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Players complain about differing court-speeds in Melbourne

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TENNIS MELBOURNE – Just two days into the Australian Open a number of Spanish players have expressed their dissatisfaction with the difference in court-speeds at Melbourne Park. Bruno Bergarece Sans

 

AO 2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

Just two days into the Australian Open a number of Spanish players have expressed their dissatisfaction with the difference in court-speeds at Melbourne Park. The problem is many of these players train on one court and then play their matches on a different one and it’s like playing a completely different sport.

“I don’t think it’s fair that every court you play on has a different speed”, said Roberto Bautista after defeating Dominic Thiem in four sets. “If under the roof you play at one speed, it should be the same outside. It can’t be that you train on one court that’s quick, then others are slower and then inside the speed is perfect to play on. I’ve expressed these complaints, but they don’t say anything”.

Much of these complaints are also aimed at the fact that top players barely move around courts, playing and training on the main courts, meaning that they have an advantage over those players who are constantly having to adapt to the different speeds of the surface.

“It’s the quickest surface out of all the years I’ve played in Australia”, mentioned David Ferrer, who overcame a deficit of a set and a break to overcome Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci. “The practice courts are even quicker because they’re smaller, but in the past they’ve been too slow. Now, they’ve turned it around. What can you do? Try to adapt. You can complain but you’re not going to get anything from that. The court isn’t going to be slower if you keep complaining”.

A victim of that speed was Pablo Carreño who was ousted by big-serving Gilles Muller on court 22 (one of the quickest). “I didn’t play tennis because I couldn’t. The court was very quick and the ball really slid through the surface. Those points that weren’t aces by him I could hardly play in. I was doing what I could. Returning serve was a nightmare. I’ve trained at the club twice because it’s impossible to get a court if you’re not seeded. I trained on Margaret Court with Bautista and it was a different world. We could have normal rallies on a normal court, with a medium speed which you could return serve and play. However, on the outside courts, where I trained with Verdasco before the game, we couldn’t keep a rally going for more than two shots. Serve, return, end. They’re too quick. Normally, at every tournament the main courts are a bit slower than the outside ones but here they’re much quicker than normal. Today was anything but tennis; I was playing the lottery on my return games to see if I could guess where he was going to serve”, said the disappointed Spaniard.

“I put the racket in place, the ball bounced and I couldn’t hit it”, was Nicolas Almagro’s reflection after coming off the court against Kei Nishikori. The man from Murcia was happy to be back on the court for the first time since Roland Garros 2014 but a straight sets defeat against the talented Japanese player left him with a bitter taste also as a result of the surface. “I don’t know what the problem is, but the court is similar to the one we played on in the Davis Cup final in Prague, which was ice and the ball didn’t bounce. They’re trying to get rid of tournaments on clay and the rhythm they’re going at the same thing will happen with hard court tournaments. You’ve got the likes of Karlovic, Groth or Kokkinakis who are having a field day”.

Finally Verdasco, who overcame a slow start against James Ward to get his campaign up and running at a Grand Slam which holds brilliant memories for the lefty from Madrid, as he played the best tennis en route to the semi-finals in 2009, stated that “I’ve trained on Hisense Arena and Margaret Court. Also outside on courts 16, 18 and 20. Today I played on court number seven. The outside courts are quicker and the ones which are furthest away are the quickest. Court number seven and the others on that side are quick but maybe a little bit less. And Hisense is the slowest I’ve trained on. Each court is a bit different. I trained with Carreño on court 18 and we got five balls over the net in every game. Basically every point was a serve”.

ATP

Ranking Points At The Olympics A Distant Dream For The Men’s Elite

Novak Djokovic onced described the Olympics as ‘a fifth grand slam.’ So why are players not being awarded for their performance by their governing body?

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LONDON: 31 years have passed since tennis was reintroduced back into the Olympic Games. Since then the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray have all claimed medals for their countries. Yet the event continues to be plagued by one aspect putting some players off participating. 

 

Points are the holy grail for many on the tour, particularly those lower down in the rankings. They range from one point in Futures events to 2000 for those who triumph in the grand slams. Looking at the Olympic tennis event at-a-glance, it seems common sense that points should be awarded there too. However, it is not as simple as it seems. 

The four-year event is under the jurisdiction of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). A different governing body to that of the ATP. Whilst the two are in a partnership, they still ultimately compete against each other. Something departing ATP CEO Chris Kermode admits is a barrier. 

“It’s (ATP points) the only equity the ATP has.”  Kermode said during a press confrence on Wednesday.
“We tried and we had discussions, but for instance, quite a few of our tournaments in the summer, even the Masters events, suffer from repercussions caused by the Olympics.’
“Was there a way the Olympics compensate those tournaments for points and stuff like that? We had those conversations, but we never got across the line.”

Simon Higson, who is the head of communications for the ATP, has previously echoed a similar sentiment to that of Kermode. Saying there have been ‘collaborative discussions’ with the ITF and International Olympic Committee. Which was previously confirmed to Ubitennis back in April

There appears to be little enthusiasm from either side about the chances of an agreement coming soon. Ubitennis spoke with a representative from the ITF last month. Heather Bowler in their director of communications. Addressing the upcoming 2020 Games in Tokyo, she empathized the ITF’s commitment to continue investment into the event in the future.

”Over the last 30 years, tennis has successfully established itself as an integral part of the Olympic and Paralympic programmes, and the ITF continues to work with the IOC, IPC and other stakeholders to maximise both the athlete and fan engagement and experience.” Said Bowler. 

Whilst working in partnership with those organizations are positive, with regards to the ATP it isn’t so black and white. Illustrated best by their continuous differences over the team tournaments. The newly revamped Davis Cup belongs to the ITF, but from January they will face an annual rivalry from the ATP Cup. 

“No ranking points will be awarded at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Tennis Event, but the ITF will continue to liaise with the ATP and WTA about future Games.” Bowler states without further elaboration.

The irony is that it is the player’s ranking that is used to partly determined their place in the Olympics. Providing they meet their Davis\Fed Cup participation requirements or have launched a successful appeal to the ITF. 

Roger Federer has already announced his intention to play in Tokyo. The 2008 Olympic champion has twice been a flag bearer for Switzerland. For him, the event is like no other with the elevated feel of national pride.

“It is just something completely different to the tour tournaments that we have,” he told CNN in October.
 “Obviously, I do feel like I represent Switzerland wherever I go, it is always Roger Federer from Switzerland. I just feel at the Olympics it is next level.”

Clearly, there is something about the Olympics that attracts the likes of Federer. The feeling of representing your country in a sporting extravaganza that dates back to 1896. It is an event that captures the attention of the world. The 2016 Rio Games attracted a worldwide audience of 5.2 billion TV viewers according to one IOC report.

So with such a milestone event, will an agreement for ranking points eventually occur? 

“I don’t know. You can ask the new man,’ was the discouraging response from kermode. 

Nothing is going to happen soon. The hope now lies with Kermode’s replacement, Andrea Gaudenzi, who played in the 1996 Summer Olympics. Will he work on striking a deal?

Let’s wait and see. 

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ATP

Alexander Zverev Denies Using Phone During Match At ATP Finals

The world No.7 has insisted that he didn’t break any rules at the season-ending event.

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LONDON: Reigning ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev has denied allegations that he was swiping through his phone during a sit down in his latest match in London

 

A series of Twitter users posted footage of the German placing his hand in his bag. It appeared as if he was using a phone or some sort of electronic device. Using his thumb to either press a button or swipe something. Despite the allegations, Zverev has denied any wrongdoing. 

“My phone was in the locker room. I always leave it there. I don’t know what they saw, but it was definitely not a phone.” Zverev replied when quizzed in his press conference. 

Under rules set out by the ATP, it is an offence for players to use their phones during matches and they could potentially be penalised. The rule is in place as part of fight against match-fixing in the sport. 

“A player is not allowed to use any electronic devices (e.g. CD players, mobile phones, etc.) during matches, unless approved by the Supervisor.” The 2019 ATP rulebook states. 

Despite the 22-year-old stating his innocence, questions remain about what he was looking at inside his bag. Which is located next up the chair of the match umpire. Asked to explain, he said it might have been ‘an empty water bottle.’ 

 

Zverev will play his final match of the round-robin stage at the ATP Finals against Daniil Medvedev. He is currently 1-1 in the group after defeating Rafael Nadal before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas on Wednesday. 

“Days like this happen. It’s just how it is in sports.” Said Zverev after his latest loss. “Against Rafa, I played a great match. Today I didn’t. This is just how it is sometimes, even though I have to give credit to him. He played really well.”
“There are a lot of things that I did not do great, and I have to change that to have a chance on Friday.”

There are three possible scenarios in which Zverev can qualify for the semi-finals. The most simple is that if both he and Nadal or Tsitsipas win their next matches. He can also qualify if he loses to Medvedev in three sets and Tsitsipas wins. 

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ATP

Jean Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau beat Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the doubles tournament in London

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Former ATP Finals champions Jean Julien Rojer from the Netherlands and Horia Tecau from Romania beat 2019 year-end number 1 team Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-2 5-7 10-8 after 90 minutes in Max Mirnyi Group of the doubles tournament at the ATP Finals in London.

 

Tecau broke serve with a backhand crosscourt winner to take a 3-1 lead in the opening set. The Romanian player went up a double break with a backhand crosscourt winner at 5-2 to seal the opening set after 28 minutes.

Cabal and Farah did not convert any of their break points in the ninth game of the second set before breaking serve for the first time in the match two games later to claim the second set 7-5 forcing the match to the decisive set.

Rojer and Tecau went up a 6-2 lead in the Match Tie-Break. Cabal and Farah won four consecutive points to draw level to 6-6. Rojer and Tecau rallied from 7-8 down by winning three consecutive points to claim the Match Tie-Break 10-8.

Rojer and Tecau have now a 1-1 record in Group Max Mirnyi. The Dutch and Romanian team took the re-match against Cabal and Farah, who won their previous head-to-head clash in five sets at Wimbledon en route to their maiden Grand Slam doubles title.

“I am happy with our form. We lost the first match and knew we would need to bounce back against a very good team. We played a very good first set, prior to them making adjustments in the second set. We played a really good Match tie-break”, said Rojer.

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