Tomas Buchhass against ITF: "They do nothing for Futures" - UBITENNIS
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Tomas Buchhass against ITF: "They do nothing for Futures"

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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.”

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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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