On-Court Coaching: A Terrible Idea Or The Next Logical Step In Men’s Tennis? - UBITENNIS
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On-Court Coaching: A Terrible Idea Or The Next Logical Step In Men’s Tennis?

Whilst the WTA Tour has relished the on-court coaching rule for the past 11 years, opinion among the men’s tennis elite reflect a completely different scenario.

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Nick Kyrgios of Australia is pictured in action during day four of ATP Fever-Tree Championships tennis tournament at Queen's Club in west London on June 19, 2019. (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

LONDON: Five games into his opening match Fernando Verdasco looked lost on the court at The Queen’s Club. Down a double break and only able to take two points off his opponents serve, he glared towards the camp in the crowd. They could not say anything without getting Verdasco a penalty. Something his female counterparts don’t fear.

 

On-court coaching has been allowed on the WTA Tour since 2008. A process where the coaches of players are allowed to interact with them during changeovers to issue advice and so forth. The bosses of the WTA at the time said it was done to add entertainment value and give insight to fans watching. 11 years on from that decision, other tournaments have started their own experiments.

The US Open, which was the first major to introduce equal prize money back in 1973, has outlined their plans. Involving allowing coaches to shout to players from the sidelines in between points. A move that was undoubtedly triggered by last year’s women’s final where Serena Williams was penalized for receiving coaching. Something her guru Patrick Martogolou, who is a supporter of on-court coaching, initially admitted to before she later denied took place. It was assumed that organizers wanted to implement this change in 2019, but it appears that this will not happen now.

Should these changes occur, it will move men’s tennis closer to the prospect of on-court coaching. Something that raises one crucial question – do the players want it on the ATP Tour?

“I personally don’t feel that there is a need for it. Obviously, the WTA does it, but I feel there is no need because I’m used to not having it on the court.” Kyle Edmund said at the Fever-Tree Championships on Sunday.

Critics of the technique argue that it takes away the player’s ability to think for themselves. Making them mentally weaker. In the Open Era, there has never been a grand slam main draw where the competitors could seek help from anybody else during matches. However, what about a compromise similar to the one proposed by the US Open?

“With the debate concerning having coaching off the court in terms of speaking, as other sports do, I’d say I’m more interested in that aspect.” Edmund indicates.

Nick Kyrgios could potentially be the kind of person who would benefit from a change in the rules. In a recent interview with The Telegraph, he admits that he struggles mentally during the big tournaments. So potentially having somebody to speak to him during matches could help.

However, the Australian doesn’t have a mentor and is a fierce critic of on-court coaching. Arguing that it could create an uneven playing ground if it was implemented in men’s tennis.

“I don’t agree with it at all. I think on-court coaching shouldn’t be a part of the sport.” He stated.
“I don’t think — like, it’s supposed to be one on one. You’re supposed to figure out things yourself when you’re out there on the court.”
“For guys who don’t have a coach, like myself or guys who can’t afford a coach, it’s not really a level playing field when you have a guy that’s literally talking to their players on the court. It makes no sense.”

Kyrgios’ view is one that has been backed by one of the biggest names in men’s tennis – Roger Federer. In the German city of Halle, the Swiss Maestro was questioned about on-court coaching.

“I don‘t support on-court coaching, I think that I have the best team in the world, and so I don‘t think it‘s fair that I could profit from that and another guy, who has maybe no coach can‘t benefit at all.” Federer explained.

2019 prize money rankings (as of 17/6/2019)
1. Rafael Nadal $6.28M
20. Jan Lennard-Struff $910, 090
50. Filip Krajinovic $521, 146
100. Marcelo Melo $306, 269
200. Elias Ymer $83, 342

A logical step forward?

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Daniil Medvedev was straight to the point when asked his own opinion of the subject. Saying such a change will have zero benefits for him. Although he believes changing the rules is only logical. During numerous matches coaches in the crowd has been caught making gestures towards their players. Something that is hard to police for the umpires.

“I am for it. Not because it will benefit me because I don’t think it will. Even if I asked my coach to come onto the court one time per match.” Medvedev told Ubitennis.
“But when we see a lot of sports it is allowed. During matches, they can say anything and when you are working with your coach almost 365 days a year and he can’t say anything, it’s a bit strange.’
“It won’t change a lot (for me), but I think it should be legalized.”

There is also the role of technology in the debate. Application software company SAP works alongside the WTA. Under the rules, they are able to provide coaches with real-time data so they can feedback to players during matches. Something some argue enhances the quality of matches.

“The WTA introduced the on-court coaching rule in 2008. That gave SAP the opportunity to bring real-time data to players and coaches as they need it,” SAP’s Global Sponsorships Technology Lead Jenni Lewis told intel.co.uk.
“And they need it as the match is happening, so the coach can go out during on-court coaching and share that information.”

Tennis is a sport that has developed a reputation of priding itself on its history and rightfully so. However, the downside is trying to maintain a balance between traditionalists and those driving for change. Illustrated by past debates concerning the use of tiebreakers in the final set of grand slam matches, the unique rules set out at the next Gen Finals and the fallout over the Davis Cup revamp.

Given these sticking points, would the ATP really want to bother with on-court coaching?

Only time will tell.

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Grigor Dimitrov – ‘Tennis Is A Microscopic Thing In The World Right Now’

The world No.19 speaks out about how he is coping during the tour suspension.

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Former grand slam semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov has become the latest player to urge the governing bodies of tennis to make a united decision regarding when play will resume again.

 

The ATP and WTA Tours are currently suspended until June due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although it is likely that the suspension will be extended further with rumours that Wimbledon will be cancelled for the first time since the second world war later this week. Dimitrov’s last tournament was at the Acapulco Open in Mexico, where he reached the semi-finals before losing in straight sets to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

“Tennis is a microscopic thing in the world right now. The ATP supervisors I’ve talked to in recent days have a variety of theories, but for the time being, we can really only guess if we’re being honest.” Tenniskafe quoted Dimitrov as saying during an interview with bTV.
“The tournaments are cancelled, but we have a big luxury in tennis – there is always next week. Yes, it is very difficult right now, you have seen the Olympics cancelled. The only thing that is at the forefront is to go through this situation we are in, and then start rebuilding. “

The world No.19 is currently residing in California during the lockdown. Describing the situation where he is as ‘more casual’ compared to other parts of the world. California is where the Indian Wells tennis tournament was set to take place earlier this month before it was cancelled.

“In my opinion all federations and players, no matter what rank they are, must come together and make a general decision. Because it’s really not easy at the moment to talk to everyone about points, tournaments, competitions … But now other things are really more important – to be safe, to be healthy and to go through this thing.” He said.

During the suspension, the 28-year-old is keeping himself busy in other ways. Recently he has signed up for an online course with Harvard Business School. Becoming the latest of a series of players to do so. He also manages to keep in touch with his fellow rivals on the tour thanks to the world of social media.

“One of the first players I wrote to was Fabio (Fognini) because he was in Italy. Everyone is on Instagram, we know everyone what they do every minute.”

When the restrictions related to the pandemic comes to an end, Dimitrov has vowed to return back to Europe as he outlines the first thing he would do.

“I just want to go back to Europe. Whether it will be in Bulgaria or in Monaco – I do not know. I certainly want to go home, gather all my relatives and just spend time together. I’ve been in the US for over a month now. As things currently look, there will certainly be another two months. Hopefully it will be faster, but I just want to go home and be with my loved ones.” He concluded.

In the fight against Covid-19 in his home country, Dimitrov has made a donation to a hospital in Haskovo. The city where he was born.

Dimitrov has started the 2020 season with a win-loss record of 7-5. Besides his run to the semifinals in Acapulco, he also reached the second round at the Australian Open and Rotterdam. He has been ranked as high as third in the world.

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Tennis Could Be Suspended For ‘A Long Time,’ Warns Millman

The top 50 player isn’t expecting to play on the tour anytime soon.

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Australian player John Millman has indicated that he believes the current suspension of the ATP Tour is all but certain to be extended in the coming weeks.

 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, both the ATP and WTA Tour have been suspended until at least June 8th. Although those in change of both of those governing bodies have previously admitted they are uncertain as to when play will resume. ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has said that ‘it is unknown at this time’ as to when men’s tournaments will resume. Meanwhile, Steve Simon has echoed a similar view during an interview with The Tennis Channel.

Speaking about the current situation, world No.43 Millman said the sport is in a difficult situation due to its global reach with both tournaments and players based around the world. For example the Australian started his season by playing four tournaments in four different countries across three continents within five weeks.

“We’re going to have to be pretty unified in terms of our recovery process before the tour can resume,” Millman told The Age.
“Maybe the tournament location has got the COVID-19 situation under wraps and then manage to contain it, but if someone’s flying in from South America, say, and their country hasn’t got a hold of it, then the tournament can’t (go ahead).
“You can’t have the tournament going when only certain players can get there. I think that’s
where the problems lie.”

The 30-year-old didn’t speculate as to when he and his rivals will be returning to the court, but believes it could be a while. During the coming week the fate of Wimbledon will be decided at an emergency meeting. The All England Club is pondering the motion of cancelling this year’s tournament. A move that has never been taken during peacetime. Wimbledon has been scrapped a total of 10 times during the first and second world wars.

“It’s almost like we have to have a vaccine or the virus has to run its course before there’ll be any let-up there.” Millman commented.

Besides trying to maintain fitness, many players like Millman are in a difficult situation financially due to a lack of income. He has managed to earn $290,705 on the tour this year before the suspension. This is the 44th highest total on the men’s tour. In total, 131 players have surpassed the $100,000 mark. Although the earnings don’t take into account travel costs, coaching, accommodation and so on.

“I just can’t see us playing tennis for a long time and now it’s a matter of trying to stay (the) fight, trying to scrape by a little bit while not much is coming in,” he said.
“You’re used to a bit of money coming in and obviously that’s not the case anymore. Yeah, it’s tough. It’s just not easy. You try and make do.
“But I don’t want to be a sob story, that’s for sure, because I know Australians are doing it a lot tougher than me.”

Millman reached the third round of the Australian Open earlier this year before losing to Roger Federer in a five-set thriller.

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Jamie Murray Speaks Out On Wimbledon Dilemma

The two-time mixed doubles champion shares his thoughts about the current situation and the problems that could arise.

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Former world No.1 doubles player Jamie Murray says he is unsure how much longer Wimbledon can be delayed this season ahead of a crucial meeting on its future next week.

 

The All England Club is set to hold an emergency meeting to make a final decision as to what to do with this year’s tournament. Including the possibility of cancelling the event for the first time since 1945. The tennis calendar has been brought to a standstill due to the covid-19 pandemic. There have been more than 500,000 cases of Coronavirus worldwide, according to John Hopkins University.

Speaking about Wimbledon’s potential decision during an interview with BBC Scotland’s The Nine, Murray admits that organisers face a difficult decision. Saying it would pose as a big challenge for them to reschedule the event. Both the ATP and WTA are currently reviewing their calendars with the French Open now taking place a week after the US Open.

“I don’t know how long they could push it back,” said Murray.
“They’re desperate to have their event on, it’s still over three months away and a lot can change in that time,” he added.

Murray has featured in the doubles main draw at Wimbledon every year since his debut back in 2006. He has won the Mixed doubles trophy twice in 2007 (with Jelena Jankovic) and 2017 (with Martina Hingis). The 34-year-old currently has a doubles ranking of 34th.

“For them, optics don’t necessarily look great, I guess, if there’s sporting events all over the world getting cancelled and they’re trying to crack on with things.” He commented on the scheduling difficulties.
“There’s a lot of other stakeholders, a lot of other tournaments to consider. Even things like daylight for the tournament. Once the tournament gets put back, there’s less and less daylight. When you play at Wimbledon normally, you can play until 10 at night.”

The UK is currently in a lockdown with members of the public only allowed to leave their houses for specific reasons. Furthermore, 1.5 million people have been advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks. The government is hopeful that they can flatten the spread of the disease within this period, which is extremely close to the Wimbledon start date.

According to AFP News, any decision to scrap this year’s tournament is likely to have a massive financial impact. Between 2017-2018 Wimbledon made an estimated pre-tax profit of $52 million with over 90% of that invested back into British tennis. Furthermore, the BBC could also suffer a big blow. It is reported that the broadcaster pays in the region of $72 million for the TV rights.

It is unclear as to what day the decision will be made next week. Since its creation in 1877, Wimbledon has been cancelled a total of 10 times before. All of which happened during the first world war (1915-1918) and second (1940-1945). The event has never been delayed or scrapped during peacetime.

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