
21 INDIA 1 250
21 QATAR 1 250
21 NEW ZELAND 1 250
21 CHILE 1 250
21 ARGENTINA 1 250
21 MAROCCO 1 250
21 ROMANIA 1 250
21 PORTUGAL 1 250
21 COLOMBIA 1 250
21 ISRAEL 1 250
21 THAILAND 1 250

 

The second table I prepared is the multiplication of the points in the previous table by the number of players that each country has in the top 100 (ranking of the 7th of July 2014). First interesting number that pops out is that there are 15 countries with at least one player in the top 100 from countries that don’t hold ATP events. The leader of this “champions without tournament” ranking is the Czech Republic that can boast Berdych, Stepanek, Rosol and Vesely in the ATP top 100 list. Also Serbia features in this ranking. The Balkan state can boast the World Number 1 (and Lajovic in the top 100) but since Nole’s family stopped organising the Belgrade tournament, the country has not been able to set up another ATP Tour event.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are 12 countries that organise at least one ATP Tour event even if they don’t have a current top 100 player. China is one of these 12 countries as they organise a Master 1000 in Shanghai, an ATP 500 in Beijing and an ATP 250 in Shenzen, yet their best player is Zhang ranked 173 in the world. China believes that it is just a matter of time before their players start to climb the rankings and organising so many events is an excellent way to attract kids to the sport. Also Li Na’s successes make life easier for the Chinese federation.

Also Sweden has two tournaments with a good tradition like Bastad and Stockholm, and like China they do not have a player in the top 100. Since Soderling retired, the Swedes are absent from the top echelons of tennis (to be honest also in the lower echelons).

Back to the rankings, France has 12 players in the top 100 which allows them to overtake the US that has 6 top 100 players (just one in the top 60).

The French have not been able to find a player capable of winning a Grand Slam event, but Gasquet, Tsonga, Monfils, Simon and the rest are a good crop of players that can perform at a very high level. Looking at this table we can safely say that the French have invested well the money they make from the Roland Garros.

 

COUNTRY POINTS TOP100 NO. OF EVENTS
1 FRANCE

48.000

12

6

USA

42.000

6

11

3 SPAIN

28.000

14

3

4 GERMANY

10.500

7

5

5 AUSTRALIA

10.000

4

3

6 ITALY

3.000

3

1

6 CANADA

3.000

3

1

8 GREAT BRITAIN

2.500

1

3

9 RUSSIA

2.000

4

2

10 ARGENTINA

1.500

6

1

10 AUSTRIA

1.500

3

2

10 CROATIA

1.500

3

2

10 SWITZERLAND

1.500

2

2

10 HOLLAND

1.500

2

2

15 COLOMBIA

750

3

1

15 BRAZIL

750

1

2

17 JAPAN

500

1

1

18 PORTUGAL

250

1

1

18 ISRAEL

250

1

1

 

In the third table I prepared I decided to stretch my statistical analysis to create a “coefficient of tennis health” for each country. How did I do it? For each nation with at least three players in the top 100 I calculated the average ranking of the first three (let’s call it “top 3 average”).

The next step was to divide the points in table 1 (the sum of the ATP points for the winner of the tournaments in each country) by the “top 3 average” to obtain a coefficient that unites the ability to produce players with the ability in organising tennis tournaments.

France leads this “coefficient” table ahead of Spain, that has now become a tennis superpower on and off the court, and the USA that can compensate the lack of quality players with the number of events it organises.

Three countries do not make it in this rankings even if they should really. Serbia has the world number one, but they don’t host any ATP tournament. Switzerland organises two tournaments (Basel and Gstaad), but just 2 top 100 players. They are numbers 3 and 4 in the world, but the lack of a third top 100 player excludes them from this special ranking. Counting just Federer and Wawrinka the Swiss would be third with a coefficient of 214,2. Also Great Britain is out of this table, Murray is the only player that the UK has in the top 100 and he has dropped to number 10 in the world because of his injuries. If only the first player was taken in consideration Great Britain would be first! As it stands the British number 2 is Daniel Evans ranked 146th in the world and third is James Ward 154th in the ATP list. So the British top 3 average is 103.3 and the resulting “coefficient of tennis health” is 24.2. This coefficient would place Britain in 6th place behind Germany and ahead of Canada.

 

COUNTRY TENNIS HEALTH COEFFICIENT

AVERAGE RANKING

TOP3

1 FRANCE

235,2

17

2 SPAIN

222,2

9

3 USA

145,8

48

4 AUSTRALIA

45,7

60,5

5 GERMANY

44,6

33,6

6 CANADA

22,4

44,6

7 ITALY

21,4

46,6

8 CROATIA

14,6

34,6

9 RUSSIA

12,9

38,6

10 ARGENTINA

8,6

29

11 AUSTRIA

6,8

73

12 COLOMBIA

4,6

54

 

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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Matteo Berrettini Looks To Draw Inspiration From Jannik Sinner

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner ahead of his comeback to the ATP tour.

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(@TheTennisLetter - Twitter)

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner as Berrettini is continuing his recovery from his injury.

The former Wimbledon finalist has had a horrible run of injuries which has seen the Italian fall down the rankings as he is now at 124 in the world.

After suffering a horrible injury at the US Open during his match with Arthur Rinderknech, Berrettini was looking to make his return at the Australian Open as he was set to face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening round.

However just before the match, Berrettini withdrew as he decided to delay his comeback to the tour as he will aim to return to the court as soon as possible.

If Berrettini needed any inspiration then Jannik Sinner’s triumph at the Australian Open could be that much needed spark as the Italian beat Novak Djokovic on his way to capturing a first Grand Slam title.

Speaking an interview Berrettini explained that he is still not 100% and admits he is looking to draw inspiration from Sinner’s form, “I’m better, but I’m not yet 100%,” Berrettini was quoted by Tennis Infinity as saying.

“The goal is to play the whole season, and without these setbacks which are destroying my body and my head. Sinner did a miracle. I will also use this energy for my tennis. I was happy with what Jannik said.

“We have a good relationship, which has strengthened in recent months. We are different but similar. We are pursuing the same dream.”

Berrettini will hope Sinner’s success will have a positive influence on his recovery and quicken his return to the tour as the former world number six aims for a successful return to the tour.

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