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)

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Sebastian Korda sets up quarter final clash against Ugo Humbert in Halle

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Sebastian Korda came back from one set down to beat Kei Nishikori 2-6 6-3 7-5 at the NOVENTI Open in Halle setting up a quarter final match against Ugo Humbert, who upset Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3 in 1 hour and 53 minutes 

 

Both players went on serve with no breaks of serve. Zverev won 84% of his first serve points. Humbert won the first set tie-break when Zverev netted a forehand. 

Zverev converted his first break point at the start of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, when Humbert sent his backhand long. Zverev held on his next service games to claim the second set 6-3. Humbert earned the break in the fourth game of the third set to close out the third set 6-3. 

“I don’t particularly know what I could have done differently. Ugo was serving incredibly well in the first set. We both barely won points on each other’s serve. Then in the third set, I think he found his rhythm from the baseline. He was outplaying me. It is not a great result for me, but I don’t know what I could have done differently”, said Zverev. 

Korda reached the first ATP Tour final of his first career at Delray Beach, the quarter final in Miami and won his firts ATP Tour title on clay at the Emilia Romagna Open in Parma. 

Nishikori broke twice in the first set to open up a 4-1 lead. The Japanese player won 67% of his second serve points and saved two break points in the eighth game to close out the first set 6-2 in 31 minutes. Korda broke serve in the sixth game after seven deuces and held serve in another hard-fought game to race out to a 5-2 lead. The US player served out the second set 6-3 to force the match to the third set. 

Nishikori saved three break points in a nine-minute first game. The decider went on serve until the 11th game, when Korda broke Nishikori with a lob. Korda fended off a break point as he served out the match at deuce in the 12th game. “I would say it was good level from both of us. I think I played almost too good in the first set. He then started making more balls and changed his position. He started playing better in the second set.I think the third set could go both ways. I had many chances, but he played good points and he deserved to win as he took risks”, said Korda. 

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Matteo Berrettini beats Andy Murray to reach the quarter finals in his debut at the Queen’s

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Top seed Matteo Berrettini beat former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray 6-3 6-3 after 1 hour and 25 minutes at the cinch Championships to reach the quarter final at the Queen’s Club in London without dropping a set in his debut at this event. 

 

Berrettini won his fourth ATP Tour at the Serbian Open in Belgrade, reaached the final at the Madrid Mutua Open and the quarter final at Roland Garros. 

Murray, who won the Queen’s title five times in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016, has made his come-back from a groin injury with a wild-card in his first ATP Tour level tournament since March. He was seeking his seventh quarter final at the Queen’s tournament and his first since lifting this title in 2016.

Berrettini fended off all three break points and his 28 winners to just seven unforced errors. The Italian top 10 player broke twic in the fifth and ninth games to close out the first set 6-3. He earned an early break in the second game of the second set and held his next service games to close out the second set 6-3. 

“This was really hard. We all know who Andy is, he is a great player and he was always there even until the last point. I am really happy for my performance. I know how tough it is to come back from an injury, so I wish him the best of luck. I played better. I am just happy that he is back. I have worked really hard on my serve in my career since I was a kid. I grew up on clay, so I waas serving more kick serves, but we figured that I had to hit hard like this. Today it worked really well”, said Berrettini. 

Murray is unlikely to play in Eastbourne next week because of the logistics around the tournament bubble. 

“I made some good moves on court but my tennis was not very good. That’s the thing I will need most rather than the movement. There are some slight niggles in the groin and I will have to try and get rid of between now and Wimbledon. I need matches and I need to practise with top players over the next ten days”, said Murray. 

Berrettini set up a quarter final match against British player Daniel Evans, who beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4 7-6 (9-7) in 1 hour and 43 minutes. Evans won 81% of his first serve points and fended off five of the six break points. 

“I am just pleased to come through. I knew that he was good on grass. I knew that it was going to be a difficult match, but I didn’t envision it being that tight and obviously I did not want it that tight either. It was a tough match, mentally more than anything, trying to hold my serve when I was a set down”, said Evans. 

Denis Shapovalov cruised past Feliciano Lopez 6-2 6-3 with two breaks in the sixth and eighth games of the first set and in the fourth game of the second set. 

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Dominic Thiem Signs Up To New Athlete Management Agency Launched By Kosmos

The world No.5 has become the first athlete to ever be represented by Kosmos.

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Dominic Thiem says he is ‘proud’ to be joining a new agency that has been launched by Kosmos which specialises in athlete management.

 

Kosmos, which was founded by Barcelona F.C star Gerard Pique, says their venture is aimed at supporting those in the world of sport. In a statement issued on Thursday, their objective is to provide ‘comprehensive service to athletes where, in addition to representation, commercial and public relations, it will also provide sports, legal and financial advice.’ The new division will be headed by Galo Blanco who is a former player and coach. Blanco previously served as the Competition Director of Kosmos.

“We are very excited about this project. Many people who have been linked to sport for many years and specialise in different key areas in the development of an athlete’s career work at Kosmos. We know what is important for the active player and for their future, because many of us are or have been professional players,” says Gerard Piqué, President of Kosmos.

27-year-old Thiem is the first athlete to have signed up to the agency. Coincidentally the Austrian was co-coached by Blanco on the Tour between 2017-2018. Blanco ended their collaboration in order to focus on the redevelopment of the Davis Cup. Thiem is now coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu, as well as his father Wolfgang.

“I am very happy that Galo is part of the team again. He has been very close to me and my family, even when he stopped being my coach,” said Thiem.
“The season has not started as I would have liked, I am working very hard to get back to the level of the end of 2020, and adding Galo and the rest of the Kosmos team can bring a lot of positive things.”

Kosmos has become a growingly influential business in tennis since its launch. The company are the financial masterminds behind transforming the Davis Cup and have pledged to invest $3bn into the competition over a 25-year period.

This year’s Davis Cup finals have been spread across three cities in Madrid, Innsbruck and Turin over 11 days. Pique said the decision to use multiple cities is to prevent late-night finishes in the competition which was a problem back in 2019. Two year’s ago, Italy’s clash with the USA concluded at 4am.

“Some of the matches ended very late, so we made the decision to go to other cities and to play in 11 days instead of seven,” he said at the event’s official launch earlier this year. “The event has been evolving, maturing.”

Albert Costa, who is currently the Davis Cup Finals Director, will also take on the role of Competition Director for Kosmos.

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