Grand Slam Champion Marion Bartoli Criticises Decision To Host WTA Finals In China - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam Champion Marion Bartoli Criticises Decision To Host WTA Finals In China

The former player has accused the the women’s tour of being motivated by money.

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The decision to relocate the season-ending WTA Finals to the Chinese city of Shenzhen over the next 10 years could be counterproductive, according to 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli.

 

Bartoli, who peaked at a ranking best of seventh in the world during her career, has said the move of the tournament is centred around money and not exposing women’s tennis to a wider audience. Shenzhen will host the end-of-year extravaganza with a record prize money pool of $14 million. An undefeated singles champion will earn $4.75 million, which is $900,000 more than what this year’s US Open champion will receive.

“I am not sure about putting the championship for 10 years in China.” Bartoli recently said on Eurosport. “I think the time difference, when it is live, is the wrong time in the US and the wrong time in Europe.’
“I am not sure there is a lot of attraction for women’s tennis in China. Yes, when Li Na was playing. Unless Roger or Rafa was playing then they weren’t really filling the stadiums.”

Elaborating further, the Frenchwoman claimed that The ATP has a better understanding of how to promote tennis. The men’s equivalent, the ATP Finals, has been hosted in London at The O2 Arena for more than a decade. However, from 2021 the tournament will relocate to Italy. Although the Chinese City of Shanghai previously hosted the event in 2002 and then again between 2005-2008.

“I think the men’s game has a better understanding that it’s not about the money on the table, but about the exposure of the game. When you have the end-of-season championships in London and then Torino you are going to places were fans have an awareness of tennis.” Bartoli explained.
“We have two Grand Slams in Europe – how many are there in China? I think the WTA need a long-term vision of where they want to be which is to recognise the top players of the game.”

There are currently four Chinese women in the top 50 in the WTA rankings. It is hard to place an exact figure on how popular the sport is in the Asian country. In a recent article published by the South China Post, a member of the Shanghai Tennis Association said 70,000 people play regularly in the city and there are an additional 980,000 people who are either occasional players or are interested in the sport.

Besides the location, Bartoli believes that women’s tennis are having problems selling out tennis events because the tour lacks rivalries similar to those of the past.

“When Serena isn’t playing, how many times are you going to fill a stadium for women’s tennis? That should be the bigger question – how can they promote the players in a way that will fill stadiums? “ She said.
“It comes to identification – people used to root for Steffi or they used to root for Martina, and now we are struggling to have that rivalry. For me, it’s not about the money, it’s about how they promote the game to get people to watch women’s tennis.”

The Shenzhen WTA Finals will get underway on October 27th. Only the eight highest ranked player will be eligible to participate in accordance to the WTA Race to Shenzhen.

Locations of the WTA Finals

Years City Surface
1972–1973 Boca Raton, USA Clay
1974–1976 Los Angeles, USA Carpet
1977 New York City, USA Carpet
1978 Oakland, USA Carpet
1979–2000 New York City, USA Carpet
2001 Munich, Germany Hard (i)
2002–2005 Los Angeles, USA Hard (i)
2006–2007 Madrid, Spain Hard (i)
2008–2010 Doha, UAE Hard
2011–2013 Istanbul, Turkey Hard (i)
2014–2018 Singapore Hard (i)
2019–2028 Shenzhen, China Hard (i)

ATP

Queen’s Organizers Optimistic Over Andy Murray’s Return As Two Top 10 Players Join Entry List

The first four names set to play in the ATP 500 event has been announced.

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The director of the Fever-Tree Championships has said he is ‘hopeful’ that Andy Murray will play in the tournament later this year after he was included in the first group of names on the official entry list.

 

The three-time grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since the Davis Cup last November due to a pelvic injury. Murray has already delayed his return to the tour on numerous occasions as he continues his rehabilitation process. It is the latest setback for the injury-stricken 32-year-old, who also underwent career saving hip resurfacing surgery last year.

“Andy is our greatest champion. We know Andy is still working his way back to fitness, but we also know that he wants to play, so fingers crossed that he will be able to.” Stephen Farrow said in a press release on Tuesday.

Murray, who is currently ranked 130th in the world, is the most decorated player in the history of the Queen’s event. He has won the trophy five times between 2009-2016 and has won 30 out of 37 matches played there. Last year he also won the doubles title alongside Feliciano Lopez in what was his comeback tournament following his hip surgery.

Tuesday’s announcement of Murray playing at The Queen’s Club comes as no surprise. He has a lifetime contract to play there for the rest of his career unless he is ill or injured. Similar to what Roger Federer has with the Halle event, which takes place during the same week as Queen’s.

Other names to play in London this year include ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals last year. The Greek is yet to contest an ATP final on the grass, but did win the Wimbledon boys’ doubles title back in 2016.

“London will always be a special place for me after winning the ATP Finals last year and I am looking forward to coming back in June.” Said Tsitsipas. “The crowd at the O2 touched my heart in a very special way and I am excited to play at Queen’s again this June. It is a big tournament and important to play in the lead up to Wimbledon.”

World No.5 Daniil Medvedev is another top name set to play in what will be his fourth appearance at Queen’s. In 2019 he produced his best ever run at the tournament by reaching the semi-finals before falling in three sets to France’s Gilles Simon.

“The last 6 months have been incredible for me, a real breakthrough, and now I want to try to do the same on grass.” The US Open finalist stated. “The Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club is a great event with perfect grass courts, and I am looking forward to playing there ahead of Wimbledon.”

Completing the quartet of confirmed names is 38-year-old two-time champion Lopez, who won the singles title last year, as well as the doubles with Murray. He is one of only two Spanish men to have ever won the event in the Open Era. There other was Rafael Nadal back in 2008.

“I thought when I won the title in 2017 that it was the best moment of my career. I was wrong. It was last year! Winning singles and doubles was something incredible, more than I could ever have dreamed when Stephen (Farrow) gave me the wild card.” Lopez reflected.
“That final day is one that I will never forget, Queen’s is always going to be one of the most special places of my career, and I am already looking forward to coming back to the Fever-Tree Championships in June to defend my title.”

The ATP 500 event will get underway on June 15th.

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ATP

‘There’s A Lot To Improve’ – Stan Wawrinka Survives Marathon Opener In Mexico

It was a tough day at the office for the three-time grand slam champion.

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Stan Wawrinka admits that there are areas of his game that he needs to work on after battling his way into the second round of the Mexican Open.

 

The Swiss third seed required almost three hours to edge out America’s Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(1), during what was a roller coaster encounter. Wawrinka blasted 35 aces past his American opponent and crucially saved all nine break points he faced throughout the match. In the decided he failed to convert match points whilst leading 5-4 and 6-5, but managed to eventually prevail in the tiebreaker. Converting his fifth match point with an ace fired down the centre of the court.

“It was a big battle in the first round. Last year we also played a big match in Basel.” Wawrinka told TennisTV.
“I had a lot of opportunities in the third set and I should have taken them. I’m happy with the win, that’s the most important.’
“There is a lot to improve, for sure, but in the first round it is never easy to play your best.”

This week is Wawrinka’s first tournament since his quarter-final loss at the Australian Open. He has recently pulled out of playing in both Rotterdam and Montpellier due to an unspecified injury. However, the physical issue now appears to be a thing of the past.

“I’m happy. I had the chance to come here (to the tournament) early and practice well.” He stated.

The 34-year-old will take on either Pedro Martínez or Radu Albot in the second round.

Elsewhere, Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanović rallied back from a set down to defeat world No.25 Alex de Mianaur 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. De Minaur was playing his first match since the ATP Cup after being sidelined from action due to an abdominal injury.

“I just tried to stay focused as much as I could. Try to go for shots and go for points because I knew if I went into the rallies I didn’t have much chance.” Kecmanović told The Tennis Channel.
“The night sessions are better to play. The ball doesn’t jump as much and I think that really helped me today.”

It is the first time this year the 20-year-old has defeated a player ranked in the world’s top 25. His previous biggest scalp (in terms of ranking) was against world No.30 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Doha at the start of 2020. Kecmanović is on course for a meeting with top seed Rafael Nadal in the last 16 if the world No.2 wins his opening match on Tuesday.

Finally, New York Open champion Kyle Edmund produced a comprehensive 6-4, 6-1, win over Feliciano Lopez.

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ATP

Italian Challenger Final Cancelled Due To Coronavirus

A series of ‘extraordinary measures’ implemented in the region on Sunday has forced the tournament to end early.

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ATP Challenger Bergamo 2019 (foto Antonio Milesi)

The ongoing disruption caused by the Coronavirus outbreak has affected another tennis tournament with the final of the Bergamo Challenger being cancelled. Making it the first time a tennis event in Europe has been disrupted due to the threat of the illness.

 

This weekend Italy has introduced what it described as ‘extraordinary measures’ to combat the virus, which originated in China and has killed more than 1000 people worldwide. In the country there have been over 100 cases of Coronavirus and at least two deaths. People living in the northern towns of Lombardy and Veneto have been asked to stay at home by the authorities and it is forbidden for them to leave the affected areas unless permission is granted.

The decision means that several Serie A football matches have been cancelled, as well as the final of the Bergamo Challenger. Bergamo is located 40 KM away from Lombardy. The final was set to feature French seventh seed Enzo Couacaud against Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko. Known as the Trofeo Faip–Perrel, Bergamo has held an annual men’s tournament since 2009. This year’s draw featured five players ranked in the top 200, as well as the debut of 16-year-old Leo Borg. The son of Bjorn Borg.

“The Government is preparing to issue urgent measures to deal with and contain particularly incisively the cases of infection with Coronavirus. These measures also include the sports world due to the need to prevent risks and better protect the health of all those who, in various capacities, participate in events and competitions. Pending the completion of the measures and the full and effective implementation of the same, on the due notice of the Council of Ministers, for reasons of caution and utmost precaution, I ask you to act as interpreter at all the competent sports bodies of the Government’s invitation to suspend all sporting events of all levels and disciplines scheduled in the Lombardy and Veneto regions for Sunday 23 February 2020.” Sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora said in a letter sent to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).

Organizers tried to look into a variety of options in order for the men’s final to be held, including playing it behind closed doors. However, it did not receive the required permission to do so. Instead, both Couacaud and Marchenko will share the prize. Each player will exit the tournament with 48 ranking points and € 3,650 in prize money.

Italy will not host another Challenger event until April.

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