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The Future Is Bright…

The Gerry Weber Open was until it wasn’t any longer, then Noventi stepped in….

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By Mark Winters

 

For twenty-six years, the Gerry Weber Open was one of the foremost grass court tournaments in the world. It is played two weeks before The Championships, as Wimbledon is known, and it put Halle, Germany on the tennis map. It has epitomized a small town’s commitment to the game, and has, justifiably, earned the nickname “The People’s Tournament”. Because of  the local attitude, almost everyone in region has sacrificed in order to make the ATP 500 a significant tennis championships.

That was then, and this is now…

On June 7, the Noventi Group, a company which provides a variety of health care services, stepped in to rescue Halle, as the GWO is known. Noventi, taking a page from its health care proforma, offered needed financial resuscitation.

Having covered Halle since its inception, I have a fondness for the tournament, (as does my wife, Cheryl Jones, who is a regular Ubitennis contributor). In 1993, when Gerry Weber, the millionaire clothing manufacturer turned tournament sponsor, and his partner Udo Hardieck decided to stage a grass court tournament in Germany as preparation for Wimbledon, it seemed to be a very risky move. As things turned out, it was a decision that defined why the duo, Weber and Hardieck, were such successful businessmen.

But they didn’t do it alone. They were assisted by the “must visit” travel poster-like location of the tournament. The quaint setting is lights-out different from the crushing congestion that exists at the Fever Tree Open (formerly Queen’s), which takes place in London at the same time. The serenity found in the Westfalen countryside is special. Its appeal has been added to by the number of “name players” who regularly performed at the event. Topping the list is Roger Federer. After winning Halle for the tenth time today, it would seem appropriate , in time, to name the championships in his honor. Federer’s dominance aside, the June week on grass in Germany has, justifiably, earned praised from players and tennis fans, alike.

The transition from the Gerry Weber Open to the Noventi Open made a number of  impressions. Here are a few thoughts:

Perhaps, after spending twenty-six years, under the same title banner, the Noventi Open just didn’t seem to have the same “ring”…

Walking around the site, it was almost as if those working at tournament were “anxious”, waiting to see what would take place…

Though one could not “see it or  taste it”, there seemed to be a different “feel”…

One thing was very perceivable – Prices – had risen. It didn’t matter if it was tickets, pretzels or charming “take one home” teddy bears, there was an increase. (As an example, pretzels, which used to be three for five Euros were three for six Euros, fifty. Parked, or so it seemed, for years, teddy bears jumped from ten Euros to twelve. While on the subject of parking, the cost of leaving one’s car in one of the tournament’s lot was also “bumped” up.)

But, it would probably be more accurate to say the increases were simply the result of doing business in 2019…

As a result of Phil Thorn’s craftmanship, the courts played very true. There was nary a bad bounce. Once again, he lived up to the title –  “Keeper of the Lawns” (a position he has held since the beginning of the tournament)…

For some time, the Noventi Group had been looking for a business involvement that would provide a sensible way to expand its healthcare focus. When the company learned that the Gerry Weber Open was searching for a title sponsor, a new platform was found.

Michael Silvio Kusche, CMO Marketing at Noventi said, the company was really fascinated by the tournament, sometimes even speechless about the quality of the event.  They had been looking for quite a while  for a tennis event they could support. The background has two aspects: making the name Noventi known in Germany and coming next – promoting the App “callmyApo” where the public can order medicine and drugs online.

Studies have conclusively proven that those who play the game recreationally on a regular basis have longer lives. Becoming immersed in the “The Sport of a Lifetime” is a savvy move for Noventi.

From all indications, the new partnership was a success. This year, more spectators attended the tournament than ever before. More important, they were not on hand to see “only the names.” The Stadion, as well as Courts 1 and 2, were filled whenever  a match took place. This was a first and a wonderful prelude for 2020.

True, this was the first year of  the NO replacing the GWO, but “The Future Is Bright…”

 

 

ATP

ATP Newport Draw: Last Chapter Of Grass Season

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After Wimbledon, the grass court season moves to Newport (Rhode Island, USA), for the historic tournament taking place at the International Tennis Hall Of Fame. 

 

The Newport’s grass tennis courts have hosted the legends of the sport since 1881, when the first U.S. National Lawn Tennis Championship was played.  The Hall Of Fame Open, an ATP 250 event, has been part of the calendar since 1976; Vijay Amritraj, Greg Rusedski, Taylor Dent, Mark Philippoussis and Lleyton Hewitt are some of the past singles champions.

Because of its location and its low-bouncing courts, Newport is not an ordinary tournament: unlike the other grass tournaments, it still suits the old-school game well, as some of the recent winners witness (Rajeev Ram, Ivo Karlovic, Nicolas Mahut). The atypical conditions of play also supported some surprising runs to the final of low-ranked players, like those of Leander Paes (1998), Prakash Amritraj (2008), Matthew Ebden (2017) and Ramkumar Ramanathan (2018).

Three-time champion John Isner is the top seed, USA’s Steve Johnson is the defending champion, while the runner-up is the serve and volley specialist Ramkumar Ramanathan, who will start his run from qualifying. Adrian Mannarino, Ugo Humbert, Mischa Zverev and Sergiy Stakhovsky will compete as well.

 

ATP NEWPORT (USA, RI, Grass), main draw:
Isner, John [1 WC, USA] bye
Gray, Alastair (WC, GBR) vs Majchrzak, Kamil (POL)
Ebden, Matthew (AUS) vs Schnur, Brayden (CAN)
Kudla, Denis (USA) vs Klahn, Bradley [8, USA]
Humbert, Ugo [4, FRA] bye
Qualifier vs Stakhovsky, Sergiy (UKR)
Tomic, Bernard (AUS) vs Ivashka, Ilya (BLR)
Eubanks, Christopher (WC, USA) vs Johnson, Steve [5, USA]
Karlovic, Ivo [6, CRO] vs Andreozzi, Guido (ARG)
Zverev, Mischa (GER) vs Qualifier
Granollers, Marcel (ESP) vs Gunneswaran, Prajnesh (IND)
Thompson, Jordan [3, AUS] bye
Bublik, Alexander [7, UZB] vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs Jung, Jason (TPE)
Istomin, Denis (UZB) vs Sandgren, Tennys (USA)
Mannarino, Adrian [2, FRA] bye

 

ATP NEWPORT (RI, USA, Grass), qualifying draw:
Fratangelo, Bjorn [1, USA] vs Kwiatkowski, Thai-Son (USA)
Poling, Karl (WC, USA) vs Troicki, Viktor [6, SRB]
Bolt, Alex [2, AUS] vs Karlovskiy, Evgeny (RUS)
Weintraub, Amir (ISR) vs Rubin, Noah [7, USA]
Ramanathan, Ramkumar [3, IND] vs Cressy, Maxime (WC, USA)
Sugita, Yuichi (JPN) vs Halys, Quentin [5, FRA]
Ito, Tatsuma [4, JPN] vs Smith, John-Patrick (AUS)
Smyczek, Tim (USA) vs Krueger, Mitchell [8, USA]

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Novak Djokovic Ready To Face Federer And The Tricky Wimbledon Crowd

The world No.1 is prepared to take part in two fights on Sunday.

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WIMBLEDON: A player with a record 20 grand slam titles to his name is something Novak Djokovic admires, but he is by no means scared of him.

 

The world No.1 will face Roger Federer on Sunday for a chance to win his fifth Wimbledon title and second in a row. It will be the first time the two have clashed this season. In 2018 Djokovic won both of their meetings, which took place on a hard court. On the grass, they have already locked horns at Wimbledon on three previous occasions with the Serbian winning their two most recent matches in 2014 and 2015.

“We all know how good he is anywhere, but especially here (in Wimbledon).” Said Djokovic.
“This surface complements his game very much. He loves to play very fast. Takes away the time from his opponent. Just doesn’t give you any same looks. He just rushes you to everything.’
“So for players, maybe like Nadal or myself that like to have a little more time, it’s a constant pressure that you have to deal with.”

Djokovic has reached the final in four out of the past five grand slam tournaments. The only player to have defeated him so far within that time period was Dominic Thiem at the French Open. An impressive resume for the 32-year-old who currently has 15 major trophies to his name.

Sunday’s final will be the 48th time the two have faced each other on the tour with Djokovic winning 25 of those. Speaking about their rivalry following his win over Rafael Nadal, Federer said he was ‘excited’ for the showdown. The Swiss could achieve two milestones if he wins the Wimbledon title. He would become the first man in history to win the tournament for a ninth time and it will return him back to No.2 in the world rankings.

“I’m excited about the game against Novak.” He previewed. “We’ve played each other so, so much. I don’t mind that, I think it’s more of a clear game plan. Especially we had a great match against each other in Paris (2018 Bercy Masters) recently. I hope we can back it up from there.”

It remains to be seen how the reception will be for Djokovic. During his semi-final match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, it appeared at times that there was more support for the underdog. Something that isn’t too unusual when it comes to the world of sport. Although he does have a mixed experience when it comes to the crowd. In 2018 he said he ‘didn’t deserve to be treated’ the way he was during his clash with home player Kyle Edmund. An encounter marred by a bad call that cost him a break, before he went on to win.

Some may perceive the final as a battle of which player is the most popular at The All England Club. An intriguing idea, but not one Djokovic has any time for.

“I’m going to go out there and fight and give it all. It’s finals of Wimbledon. This is the kind of a match that I always dreamt of as a young boy with the tennis racquet, dreamt of being part of. This is what I worked for. I wanted to be in this position.” He stated.
“I have a chance to fight for a trophy. Regardless of who’s across the net or what is happening around, I’ll definitely give it all.”
“I’ve played with Roger in some epic finals here a couple of years in a row, so I know what to expect,” Djokovic added.

Since 2015, Djokovic has won eight out of the 10 grand slam finals he has contested. His only loss to Federer in a major final was at the 2007 US Open final.

The Wimbledon final will get underway at 14:00 GMT on Sunday.

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Roger Federer Topples Nadal In First Wimbledon Meeting For Over A Decade To Reach Final

The 37-year-old now has a shot of becoming the first man in history to win the Wimbledon title for a ninth time on Sunday.

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WIMBLEDON: Roger Federer is through to his 12th Wimbledon final after downing Spanish nemesis Rafael Nadal 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, in their semi-final showdown on Friday.

 

11 years have passed since the two giants of the sport last clashed on the grass. On that occasion, it was Nadal who prevailed in the Wimbledon final after coming through a five-set marathon. This time around it was Federer who came out on top during the roller-coaster encounter. Blasting 14 aces and 51 winners past the world No.2. Crucially saving six out of the eight break points he faced.

“I’m exhausted. It was tough at the end, Rafa played some unbelievable shots to stay in the match and I thought the match was played at a high level.” Federer told BBC TV.
“I enjoyed it, the crowd was amazing. The battles with Rafa are always special.”

It was a serving masterclass from both players that kick-off their 40th meeting on the tour. During the opening 12 games of the match, the only break point opportunity to occur was for Federer during the eighth game. However, he failed to convert after Nadal prevailed during a gut-busting 22-shot exchange between the two.

It would be a tiebreak that would separate the two former world No.1 players. After trading mini-breaks, it would be Federer who would draw first blood. A Federer forehand winner moved him to a 4-3 lead as he went on told hold serve and earn two set points. He prevailed on his first with the help of another trusted forehand winner being fired down the line.

In their 13 previous meetings at grand slam level, only twice has the match been won by the player who dropped the opener. On both of those occasions, it was Nadal (French open 2006 and Australian Open 2012). Gunning for the hat-trick, the world No.2 bounced back emphatically by taking the second 6-1. Making it the most one-sided set he has ever achieved against the Swiss maestro on a surface other than clay.

After the beatdown, it was the turn of the 20-time grand slam champion to inflict damage. Spurred on by an animated crowd, it was a forehand volley that revived Federer’s match hopes as he broke for a 3-1 lead in the third. Triggering a huge cheer around Center Court. Gaining in momentum, the second seed maneuvered himself to the two-set-to-one lead. Sealing it with a love service game that concluded with a Nadal forehand slamming into the net.

As the Nadal unforced error count and frustration rose, Federer edged closer and closer to the finish line. Breaking halfway through the fourth set, the 37-year-old continued to tame the threat that he faced. Dampening the mood surrounding Nadal’s camp in the crowd watching. Admirably the fiery Spaniard continued to fight like a warrior as he emphatically saved a quartet of match points. Still, it would not be enough to deny Federer, who clinched victory after three hours with the help of a backhand from his arch-rival drifting beyond the baseline.

“I had spells where I was serving really well and I think on the biggest points in the match went my way.” Federer reflected on his latest performance.

Awaiting the Swiss player in the final will be world No.1 Novak Djokovic, who defeated Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets. He currently trails their head-to-head 22-25.

“He played great against Bautista Agut, who I thought played a phenomenal tournament.” Said Federer. “He’s the defending champion and has shown why this week. He has been rock solid from start to finish. I hope I can push him to the brink and hopefully beat him. But it is not going to be easy.”

Federer is the third oldest man in the Open Era to reach a grand slam final at the age of 37 years and 340 days.

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