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

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Alexander Zverev Ditches Federer’s TEAM8 Management Firm To Return To His ‘Roots’

Zverev speaks out about his ‘short and long term strategies going forward.’

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German tennis star Alexander Zverev has confirmed his departure from TEAM8 as he set out his coaching plans for the season ahead.

 

The world No.7 posted a statement on Instagram saying that he no longer wants to be represented by the management firm, which was co-founded by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick. Zverev says part of his decision was because he wanted his family to take a greater role once again. Instead, he will be managed by his brother Misha, who is the captain of the German ATP Cup team, as well as Sergei Bubka.

“I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management,” Zverev wrote.
“I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”

Zverev’s announcement comes less than two weeks after it was confirmed he will no longer be working with David Ferrer. A former world No.3 player who joined his camp last year. Ferrer confirmed that the ending of their partnership was on mutual terms and there was no conflict between the two. The Spaniard said his role as tournament director of the Barcelona Open and family commitments contributed towards his decision.

Last year the 23-year-old broke new territory in his career by reaching the final of the US Open which he lost in five sets to Dominic Thiem. Zverev also won two ATP titles in Cologne. However, his on-court success was overshadowed by events in his personal life. He has been accused of mental and physical abuse by his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova, which Zverev has denied. Meanwhile, it was revealed that another former partner of his is pregnant with his child.

Heading into the Australian Open, Zverev is likely to face more scrutiny over the domestic abuse allegations after it was confirmed that a new account from Sharypova will be published in the coming weeks. New York Times journalist and freelance writer Ben Rothenberg confirmed that a second interview will be released before the start of the Melbourne major. It is unknown as to what the interview will entail but there has been a prior reference to one ‘incident’ in China.

Zverev’s Instagram statement in full

“What a year 2020 has been, for the whole world and for myself. I reached my first Grand Slam final without my parents and brother being court-side due to them contracting COVID-19. An almost 2 year long legal dispute with my former agent finally came to a successful resolution, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about my short and long term strategies going forward. For this reason and because of the ongoing worldwide restrictions, I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management. I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”

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No Special Treatment For Andy Murray, Says Australian Government

The three-time Grand Slam champion still wants to travel to Melbourne later this month but will it be possible?

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Andy Murray must provide a negative COVID-19 test and no preferential treatment will be given to him if he attempts to play the Australian Open, according to a government minister.

 

The former world No.1 was set to travel to Australia later this week but is unable to after testing positive for the coronavirus. As a result, Murray is currently self-isolating in his London home and is therefore unable to start the mandatory 14-day quarantine period along with other players. Although he is hopeful to still travel to Melbourne at a later date.

Whether or not he will be allowed to do so in the coming weeks is unclear. In a statement Tennis Australia wished the three-time Grand Slam champion a ‘happy recovery’ but didn’t address the possibility that Murray can travel at a later date than his peers. It is understood that negotiations are currently ongoing with coach tournament director Craig Tiley.

“The Australian Open fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he’s worked for this opportunity,” a statement reads.

Murray is not the only player unable to travel this week as a result of a positive test. Others include Madison Keys, Davidovich Fokina and Dominic Thiem’s coach Nicolas Massu. Tennys Sandgren also tested positive but has been allowed to fly because health officials say he is ‘viral shedding from a previous virus’. Sandgren tested positive for the virus back in November.

Martin Foley, who is the Minister of Health for the Victorian government, says no special treatment will be provided to Murray in his bid to play in the Grand Slam. The Brit was granted entry into the main draw thanks to a wild card. He missed the 2019 tournament due to pelvic bruising and the year before he stunned the sport by saying he may be forced to retire before later undergoing career-saving hip surgery.

In regards to Mr Murray, we’ve been clear from the start that anyone who tests positive is not able to be part of the program coming into Melbourne and Australia,” Foley told reporters on Friday.
“Mr Murray, and the other 1240 people as part of the program, need to demonstrate that if they’re coming to Melbourne they have returned a negative test.
“So should Mr Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else.
“Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused.”

This year’s Australian Open is taking place under strict COVID-19 protocols. During quarantine players will be allowed to train up to five hours each day but not play in any professional tournaments. Those who break the rules could face a fine of AUS$20,000, prosecution and even deportation.

The Melbourne major will start on February 8th.

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Andy Murry Tests Positive For COVID-19, Australian Open Hopes In Doubt

A representative for the former world No.1 has confirmed that he is currently in isolation.

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Andy Murray faces a race against time to make the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.

 

Multiple British media sources have confirmed that the three-time Grand Slam champion has been in self-isolation since testing positive and it is believed that he is in good health. The Daily Mail has reported that Murray is experiencing only ‘minor symptoms’ of the virus. He undertook the test as part of the requirement by Tennis Australia under their COVID-19 protocols which requires all arrivals to test negative. However, Tennys Sandgren has been given the all clear to travel despite testing positive.

Murray and his team are now hoping that they will still be able to make it in time for the Australian Open which begins on February 8th. Nicolas Massu, who is the coach of Dominic Thiem, finds himself in the same situation as Murray. Besides being required to test negative, players must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Australia before they are allowed to play in any tournaments. Although they are allowed to train during this period for up to five hours a day. Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Murray and if they will allow him to join their ‘bio-secure bubble’ at a later date.

There is no proof of where Murray caught the virus but growing speculation surrounds the National Tennis Center in Roehampton where it has previously been reported that a minor outbreak occurred. The Brit had been training at the facility and it is understood that fellow player Paul Jubb have also contracted COVID-19.

The 33-year-old is eager to return to the Australian Open two years after admitting at the tournament that he may be forced to retire from the sport due to a serious hip injury. In 2018 he stunned reporters by saying ‘I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months’ before going on to say that the Australian Open may be his last tournament. Following his first round loss, the Brit even had a video tribute played to him at the event. However, since then he had managed to continue his career with the help of hip resurfacing surgery. It was another injury (pelvic bruising) that also forced him to skip the Melbourne major last year.

Murray is a five-time finalist at the Australian Open.

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