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The New ATP Cup Is A Big Innovation And A Big Headache For Some

On Thursday the ATP officially launched their latest event with the backing of keys players, but there are many complications remaining.

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LONDON: After almost five years of planning, the ATP have finally launched their latest team event in a bid to engage and increase interest in men’s tennis around the world. Although to say it is a smooth move is anything but true.

The ATP Cup will officially begin in 2020. Held at the start of each year in Australia, a total of 24 teams will participate in the round-robin competition. Held over 10 days, ties will consist of two singles and one doubles match. On offer will be a maximum of 750 ranking points for the winner as well as a mouthwatering prize money pool of $15 million. The tournament will be held across three cities, which are yet to be named.

“This is an event that we have been working on for about four-and-a-half years.” ATP CEO Chris Kermode told reporters In London on Thursday.
“When I took over at the ATP five years ago, we were looking at ways at how we can grow men’s tennis.
“We wanted to do a fresh and new event. We wanted to do something that was very vibrant and different, but equally, we wanted to start the season off with a bang.”

 

It could be argued that the event has already gone off with a bang even before it was launched. With the International Tennis Federation accusing the governing body of men’s tennis that their team event threatens the Davis Cup, which has existed since 1900. Between 2019-2020 there will be just six weeks separating the two events.

“There seems to be a fixation that the ATP Cup has caused the issue with the Davis Cup and this is not the case.” Insists Kermode. “If the ATP Cup didn’t exist, the Davis Cup still wouldn’t have a week in the calendar. “
“We are open to ideas, and have thrown out some ideas and they will be discussed. I’m really confident down the line we will find a resolution.”

Star Supporters, but big headaches

To the relief of the ATP, their own players have come out in support of the brand new team event. During the presentation ceremony in London, there was an extensive video featuring numerous players speaking out in favor of the event. Although one notable absentee was Rafael Nadal for reasons that are unclear.

“It’s a great honor to be here (in London) for the launch of a great event,” said world No.1 Novak Djokovic. “Representing our country is a great privilege for all of us. Growing up we dream of having the color of our countries on our tracksuit.”
“It’s really nice to have a new fresh team event. The ATP Cup will kick-start the year in the best possible way on our terms.”

John Isner, who is making his debut at the season-ending championships this week for the first time, expressed similar sentiments.

“I can speak on behalf of all the American players ranked behind me, all of us players are united in support of this event.” He said.

The idea of unity portrays that everything is ok in the world of men’s tennis. The only issue is that that is far from the case. One puzzling concept about the ATP Cup is that teams will be ranked based on their top players. For countries like Spain and France, this makes sense. However what about Stefanos Tisitsipas? The Greek is No.15 in the world which will give his country a seeding. However, he is the only Greek ranked in the top 1200. Does this mean the no-names of the sport will have the chance to play for big points? Even more confusing is the ranking points.

“It’s incredibly complexed. We have looked at it to almost exhaustion.” Kermode admits. “It’s based on your individual results of who you play against. There is a potential to earn 750 points, but it is based on your performance.”

What about the other events?

Following his loss to Novak Djokovic at the O2 Arena on yesterday, Alexander Zverev took another swipe at the length of the calendar. Saying that he has been feeling unwell for the past two months because of the ‘ridiculous’ schedule.

The ATP has avoided the idea of reducing the length of the tennis season. When Challenged about their newest event, it was revealed that they looked at 18 different versions about when it could be played. Admitting that making the year longer was out of the question. Meanwhile at the same time staying silent about the possibility of reducing its length.

“The reason why we chose week one is because it isn’t additive to the calendar. If this new event didn’t exist, players will be playing anyway.“

When it comes to existing tournaments, it is unclear as to what will happen to the calendar in Australia. Craig Tiley, who is the head of Tennis Australia, has confirmed that some events will be abolished. Although he is refusing to name what ones at present.

“We got cities that may want to retain their tournaments. If they do, they will have an opportunity to do so. We have already been down the journey and talked with all of those cities.” Confirmed Tiley.
“We will make the right choices and the right cities. Some of the events will be replaced.”

Tiley has also insisted that it is possible that the three teams events (including the Laver Cup) can work. Contradicting Novak Djokovic’s previous suggestion that the tour might be working in a direction to condense them into one.

“Growing the platform and economics of our sport is on us. We know from a fan view that they love team events.” Said Tiley.
“I believe (having three team events) is sustainable. We will make sure in 2020 that we will run a great event and the same with the Davis Cup. “

The inaugural ATP Cup will take place during the first week of January. The Qatar Open will also take place during the same time for players who don’t want to participate or can’t qualify for the event.

It is almost certain that the inaugural ATP Cup will be a hit. However, the same certaincy can’t be said about the future landscape of men’s tennis.

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Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days

The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.

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Image via twitter.com/atptour (Alexander Scheuber)

The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.

 

Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.

There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.

“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”

Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.

Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.

Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.

“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.

Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win

Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.

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Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.

“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”

The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.

Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.

This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.

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Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells

The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…

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Denis Shapovalov (CAN) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.

 

It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.

Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.

” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.

Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.

In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.

Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

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