Noventi Becomes Title Sponsor Of Gerry Weber Open - UBITENNIS
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Noventi Becomes Title Sponsor Of Gerry Weber Open

A lead-in for Wimbledon, for twenty-six years, the Gerry Weber Open offered
participants and fans grass court tennis at its finest. The tournament will survive
after a few hiccups had nearly squelched it, thanks to the intervention of Noventi.
Read what Mark Winters and Cheryl Jones have to say about the fabled event now
to be known as the Noventi Open.

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Mark Winters and Cheryl Jones

It seems like just yesterday, but in truth it was long ago…

 

On June 8th, I learned that Noventi had become the title sponsor of the Gerry
Weber Open. The announcement left me with the feeling that a dear friend had
passed. My relationship with the ATP Men’s 500 event, played in Halle, Germany,
as well as that of my wife, Cheryl Jones, who is also a tennis journalist, has always
been, well, to say it simply, matchless. Year after year, (save just a few when the
New York Times sent journalists), we have been the only American writers to
cover the championships.

Tennis history buffs known that the first Gerry Weber Open was played in 1993.
But few aficionados are aware that there are actually three towns called Halle, in
Germany. The tennis Halle, Westfalen to be specific, is a small speck on the map,
in the middle of a rolling countryside that is like an Impressionist’s painting of
agricultural fields and seemingly, yet to be explored forests.

The nearest city of name is Bielefeld. It sets its self apart because though it is
quaint, like Halle, it is bigger. Bigger buildings, more shops and a much bigger
population of over 333,000 compared to a hair more than 20,000 in Halle.

At the 1992 ATP World Championships, I learned that the following year Gerhard
(Gerry) Weber planned to stage a grass court tournament – in Germany, the week
after Roland Garros. To borrow a British colloquialism – I was “gobmacked.”

Why would anyone have the audacity to go up against “an institution” as Queen’s
seemed to be, which was the only “Lead Up” to Wimbledon at the time?

Weber, a trend setting clothing manufacturer for whom the tournament is named,
and his partner, Udo Hardieck took a big chance. Many in the tennis community
believed it was a risk that was similar to panning for gold and finding only gravel.
But, as it turned out, true gold was discovered.

After the inaugural year, in which rain plagued play, the Gerry Weber Stadion, (the
center court), made a startling change. A retractable roof that could be closed in a scant 90 seconds was added. In 1994, the tournament became the first tennis event
not forced to contend with those spring rains that makes the theme of tennis played
in Europe a reprise of “Raindrops keep falling on my head…”

Grass court maintenance requires genius. Annually, Phil Thorn lives up to the
sobriquet. Having learned the “ins and outs” of growing those lawns from his
father, Jim, who was responsible for the grass at Wimbledon for ages. The younger
Thorn has proudly maintained the family tradition. He has developed a superior
grass seed mix that withstands the rigors of closed roof play. He also developed a
palate system on which the grass is grown that is much more than an advanced
scientific marvel and it is remarkable.

To fill the Gerry Weber Stadion surface, four hundred palates are used. When dry,
they weigh around 800 kilos (1764 pounds). Damp, they are almost an American
ton – 2000 pounds.

Over the years, a “Who’s Who” collection of name players have populate the
tournament. But, simply put – Roger Federer is the Gerry Weber Open story. He is
a nine-time champion and has a life-time contract with the event. For the
tournament, that guarantees his annual appearance, and it has been money well
spent.

Unfortunately, Gerry Weber AG has not done well during the past decade. When
the owner was at the top of his game, his company’s fashion designs were eye-
catching and appealing to those looking for affordable couture. Cash filled the
coffers and Gerry Weber AG bought a collections of companies that had sizeable
debt. In recent years, rumors of shaky finances began to be heard, and at the same
time, Weber’s health took a turn. All of these circumstances combined to stagger
an established institution and led to its final financial collapse.

The tremors shook the Halle community to its core. The Gerry Weber Open was
long known as “The People’s Tournament”. It was a real family affair and locals
sacrificed vacation time to volunteer for the event. It was part of their souls and
their care provided an unrivaled “feel” for what took place for twenty-six years.
Cheryl and I have experienced the growth that took place from the beginning and
we have rich recollections, enough to make a very readable book, actually.

We are hopeful that the Halle event will flourish and will add a significant new
chapter, (an amendment, actually), to the passing of the Gerry Weber Open mantle
to an equally motivated Noventi.

ATP

Diego Schwartzman Receives Threats On Social Media Following Shock Davis Cup Defeat

The world No.15 is the latest player to speak out about recieving abusive messages on social media.

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The weekend has been an emotional rollercoaster for Diego Schwartzman, who suffered ‘one of the worst’ losses of his career before helping secure victory for his country in their Davis Cup tie against Belarus.

 

On Saturday the world No.15 was stunned by unranked 18-year-old Daniil Ostapenkov who is yet to play a professional match on the pro Tour. Ostapenkov is currently ranked 63 in the world on the junior circuit. The comprehensive victory shocked the Argentinian team who was hosting the tie at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.

Despite the shock upset, Schwartman managed to redeem himself the following day when he defeated Alexander Zgirovsky 6-1, 6-2. That victory handed his country an unassailable 3-1 lead in their tie and secured their place in the 2022 Davis Cup qualifiers which will take place next March.

Not only playing Davis, but in Buenos Aires, with a lot of people you don’t see, it’s not easy. My level can be and has to be much better. After the game on Saturday I had a difficult day in the spirit of being able to get up and enjoy with the group,” La Nacion quoted Schwartzman as saying.
“The most normal thing was that we won the series. It’s what everyone expected. But when you have a very difficult day at work like it was on Saturday and then you win, it excites you because you have some internal things withheld.”

Between those two matches, Schwartzman revealed that he was trolled on social media by some people unhappy about his loss in the tie. The 2020 French Open semi-finalist said he received criticism and even threats from some asking him to leave his home country. Something he admits affected him at times.

“It was one of the worst days of my career,” Schwartzman commented on his loss to Zgirovsky. “I lost to an unranked, inexperienced player. All that already affects (me) a lot. Although 80 or 90 percent of the people are always encouraging (me), there was a minority who criticized me with bad intentions.’
“I received threats, insults and requests not to return to Argentina. More or less, it affects (me)”.

Schwartzman is not the first player to speak out about online abuse. During the US Open Shelby Rogers said she was expecting to receive ‘death threats’ following her loss to Emma Raducanu who went on to win the title. Sloane Stephens has also previously spoken out about being the victim of racism online.

The 29-year-old says he has previously tried to interact with those who have trolled him on social media to find out why they are doing so.

Sometimes I start to answer some messages and I ask those people if they realize what they are sending,” Schwartzman said during his press conference. “The vast majority apologize and say they had not realized it. But at the moment it hurts. That very ill-intentioned criticism is the only bad thing about social networks.”

Schwartzman has won four ATP titles and earned more than $10M in prize money so far in his career.

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Spanish Veteran Feliciano Lopez Addresses Future On The Tour

23 years after he played his first main draw match on the ATP Tour, Lopez says his longevity in the sport has been achieved with the help of of some luck.

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Feliciano Lopez of Spain is pictured during the semi-final of ATP Fever-Tree Championships tennis tournament at Queen's Club in west London on June 20, 2019.

Feliciano Lopez has dismissed any speculation that he could retire in the coming weeks after saying he is taking life on the Tour in his stride.

 

The 39-year-old Spaniard is currently the second oldest player in the world’s top 200 after Roger Federer, who is a year older than him. Lopez made his ATP Tour debut at the 1998 Barcelona Open which was before the birth of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. In June he became the 10th active player to record his 500th win on the Tour.

Currently ranked 111th in the world, some are starting to wonder how much longer Lopez will continue playing. So far this season he has achieved a win-loss record of 9-19 with his best performance being a run to the quarter-finals of the Mallorca Open which was held on the grass. It was in Mallorca where he defeated Karen Khachanov who is the only top 30 player he has beaten so far in 2021.

I play year-by-year, the last 6-7 years have been like this, a tennis player at that age cannot think about extending his career. After turning 30 I have been lucky, I have obtained the best results of my career,” Lopez told reporters on Friday.
It is not very common for players my age, at (almost) 40 years to continue playing in the best tournaments.” He added.

Throughout his career, Lopez has impressively played in a record 78 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments dating back to the 2002 French Open. During that period he has reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament on four occasions.

“I don’t play to break records, what makes me most excited is to continue playing Grand Slams. For me, maintaining that record (78 consecutive Grand Slams played) is very nice, but more to follow. Being competitive,” he commented on the milestone.
“It is difficult for someone to overcome it because it is 20 years in a row without missing a great one. I have had continuity and enormous luck. Those of my generation are practically all retired.”

Away from the court, the former world No.12 is the current tournament director of the Madrid Open. Making him one of a few players historically to both be playing on the Tour and managing a tournament at the same time. Recently it was confirmed that Madrid will continue hosting it’s combined event until at least 2030 following a renewed agreement between the city council and the Madrid trophy promotion.

Lopez has won a total of seven ATP titles so far in his career and has earned more than $18M in prize money.

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ATP Moves Closer To Staging Five More 12-Day Masters 1000 Events After Board Approval

Changes are coming to the men’s Tour which includes a brand new ‘profit-sharing formular’ for players.

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Masters tournaments in North America, Europe and Asia are set to be expanded over the coming months after the ATP Board recently approved some ‘key aspects’ of their strategic plan.

 

In a letter issued to players, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said an agreement has been reached concerning a variety of topics, which include the expansion of various Masters 1000 events. It is understood that the plan is for Rome, Madrid, Canada, Cincinnati and Shanghai to be increased to 12-day events instead of just one week. Putting them more in line with Indian Wells and Miami. Tennis.com reports that under the new structure, ATP 250 events will also take place during the second week of those tournaments and they could receive a subsidy from the ATP Tour, provided by extra fees paid by the Masters tournaments.

Masters 1000 events are the third highest-ranked category events in men’s tennis after Grand Slams and the ATP Finals in terms of prize money and ranking points on offer. The series was first introduced back in 1990 but it wasn’t until 2009 that the name ‘Masters 1000’ was born. The number represents how many ranking points the winner receives.

Besides the proposed changes to the Masters series, the Board has also given a green light to “a new Profit-Sharing formula” and “long-term prize money levels.” The prize money increase is reportedly said to be 2.5 percent of a base level, plus a bonus pool with a 50 percent share of the collective profit of the Masters events.

“This represents significant progress for our sport and the way our player and tournament members operate under the equal partnership of the ATP Tour. It is only through the spirit of this partnership, transparency, and alignment of interests that we can truly maximise your potential and switch our focus to the competition we face in the border sports and entertainment landscape,” Gaudenzi wrote in his letter to players.

Part of the plan also include making changes to ATP Media, who are in charge of broadcasting the events. At present it is currently jointly owned by the Tour and each of the Masters 1000 events. However, in the future it has been proposed that those tournaments trade in their ownership rights for shares in ATP media. Exact details about this process have not been publicly disclosed and it is unclear if all of the tournaments would agree to such a move.

The ATP also wants to create a ‘Tennis Data Innovations’ which will be an independent entity.

All of these proposed changes are still subject to further agreement around additional matters. The ATP have been working on details of their strategic plan for the past 18 months.

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