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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Canada Thumps Australia To Win Historic Davis Cup Title 

The dream of the North American team has finally become a reality.

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MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

109 years after making their Davis Cup debut, Canada has finally claimed the trophy after producing two clinical wins over Australia in the final on Sunday. 

 

The duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime both shined in their matches to give the North American nation an unassible 2-0 lead in the three-match tie. It is the first time Canada has won the title with 2022 being only the second time they have reached the final. Three years ago they missed out on the title to Spain. 

“The emotions are tough to describe,” said Auger-Aliassime. “All of us here, we’ve dreamt of this. All of these guys grew up together dreaming of this moment, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for me and my country…. I am happy we were able to get our first Davis Cup with this group.”

Shapovalov kicked-off the final with a 90-minute 6-2, 6-4, win over Thanasi Kokkinakis who also lost his semi-final match against Borna Coric. The world No.18 blasted 28 winners past his opponent and broke him four times in the match. Besides handing Canada the crucial lead, it was a much-needed confidence boost for Shapovalov who earlier in the week lost to Lorenzo Sonego and Jan-Lennard Struff. 

“I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Shapovalov. “I had a long one against Sonego yesterday and was struggling with my back a little bit. So huge credit to the medical staff for putting me back in shape. There were a lot of doubts if I’d be ready to play today. It was amazing to play pain-free today.”

Closing in on the title, Felix Auger-Aliassime secured victory for his country with a 6-3, 6-4, triumph over world No.24 Alex de Minaur. Producing a total of six aces and saving all eight break points he faced. 

Canada’s run to their first title occurred with a bit of luck on their side. Originally they were eliminated from the finals after losing to the Netherlands at the start of this year. However, they received a wildcard to play in the group stages following the removal of Russia from the competition. Russia and Belarus are currently suspended from team events due to the war in Ukraine. 

In Group B they scored wins over South Korea and Spain to secure a place in the finale this week. Before dismissing Australia, they beat Italy 2-1 in the semi-finals and Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals. 

“From juniors it was our dream, growing up watching Vasek (Pospisil), Milos (Raonic), and [Daniel Nestor] taking Canada to new [heights],” Shapovalov said. “We wanted to grow up and help the country win the first title. It’s so surreal right now. After we lost in the final in 2019, we really wanted this bad. It’s such a team effort; everyone was putting in 120 percent every day.”

Canada’s team captain is former player Frank Dancevic who has held the role since 2017. 

 “This is a historic moment,” Dancevic commented on the achievement. “We’ve never won this title in the past. It’s the first time for us. It’s an incredible feeling.”

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Lleyton Hewitt Admits Pride After Australia Reach First Davis Cup Final For 19 Years

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he is proud after Australia reached their first Davis Cup final since 2003.

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Lleyton Hewitt (@CopaDavis - Twitter)

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he was proud of his Australian Davis Cup Team after they reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years.

 

Australia reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years after defeating Croatia 2-1.

After singles wins for Borna Coric and Alex De Minaur it was Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson who pulled off the upset over Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic to seal victory for Australia.

The Aussie pairing were victorious in a 6-7(3) 7-5 6-4 victory as they sealed Australia’s place in the Davis Cup final for the first time since 2003.

It’s a proud moment for captain Lleyton Hewitt, who will be competing in his fourth Davis Cup final but a first as captain, “I just couldn’t be prouder of these guys and the heart and the passion and the pride that they are playing with out there,” Hewitt told Tennis Australia’s website.

“It’s great. Obviously Australia has a really rich history in this competition, and we have been fortunate enough to win it on a lot of occasions, back a long time ago.

“I know how much it meant for me as a player to get the opportunity to play in finals. So I’m thrilled that these boys get that opportunity on Sunday.”

Sunday will be Australia’s 48th Davis Cup final as they seek to win a 29th Davis Cup title.

The last time Australia competed in a Davis Cup final was back in 2003 in front of a full house at the Rod Laver Arena where Hewitt was influential in a 3-1 victory over Spain.

Although Hewitt admitted it would be nicer to play the final in Melbourne, the Australian captain said that winning the title would mean a lot, “I’d love it to be in Australia,” Hewitt said.

“I’m disappointed the boys don’t get to play in front of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena. It would be very satisfying and especially if you do it with a lot of my good mates around in the coaching staff as well, it would mean a lot.”

The final will take place on Sunday with Australia facing the winner of the second semi-final between Italy and Canada.

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The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter

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By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.

 

We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

PositionPlayerCountryPts 
1DjokovicSerbia11540
2MedvedevRussia8640
3ZverevGermany7840
4TsitsipasGreece6540
5RublevRussia5150
6NadalSpain4875
7BerrettiniItaly4568
8RuudNorway4160
9HurkaczPoland3706
10SinnerItaly3350
11Auger-AliassimeCanada3308
12NorrieGB2945
13SchwartzmanArgentina2625
14ShapovalovCanada2475
15ThiemAustria2425
16FedererSwitzerland2385
17GarinChile2353
18KaratsevRussia2351
19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

PositionPlayerCountryPts
1AlcarazSpain6820
2NadalSpain6020
3RuudNorway5820
4TsitsipasGreece5550
5DjokovicSerbia4820
6Auger-AliassimeCanada4195
7MedvedevRussia4065
8RublevRussia3930
9FritzUSA3355
10HurkaczPoland2905
11RuneDenmark2888
12ZverevGermany2700
13Carreno BustaSpain2495
14NorrieGB2445
15SinnerItaly2410
16BerrettiniItaly2375
17ShapovalovCanada2105
18CilicCroatia2075
19TiafoeUSA2000
20KhachanovRussia1990

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?

BEST RANKING

Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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