ITF Says New Transition Tour 'Delivers Better' For Players, But Are They Telling The Truth? - UBITENNIS
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ITF Says New Transition Tour ‘Delivers Better’ For Players, But Are They Telling The Truth?

The ITF has laid out their justification for the new tour, but there remains huge concerns for some.

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On Friday morning the International Tennis Federation (ITF) conducted a conference call with numerous media outlets, including Ubitennis, to justify the implementation of the hotly debated transition Tour.

 

In a bid to provide better standards of earning for players on the tour, from this year the number of ranked players have been cut dramatically. WTA points are only awarded to women playing in events that have $25,000 in prize money or more. In men’s tennis, $25,000 ITF Pro Circuit events offer both ATP ranking points (later rounds) and ITF Entry Points (all rounds); while the qualifying rounds of ATP Challenger tournaments also offer both ATP ranking points (all events) and ITF Entry Points (events up to $125,000 in prize money). Players can use their ITF ranking to enter into professional tournaments.

Jackie Nesbitt has the massive challenge of trying to win over critics of the tour. Nesbitt is the executive director of the ITF Circuits. She correctly points out that the changes have been made following extensive research with the help of independent analysts. Between 2001-2013 a survey was conducted on 55,000 players, coaches, administrators and organisers.

“For all the reasons we’ve set out explaining why we looked to do reforms in the first place, it would be not at all optimal to go back,” Said Nesbitt.
“I don’t want to get to a situation where we have huge amounts of prize money but we’re delivering so poorly for players. To have so few even managing to break even, we have to be able to do better than that.”
“I don’t see any convincing argument in favour of a return to the old system. The new system has to deliver better for players, if there are changes that need to be made they will become fairly obvious fairly quickly.”

It is unfair to criticise Nesbitt for her commitment to the transformation and the effort she has invested in it. However, to say the new system ‘delivers better’ is something that is very subjective. Especially when there are cases of players being told they have to stay at specific hotels if they want to play in a tournament. Based on my own experience, I have heard and read concerns from players, coaches, tennis federation chiefs and parents. To say the transition Tour is a true blessing is anything but accurate.

The facts and figures make good reasoning. But the question remains, why so many people are against the tour? More than 12,000 people have signed an online petition to change the rules. Evgenia Linetskaya is a former top 50 player from Russia who now works as a tennis coach. In a video she has described the changes as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘unfair.’

“Right now what the ITF has done is that they don’t give a chance for the players to show themselves because the tournaments they take part in don’t give any (WATP/WTA) points any more.” She said.
“All those juniors that are out of the top 100, all those who have been out with injury and all of those who didn’t play in the junior circuit due to education or a low budget are all out of the system. Any nobody cares.”

From the ITF standpoint, they believe that a lot of the uproar has been caused by misinformation. Insisting that they have taken into the account the perspective of players and have done their revamp with the help of ‘data evidence.’

‘The petition is what it is,’ Nesbitt commented. ‘It’s not unwelcome because while a lot of our changes will be directed by data evidence, it can’t be based as a cold structure on data evidence alone. We have to listen to the players. They have a voice in all of this. ‘If they’re not happy we have to take due care and attention but, you know, we want to make sure that the feedback we’re getting is based on properly informed opinion.”

One has to question how much misinformation have occurred. It is plausible that tennis coaches with 20 or 30 years experience in the industry have gotten confused? In theory, yes, but in reality no.

Recently the ITF announced that Germany’s Peter Heller was the new world No.1 on the transition tour. The tweet was later deleted after many poked fun at the irony. 26-year-old Heller has ATP rank on 590th and is yet to play a main draw match on the ATP Tour. Although he is certainly not a poster boy for the new structure with his father sending a letter to the ITF blasting the changes.

“All the hope and all the dreams were destroyed in the moment the new system was introduced. No single issue has gotten better with the reform, nearly everything is worse than before. Since 2019 main draw players even have to pay an entry fee to compete in the main draw of a tournament, that’s really a shame. Not more prize money, no reduced costs, no better conditions at the tournaments, nothing but broken dreams and thousands of players worldwide unable to compete. If it was the intention of the reform to help those players save costs by preventing them to compete, at least one goal is reached. But let me get serious again, the situation is too severe to make sick jokes.”

The governing body of tennis has acknowledged to an extend that there are issues with the transition tour. However, they have no intention of getting rid of it. An unsurprising revelation given all the hours of work they have invested in the redevelopment. It is only hoped that the ITF will listen to the players and their concerns.

Tennis is changing, but at the moment is isn’t for the better.

Life on the transition tour in quotes

“The number of places for players to participate in these tournaments is limited, so players with no ranking or bad ranking have no chance to participate in the tournaments. I’ve heard from a lot of players flying around the world, going to tournaments and couldn’t get in in reason of the limited qualification size.” – Dirk Hordorff (VP of Tennis Germany)

“I would really like to meet a person who came up with this idea about the ITF transition tour and congratulate him. All the ideas that person got cannot function even in a perfect world because players have zero benefit from it and they don’t make any sense.” Ana Vrljić (Croatia)

“Money talks and money rules. They don’t need any players outside of top 100. They need the big names and the big profit from slams. By changing the rule, they secured easier stability for the top and impossible possibility for young, mid and lower ranked players to exist. If you don’t have the big agency behind you or a big sponsor you might as well quit.” Sesil Karatantcheva (Belarus)

“It’s a shambles. Everyone is responsible for this mess. It’s impossible to state how much knock in effect this will have negatively for anyone involved in tennis.”  Mark Petchey (former player, Great Britain)

‘We all agree that ITF is not fulfilling their mandate of overseeing and promoting tennis worldwide.” Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukraine)

“My ranking won’t even guarantee me a place in the qualifiers. Last year, I won a USD 25000 tournament and I was hoping I would at least start playing the qualifier rounds of the Challengers this season but for that I will have to improve my ITF ranking. But for that I need to play 25k events,”  – Adil Kalyanpur (India)

 

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Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov secure Canada the spot in Davis Cup semifinal

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Canada reach their third Davis Cup semifinals after Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov won the decisive doubles match.

 

Vasek Pospisil opened the quarter final clash between Canada and Australia with a 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 over John Millman.

Millman broke his serve in the second game of the match. Pospisil broke back to draw level to 4-4 and saved two set points to force the first set to a tie-break. Pospisil won a tight tie-break at 9-7. The second set went on serve until the 10th game when Pospisil broke serve at 5-4 to close out the match.

“I have been playing really well this week and trying to keep the momentum going. I am playing pretty relaxed, which is good. I am enjoying my time on the court after being injured, which has changed my perspective a bit, and maybe that’s helped me for the last couple of months”, said Pospisil.

Alex De Minaur rallied from a set down to beat Denis Shapovalov 3-6 6-3 7-5 drawing the tie level to 1-1.  Shapovalov converted his second break point in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead and held on his next service games to win the first set 6-3. De Minaur earned the only break point in the second game to win the second set 6-3 forcing the match to the decider. De Minaur broke Shapovalov to take a 6-5 lead and sealed the match on his second match point.

Pospisil won both his second match of the day when he teamed up with Shapovalov in the doubles match. The Canadian team beat John Peers and Jordan Thompson 6-4 6-4.

“This is unbelievable. We have a great team and we had the potential to get this far, but the guys put their hearts on the line this week. They are playing unbelievable tennis, and they wanted so bad to play unbelievable tennis. I am so proud of them”, said Canadian captain Frank Dancevic.

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Andy Murray’s Presence In Davis Cup Quarter-Final Clash Undecided

Will the former world No.1 be chosen to play or not?

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MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 16: Andy Murray of Great Britain during a training session of Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 16, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Mateo Villalba / Kosmos Tennis)

Great Britain’s bid to reach the last four of the Davis Cup could take place without three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray amid his current fitness on the court.

 

Murray, who is the only British man in the Open Era to reach world No.1, was absent from his team’s clash with Kazakhstan on Thursday. Instead the duty was down to Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans. Edmund was in impressive form as he downed Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-3, but Evans was edged out in three sets by Alexander Bublik. Leaving it down to the doubles pairing of Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski to clinch the crucial win to claim the overall 2-1 victory.

“I had every confidence in Kyle, saw firsthand what he was playing like indoors in Paris and what he’s been doing in practice. I thought he was going to play well, and he did play well, he played really well.” Team captain Leon Smith told reporters in Madrid.
“Then Evo (Evans) again was totally in the match, a bit like yesterday, bar a couple of points.’
“And then Jamie and Neal got into a great head space again. And the doubles players expressed themselves. And I think that’s where, you know, it is an advantage for us in these situations.”

The Brits have topped their group with two out of two wins after beating the Netherlands earlier in the week. Their reward is a quarter-final meeting with Germany, who has three top 100 singles players and two top 20 players in doubles. However, it is uncertain if Murray will be present in the tie after recently admitting that he is not in his best form. Saying he had ‘lots of cake and junk’ following the recent birth of his third child Teddy.

“I told you guys I wasn’t feeling in the best shape coming in, and it showed a little bit in the match,” Murray said earlier in the week.
“The weight and things like that, that’s my fault. I won’t put myself in that position again.
“If you’re weighing four or five kilos more than you’re used to, that is probably going to affect how you feel moving around the court.”

The frank admission has placed Smith in a predicament concerning who to play in the quarter-final clash, which only features a total of three matches. The tie will not take place until tomorrow afternoon. Meaning a final decision on Murray will likely occur tomorrow instead of this evening.

“It’s important after five weeks of not playing any competitive tennis that you play a match. It wasn’t his ideal match at all, but it was a match nonetheless, and that gets you going again, it gets you going.” Smith said of Murray.

Meanwhile, Germany is keeping quietly confident over their chances of ending British hopes. They have already scored wins over Argentina and Chile in the group stages. It has been 26 years since they last won the Davis Cup trophy.

“I think this new format is a little bit closer, the nations are a little bit closer together. So we have actually a very, very good doubles team, and I think every other nation knows that. So they are a little bit tight also against us to win both singles.” German captain Michael Kohlmann said.
“We are going to prepare the best and hopefully our singles guys and everybody’s fit and ready to play tomorrow.”

The upcoming tie will be the first meeting between the two countries since 1973.

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Jack Sock and Sam Querrey take late-night decisive doubles clash over Italy

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The clash between Italy and the USA came down to a decisive doubles match at the Caja Magica in Madrid after Fabio Fognini and Taylor Fritz won their respective singles matches.

 

Fabio Fognini  beat Relly Opelka 6-4 6-7 6-3 after 1 hour and 54 minutes to give Italy a much-needed win to the Italian team.

Fognini earned an early break at 1-1 after two errors from Opelka and dropped just five points in five service games. Fognini did not face a break point to close out the first set 6-4 in 33 minutes.

Both players stayed neck and neck setting up a tie-break. Opelka earned a mini-break to take a 5-3 lead in the tie-break and earned three set points. The US player sealed the first set point, but Opelka converted his second chance 7-4.

Opelka saved the first break point with an ace, but Fognini converted his second chance with a forehand passing shot in the second set to take a 2-0 lead. Fognini dropped just three points to build up a 5-2 lead. Fognini served out the win on his first match point to give Italy a 1-0 win.

“I am tired for sure because it was tough. One of the things I did today was my serve, don’t ask me why. I am surprised about that”, said Fognini.

Taylor Fritz came back from one set down to beat Matteo Berrettini 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 in the second match. Berrettini saved a break point in the second game with a forehand down the line and a service winner. In the fifth game Fritz saved two break points in the fifth game. Berrettini broke serve in the 11th game to take a 6-5 and sealed the first set on his first set point.

In the third set both players stayed neck and neck til the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. In the seventh game Fritz saved a break point. Berrettini held his serve at love. Fritz closed out the second set at 6-5 after 51 minutes.

Berrettini saved two consecutive break points in the first game of the third game. Fritz rallied from 0-30 down to hold his serve for 1-1. Fritz broke twice in the third and fifth games to race out to a 5-1 lead. Berrettini saved a match point and held his serve for 2-5, but Fritz sealed the win on his second match point.

“Playing for my country is all the motivation I need. I just kept digging, kept fighting. It was really close. I lost the first set by close margin, and I told myself to tough out the second set like I know I can do, and my aggressive and fitness carried me through the third”,said Fritz.

Jack Sock and Sam Querrey came back from a set down in the decisive doubles match to take a 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to give the USA a 2-1 win. The doubles match ended shortly after 4 am and was one of the latest finishes to a match in tennis history.  The USA finished second in the Group F behind Canada, who secured the first spot with their wins over Italy and the USA earlier this week. Neither team  was able to earn a break in the first two sets. Italy broke serve to take a 3-1 lead. Sock and Querrey broke back immediately before earning the decisive break at 4-4. The US team served out the win after 2 hours and 30 minutes.

“Reilly played a great match and Taylor came out in in a tough position knowing he needed to win. To get the doubles means a lot”, said Querrey.

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