South America Faces The Loss Of Its Clay Swing As ATP Conducts Review
The ATP has confirmed to Ubitennis that they are conducting an internal review of their tournament calendar as South American tournaments seems destined to move from the clay to hard-courts.
Speculation over the future of the South American events mounted earlier this year. Rio Open tournament director Luiz Carvalho told the Press Association in February that he is contemplating a change in surface. The driving force behind the move is supported by the newly built Olympic Tennis Centre, which hosted the tennis tournament at Rio 2016. Since the Olympics, the venue has suffered a similar fate to others of slowly falling into decay.
”We trust a hard-court event would fit better because of the current situation of the tour,” Carvalho said. ”The next generation is hard-court focused.”
World No.16 Nick Kyrgios has already voiced his support for the move. During a question and answer session on Twitter earlier in the week, the Australian said he would play at the Rio Open if it changed surface.
The Latin American clay swing takes place during February, between the Australian Open and the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. A total of four clay events in three countries takes place (two in Brazil, one in Argentina and one in Ecuador). There is yet to be any decision about the future of those events. The ATP has confirmed to Ubitennis that they are reviewing the issue without elaborating further.
“The ATP is currently undergoing an internal review of its calendar and tournament structure, with a view to ensuring continued growth and establishing a long-term vision for the Tour for 2019 and beyond.” Simon Higson, the vice-president of PR and communication, told ubitennis.net.
“This structural review process, which incorporates input from all our tournament members, is not expected to conclude until the end of 2017. As such, and while we are aware of the speculation in the media related to tournaments in South America, it would be premature to comment any further at this stage.”
A hot topic in Miami
South America’s clay-court dilemma is one that has become a talking point at this week’s Miami Masters. World No.20 Alexander Zverev is the latest player to weigh in on the topic. Shortly after his fourth round win over Stan Wawrinka, the 19-year-old said it is the surface and not the location keeping players away from South America.
“The only reason why maybe not a lot of top guys are going there is because schedule-wise it maybe doesn’t make too much sense playing on clay for a lot of guys between Australian Open and Indian Wells and Miami, because those are the big tournaments.” He said.
“So maybe some of them prefer to stay in Europe and play hard courts there. I think that’s the main reason why a lot of players decide not to go to South America.”
Zverev’s perspective is supported by this year’s blockbuster Acapulco Open in Mexico. The tournament switched from the clay to hard In 2014. Last month their field featured five top-10 players, a record for the tournament.
2017 winners on South American clay
Ecuador (ATP 250) – Victor Estrella Burgos
Buenos Aires (ATP 250) – Alexandr Dolgopolov
Rio (ATP 500) Dominic Thiem
Sao Paulo (ATP 250) – Pablo Cuevas
Roger Federer, a player who has won 62 titles on a hard-court, is more open minded regarding to any future change. The 35-year-old has never played a South American clay-court event in his entire career.
“Surface change is always tricky, you know. We saw it with Stuttgart. They took a chance and I think it pays off. Maybe others have made a surface change and it didn’t work out so well.” Federer explained.
“I think it’s important to have an open mindset moving forward. Sure, I think now that the brave new world is coming to an end, what is it, next year, we’ll see what comes after 2018 and the next ten years.”
One fierce defender of the move is the ‘king of clay’ Rafael Nadal. Throughout his career the Spaniard has won 49 clay-court titles, sharing the all-time record with Guillermo Vilas. At the French Open, the pinnacle of clay tournaments, Nadal has won the title a record nine times.
“If there is 80% of the tournaments on hard, is normal that the best players of the world are hard court specialists, Not clay court specialists. So if we still are putting more tournaments on hard, then no one top player will be a specialist on clay.” Nadal argues.
“These tournaments for sure will never have a top player because the top players are always playing on hard.”
There is yet to be any action taken regarding the future of the clay tournaments in South America. It is understood that some are already in negotiations with the ATP.
Miami Open Daily Preview: Two Matches Between Top 10 Seeds Headline Fourth Round ATP Action
All ATP fourth round singles matches will take place on Tuesday in Miami.
And in a rarity, two of those fourth round matches include meetings between top 10 seeds. 2022 Indian Wells champ Taylor Fritz takes on 2022 Bercy champ Holger Rune. And in a battle of the gingers, Andrey Rublev faces Jannik Sinner. Other ATP matches on Tuesday include three of the four top seeds: Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Also on Tuesday, the WTA quarterfinals begin. American No.1 Jessica Pegula will look to avenge a loss her doubles partner Coco Gauff experienced earlier in the tournament to Anastasia Potapova. And Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina plays Italy’s Martina Trevisan, who took out another Major champ, Jelena Ostapenko, on Monday.
Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule. Tuesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.
Jannik Sinner (10) vs. Andrey Rublev (6) – 11:00am on Grandstand
Rublev is a modest 13-7 this season, but was a semifinalist in Miami two years ago. He comfortably defeated Miomir Kecmanovic in the last round by a score of 6-1, 6-2.
Sinner is a strong 18-4 this season, and is coming off a semifinal run at Indian Wells. He was the runner-up at this tournament two years ago.
These two have split four prior meetings, the last three of which occurred on clay. Their only hard court matchup took place three years ago in Vienna, with Sinner retiring after just three games. But considering Jannik’s impressive form this season, he should be favored to advance on Tuesday.
Taylor Fritz (9) vs. Holger Rune (7) – 12:00pm on Stadium
Dating back to the end of September, Rune is now 33-8. The 19-year-old achieved four consecutive finals to end last season, winning two of them (Stockholm, Bercy). This is his Miami Open debut.
Fritz is 19-5 in 2023, and is vying for his fifth consecutive quarterfinal of the year. This would mark his seventh Masters 1000 quarterfinal, all achieved since the start of 2021. But Taylor is 0-2 in the fourth round of this tournament, losing in the past two years to Bublik and Kecmanovic.
In their first career meeting, it’s hard to pick a winner. Fritz has become a pretty reliable performer, while Rune remains quite a streaky player, with impressive highs and some immature lows. Both possess similar weapons on court, and neither have dropped a set through two matches. I’ll give the slight edge to Holger based on his recent hard court success.
Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:
Martina Trevisan (25) vs. Elena Rybakina (10) – Rybakina has now won nine matches in a row. Trevisan was only 3-8 on the year ahead of this quarterfinal run. This is another first career meeting.
Karen Khachanov (14) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (2) – Tsitsipas survived a tight three-setter against an in-form Cristian Garin on Monday, while Khachanov easily dispatched of up-and-coming 21-year-old Jiri Lehecka. Stefanos is 6-0 against Karen, which includes a four-set victory at this year’s Australian Open.
Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Tommy Paul (16) – Alcaraz is now 16-1 this season, and has claimed his last 17 completed sets. Paul is 16-5, and was a semifinalist in Melbourne, as well as a finalist in Acapulco. Tommy took their only previous encounter, last summer in Montreal, in a three-set match that lasted three hours and 20 minutes.
Jessica Pegula (3) vs. Anastasia Potapova (27) – Pegula has now reached the quarterfinals or better at seven of the last nine WTA 1000 events. This is Potapova’s first quarterfinal at this level in over two years. At the last WTA 1000 event, in Indian Wells, Pegula came from behind to beat Potapova 7-5 in the third.
Quentin Halys vs. Daniil Medvedev (4) – Medvedev is 25-3 on the year, and received a walkover on Monday from Alex Molcan. Halys upset Alex de Minaur on Saturday, and had never won a main draw match at Masters 1000 level prior to this fortnight.
Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.
Juan Martin Del Potro Makes Comeback Hint
Could Juan Martin Del Potro make his return to Tennis at the US Open this year?
Former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro has made a hint that he may return to tennis this year.
The 34 year-old had initially retired from the sport having been able to sort out his knee injury.
Del Potro had his perfect retirement match in Buenos Aires last year when he lost to Federico Delbonis.
Since then Del Potro has been seeing doctors about fixing his knee problem as well as attending several sporting events including last year’s US Open.
However it now seems the Argentinian seems keen on returning to the tour and hasn’t ruled out a potential return at the US Open later this year.
Speaking to Argentinian outlet C5N, Del Potro gave his biggest hint yet that he may return to the tour, “I still have time, I will start training, see how my leg and knee react and if I can do it or not,” Del Potro claimed.
“I love tennis, it will never be a problem to pick up a racquet and see how I feel. The physical problem and my knee are things I work on every day. I’m going to leave that window open, at least until the US Open, as I said. This is the most special tournament for me.”
Del Potro’s only Grand Slam title came at the US Open in what was one of 22 titles that he won throughout his career.
Should Del Potro make his return in New York later this year then it will be his 38th Grand Slam appearance with his current record at Grand Slams being 97-36, a win percentage of 73%.
This year’s US Open will take place from the 28th of August until the 10th of September with Carlos Alcaraz as the defending champion.
Miami Open Daily Preview: Major Champions Sabalenka and Krejcikova Meet Again on Monday
All WTA fourth round singles matches will take place on a busy Monday in Miami.
2023 Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka and 2021 Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova will meet for the third time in as many events. Krejcikova prevailed in three sets in Dubai, while Sabalenka prevailed in three sets at Indian Wells. Who will win the rubber match on Monday?
Meanwhile, ATP third round action concludes on Monday. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev are the top seeds on the bottom half of the draw, and are just a few rounds away from a semifinal which would renew a bitter rivalry that started five years ago in this very city. But many formidable foes, like Felix Auger-Aliassime, Hubert Hurkacz, and Frances Tiafoe, stand in their way. However, Medvedev’s path has become a bit easier, as he has received a walkover on Monday from an injured Alex Molcan.
Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule. Monday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.
Jessica Pegula (3) vs. Magda Linette (20) – Not Before 1:00pm on Stadium Court
Pegula is 17-5 in 2023, and was a semifinalist here a year ago. Linette is 12-6, and reached her maiden Major quarterfinal in Melbourne, a feat Jessica is still trying to achieve. Magda currently sits at a career-high ranking of 19th in the world, and would improve on that with a deep run at this tournament.
In their first career meeting, the American should be favored. Her consistency, paired with her penetrating groundies, have made her one of the WTA’s toughest outs across the last few seasons. But Linette has plenty of finesse and defensive skills that could drag more errors out of Pegula, so this could be an interesting contest.
Barbora Krejcikova (16) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium Court
Overall Sabalenka leads their head-to-head 3-1, with all matches taking place on hard courts. Three years ago in Linz, Aryna was victorious in three sets. Two years ago at the US Open, she was again victorious, this time in straights. They’ve also both met many times in doubles, as both are Slam champs in women’s doubles as well.
Sabalenka is now 19-2 on the year, and has dropped only 10 games in her four sets played so far in Miami. Krejcikova is 15-5, and has also advanced to this stage without dropping a set.
I expect another tight battle on Monday between two of the WTA’s top five performers of the year. But with her huge serve and groundstrokes clicking, and with all the confidence she’s currently playing with, Sabalenka must be considered the favorite.
Other Notable Matches on Monday:
Cristian Garin (Q) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (2) – Tsitsipas is 11-3 this season, and is yet to play a match this fortnight, as he received a walkover in his opening round from Richard Gasquet. Having now qualified for both Indian Wells and Miami, Garin has won nine matches between the two events. But he is 0-2 against Stefanos at tour level, though both matches were on clay.
Felix Auger-Aliassime (5) vs. Francisco Cerundolo (25) – Auger-Aliassime survived a prolonged two-set battle against Thiago Monteiro on Saturday, which lasted nearly three hours. Cerundolo was a shocking semifinalist here a year ago. Felix has already defeated Francisco twice this year, at both the Australian Open and Indian Wells.
Elena Rybakina (10) vs. Elise Mertens – Rybakina is 18-4 on the year, and the Indian Wells champ is currently on an eight-match win streak. She’s already won two three-setters this past week in Miami, and Elena is 2-1 against Elise, having taken both of their hard court encounters.
Hubert Hurkacz (8) vs. Adrian Mannarino – Hurkacz saved five match points against Thanasi Kokkinakis on Saturday night, winning the longest three-set match of the year at tour-level. Mannarino took out breakout American Ben Shelton in three sets on the same evening. Hubi is 2-1 against Adrian.
Lorenzo Sonego vs. Frances Tiafoe (12) – Tiafoe loves playing in Miami, as he’s vying for his fifth consecutive fourth round appearance at this event. Frances overcame a stern test from Yosuke Watanuki on Saturday, but has split two previous matches against Sonego, both of which took place this past fall.
Monday’s full Order of Play is here.
Carlos Alcaraz Relishing Prospect Of Playing Peak Djokovic In Future
Elena Rybakina Donates Money To The Next Generation Of Kazakh Tennis Players
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Rafael Nadal’s Monte Carlo Participation Still In Doubt Despite Claim By Organisers
Andy Murray does not care too much about possible all-British third round clash in Indian Wells
WTA CEO Reportedly Said Players Shouldn’t Be Upset If Their Peers Support Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
Stan Wawrinka’s Warning To Rune After Fiery Encounter At Indian Wells
Elena Rybakina Topples Injured Swiatek, Faces Sabalenka For Indian Wells Title
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