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)

 

ATP

Alexander Bublik reaches his third career semifinal with win over Denis Shapovalov in Marseille

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Alexander Bublik reached the third ATP Tour semifinal of his career after beating Canadian Canadian Next Gen player Denis Shapovalov 7-5 4-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 18 minutes at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Bublik fended off a total of four break points in the first set, including three chances from 0-40, got the break in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5, when Shapovalov hit a forehand volley wide at 30-40 after 45 minutes.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the second set. Bublik did not convert three break points at 3-2, when he hit a forehand into the net on his first break point chance. Shapovalov broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead with a drop shot and wrapped up the second set with his third ace.

Bublik opened up a 2-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Shapovalov broke straight back in the third game. Bublik got another break lead in the eighth lead at 15, when Shapovalov hit a forehand wide. Bublik sealed the win with a hold at love.

“He is a great player and serve. It was our first match, but I have known him for a very long time. I was happy to break in the first set, then in the second set he was better, and I had my chances in the third and I held on. So I am very happy”,said Bublik.

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ATP

Milos Raonic, Steve Johnson, Frances Tiafoe and Ugo Humbert reach the quarter final in Delray Beach

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Milos Raonic hit 11 aces and saved the three break points he faced to beat German Cedrik Marcel Stebe 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 36 minutes reaching the quarter final at the Delray Beach, an ATP Tour 250 tournament.

 

Raonic earned a break in each set. Stebe earned a break point in the ninth game with a forehand down the line, but Raonic saved it with a forehand. Raonic faced two more break points in the 11th game, but Raonic saved them with service winners. Raonic earned a break with a forehand down the line winner in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5. Raonicwon four consecutive points on return to earn a break and closed out the match 6-3 with a hold of serve.

“I got lucky through that first set and then I tried to be a bit more aggressive, create more things and that put a bit more pressure on him. It opened up the match for me a bit more”, said Raonic.

Raonic set up a quarter final against Steve Johnson, who edged past his compatriot Jack Sock 6-4 5-7 6-1 after 2 hours and 5 minutes to reach his first quarter final at ATP Tour level in six months. Johnson came back from losing the second set by racing out to a 5-0 lead.

“This is just one of those tournaments where you feel comfortable coming back every year. It’s great to see Sock back. I thought he played a really good second set and I just got bit of a momentum in the third set”, said Johnson.

French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert edged Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 42 minutes to reach his third quarter final in 2020. Humbert fended off eight of the ten break points he faced and earned three breaks to win the last four games of the first set from 2-4 down. Humbert broke Kecmanovic, as the Serbian player was serving for the second set at 6-5. The Frenchman saved a set point and came back from 5-6 down by winning the final three points of the tie-break to clinch the win after 1 hour and 43 minutes. Humbert has improved his win-loss record this year to 8-3.

“It’s always tough to play against Miomir, because he is a great player. He always plays at a high level. I lost to him last week and I was a little bit stressed before the match, so I am very happy to get the win today. You have to enjoy the victory because it’s not easy every week. Winning in Auckland gave me a lot of confidence. I beat some great players, but I have to continue my improvement every day”,said Humbert.

Humbert will face US player Frances Tiafoe, who battled past Tommy Paul 7-5 7-6 (7-4). Both players stayed neck and neck in the first set until the 11th game when Tiafoe earned a break with a return winner. He served out the set 7-5 with a service winner in the 12th game.

Paul earned a break in the sixth game, but he dropped his serve, while he serving for the set at 5-3. Tiafoe closed out the match with a backhand crosscourt winner at 6-4 in the tie-break.

“It’s never easy playing a good friend. It’s awkward, but I thought it was a pretty good match overall. My forehand was definitely on, so that helped. I am starting to play good tennis again and just competing hard in every match”,said Tiafoe.  

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Simona Halep rallies from one set down to beat Aryna Sabalenka in Dubai

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Simona Halep came back from one set down to beat Aryna Sabalenka 3-6 6-2 6-2 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in one hour and 35 minutes to advance to the semifinals in Dubai one day after saving a match point against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

 

Halep earned her third win in four head-to-head matches against Sabalenka.

Halep broke in the second game of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, but Sabalenka broke straight back in the next game. Halep broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead and never faced any break point in the next games.

Halep earned a break in the fourth game of the decider and backed it up to open up a 4-1 lead. The 2019 Wimbledon champion was taken to deuce once in her last eight service games of the match.

“I think I started to play a little bit stronger in the second set and find rhythm. It’s always tough to play against her because she is very strong and hits the ball really hard, so I had to play faster, be quicker on court and give everything I had to win”, said Halep.

Halep will face US qualifier Jennifer Brady, who clinched a win against a top 20 player for the third consecutive year by beating this year’s Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4. Brady has reached her third WTA semifinal and the first at Premier level.

Muguruza earned a break point with a forehand winner, as Brady was serving for the set. Brady was broken, when she hit two consecutive forehands into the net. Muguruza rallied from 1-3 to draw level to 5-5 and earned her first set point. The Spaniard sealed the tie-break, as Brady sent her backhand long.

Muguruza earned a break point in the sixth game with a backhand winner. Brady saved the break point with a forehand crosscourt winner and held serve with a backhand winner down the line. Brady broke serve to take a 4-3, as Muguruza made two forehand errors and hit two double faults. Muguruza dropped her serve again with another double fault.

Both players held serve in the first nine games of the third set. Muguruza held three break points in the third game, but Brady saved them with a backhand crosscourt winner. Brady sealed the win with a break on her second match point, as Muguruza sent a backhand long.

 

 

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