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London Likely To Lose Rights To Host ATP Finals In Blow To British Tennis

After attracting millions of spectators since 2009 to the British capital, officials are now exploring other venues to host the end-of-season event.

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The O2 Arena, venue of the ATP World Tour Finals (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

2020 will be the last time the prestigious ATP Finals will be held at The O2 Arena in London unless the governing body of men’s tennis has a late change of heart.

 

Multiple British media sources have reported that the end-of-year event is set to be moved to a new venue from 2021 onwards. The ATP Finals is the final event of the men’s calendar with the eight best players in the world taking part in the round-robin competition. In 2018 the draw had a prize money pool of $8.5 million.

The relocation of the event came after attendance at last year’s tournament dropped. In 2018 243,819 spectators visited the venue throughout the tournament, which was a 3.9% decline compared to the previous year. Nevertheless, London has been consistent in attracting a quarter of a million people each year it has hosted the event. It is the second most significant tennis tournament held in the UK after Wimbledon.

Attendance at the London ATP Finals since 2012
2018 – 243,819
2017 – 252,481
2016 – 252,894
2015 – 252,894
2014 – 263,229
2013 – 261,247
2012 – 263,229
(source – atptour.com)

The Italian city of Turin, which hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics, are favourites to take over as hosts in 2021. Their bid has been boosted by support from the Italian government, who has helped secure a £65 million deal to host the ATP Finals between 2021-2025. Italy already hosts the Next Gen Finals in Milan, which was created back in 2017.

“Every day there is something to file but we are on the home straight and we are optimistic and we have reason to be.” Italian politician Giancarlo Giorgetti told reporters earlier this week about Turin’s bid.

Tokyo, Manchester and Singapore are also in the mix to host the event. Out of those three, Tokyo is the only city to have previously hosted the event. Although Singapore was the previous location for the highly successful WTA Finals, which is the women’s equivalent.

In recent years there has been a debate around weather London should continue hosting the event of not. Critics argue that the season-ending event should be moved around more to expose the sport to different audiences across the world. On the other hand, any decision to move from London risks the chances of success elsewhere.

“I don’t see a reason to change unless there’s a city that really wants it badly and is willing to come in and support the tour in a major way for years to come like we have seen in Shanghai or maybe also London in the beginning.” 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer commented in November.
“It has been a winning formula here (in London), I’ve enjoyed playing tennis in a city that knows tennis very well, that has a strong media following. It has been a good place for us players to showcase our talents to be honest.”

In contrast, world No.1 Novak Djokovic has previously said that a change in location is needed. Citing the drop in attendance last year. Since the ATP Finals move to London in 2009, Djokovic has won the title four times. More than any other player.

“I think that actually last year, several months ago, actually, the last World Tour Finals, wasn’t as good attendance-wise as most of the other years,” Djokovic said during this year’s Indian Wells Masters. “So that was also an indicator that maybe people… maybe it’s time to change, maybe not. I don’t know. We’ll see end of this year how is it going to be. “

An announcement on who will host the ATP Finals from 2021 is expected to be made later this month.

ATP

Monte Carlo Breakthrough Leaves Andrey Rublev With Mixed Emotions

The world No.8 takes confidence from his latest run but admits it is ‘impossible’ to play at his very top level every week on the Tour.

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After achieving a career milestone at the Monte Carlo Masters, Andrey Rublev was sent crashing down to earth on Sunday.

 

The Russian tennis star broke new territory at the tournament by reaching his first ever Masters 1000 final at the age of 23. However, he was denied the title by Stefanos Tsitsipas who produced a clinical performance to seal victory in just 71 minutes. Ending Rublev’s run of winning seven finals in a row.

“I feel happy with the week, and I feel super sad with the final, that I couldn’t show my game,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“Of course, I’m happy with the week because I beat so many great players and I beat one of the best players in history. It’s a special week.”

Earlier in the tournament Rublev stunned the draw when he upset Rafael Nadal in three sets en route to the semi-finals. Making it the fourth time in his career he has scored a win over a player ranked No.3 in the world. He is also the first player in history to come back from a set down to defeat Nadal at the tournament.

Besides the king of clay, Rublev also dismissed Roberto Bautista Agut and Casper Ruud. He has now won 24 matches on the ATP Tour this season which is more than anybody else. However, he is reluctant to link all of his match play with his latest performance.

“I feel tired after all the matches that I play, exhausted. But this is not excuse. He was just better than me, and that’s it,” he stated.
“Not always everything goes your way. It happened today. I was completely exhausted. Stefanos, he showed great game. He was just better than me, and that’s it.”

Despite his recent success, Rublev is eager to not get too far ahead of himself heading into the French Open. A Grand Slam where he has only played in the main draw twice before, including last year where he reached the quarter-finals.

“I would like to play really good in Madrid and I would like to play really good in Rome. I would like to play all of the weeks good. But it’s impossible,” he explains.
“Some of the weeks for sure will be better, some will be worse and some will be amazing.’
“For the moment I’m playing really consistent. I’m really happy I’m playing my best season so far. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”

Rublev is set to return to action next week at the Barcelona Open where he will be the third seed.

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Former Australian Open Semi-Finalist Kyle Edmund Undergoes Surgery

It has been reported that the world No.69 may not be able to return to the Tour for ‘several more months.’

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British world No.69 Kyle Edmund is set to be sidelined from the Tour for some time after having surgery to treat a long-standing problem in Switzerland. 

 

The former British No.1 has confirmed he had a ‘small procedure’ on his knee after being hampered with issues in the area ever since 2018 when a scan revealed that he had fluid behind his left knee. Details of the surgery have not been disclosed by the person who conducted the operation was Dr Roland Biedert, according to BBC Sport. A specialist Orthopaedic surgeon who has also operated on Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro.

“I had a small procedure on my knee. I’m currently rehabbing. The recovery is going well and I hope to be back on court as soon as possible.” Edmund said.

Currently ranked 69th in the world, Edmund hasn’t played a competitive match since losing in the first round of qualifying at the Vienna Open last October due to his knee. 2020 saw mixed fortunes for the 26-year-old. After winning the New York Open during February of that year, he lost seven out of 10 matches played during the rest of the season. Including five defeats in a row.

No return date has been outlined by Edmund or his team following the surgery. However, British media have reported that he may be out for ‘several more months.’ Casting doubts over his chances of being ready in time for Wimbledon which starts on June 28th. He hasn’t been absent from a Wimbledon main draw since 2012.

Edmund has been ranked as high as 14th in the world with his best Grand Slam run being to the semi-finals of the 2018 Australian Open. Overall, he has won two ATP titles and has earned more than $5.7 in prize money. 

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Grigor Dimitrov Blames Poor Monte Carlo Performance On ‘Big Infection’

The 29-year-old reveals the reason behind his error-stricken performance at the Monte Carlo Country Club on Thursday.

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Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov said he simply ‘didn’t play’ in his latest match at the Monte Carlo Masters after winning just two games against Rafael Nadal.

 

The world No.17 fell 6-1, 6-1, to the 20-time Grand Slam champion in less than an hour on Thursday. He won 48% of his first service points and 32% of his second, as he hit 32 unforced errors. A dismal performance from Dimitrov who had beaten Jan-Lennard Struff and Jeremy Chardy earlier in the tournament.

Whilst it was never going to be easy playing somebody of Nadal’s calibre, Dimitrov has revealed that he had been troubled by an issue away from the court. He has been suffering from a ‘big infection’ in his tooth which has had an impact on his preparation for the match.

“I’ve been struggling with a massive tooth problem for the past four or five days,” he said. “I have a big infection in my tooth. It’s been hard. I haven’t been able to sleep well or eat well or anything like that.’
“I was bearing it for a while this whole week.”

It is another case of bad luck for Dimitrov on the Tour this season. At the Australian Open he reached the quarter-finals in what was his best Grand Slam performance since the 2019 US Open. However, in his last eight showdown with Russia’s Aslan Karatsev he was hindered by a back injury.

“It’s straight to the doctor’s, unfortunately,” he commented on his tooth. “Very, very unpleasant moment. It is what it is.’
“At least I’m glad it happened on a home soil so I can go see my dentist and figure this problem as soon as possible.Hopefully it’s not too serious and I’ll be able to come back as soon as possible.”

Speaking in his press conference, Nadal said he ‘felt sorry’ for his opponent who ‘played a bad match.’ During the match the world No.3 wasn’t aware of Dimitrov’s problem but was told about it afterwards.

“I wish him all the best. He’s a great guy, a good friend. I just hope the situation is to improve as soon as possible,” he said.

Nadal, who is seeking a record 12th title in Monte Carlo, will play Russia’s Andrey Rublev next.

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