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ATP Valencia: Main draw – Ferrer in potential Krygios encounter

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Ferrer has won the Valencia title three times in the past

Ferrer has won the Valencia title three times in the past

David Ferrer has been handed what is probably the toughest start in his quest to claim a fourth Valencia crown, as he could face the unpredictable Nick Kyrgios in the second round.

 

Ferrer enjoys a bye in round one, but with Kyrgios expected to get past his qualifier opponent in the first round, could set up a blockbuster encounter between a experienced veteran and a explosive youngster. Intriguingly, the pair have not met on tour in more than two years, when Ferrer dismissed a teenager Kyrgios in the US Open. This potential match sees a more experienced Kyrgios, with wins over Nadal and Federer under his belt, arrive in Valencia.

The other seeds who benefit from a first-round bye are Feliciano Lopez, Bernard Tomic, and Fabio Fognini.

Fifth seed Benoit Paire also faces a qualifier, whom he should beat, before facing one of two-in form players. Gilles Muller will face Joao Sousa for the right to probably face Paire. With Muller’s more consistent year and lefty serve, and Sousa’s recent early exits since his final appearance in St Petersburg, Muller looks the favourite. Prediction: Muller

In contrast, sixth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez faces a horrible match-up against former top-ten player Fernando Verdasco. Despite Garcia Lopez’ higher ranking, Verdasco dominates the head-to-head six-one, and Garcia Lopez has not beaten him since 2009. Prediction: Verdasco

Another all Spanish affair sees seventh seed Roberto Bautista-Agut take on wildcard entry Nicolas Almagro. Since a foot injury plagued Almagro in 2014, the former top-ten star has struggled to return to the highest level, but did end the career of Jarko Nieminen in Stockholm. Still, Bautista-Agut is more consistent than the now retired Finnish veteran. Prediction: Bautista-Agut.

Eighth seed Jeremy Chardy faces Brit Aljaz Bedene in the first round. Bedene is in very poor form, winning just one main draw match since the US Open (def. Youzhny). Recent one-sided defeats to Denis Istomin and Hyeon Chung suggest this is likely to be a predictable encounter. Prediction: Chardy

In a battle of wildcards, Marcel Granollers will face young Russian Andrey Rublev. Granollers has slid heavily down the rankings this term, and has actually reverted to playing as many Challengers as ATP events. Rublev was dismissed rather easily by Mikhail Kukushkin in Moscow, but Granollers has been shocked by young players already this season (Chung) and it could happen again in Valencia. Prediction: Rublev

For the tournament: There are some big names in Valencia this week, and the potential Ferrer-Kyrgios encounter could go some way to deciding the champion. Bernard Tomic had a great run that was only stopped by Djokovic in Shanghai, and will be a major threat despite his early loss to Baghdatis last week. Prediction Tournament winner: Tomic

Main Draw Valencia:

(1) Ferrer, David ESP vs Bye
Kyrgios, Nick AUS vs Qualifier
Pospisil, Vasek CAN vs Giraldo, Santiago COL
Bedene, Aljaz GBR vs (8) Chardy, Jeremy FRA

(3) Tomic, Bernard AUS vs Bye
Cuevas, Pablo URU vs Carreno Busta, Pablo ESP
Sousa, Joao POR vs Muller, Gilles LUX
Qualifier vs (5) Paire, Benoit FRA

(7) Bautista Agut, Roberto ESP vs (WC) Almagro, Nicolas ESP
(WC) Granollers, Marcel ESP vs (WC) Rublev, Andrey RUS
Bellucci, Thomaz BRA vs Qualifier
Bye vs (4) Fognini, Fabio ITA

(6) Garcia-Lopez, Guillermo ESP vs Verdasco, Fernando ESP
Andujar, Pablo ESP vs Qualifier
Johnson, Steve USA vs Klizan, Martin SVK
Bye vs (2) Lopez, Feliciano ESP

Nor Andy Murray, last year’s winner, nor Tommy Robredo, last year’s runner-up, are taking part in the 2015 event.

 

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PTPA Outline Vision After Appointing Executive Director And Advisory Board

The PTPA has announced a new executive director and advisory board.

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The Professional Tennis Players Association has outlined their vision for the future after appointing an advisory board and an executive director.

 

Vasek Pospisil made the announcement last night as he and Novak Djokovic look to secure a legitimate players voice at the tennis political table.

In the main core of the statement they announced the make-up of the PTPA’s backroom board, “PTPA co-founders Vasek Pospisil and Novak Djokovic have named Adam Larry executive director, enlisted Carrie Gerlach Cecil to lead Brand and Communications and appointed Bill Ackman, Michael Hirshfeld, Rebecca Macdonald, Katarina Pijetlovic and Anton Rabie to its Advisory Board,” the statement read.

“Created by the players for the players, the PTPA is an integrated association for professional tennis players. The PTPA movement is uniting and mobilizing tennis players in order to create transparency and fairness throughout decision-making in professional tennis.”

The move is an interesting one as up until now it was a mystery as to what the PTPA’s strategy was and who was involved so far with there being no idea from the ATP or WTA’s side what the PTPA was trying to achieve.

Now there is an advisory board there may be sharp movement and progress made into how the PTPA can secure more player-related decisions in Tennis and ensure that there is a level playing-field in terms of decisions affecting the players.

In the statement Vasek Pospisil, Novak Djokovic and new executive director Adam Larry all gave strong hints about the PTPA’s future vision as they look to challenge the establishment in providing change for tennis.

“With the establishment of our advisory board, our branding and communications team and the appointment of Adam Larry as executive director, we have taken one step closer to toward our goal of facilitating a fair and sustainable competitive environment for tennis players today, and for generations to come,” Pospisil said.

“We are working toward growth to help all players, not just the top 100, to make sustainable livelihoods and have their rights protected on and off the court. From top to bottom, we must use our collective voices to help players today and tomorrow,” stated world number one Novak Djokovic.

“The PTPA wants to work with all of the tennis governing bodies to inspire collective reform to better the sport,” new executive director Adam Larry claimed.

What comes next for the PTPA nobody knows but this new board means that business is expected to pick up very quickly in the latest twist in the political tennis game.

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Dominic Thiem In Doubt For Wimbledon After Wrist ‘Crack’

The tennis star has suffered another blow during what has been a difficult year for him.

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Dominic Thiem’s roller-coaster season has taken another turn after he was forced to withdraw from his match at the Mallorca Open due to an injury he sustained whilst playing.

 

The world No.5 was leading France’s Adrian Mannarino 5-2 in his first round match before he stopped the proceedings. Thiem called for a trainer after hearing what he described as a ‘crack’ in his wrist. Despite having treatment on court the 27-year-old decided not to play any further to minimise the risk of worsening the injury and will undergo an MRI to identify the exact problem.

Alex Stober, who is Thiem’s physio, admits that any kind of crack is never a good sign but says it is too early to speculate. Speaking to the Krone newspaper on Tuesday, he said he hopes the issue is just a slight ‘twist’ of the wrist.

“At the moment one can only guess. He sustained a wrist injury, a kind of twist,” said Stober.
You don’t know anything else until later.’
“Cracking is never a good sign. Let’s hope it was just a twist in the wrist, with the carpal bone maybe a slight capsule injury.”

The injury setback comes less than a week before Wimbledon begins. Thiem hasn’t missed a main draw at the tournament since 2013 but has only reached the fourth round once in six attempts. The past two editions he has lost in the first round.

Thiem has experienced a lacklustre 2021 so far where he has failed to win back-to-back matches five out of his six most recent tournaments played. The only exception was at the Madrid Open where he reached the semi-finals. The Austrian took a wildcard into Mallorca this week after losing in the first round of the French Open for the first time in his career.

“Little by little I am improving and now I am back to normal. I think my problem this year is that I did not train enough at the beginning of the year, and I also had several problems with injuries,” Thiem told reporters earlier this week.

The Grand Slam champion recently announced that he will not be playing at the Olympics Games because ‘he doesn’t feel ready to play his best.’ Instead he said that his goal is to prepare as best as he can for his title defence at the US Open later this year.

Thiem has won 17 ATP titles and earned more than $28M in prize money so far in his career.

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Why Are So Many Tennis Players Skipping The Olympics?

It isn’t just the COVID-19 pandemic which are putting players playing off going.

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On Monday Canada’s Dennis Shapovalov joined the growing number of tennis stars who have decided not to play in this year’s Olympics Games.

 

In a statement issued on social media, the world No.12 said his decision was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and doing what he believes was best for the safety of his team. Japan, which is where the Games are being held, has been dealing with a surge in cases in recent weeks with a low number of the population to be fully vaccinated. Whilst the country has banned international spectators from attending amid fears of the virus being spread, organisers say up to 10,000 domestic fans will be allowed to attend the Olympic venues.

“After careful consideration I wanted to let you know that I will not be participating in the Olympics this year. Representing Canada means the world to me, but due to the current situation my team and I have decided this is the best decision for everyone’s safety,” Shapovalov wrote on twitter.

Shapovalov’s concerns related to the pandemic aren’t the only thing which is deterring tennis players from attending the Olympics. Over the past week, two top 10 players from the men’s Tour also confirmed that they will not be participating. Rafael Nadal is missing the event in order to take a break from the sport following what was a demanding clay court swing. Meanwhile, Dominic Thiem says he doesn’t want to travel to Tokyo and instead wants to focus on his title defence at the US Open.

This year’s tennis calendar doesn’t favour the Olympics. The Wimbledon Championships concludes two weeks before it begins and the US Open starts five weeks after. Two of the biggest events in the sport which offer the highest amount of prize money and ranking points per round. At the same time as the Olympics two ATP 250 events are taking place in Austria and America.

So much has to depend on where a player is in their career. Have they won an Olympic medal before? How important is it to them? Do they want to travel to Asia in the middle of the summer? For every player I think it is very individual how seriously they take the Olympics,” former Olympic champion Lindsey Davenport told The Tennis Channel in 2020.

Tennis was officially reintroduced into the Games back in 1988 after being showcased as a demonstration sport four years prior. It is different to Tour events with no official prize money on offer. However, some countries such as Russia have previously issued financial rewards for athletes who win medals.

Another sticking point is there being no ranking points available for players participating. Back in 2019 the International Tennis Federation told UbiTennis they were ‘open’ to allowing points being awarded but no progress has been made. Perhaps due to the complex governance of the sport with the Olympic event being run by the ITF. Meaning they will have to form an agreement with both the ATP and WTA for such an incentive to happen.

“Currently, the WTA and ATP do not award points for the Olympic Qualification Pathway. We (the ITF) are always open to discussion on the matter.” The ITF said.

Another issue concerns the location. Players face having to travel from Europe to Asia and then North America within a month. A journey made substantially more difficult than usual due to restrictions related to the pandemic.

Chile’s Christian Garin says his decision not to go to Tokyo is because he feels athletes will not be able to get the full experience due to the current restrictions in place.

“Due to the instability of this year and added to the fact that the established conditions will not allow me to live the real experience of what the Olympic Games mean, that is why I have made this decision,” he wrote on Instagram.

When it comes to other Olympic absentees, a contingent of Spanish players will not be attending due to what newspaper Marca describes as ‘calendar issues and a logistically difficult trip to Tokyo.’ Those skipping the event are Roberto Bautista Agut, Albert Ramos, Feliciano López, Jaume Munar and Carlos Alcaraz. Norway’s Caper Ruud, Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic and Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov will also not be playing.

Despite the surge in withdrawals which will most likely increase in the coming weeks, other top names have committed to playing. Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka, Daniil Medvedev, Victoria Azarenka, Aryna Sabalenka and Andy Murray have all confirmed they will play.

“It’s going to be my first Olympic Games. We have a great team so we can do some doubles, mixed doubles, everything,” Medvedev said about playing.
“Going to be amazing experience. Of course, with COVID maybe it’s not going to be the same like every year.”

The Olympic tennis event will be held at the Ariake Coliseum and get underway on July 24th.

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