The former full-time coach of Rafael Nadal has become the latest tennis figure to speak out against the controversial Transition Tour.
Toni Nadal, who is the head of his nephew’s academy in Mallorca, has pledged his support behind players calling for a change to the new system. At the start of 2019, 1500 people lost their professional ranking into the sport following the creation of the Transition Tour by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Following an extensive research process, which the ITF says involved a survey of 55,000 individuals involved in tennis, the changes took place. Players now have to compete on the transition tour to earn ITF points. The idea being that once they generate enough points, they can progress to the ATP or WTA Tour.
Despite the aim of trying to ensure players participating in lower level events have a better standard of living, many have said they have been left worse off and have been struggling to enter ITF tournaments. Canadian left-hander Maria Patrascu launched a change.org petition to change the new format. Attracting more than 14,000 signatures to date.
“What should be the objective of the International Tennis Federation? In my opinion, it should be to promote our sport and make it available to all of our players. The new rules adopted discourages players.” Toni said in a Facebook video.
Commenting further on the situation, the 58-year-old believes an uneven playing ground has now formed on the court. Saying that only ‘young rich people’ are able to play under the new system.
“Who can player under these new rules? Only the young rich people. Is that correct? I don’t think so. What happens to the people with not a lot of money? What happens to the people who decide to study and want to go professional in the future? They can’t. In my opinion you have to change these rules.” He said.
Toni Nadal is the latest public figure who disagrees with the Transition Tour. pic.twitter.com/Y6V6by91Ii
— Luis (@lu_tenis) March 3, 2019
Uncle Toni is the latest in a rapidly growing list of people hitting out at the ITF. Magnus Norman, who is the coach of Stan Wawrinka, has said that he had spoken to many players and coaches who were ‘not happy’ about the tour.
“For me, I find it very hard to work around the fact that we are cutting jobs in tennis.” Normal wrote on his personal blog. “If I would to work towards something I would turn things around. I would look at it from the other angle and try to make it better for each and every player instead globally.”
I agree 100% with Toni and @normansweden . The ITF has to re-think these rules. We have to support the players ranked between 100 and 1000 atp and make things possible for them rather than discourage them. https://t.co/S1JO4rIDyo
— Patrick Mouratoglou (@pmouratoglou) March 3, 2019
Former top 10 player Janko Tipsarevic is currently ranked 455th in the world and has his own tennis academy is another critic.
“These changes that are being done by the ITF are doing nothing else but ruining and destroying the sport. I’m seeing so much pain and suffering.” The Serbian commented on Facebook.
Despite the widespread condemnation, the governing body has refused to scrap the Transition Tour. Arguing that the negativity surrounding it has been partly been created by misinformation. Although they have confirmed that they are open to making adjustments.
“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,” ITF Executive Director for Circuits Jakie Nesbitt recently told reporters.
“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.”
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)
Davis Cup Finals To Be Extended To 11 Days But With Fewer Teams
One of the oldest tennis events in the world will be changed once again.
The International Tennis Federation has approved a series of changes for the prestigious Davis Cup competition with the option of a multi-city finale on the cards.
In a bid to ‘ease the burden on players’ the ITF Board has extended the length of the Davis Cup finals from seven to 11 days. The move comes following the inaugural competition in 2019 when some ties went on until as late as 4am due to the scheduling. As a result of the change, this year’s finale is set to take place between November 25th – December 5th. Meaning that the competition will eat more into the off-season which players use to train for the following year.
Furthermore, from 2022 the number of teams playing in the finals will be reduced from 18 to 16. This year’s field will remain unchanged as the teams have already been decided. Both of these proposals were put forward by Kosmos, who is the main financial backer of the competition.
“We recognise that the most successful tournaments adapt and evolve over time, and while the inaugural Davis Cup Finals delivered fantastic tennis, it also provided some learnings,” tournament director Albert Costa said in a statement.
“We are committed to a long-term vision for this historic competition and are confident these adjustments will enhance the experience for players and fans.”
Discussions are also underway over the possibility of making the end-of-season team showdown a multi-city event. Kosmos wants to expand the number of hosts from one to three. Although details about how this will be done have not been disclosed and the ITF are yet to approve it. Supporters of the idea argue that it will make the event appeal to a wider audience.
“With large stadiums providing show courts for all ties, the introduction of a multi-city event will bring the competition to the widest possible audience, while we will also be able to ease the burden on players with improvements to the scheduling. Crucially, a revised schedule will allow us to avoid late finishes while providing more rest for players,” Costa commented.
Should the multi-city idea get the green light, Madrid will still host both the semi-finals and final of the event. Meanwhile the other two cities would each stage two group stages and one quarter-final. Interestingly Kosmos Tennis has already launched a bid to find cities despite their proposal not being approved yet.
The Davis Cup Finals will return later this year after the 2020 edition was forced to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Spain are the reigning champions.
Viktor Troicki Set For Key Davis Cup Role
The 34-year-old will continue his playing career in 2021 but is also likely to take on a top coaching position in his country.
Former world No.12 Viktor Troicki is likely to become the new captain of the Serbian Davis Cup team next year, according to various news sources.
Kurir newspaper has reported that the 34-year-old is set to take on the role when Nenad Zimonjic’s term as captain expires next year. Troicki is still an active player and is currently ranked 201st in the world following what has been a disappointing season for him. He has only managed to win one main draw match on the ATP Tour this season which was in January at the Pune Open in India.
“I am aware that the time is slowly coming when I am finishing my professional career. Now my priority is to prepare as well as possible for the new season,” Troicki recently told 24sedam.rs.
“I give myself about five or six months to see how I would feel, but also what results I would achieve. My plans also depend on that a lot. If it goes well, that’s great, but if I see that it’s not going and I’m struggling, I think that I will most likely stop playing actively.”
At the height of his career, Troicki was ranked 12th in the world rankings back in 2011. He has won three ATP titles with two of those occurring in Australia at the Sydney International in 2015 and 2016. He also won the 2010 Kremlin Cup in Moscow. In the Davis Cup he has played in 24 ties, including the 2010 final where Serbia won the team competition for the first time in history. Overall, he has won 24 out of 40 matches played at the event.
There has been no official confirmation yet of Troicki’s appointment but he has previously stated that he hopes to stay working in the sport after retiring. Should he take the role as captain, his term is set to continue until after the 2024 Olympic Games.
“As for my future plans, of course I will stay in tennis. I have been in it all my life and I think that I will give the most in where I am the best,” he said.
“I have some plans, but I don’t want to talk about them yet. Slowly, all in good time. My focus is on the beginning of preparations, and to do them as well as possible.”
Whilst he is staying coy about his future plans, another player has already praised his appointment as coach. During a recent TV interview on Nova S Filip Krajinović hinted that the appointment is already a done deal.
“First of all, we are friends, Ziki (Zimonjic) did an amazing job, Viktor is now the coach, we all supported him and we can’t wait to play for the national team again. We couldn’t play this year because of this situation, I hope there will be opportunities,” Krajinović commented.
The first glimpse of Troicki as a coach could occur earlier than Serbia’s next Davis Cup tie. Blic has reported that should the ATP Cup go ahead, he could be their team captain. Although this has not been confirmed.
EXCLUSIVE: ITF Insists Davis Cup ‘Financial Covered’ But Uncertainty And Doubt Remain
The governing body says all is well despite not addressing UbiTennis’ questions surrounding speculation that millions have been lost over the past 12 months.
The International Tennis Federation has defended their decision to cancel the Davis Cup Finals five months before it was set to get underway amid growing speculation surrounding its financial viability.
The finale of the men’s team event, as well as the Fed Cup, have been postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought tennis to a standstill since March. It was set to be held at the Caja Magica in Madrid, which is located in the country where investment company Kosmos originated from. Founded by footballer Gerard Pique, Kosmos is the financial driving force behind the Davis Cup revamp after pledging to commit to a 25-year deal worth in the region of $3 billion.
“This is a tough decision to have to make, but delivering an international team event on this scale while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved ultimately poses too great a risk,” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement. “It is a complex undertaking and we have made the decision now to provide certainty for players, national associations and fans.”
There is however some confusion over the move and why it was decided so early before the event was set to start. Especially when the same city is set to hold a premier mixed ATP and WTA tournament in September.
UbiTennis has been in contact with the ITF concerning their decision with questions surrounding their motives to cancel the event. French newspaper L’Equipe had previously reported that Kosmos lost millions of euros last year staging the Finals and cancelling this year’s event would actually save them in the region of €18M. Furthermore, it has emerged that the national tennis federations were not consulted about the cancellation prior to it being formally announced.
During an email exchange with the governing body, the ITF did not comment when asked by UbiTennis’ about the financial figures that have been reported in the media.
“The ITF and Kosmos Tennis undertook extensive scenario planning, exploring feasible options to host the event safely. We strongly believe this is the right decision for the players and captains, the National Associations, the event organisers and the competition as a whole. National associations and team captains were informed as soon as we were able to confirm the decision.” The ITF told UbiTennis.
When pressed further as to if the loss of money last year contributed to their decision in 2020, there was no direct reply. Instead the ITF stressed that the event ‘is financially covered’ for 2021. Insisting that the driving force behind their decision was being unable to generate a ‘unique atmosphere’ and ‘make commercial sense.’
“Postponing the Davis Cup Finals was an extremely difficult decision. Delivering an international team event on this scale while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved was ultimately not feasible at this time given the risks, restrictions, logistical challenges and continuing uncertainty caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic,” the ITF stressed.
“We looked at alternative scenarios, including playing behind closed doors, and selling only a limited number of tickets – but ultimately, they did not (a) fully enable the unique atmosphere that makes Davis Cup great and (b) make good commercial sense. The important thing to note is that the event is financially covered and all stakeholders are already working towards the 2021 edition.“
Whilst there is limited financial information, there are some figures that are known. As a result of the cancellation, Kosmos will not be paying €9M to the tennis federations and €18M to the players. This is according to a member of the German Tennis Federation who says those numbers ‘are not a secret.’
Furthermore, there is also uncertainty over what is going to happen to Kosmos’ agreed payment to the ITF, who launched a ‘job protection scheme’ back in April due to the worldwide pandemic. At the time ITF president David Haggerty took a 30 percent reduction in pay and members of his senior leadership team took a 20 percent drop.
“There will of course be a financial impact of the 2020 event being postponed until next year, but we are now focused on delivering a world-class event in 2021,” the ITF replied when questioned about Kosmos’ payment to them.
Hordorff speaks out
In the wake of there being no Davis Cup Finals, UbiTennis contacted the vice-president of the German Tennis Federation (DTB) to get his perspective on the current situation. Dirk Hordorff has worked in the tennis industry for many years coaching the likes of Janko Tipsarevic, Vasek Pospisil and former world No.5 Rainer Schuettler. For him, he fears that the latest developments could threaten many in the sport financially. Germany was one of the country’s to vote against the Davis Cup changes, which received a 71% backing in the 2018 ITF AGM meeting.
“The cancellation of the Davis Cup in July 2020 at a time where the 1000 ATP/WTA event in Madrid is scheduled for September is only understandable if Kosmos believes that 2020 (Davis Cup Finals) will also produce massive losses as 2019 and they want to try to avoid this,” he said.
“This will bring the ITF and many nations financially in trouble. The German Federation as many other federations like LTA or Tennis Australia were aware of this and voted at the AGM against this project.”
Hordoff later added that the ITF was challenged by Davis Cup captains about their decision to scrap the 2020 finals and the speculation that the move was done to help Kosmos save millions. Although those discussions only took place after the event was officially axed.
“The ITF called DC captains after they cancelled the event. They denied this reason and stated this as a rumour. But in my opinion and with my knowledge I can clearly say that Kosmos refused to play DC 2020. And unfortunately this will not be the last bad news in this matter.” He concluded.
This year is only the 12th time in history and the first since 1945 that a tennis season will conclude without the winners of the Davis Cup being decided.
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