Cilic - Nishikori Final at 2014 US Open Shows Rough Road Ahead for Men's Tennis - UBITENNIS
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Cilic – Nishikori Final at 2014 US Open Shows Rough Road Ahead for Men's Tennis

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TENNIS US OPEN – They figured it out a long time ago in Hollywood and just across the river from here on Broadway: You need a star. You become a hit by selling entertainment, not Shakespeare. You become a hit by putting big names on the marquee. The final of the U.S. Open Monday night didn’t have those names. What it had was Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori. Art Spander for bleacherreport.com

 

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

They figured it out a long time ago in Hollywood and just across the river from here on Broadway: You need a star. It didn’t really matter if a famous actor could act, only if he was famous.

Whether that was because of what he did on or off the screen was insignificant.

You become a hit by selling entertainment, not Shakespeare. You become a hit by putting big names on the marquee.

The final of the U.S. Open Monday night didn’t have those names. What it had was Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori.

They are talented, dedicated and successful. They aren’t much of an attraction, and they didn’t have much of a match. In only one hour and 54 minutes, Cilic crushed Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

Arthur Ashe Stadium was sold out, but there were a good number of unfilled seats, with people choosing not attend when the matchup didn’t meet their standard. After all, this is New York—not Peoria, Illinois.

Sure, the match started at 5:08 p.m. ET. Sure, it was held on a Monday. Sure, the weather was cool and breezy. But you just know if Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic—or, best of all, both—had been playing, the place would have been filled.

The semifinals had the big guys, but the little guys—figuratively speaking, since Cilic is 6’5″—knocked them out. The reaction of some was, “Great.” But not from CBS-TV, which was showing the tournament one last time.

ESPN will cover the tournament starting next year.

We need new faces in tennis or golf, we’re told, but when the faces show up, the public does not—even if, in this case, most of the 24,000 seats at Ashe were sold out in advance.

A barometer for this one was the report in Bloomberg on Monday morning that a dip in secondary prices for tickets, the brokers, the scalpers “could lead to a quiet evening in the seats and among television viewership.”

That’s a kind way of saying, “If you haven’t unloaded your tickets by now, you’re going to take a bath.”

According to SeatGeek (via Newsday’s Neil Best), after Federer and Djokovic were upset in the Saturday semifinals, the price for resale tickets plummeted.

Ever check the covers of People or US Weekly, or the content of Entertainment Tonight or Inside Edition? They don’t attract attention with a story on some studio technician or production assistant. They feed us a diet of Jennifer Lawrence and George Clooney, Beyonce and Jay-Z.

A-listers make us turn the pages or pick up the remotes. Surprise finalists do not.

It’s not the fault of Cilic or Nishikori that they upset the big names. That’s sports. That’s also a possible box-office disaster.

Individual sports are the opposite of team sports, where people pull for the underdog—although they watch the games with top teams, such as Michigan, Alabama and Florida State.

Maybe someday, Cilic, who missed last year’s Open because of a drug suspension, will be as well-known as Rafa Nadal or Federer.

Cilic certainly can move a tennis ball (17 aces against Nishikori), but for the moment, he just doesn’t move the needle.

You want to know why ESPN is always showing Peyton Manning, Tony Romo or LeBron James? Because those players raise the ratings.

In team sports, at least, there’s a feeling of loyalty to the hometown 11 or the old school. It’s different for tennis and golf.

If Cilic or Nishikori were American, maybe more people other than the tennis purists would have taken note. But they’re not American, and that makes it even worse.

Federer has been so good for so long—although he’s 33 and in decline—he’s deservedly celebrated everywhere, transcending borders.

The guy in the stands and the woman in the streets want Federer to win the way they want Nadal and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to win. They don’t want to ask, “Who’s he?”

Golf’s U.S. Open in June at Pinehurst, North Carolina, had the same trouble as tennis’ U.S. Open in September: A non-American, relative non-entity—Martin Kaymer—took the trophy. Two majors for Kaymer. No excitement about Kaymer.

Cilic, at No. 16, (seeded No. 14) is the lowest-ranked man to win the Open since Pete Sampras, ranked 17th in 2002. However, Cilic and Sampras are about as far apart as Croatia (Cilic’s home country) and California (Sampras’ residence).

Pete not only is a U.S. citizen, he had already won 15 Grand Slams previously.

The Australian Open this year had a surprise champion, Stan Wawrinka. The guy he beat, however, was hardly a surprise (Nadal). Then Nadal, as scripted, won the French, beating Djokovic. The Wimbledon final matched Djokovic against Federer. So far, so good. Glamour, glitz, greatness.

Djokovic is only 27, Nadal is 28 but frequently hurt. Who knows how long Federer can play at a high level?

The days of the Big Four—let’s throw in Andy Murray—may not be over, but they are slipping away. We’re probably headed for more of the new kids, or the kids who are almost new but hardly stars.

This is problematic for men’s tennis, as the U.S. Open showed that interest wanes considerably when the four players who have defined the era exit early.

The last Grand Slam of 2014 had everything it needed, until the final act. Would it be possible to shoot the scene again with another ending?

Article from bleacherreport.com

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Diego Schwartzman Receives Threats On Social Media Following Shock Davis Cup Defeat

The world No.15 is the latest player to speak out about recieving abusive messages on social media.

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The weekend has been an emotional rollercoaster for Diego Schwartzman, who suffered ‘one of the worst’ losses of his career before helping secure victory for his country in their Davis Cup tie against Belarus.

 

On Saturday the world No.15 was stunned by unranked 18-year-old Daniil Ostapenkov who is yet to play a professional match on the pro Tour. Ostapenkov is currently ranked 63 in the world on the junior circuit. The comprehensive victory shocked the Argentinian team who was hosting the tie at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.

Despite the shock upset, Schwartman managed to redeem himself the following day when he defeated Alexander Zgirovsky 6-1, 6-2. That victory handed his country an unassailable 3-1 lead in their tie and secured their place in the 2022 Davis Cup qualifiers which will take place next March.

Not only playing Davis, but in Buenos Aires, with a lot of people you don’t see, it’s not easy. My level can be and has to be much better. After the game on Saturday I had a difficult day in the spirit of being able to get up and enjoy with the group,” La Nacion quoted Schwartzman as saying.
“The most normal thing was that we won the series. It’s what everyone expected. But when you have a very difficult day at work like it was on Saturday and then you win, it excites you because you have some internal things withheld.”

Between those two matches, Schwartzman revealed that he was trolled on social media by some people unhappy about his loss in the tie. The 2020 French Open semi-finalist said he received criticism and even threats from some asking him to leave his home country. Something he admits affected him at times.

“It was one of the worst days of my career,” Schwartzman commented on his loss to Zgirovsky. “I lost to an unranked, inexperienced player. All that already affects (me) a lot. Although 80 or 90 percent of the people are always encouraging (me), there was a minority who criticized me with bad intentions.’
“I received threats, insults and requests not to return to Argentina. More or less, it affects (me)”.

Schwartzman is not the first player to speak out about online abuse. During the US Open Shelby Rogers said she was expecting to receive ‘death threats’ following her loss to Emma Raducanu who went on to win the title. Sloane Stephens has also previously spoken out about being the victim of racism online.

The 29-year-old says he has previously tried to interact with those who have trolled him on social media to find out why they are doing so.

Sometimes I start to answer some messages and I ask those people if they realize what they are sending,” Schwartzman said during his press conference. “The vast majority apologize and say they had not realized it. But at the moment it hurts. That very ill-intentioned criticism is the only bad thing about social networks.”

Schwartzman has won four ATP titles and earned more than $10M in prize money so far in his career.

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Spanish Veteran Feliciano Lopez Addresses Future On The Tour

23 years after he played his first main draw match on the ATP Tour, Lopez says his longevity in the sport has been achieved with the help of of some luck.

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Feliciano Lopez of Spain is pictured during the semi-final of ATP Fever-Tree Championships tennis tournament at Queen's Club in west London on June 20, 2019.

Feliciano Lopez has dismissed any speculation that he could retire in the coming weeks after saying he is taking life on the Tour in his stride.

 

The 39-year-old Spaniard is currently the second oldest player in the world’s top 200 after Roger Federer, who is a year older than him. Lopez made his ATP Tour debut at the 1998 Barcelona Open which was before the birth of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. In June he became the 10th active player to record his 500th win on the Tour.

Currently ranked 111th in the world, some are starting to wonder how much longer Lopez will continue playing. So far this season he has achieved a win-loss record of 9-19 with his best performance being a run to the quarter-finals of the Mallorca Open which was held on the grass. It was in Mallorca where he defeated Karen Khachanov who is the only top 30 player he has beaten so far in 2021.

I play year-by-year, the last 6-7 years have been like this, a tennis player at that age cannot think about extending his career. After turning 30 I have been lucky, I have obtained the best results of my career,” Lopez told reporters on Friday.
It is not very common for players my age, at (almost) 40 years to continue playing in the best tournaments.” He added.

Throughout his career, Lopez has impressively played in a record 78 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments dating back to the 2002 French Open. During that period he has reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament on four occasions.

“I don’t play to break records, what makes me most excited is to continue playing Grand Slams. For me, maintaining that record (78 consecutive Grand Slams played) is very nice, but more to follow. Being competitive,” he commented on the milestone.
“It is difficult for someone to overcome it because it is 20 years in a row without missing a great one. I have had continuity and enormous luck. Those of my generation are practically all retired.”

Away from the court, the former world No.12 is the current tournament director of the Madrid Open. Making him one of a few players historically to both be playing on the Tour and managing a tournament at the same time. Recently it was confirmed that Madrid will continue hosting it’s combined event until at least 2030 following a renewed agreement between the city council and the Madrid trophy promotion.

Lopez has won a total of seven ATP titles so far in his career and has earned more than $18M in prize money.

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ATP Moves Closer To Staging Five More 12-Day Masters 1000 Events After Board Approval

Changes are coming to the men’s Tour which includes a brand new ‘profit-sharing formular’ for players.

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Masters tournaments in North America, Europe and Asia are set to be expanded over the coming months after the ATP Board recently approved some ‘key aspects’ of their strategic plan.

 

In a letter issued to players, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said an agreement has been reached concerning a variety of topics, which include the expansion of various Masters 1000 events. It is understood that the plan is for Rome, Madrid, Canada, Cincinnati and Shanghai to be increased to 12-day events instead of just one week. Putting them more in line with Indian Wells and Miami. Tennis.com reports that under the new structure, ATP 250 events will also take place during the second week of those tournaments and they could receive a subsidy from the ATP Tour, provided by extra fees paid by the Masters tournaments.

Masters 1000 events are the third highest-ranked category events in men’s tennis after Grand Slams and the ATP Finals in terms of prize money and ranking points on offer. The series was first introduced back in 1990 but it wasn’t until 2009 that the name ‘Masters 1000’ was born. The number represents how many ranking points the winner receives.

Besides the proposed changes to the Masters series, the Board has also given a green light to “a new Profit-Sharing formula” and “long-term prize money levels.” The prize money increase is reportedly said to be 2.5 percent of a base level, plus a bonus pool with a 50 percent share of the collective profit of the Masters events.

“This represents significant progress for our sport and the way our player and tournament members operate under the equal partnership of the ATP Tour. It is only through the spirit of this partnership, transparency, and alignment of interests that we can truly maximise your potential and switch our focus to the competition we face in the border sports and entertainment landscape,” Gaudenzi wrote in his letter to players.

Part of the plan also include making changes to ATP Media, who are in charge of broadcasting the events. At present it is currently jointly owned by the Tour and each of the Masters 1000 events. However, in the future it has been proposed that those tournaments trade in their ownership rights for shares in ATP media. Exact details about this process have not been publicly disclosed and it is unclear if all of the tournaments would agree to such a move.

The ATP also wants to create a ‘Tennis Data Innovations’ which will be an independent entity.

All of these proposed changes are still subject to further agreement around additional matters. The ATP have been working on details of their strategic plan for the past 18 months.

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