PRESS RELEASE: Journalist Associations Back Ubitennis Over Controversial Removal Of Credentials In Rome - UBITENNIS
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PRESS RELEASE: Journalist Associations Back Ubitennis Over Controversial Removal Of Credentials In Rome

I am writing from Paris where I am covering the French Open and I would like to give you some update about the episode I have been involved in during the last Italian Open.

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Roma 2019 (foto via Twitter, @InteBNLdItalia)

The French Open is in full swing and the singles draws have reached the Round of 16 stage, but I wanted to take a few minutes to update you on the developments of the ‘incident’ started with the withdrawal of my credentials in Rome.

 

It has taken some time to put together this conjoint press release because, even if a very reputable publications like “Articolo 21” (usually aligned with the position of the Federal Association of the Italian Press FNSI) strongly criticized the episode, it is never easy to coordinate so many associations, presidents, vice-presidents, etc…, and it is important that every party involved expresses the same concepts in the same way.

PRESS RELEASE

All journalists associations in Italy find outrageous the decision by the organizing committee of the Italian Open of tennis to withdraw press credentials to our colleague Ubaldo Scanagatta, long-time sports writer and an internationally-renowned tennis expert.

The Federal Association of the Italian Press (FNSI), the Italian Union of Sports Press (USSI) and the Press Association of Tuscany (AST) together with the Group of Sports Journalists of Tuscany and the Council of the Professional Association of Journalists consider unacceptable this harassing attitude, especially for the reasons that allegedly justified this measure: Scanagatta should have provided journalistic coverage of the event exclusively for the media outlet that requested accreditation for him. This reason is unacceptable, especially considering how in this day and age there is a multitude of freelance journalists who need to work for several different media outlets just to earn enough to support themselves. This need is universally recognized: in the “Media Accreditation Policy” for the French Open of tennis, for example, it is explicitly stated that credentials are issued to each journalist to cover the event “whether on her/his own account, on behalf of an employer, or on behalf of any company [i.e. “any companies” as more explicitly stated in the French language version of the document: “pour le compte d’un employeur, ou le compte de toute(s) société(s)”] whom the journalist, photographer or technician is working with in relation to her/his activity, in whatever form, in respect of the Tournament”.

All press associations are invoking the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) as well as all sports federations and recommend that episodes like this one do not happen again, in any venue, in any stadium. It is worth reminding how credentials are not a privilege granted to journalists but a mere instrument needed by them to perform their role, which is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Italian Constitution that protects freedom of expression, underlining how “press shall not be subject to censorship or authorizations” and stressing that free press includes also the right of access to information without limitations.

I believe it is important this press release has eventually been issued. As you can read, the positions of all organizations involved are very firm, concerning both what happened in the past and what should happen in the future.

Since I am a… hot-blooded Tuscan old man who is never satisfied, I would have loved to see a mention of the absurd and unacceptable episode of the security agents instructed to escort me during the whole day on Saturday, while I was in the press room and I was being followed even while going to the bathroom. And even more absurdly, on the following day – on Sunday, during the Nadal-Djokovic final – when, entering the “grounds” of the tournament with an ordinary ticket having my credentials been withdrawn, I was being followed all over the venue by other security agents, as if I was some kind of criminal. I think it’s out of this world, and it could be worth a legal action… so that the people who ordered and executed the absurd (I would like to use much more colorful words, but you ought to be careful with that kind of people) removal of my credentials.

However, taking legal action on a principle, like in this case, is usually a big sort of stress, and significant expenses, for the plaintiff, while a defendant like FIT (the Italian Tennis Federation) remains relatively unscathed even if found guilty, since they can rely on large financial resources. It has happened already, on several occasion, I know this first hand.

I don’t know whether this is the end of the road or there will be further developments. At the very least it should be reminded to the person who signed that pitiful letter used as a pretext for the actions against me that journalistic ethics should prevent a journalist from doing something like that to a colleague, not even if he were ordered by the President himself.

I would also like to explain our readers how the time elapsed between the events in question and the issue of a conjoint press release by the various press associations was legally required to wait for a formal reply by FIT, that had been contacted by USSI. However the FIT did not deign to respond.

That didn’t surprise me. Probably they didn’t know what to say… without consulting with a lawyer first, a lawyer they may eventually need after all.

This press release will be forwarded to various organizations in tennis: ATP, WTA, ITF, and the International Tennis Writers Association. I can tell you that everyone has expressed their support here in Paris: other Italian journalists, international reporters, even some players.

I want to thank from the bottom of my heart those 1,000 or so readers and friends (some closer than others) who wrote to me at direttaubitennis@gmail.com, on Facebook and Twitter, and to my personal email address. I felt them close to me, I was sincerely pleased, especially because many people who hardly ever post comments on the site, some who didn’t even know how to post a comment, took time to show their solidarity. My passion and dedication to this profession is fostered also by your support, which I truly appreciate, even if you do not share or approve my positions on many other topics. This pushes me to continue along the path I have decided to take.Open Sus

Links to articles (in Italian)

 

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Jannik Sinner beats Antoine Hoang to reach the final in Ortisei

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Last week’s Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner beat Frenchman Antoine Hoang 6-3 7-6 (7-4) to reach the final at the ATP Challenger in Ortisei.

 

Sinner won the first set 6-3 with his only break in the fourth game. The Italian 18-year player went down a break to trail 1-4 in the second set, but he won three consecutive games to draw level to 4-4. Hoang earned three set points in the 12th game on Sinner’s serve, but he did not convert them. Sinner won the tie-break 7-4 with his only mini-break. Sinner is projected to improve his best ranking to world number 83 and could reach the 78th place, if he wins the Ortisei title in front of his fans.

Sinner will face Austria’s Sebastian Ofner, who beat Luca Vanni 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-3). Vanni did not face any break points but he was not able to convert eight break points, including five set points in the second set.

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Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut set up doubles final against Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus at the ATP Finals

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Raven Klaasen from South Africa and Michael Venus from New Zealand battled past top-seeded players Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (12-10) 10-6 after 2 hours and 9 minutes to secure their spot in the doubles title match at the ATP Finals at the ATP Finals in London. Klaasen and Venus came back from 0-4 down and fended off two match points in the tie-break of the second set.

 

Farah and Cabal earned the first break of the match at 5-5 in the first set, when Klaasen hit a backhand volley into the net. Klaasen broke straight back at 30 in the next game to set up a tie-break. Klaasen and Venus took a 5-4 lead in the tie-break. Farah missed a forehand on Farah’s serve in the next point. Farah hit a backhand return down the line on the first set point at 6-5.

Klaasen fended off a deciding point at 1-2 in the second set. Klaasen and Venus came back from 0-4 in the tie-break of the second set by winning six of the next eight points. Cabal and Farah earned two match points in the tie-break. They did not convert their first chance at 6-7 when Venus hit a forehand volley winner. Cabal hit a forehand return down the line into the net on the second match point. Klaasen and Venus earned their fourth set point of the tie-break, when Klaasen made a double fault at 10-10 and converted it when Farah hit a forehand wide.

Klaasen and Venus reeled the first point of the Match Tie-Break and sealed their 35th win of the season, when Venus hit a smash winner.

Klaasen and Venus set up a final against Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, who beat 2017 finalists Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-3 7-6 (7-4) reaching their third final this year.

Herbert and Mahut did not convert their first break point, but they clinched their second chance in the sixth game to claim the opening set 6-3. Kubot and Melo got the break to take a 4-3 lead but they were not able to hold on their serve. Herbert and Mahut broke back in the eighth game to force a tie-break. The French specialists converted their second match point to secure their spot in the final.

Herbert and Mahut are bidding to win the first French team to win the ATP Finals title since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro’s title in Shanghai in 2005. In last year’s ATP Finals title match Herbert and Mahut finished runner-up to Mike Bryan and Jack Sock.

Herbert and Mahut have not lost a set in the four matches they played this week.

“It is going to be a tough battle. Klaasen and Venus played amazing in the group stage and they did a really good match today, winning the important points. It’s going to be a tough final, but we are going to try our best and give everything”, said Herbert.

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Tomas Berdych: It Is Up To Others To Decide My Legacy

The former top-10 player spoke with reporters for the first time since officially retiring from the sport

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Tomer Berdych (far left) among group of recently retired player's attending special presentation at The 2019 ATP Finals

LONDON: Tomas Berdych has said his future plans is ‘to not have a plan’ after officially retiring from tennis on Saturday at the age of 34.

 

The former Wimbledon runner-up joined a series of other former players to celebrate their careers in a special on-court presentation at the ATP Finals. Also present was Radek Stepanek and David Ferrer. News of Berdych’s decision to walk away from the sport surfaced earlier this week after a Czech newspaper spoke with his father Martin.

Speculation has mounted in recent months about Berdych’s future in the sport after struggles with injury issues concerning his back and hip. He hasn’t played on the tour since the US Open. Overall, he has only managed to play 22 matches this season. Winning 13 of them.

“I was able to train, practice, prepare, and then you get to the tournament, and then I play three games, the problem came back.” Berdych explained during a press conference about his decision.
“You put all the negative stuff on the one side, and then the positive is to go on court, fight, win the match, and there was no chance to achieve that. There is really no point to continue.”

Playing in the shadows on the Big Four contingent, the Czech still managed to establish himself as a household name. Albeit on a smaller scale. As of this week, he is ranked as the 11th highest-earning player on the ATP Tour in history with more than $29 million in prize money. His achievements include winning 13 ATP titles and spending 794 consecutive weeks in the top 100. At his peak, he was fourth in the world rankings and finished seven seasons inside the top 10.

Like any other player, it hasn’t always been a smooth journey for Berdych. One example was during the 2012 Australian Open where he was booed off the court after defeating Nicolas Almagro during what was a bad-tempered encounter. However, fortunately, most of his career has been free from controversy.

“Do I have any regrets? No, I think even the bad things or the negative experience that I went through or I experienced or I have done, I think they were there for the reason. I think without them, I wouldn’t be as good as I was.” Berdych stated.
“I think even the bad ones were there for a reason.”

Now he has stepped away from the sport for good, what does the future have in store? According to the Czech, he is in no intention of rushing into anything else soon. Although he admits that it may not be tennis-related.

“The plan is actually not to have any plans. The last 15, 20 years was so hectic and so demanding that I just need to just to breathe out easily after all those years.”

As the chapter closes on the career of one of the Czech Republic’s most successful male players in the Open Era, he leaves the sport with high respect from both his fans and fellow rivals. As for his legacy, he says that it is not for him to decide.

“I think I’m not the correct one to judge that. I was trying to do the best I possibly can, and I think this is something that you created with your achievement and with your behavior.” He concludes.

Berdych’s career in numbers

2 – number of Davis Cup titles won
4 – highest ATP ranking achieved
13– number of ATP titles
53 – number of wins over top 10 players
342 – number of losses on the ATP Tour
640 – number of wins on the ATP Tour
2002 – the year he turned pro
2019 – the year he retired
29,491,328 – career prize money (in US dollars)

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