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ATP World Tour Finals: Groups Drawn, Confirmation will stay in London until 2018

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The tournament will now remain in London until 2018

Ubaldo Scanagatta and Steve Flink Comment the Draws (AUDIO)

 

The draw for ATP World Tour Finals was made at Town Hall in London tonight, and the key news was that Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will face one another in the group stages.

Former British player Andrew Castle hosted the event, and was assisted by the jovial London Mayor Boris Johnson, under the watchful eye of tournament referee Gerry Armstrong and ATP Chief Executive Chris Kermode.

Stan Smith Group

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori

Illie Nastase Group.

Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer.

The draw could have potentially have seen Federer, Djokovic and Nadal all in the same group, but the fates have ensured that Nadal can now only meet Federer or Djokovic in the semi-finals. Andy Murray will also be relieved to have avoided Djokovic, as the World Number 1 has easily beaten him, in their most recent meeting in Paris.

Chris Kermode also officially announced that the ATP World Tour Finals will remain in London until 2018. The announcement had been expected, and despite strong pressure from the likes of Rio De Janeiro and Dubai, the ATP opted to continue the relationship with London and the O2 arena in Greenwich.

The Groups have been renamed to honour former Champions of the event, with Stan Smith and Ilie Nastase the two honoured this year.

The Doubles groups were also drawn, and named after former championship-winning  teams.

Group Ashe/Smith

Bolelli/Fognini, Murray/Peers, Bopanna/Mergea, Bryan/Bryan

Group Fleming/McEnroe

Herbert/Mahut, Dodid/Melo, Matkowski/Zimonjic, Rojer/Tecau

Sunday will see Murray/Peers take on Bolleli/Fognini first, before defending champion Djokovic takes on Kei Nishikori as the Stan Smith gets underway in the afternoon session.

The evening session will see the Bryans face Bopanna/Mergea, and the Roger Federer will take on Tomas Berdych.

Monday will see Murray vs Ferrer in the afternoon singles, and Nadal vs Wawrinka in the evening session.

 

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Late Bloomer Cameron Norrie Hopes To Inspire Next Generation Of British Players 

The Grand Slam semi-finalist has also spoken about one of his ultimate goals in the sport. 

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Cameron Norrie (GBR) in action against Lucas Pouille (FRA) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.2 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 3 Wednesday 30/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Camron Norrie’s route to the top of men’s tennis has been somewhat different to the likes of compatriot Andy Murray. 

 

Norrie was 21 when he made his ATP Tour main draw debut at The Queen’s Club back in 2017 after playing college tennis in America where he became the top collegiate player at Texas Christian University. A year later he cracked the top 100 for the first time before breaking into the top 10 in 2022. 

Since the start of 2021, when he was outside the world’s top 70, Norrie has reached the final of 10 Tour events where he has won four titles. The most prestigious of those was at Indian Wells where he won his first Masters 1000 title just over 12 months ago. 

Now at the age of 27, Norrie is spearheading British men’s tennis which is benefitting from the rise of youngsters such as Jack Draper. The country has 12 players in the ATP year-end top 100 – four in singles and a further eight in the doubles. 

“There’s obviously a lot of young Brits coming through, so hopefully I can provide some inspiration to show them that anyone can get to the top of the game, especially with the route that I chose, going through college,” Norrie said during an interview with The National. “It was a lot different a route than a lot of other players take.”

Coached by Argentina’s Facundo Lugones who he met at university, Norrie produced his best Grand Slam run in July by reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon before losing to Novak Djokovic in four sets. Becoming the first home male player to reach that stage of the tournament since Murray in 2016. 

“It’s been a great year, especially being able to back up last year was huge for me,” he reflected. “There were a lot of highlights, especially Wimbledon, making the semi-finals and having my family and friends there watching and supporting.
“But from there it was straight into focusing on the next events. As a tennis player you don’t really get to enjoy when you’re doing well, but looking back, having some time off resting in London, I’ve been going through a few things and there are definitely some highlights.”

Currently ranked 14th in the world, Norrie insists that his ultimate goal is to one day reach world No.1. He has been ranked as high as eighth in the world so far in his career. 

Although to reach that milestone, he needs to work more on his game against the best players in the world. This season the Brit has won just three out of 11 matches against top 10 opposition. 

“There are a lot more eyes on me now: going into Wimbledon as British No 1 then having the run I did, I feel like I am more well known in the UK. But for me, that is not the goal: it’s to be world No 1,” he said. “So, I’m not really thinking about that. There are still 13 players better than me so I need to improve.”

Norrie will return to action later this month at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition in Abu Dhabi. Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud are also taking part. 

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Legendary Tennis Coach Nick Bollettieri Dies Aged 91 

Bollettieri’s academy helped shape the future of tennis and the number of top players he has worked with is perhaps the most comprehensive in history. 

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Nick Bollettieri pictured with Serena Williams (image via nySportsday.com)

Tributes have poured in following the death of Nick Bollettieri whose long career in the sport established him as one of the most renowned coaches of the Open Era.

 

Bollettieri, who was born in New York to Italian parents, worked with some of the biggest names of the sport with many others also training at his prestigious academy in Florida. He oversaw the rise of stars such as Pete Sampras, Maria Sharapova, Monica Seles, Jim Courier, Jelena Jankovic, and Andre Agassi. He also worked with Boris Becker, Marcelo Rios and Sabine Lisicki. 

The American switched to tennis coaching after dropping out of law school and opened up his academy in Bradenton, Florida in 1978. 

 “I don’t want to be Perry Mason. I want to be Fred Perry.” He once famously said. 

Many credit Bollettieri for establishing a blueprint for future tennis academies and many have followed the example set by him. IMG purchased his academy in 1987 but he remained in charge of the tennis programme for many years. 

News of Bollettieri’s death was confirmed on Monday morning by former world No.2 Tommy Haas who posted a tribute on Instagram. Haas, who is currently the director of the BNP Paribas Open, is another former player who was mentored by the American. 

“So many memories, I am not sure where to begin,” he wrote. “Nickiiiii, that’s how I have called you for the longest time. Thank you for your time, knowledge, commitment, expertise, the willingness to share your skill, your personal interest in mentoring me,and giving me the best opportunity to follow my dreams.
“You were a dreamer and a doer, and a pioneer in our sport, truly one of a kind.”
“I surely will miss you around the academy, our Tennis talks, miss showing off your tan, white teeth and body fat, miss watching you do Tai Chi, miss playing Golf with you watching you try to cheat, eating a Snickers bar and running for the bushes, and hearing all about your plans even at the age of 91. Thanks again for everything……..”

Bollettieri, who also had a stint in the army as a paratrooper, was introduced into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014. One of the most extraordinary things about him was the fact he was never a professional player and taught himself tennis techniques by visiting a local park to watch others play. It is documented that he worked with at least 19 players who went on to crack the top 10 with 10 of those eventually rising to No.1. Furthermore Mark Knowles and Max Miryni went on to become world No.1 players in doubles. 

“THANK YOU Nick. It’s hard to find the right words and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to. You have given so many children a place to work for their dream,” Germany’s Lisicki wrote on social media. 
“Supporting them with your knowledge and the belief that anything is possible. I was fortunate to be one of them. So many memories we created together that I will cherish forever. You’ve shaped the game of tennis and even just a couple of months ago at 91 you were telling me all about your next plans. You will be dearly missed. Rest In Peace Nicki.”

After initially considering tennis to be a ‘sissy sport,’ Bollettieri became a pioneer in his own right with a career spanning 60 years. Even less than a year before his death he continued to patrol the IMG Academy.

Bollettieri is survived by his wife, Cindi; seven children and four grandchildren.

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Tennis Great Jimmy Connors Criticizes Suspended Ban Of Davis Cup Staff Over Betting Violation

The eight-time Grand Slam winner has hit back at a ruling made by the International Tennis Integrity Agency.

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Jimmy Connors, 62 anni

Jimmy Connors believes tennis needs to embrace bettering after branding the decision to penalize two members of the American Davis Cup team for promoting a gambling organization as ‘going back to the dark ages.’ 

 

Team captain Mardy Fish and coach Bob Byran have been both issued with a $10,000 fine after admitting to promoting a gaming operator on their social media accounts. The duo have also been hit with a four-month suspended ban which means they must not commit any further offences during this period or they will be excluded from ITF events. 

Whilst both Fish and Bryan are retired players, they are still subject to the rules of the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) as they are considered ‘covered persons’ in the sport due to the nature of their roles. The rulebook states that “directly or indirectly facilitating, encouraging and/or promoting” betting on tennis is not allowed.

“Bob and I did a DraftKings promo during the US Open that we were unaware we weren’t allowed to do,” Fish told The Associated Press via email. “As soon as we found out, I deleted the posts and cooperated with the ITIA.”

Weighing in on the issue, former world No.1 Connors argued that betting can have a positive impact on tennis and that the governing bodies should do more to capitalize on the opportunity. Whilst it is an offence for players and their staff to promote gambling, various tournaments around the world have sponsorship deals with betting companies. 

“So what’s the bad thing? Do they wanna go back to the dark ages?,” Connors said on the Advantage Connors podcast
“That (betting) just brings people more involved and get them more interested you know, what is going on with the players, who is the best, how they compete and so forth.”
“Tennis has been my life, but the excitement of being a basketball fan or baseball fan or football fan, the excitement of bringing that (betting) and being able to get more involved. I wanna watch tennis anyway but what’s gonna make me more involved and to be more part of it?” he added. 

In the past, Connors has been open about his gambling addiction. In his autobiography, the Outsider, he revealed he once placed a $1M bet on his battle of the sexes match against Martina Navratilova in 1992 which he won 7-5, 6-2. He has since recovered from his gambling addiction but still believes it can mix with tennis. 

Connors is the most decorated ATP singles player in history with 109 titles to his name.  

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