Getting hot under the collar, dealing with the heat in Australia. - UBITENNIS
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Getting hot under the collar, dealing with the heat in Australia.

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TENNIS HEAT IN AUSTRALIA – As the temperature rise Down Under Jonny Fraser (Owner of Science in Tennis, iTPA Master Tennis Performance Specialist, GPTCA Tennis Coach) and Mike James (LTA Performance Coach, GPTCA Tennis Coach) explain what the players do to cope with the heat.

 

AO2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

With the growth of tennis and emerging economies across the world tennis has become a global event. The calendars of both ATP and WTA involve a number of tournaments in every continent. Outdoor events are scheduled based on seasonal weather conditions with players competing in warm weather. The hot and humid conditions allow schedules to be free flowing, whilst providing a more enjoyable experience for spectators. Furthermore fewer rain delays allow continuous TV coverage increasing the attractiveness for sponsors and commercial revenue.

Competing in warm temperatures has its own challenges for players. More than often players will prepare through effective acclimatisation, rest and recovery methods and appropriate training on court. However, last year the extreme temperatures surpassing 40°C at the Australian Open 2014 on consecutive days was particularly hard for players. The soaring ‘inhumane heat’ as one player put it led to heat stroke, players fainting on court and even Ivan Dodig ‘fearing he may die’ on court. Ball boy and girls time on court was reduced, water bottles melted and shoes softened under the blistering heat. Bergeron (2014) explains that competing in challenging conditions leads to an increase in thermal strain on the body which may affect decision making, perceived effort on court alongside physiological strain on the body increasing fatigue. This combined with substantial sweat loss leading to reduced body water and electrolytes can lead to a drop in performance or illness. Due to criticism from players about a lack of communication organisers recognised that a clearer heat policy was required. One of these policy changes was to take into consideration measurements of temperature s that exceed 40°C and humidity readings that are greater than 32.5°C. However what effects does the extreme heat have on a tennis players body and are there any particular methods players can employ to reduce this?

Kovacs and Baker (2014) consider ways in which to aid and maintain tennis performance in the heat. Players are recommended to have individual hydration strategies maintaining appropriate consumption of fluids, particularly drinks containing sodium to replenish any electrolytes lost. Indeed further hydration recommendations include to make sure players begin fully hydrated at the start of matches, whilst rehydrating when playing multiple times for example between practice sessions and match play (Bergeron, 2014). Ellenbecker and Stroia (2014) emphasise how the WTA and ATP place great importance on adequate hydration. They explain how at events players fluid levels are monitored pre and post match and during training. This may involve weighing and monitoring urine colours of players. It appears that effective hydration strategies are essential to help reduce the risk of heat exposure illness.

Other strategies players can utilise to prepare themselves and maintain performance in the heat are through acclimatisation and the use of cooling methods. Bergeron (2014) discusses the importance of progressive acclimatisation both with regards to the environment and intensity of training or competition. Acclimatisation to the heat usually requires 7-10 days. Physiological adaptations include a lower heart rate at a given temperature and intensity, earlier onset of sweating and enhanced maintenance of the bodies core temperature. Despite this it is highly unlikely players will have up to 10 days in one particular location prior to competing, making heat acclimatisation a challenge. However with many competitions played in warm weather this may not be as necessary as first considered.

Cooling methods are often employed by players. The use of shade is an obvious example. Also In hot humid temperatures we regularly see players with ice bags or towels around their necks particularly at the change of ends. Despite evidence being limited with greater research in tennis needed other studies tend to suggests improvements both physiologically and performance wise. Hunter, Hopkins and Casa (2006) demonstrated that cross country runners who wore an ice vest in the hour build up to their event had a considerably lower core temperature reducing thermal strain. Furthermore Webster et al. (2005) showed that individuals wearing an ice vest prior to undertaking a maximal aerobic test led not only to improved duration running but also reduced perception of thermal state. It can be speculated how cooling methods will benefit tennis players. These may include reduced fatigue, improved recovery between points, maintenance of speed and power on court whilst leading to more proficient decision making. However similar to acclimatisation the implementation of pre cooling methods may be a challenge to players with schedules of play and timing of matches continuously changing.

Begeron (2014) also considers to what extent players may look at modifying play to minimise thermal strain. This may be selecting a style of play which looks to end the point more quickly aiming to reduce time on court. Ultimately game styles can be adapted but not changed. Players such as Djokovic, Nadal, Williams and Sharapova are all court players. It is important that when moving behind the baseline players use height and width to create space. For any player competing in such hot and humid conditions such as the Australian Open game plans needs to be proactive rather than reactive. Federer for example during his first round win 6-4, 6-2, 75 against Lu was hitting and charging behind the return of serve when possible. He also used serve and volley at key times on both first and second serves whilst looking to strike very aggressively. This example has also been a development of Federer’s game over the last twelve months with coach Steffen Edberg but this has also been applied by several big names in the opening round.

Players that will be successful in reaching the later stage in 2015 will have had the least amount of match time on court with potentially friendlier weather conditions. Murray post first round victory alluded to the cooler temperatures of night matches stating ‘ when it’s cooler, you know, maybe doesn’t take as much away from you energy-wise’. Both tactics and science may well play a vital role in who takes the prestigious titles come the 31st of January and 1st of February.

References

Bergeron, M.F (2014). Hydration and thermal strain during tennis in the heat. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48, i12-i17.

Ellenbecker, T.S. and Stroia, K.A. (2014). Heat research guides current practices in tennis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48, i5-i6.

Hunter, I., Hopkins, J.T.and Casa, D.J. (2006). Warming up with an ice vest: core body temperature before and after cross country running. Journal of Athletic Training, 41(4), 371-374.

Kovacs, M.S. and Baker, L.B. (2014). Recovery interventions and strategies for improved tennis performance. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48, i18-i21.

Webster, J., et al. (2005). A light weight cooling vest enhances performance of athletes in the heat. Ergonomics, 48(7),821-837.

Jonny Fraser (Owner of Science in Tennis) has an MSc in Sport and Exercise Science and is a Master Tennis Performance Specialist with the International Tennis Performance Association (www.itpa-tennis.org).

Mike James (Owner Matchpoint Management) is a GPTCA Level B coach and Level 4 LTA Tennis coach. He coaches at the LTA centre at Loughborough University.

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Gerard Pique Believes Long-Term Davis Cup Project Will Work Despite Critics

Gerard Pique claims that the new Davis Cup is a long-term project as the competition kicks off today in Madrid.

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Gerard Pique (@bbctennis - Twitter)

Footballer Gerard Pique believes the Davis Cup is a long-term project that can work despite criticism over the re-formatted competition. 

 

Last August, the Barcelona defender had his re-formatted idea of the Davis Cup approve as part of big funding put in by his company Kosmos.

The competition, which starts today in Madrid, sees 18 teams compete in a one-week competition where they will fight for the Davis Cup title.

Despite Pique’s enthusiasm for the event, many fans and players have criticised the move explaining how the 118 year history of the competition has ended.

However for the Spaniard, he believes that he has convinced many doubters on this journey, “In terms of the event we needed to convince different people who were maybe sceptical and were against the idea of changing the format,” Pique admitted to Davis Cup.com.

“We’ve had to face it since the beginning. This is something I believe we did an amazing job at because we feel people in the game are now more convinced.

“The Davis Cup has a big meaning in the world of sport and tennis, there were some people against it, but right now I feel that Davis Cup is going to be stronger than it has been in the last 10 years.”

Despite the likes of Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev missing from this week’s competition, there are eleven top 20 players competing including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Many critics are seeing this innovation as a short-term project but Pique hasn’t seen it that way and believes that in five years time people will be convinced about the event, “I like to think big and our idea since the beginning is to put this competition where it deserves to be, and maybe to create an event longer than one week,” the Spaniard said.

We understand we have to start little by little. I don’t want to compare ourselves to any other tournament because I think we are unique. In five years’ time I want everyone, players and fans, to think ‘Davis Cup is in November and I want to be there.'”

Even though there are doubters players such as Andy Murray have told people to give the event a chance despite the amount of tickets that are still available for the event.

The action begins today at 3pm GMT time with three ties:

Croatia v Russia

Italy v Canada

Belgium v Colombia

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ATP

Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut claim their first ATP Finals title in London

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The French team formed by Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut claimed their first men’s doubles title with a 6-3 6-4 win over Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus in 70 minutes at the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London ending the 2019 ATP season on a high note with back-to-back titles in Paris Bercy and London. They remained unbeaten during the whole week at the ATP Finals in London winning all five matches in straight sets.

 

Herbert and Mahut fended off all four break points they faced scoring their ninth consecutive match win. The French doubles specialists have become the first team to win the doubles ATP Finals title without dropping a set since Jean Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in 2015.

Herbert and Mahut fended off break points in the third game of the match before earning the only break of the opening set in the next game. The Frenchmen saved a break point in the sixth game before breaking serve in the seventh game.

They have become the French team to win the ATP Finals doubles title since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro, who triumphed in Shanghai in 2005.

Herbert and Mahut have won 15 doubles titles as a team during their career. This year they became the eighth men’s doubles team to complete the career Grand Slam at last January’s Australian Open and also won the Rolex Paris Masters in front of their home fans.

Last year they came within one point of winning the ATP Finals title against Mike Bryan and Jack Sock after holding a match point.

“Thank you Nicolas for sharing the court, for having so much enjoyable moments and giving me so much joy, when I am with you on the court. You played an unbelievable final, so thank you for that”, said Pierre Hugues Herbert.

 

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ATP

Jannik Sinner wins his third ATP Challenger in Ortisei

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Jannik Sinner won the ATP Challenger in Ortisei adding another title to his impressive collection of trophies he lifted during a memorable 2019 season.

 

The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion beat world number 173 Sebastian Ofner from Austria 6-2 6-4 in 1 hour and 6 minutes in the final of the Sparkasse Challenger Val Gardena Sudtirol at the Tennis Center in Ortisei.

Sinner won his third ATP Challenger title in 2019 after his previous wins in Bergamo and Lexington. He also reached the final in Ostrava. During the tournament the 18-year-old player from San Candido beat Lucas Miedler in the first round, Roberto Marcora in the second round, Federico gaio in the quarter final and Antoine Hoang in the semifinal without dropping a set.

Sinner will improve his ranking to his career-high at world number 78 in the ATP Ranking becoming the sixth best ranked Italian player after Matteo Berrettini, Fabio Fognini, Lorenzo Sonego, Marco Cecchinato and Andreas Seppi.

Sinner broke serve in the fifth game of the opening set to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner missed two game points in the seventh game. The Austrian player faced another break point after his third double fault. In the next game Sinner saved the first break point he faced. Sinner closed out the first set 6-2 after two backhand errors from Ofner in the eighth game.

Sinner went up a break to open up a 2-0 lead, but Ofner broke back in the fourth game and held on his serve to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner saved three break points in the seventh game to take a 4-3. Sinner converted his fourth break point in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead and served out the win with two consecutive aces.

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