TENNIS – Unhappiness seems to be spreading into the world of ITF tennis, another open letter testifies a lack of attention from ITF to Futures and its players.
Unhappiness seems to be spreading into the world of ITF tennis and more cases of condemning the status of life outside the ATP world are happening. The case that shook the internet over the past few days is an open letter than Tomàs Buchhass wrote to ITF and published on his Facebok page.
“I am addressing the ITF to notify them and express my displeasure as a tennis player for having to take part in a tournament which is played in the conditions in which the Futures of Temuco, Chile, is played,” said the 22 year old Argentine. “Courts were in a pitiful state which are a hazard to the physical well-being of the players, without a restaurant in which to eat; on Saturday, during the first round of qualifications, a ball was lost and there was no replacement; there were matches scheduled on three courts but one had to be discarded due to the disastrous quality of the court, and the matches were put on another court, with the lines hand painted with a line of chalk, which is to say it was impossible for them to be straight or with the correct measurements.”
The first impression that one receives by reading his letter is not much about the critics to the organization of the tournament, but the resignation towards an institution that seems to have forgotten that behind the names that make tennis a worldwide famous sport, there are thousands of athletes struggling to go on, having to cope with bank accounts always in red and who, on top of that, are witnessing the absolute indifference of their association, when something as described above happens.
“To tell the truth, as someone who loves this game, one feels very frustrated because an immense effort is made, not only on my part (player), but also on the part of a whole family who expects the most basic things in order to play in conditions which are acceptable for the sport,” he added later. “I have never seen the ITF take any action whatsoever in the matter, checking and monitoring or with any intention to improve the tournaments.”
Obviously his latter cannot avoid talking about the financial aspect of the life of those who are far from the top of the world, even though, life gets hard quite steadily once you are out of top 100.
“It’s unfair, cruel and little gratifying,” he said. “Only 100 people in the whole world can make a living from this sport. Does it seem right to you? The rest of the field doesn’t receive anything, they increase the prize money of the majors, in which the players receive more and more, and we receive nothing!”
Surely this is not a new theme, it most definitely is something that in the higher spheres of ITF someone must have heard. Last year, another player, South African Keith-Patrick Crowley, started a campaign to promote the change in the distribution of money, so that the prize money of futures could benefit.
“Over the last 15 years the prize money for the Slams has increased by 479%,” he pointed out. “And the challengers and futures have increased by 0%.”
Crowley received great support from the internet and his petition reached a few thousands names, but everything seemed to have been ignored.
“The ATP is run like a business. They are only concerned about the players that can generate more income for them.” He said. “They are only concerned about money and keeping the top guys happy.”
Thanks to his tears of joy for the unexpected qualification to the main draw at the latest US Open, James McGee reached quite some fame and so did his story, published on his blog where he talked about the struggle to live a life following his dream of becoming a top tennis player.
“I remember making the final of a Futures in Madrid in May 2011 and receiving under €500 in prize money,” the Irish player wrote on his blog. “It was atrocious and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the cheque. It was both discouraging and sad to see my hard work earning me very little money. Up to that point, it was my most successful week of 2011 in terms of ranking points but I still lost more money than I made!”
Sadly, there are so many stories like these that are told continuously by tennis players from all over the world. But coming back to the case of Buchhass, he did not stop to these topics, he went further and talked about the contemporary topic of betting.
“It’s a little contradictory that the ITF sends the message that they wish to go against betting, and all those things which stains our sport,” he wrote. “And it makes me sick, as someone who loves the game, to hear that such things exist, that matches are fixed, but afterwards, I see that the ITF has a gambling house as a sponsor.”
But then he added: “That’s where things don’t match. They wish to go against those things which stain the game, but they have ‘official gambling houses’.
“Truth be told, it seems that they’re going the wrong way. They are putting the sport aside and it ends up being an association which only aims for profit.”
American No.3 Reilly Opelka Blasts ‘Shocking’ ATP Cup
The new event has been described as unfair and a embarrassment by the American.
With the Davis Cup currently under close scrutiny this week, one player on the tour have turned his criticism to a brand new team event coming to the tour in 2020.
Reilly Opelka has launched a verbal attack on the ATP Cup, which will get underway in January. The event features 24 teams playing in three cities across Australia. Unlike the Davis Cup, both prize money and ranking points are available. Many of the world’s top players have already confirmed their intention to play in the event. Although one noticeable absence will be Roger Federer.
“The ATP Cup is pathetic. I think it’s shocking on behalf of the ATP for them to pass that and allow that.” The 22-year-old told reporters in Madrid.
“It’s pretty embarrassing, actually. It’s pretty bad for the sport. It makes it (the tour) more top-heavy than it already is.”
The teams for the ATP Cup are determined by the ranking of the country’s highest ranked player. However, with only two singles players allowed to play in each team some countries find themselves in a tough spot. Once being America, who currently has eight players in the top 100. Opelka argues that due to the rules of the competition, the distribution of ranking points is unfair.
“I’m 35 in the world. I’m not going to play because I’m the second- or third-highest ranked American, and only the top two guys play.” He stated.
“It counts as an additional 19th tournament. So every player gets 18 tournaments on their ranking card. So you have to take your top 18 results, those go for your ranking. Those that play ATP Cup gets a 19th. So it’s unfair, there’s not equal opportunity for everyone.”
Opelka used the example of Moldova playing in the ATP Cup as one of the reasons why he is frustrated. The country has qualified due to the ranking of their top player Radu Albot, who is currently ranked 46th in the world. However, Moldova’s second highest ranked player is outside the top 800.
Fortunately concerning the Davis Cup, the former Wimbledon junior champion has a much more favourable view. This week is the inaugural week-long finals, which has encountered some blips already. The most being the schedule of the event with some ties now finishing until as late as 4am.
“I’m a fan of the new format. Maybe making it every two years or every three years would be I think the next step in the right direction.” Opelka concluded.
“Tennis players are pretty good at that. You don’t really know when you’re going to play matches. You can go really long, or you can go really quick. We’re used to being on standby.” He added.
This week is Opelka’s debut in the Davis Cup.
Serbia beats France 2-1 to secure spot in Davis Cup quarter final
Serbia qualified for the quarter finals at the Davis Cup at the Caja Magica in Madrid with wins in both singles matches by Filip Krajinovic over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic over Benoit Paire.
In the opening match Filip Kajinovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 7-6 in 1 hour and 48 minutes to give Serbia a 1-0 lead.
Krajinovic dropped two points on his first serve and earned his first three break point at 3-3 before breaking serve in the 11th game after a loose forehand from Tsonga. The 27-year-old Serbian player sealed the opening set 7-5 with a service winner.
Tsonga fended off three break points in the opening game of the second set. The Frenchman earned his only break point chance on return at 2-1, but Krajinovic saved it to draw level to 2-2. Both players held serve in the next eight games to set up a tie-break. Krajinovic earned the crucial mini-break on the 12th point to close out tie-break 7-5.
World number 2 Novak Djokovic cruised past Benoit Paire 6-3 6-3 in 70 minutes to secure the qualifying spot for Serbia in the quarter final.
Djokovic saved two break points in the first match of the opening set. The Serbian player earned a break in the eighth game and sealed the opening set 6-3 on his third set point.
Paire dropped his serve in the third game of the second set after a backhand down the line winner from Djokovic. The Serbian star hit a return winner at 5-3 to set up a quarter final clash against Russia on Friday.
Last week’s ATP Finals champions Pierre Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut beat Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki 6-4 6-4. Herbert and Mahut broke serve in the fifth game to seal the opening set 6-4. Tipsarevic and Troicki broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Herbert and Mahut got the break back in the fifth game. After saving a break point in the eighth game Herbert and Mahut earned the decisive break in the ninth game and closed out the match on his first set point.
Serbia set up a quarter final against Russia, who qualified as one of the two-best-placed group runners-up by clinching second spot in Group.
Jack Sock and Sam Querrey take late-night decisive doubles clash over Italy
The clash between Italy and the USA came down to a decisive doubles match at the Caja Magica in Madrid after Fabio Fognini and Taylor Fritz won their respective singles matches.
Fabio Fognini beat Relly Opelka 6-4 6-7 6-3 after 1 hour and 54 minutes to give Italy a much-needed win to the Italian team.
Fognini earned an early break at 1-1 after two errors from Opelka and dropped just five points in five service games. Fognini did not face a break point to close out the first set 6-4 in 33 minutes.
Both players stayed neck and neck setting up a tie-break. Opelka earned a mini-break to take a 5-3 lead in the tie-break and earned three set points. The US player sealed the first set point, but Opelka converted his second chance 7-4.
Opelka saved the first break point with an ace, but Fognini converted his second chance with a forehand passing shot in the second set to take a 2-0 lead. Fognini dropped just three points to build up a 5-2 lead. Fognini served out the win on his first match point to give Italy a 1-0 win.
“I am tired for sure because it was tough. One of the things I did today was my serve, don’t ask me why. I am surprised about that”, said Fognini.
Taylor Fritz came back from one set down to beat Matteo Berrettini 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 in the second match. Berrettini saved a break point in the second game with a forehand down the line and a service winner. In the fifth game Fritz saved two break points in the fifth game. Berrettini broke serve in the 11th game to take a 6-5 and sealed the first set on his first set point.
In the third set both players stayed neck and neck til the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. In the seventh game Fritz saved a break point. Berrettini held his serve at love. Fritz closed out the second set at 6-5 after 51 minutes.
Berrettini saved two consecutive break points in the first game of the third game. Fritz rallied from 0-30 down to hold his serve for 1-1. Fritz broke twice in the third and fifth games to race out to a 5-1 lead. Berrettini saved a match point and held his serve for 2-5, but Fritz sealed the win on his second match point.
“Playing for my country is all the motivation I need. I just kept digging, kept fighting. It was really close. I lost the first set by close margin, and I told myself to tough out the second set like I know I can do, and my aggressive and fitness carried me through the third”,said Fritz.
Jack Sock and Sam Querrey came back from a set down in the decisive doubles match to take a 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to give the USA a 2-1 win. The doubles match ended shortly after 4 am and was one of the latest finishes to a match in tennis history. The USA finished second in the Group F behind Canada, who secured the first spot with their wins over Italy and the USA earlier this week. Neither team was able to earn a break in the first two sets. Italy broke serve to take a 3-1 lead. Sock and Querrey broke back immediately before earning the decisive break at 4-4. The US team served out the win after 2 hours and 30 minutes.
“Reilly played a great match and Taylor came out in in a tough position knowing he needed to win. To get the doubles means a lot”, said Querrey.
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