As The Laver Cup Grows, So Does The Uncertainty Concerning Men's Team Events - UBITENNIS
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As The Laver Cup Grows, So Does The Uncertainty Concerning Men’s Team Events

Within the past four years the landscape of men’s tennis has gone from one team competition struggling to survive to three bidding to outdo each other.

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This weekend a group of the world’s best male tennis players will join forces to compete in an event that has been placed on the ATP calendar less than three years after it was created.

 

The Laver Cup, which is named after Australian great Rod Laver, is the master plan of a series of prestigious figures. Including 20-grand slam champion Roger Federer and his Team8 management company, as well as Tennis Australia. Emulating Golf’s Ryder Cup, team Europe takes on the rest of the world over a three-day period.

“The first two years were beyond everybody’s expectations, especially the first year when no-one really knew what to think going into it, but Roger and his team put on an incredible event,” Jack Sock told lavercup.com earlier this week.

The popularity of the event is best illustrated by its attendance figures. Officials say 83,273 people attended the 2017 event in Prague, Czech Republic and 93,584 visited the following year in Chicago. Mercedes Benz, Credit Suisse and Rolex are just some of the sponsors. The event is now officially included in the ATP Calendar. Meaning it has access to certain services such as marketing provided by the governing body of men’s tennis.

It is no doubt that the Laver Cup has been a success story so far. But what about the original men’s team tournament?

Founded in 1900, the Davis Cup pride themselves on tradition. Although 2019 marks a new chapter for the event following a highly debated revamp that has removed the prospect of home and away finals being played. In November 18 teams will feature in a week-long competition in a similar format to that of the football World Cup.

“It was very exciting, especially home ties. Now that those situations no longer exist, that you don’t have the advantage of playing at home, it may be different.” Former top 10 player Tommy Haas said during an interview with EFE News.
“Some changes were needed, but I’m not sure if those were the best for players in general, due to the dates at the end of the year. It’s better to be in one place, when it’s so late on the calendar and you try to gather all the players.’
“I’m looking forward to seeing how this will work out, who will play and how the competition will take place.”

In the wake of the revamp, Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique has become a kind of kingmaker in the tennis world. His investment company Kosmos has pledged to invest millions into the Davis Cup over the next two decades. Something that has drawn both praise and criticism. Federer once warned against the idea of turning the event into the ‘Pique Cup.’ A term the Barcelona-born player has dismissed.

“I just want to bring one of the most important tennis competitions to the top again,” Pique told The Financial Times in August.

Plenty of passion, but little agreement

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Few can dispute Pique’s determination and resilience. However, can the men’s tour cope with three team events within a year? Bearing in mind five years ago the tour had one which was struggling financially. Besides the Laver and Davis Cup’s, from January the ATP will be reviving their own event in Australia. More significant is that the ATP Cup has the ability to offer both prize money ($15 million) and ranking points (up to 750).

“To me personally, it seems like we have gone from Davis Cup being on life support to this radical change that took place after far too long.” John McEnroe commented on the current situation.
“The Laver Cup was a big success and now we have the ATP Cup.’
“It seems like something is going to shake-out.”

If McEnroe is right, the question is which of these events would as he put it ‘shake-out’? All three has had millions invested and have numerous sponsorship deals in place. Pointing to what seems to be the only logical solution – collaboration. Something that is easier said than done.

In recent months, Federer has criticised aspects of the Davis Cup revamp. On top of that, the Swiss player is set to play in a series of exhibition matches during the same time as the Davis Cup finals with Juan Martin del Potro and Alexander Zverev. Meanwhile, the ITF has previously cast shade on the ATP for reviving their team tournament.

Finding a common ground has been something the parties have failed to achieve. For ITF president David Haggerty, his hope is that his team can form a bond with whomever replace Chris Kermode in the future. Kermode’s term as ATP CEO ends later this year.

“There is leadership change coming and once that’s completed we will continue discussions to see what’s the best date.” Haggerty told Sport Business.
“We need to have the first Davis Cup finals in November and the ATP Cup will be in January and then we will have more facts and have a good discussion.”

Ambiguity is perhaps the best word to describe the state of team events in men’s tennis. All three are continuing to do their own thing, but how long is it before one of the start to suffer?

Team tennis undoubtedly has a future in the sport. However, nobody knows what it will look like in the future. Not even those working on those events. This is perhaps the most worrying problem  of them all.

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Dominic Thiem and Jannik Sinner grab the headlines in Vienna

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Dominic Thiem beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 7-6 (7-2) to reach the second round at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.

 

Thiem rallied from 0-40 down to break Tsonga in the seventh game of the first set and held his next service games to win the opening set 6-4. Tsonga saved four break points in the first, third and ninth games of the second set, which came down to the tie-break. Thiem pulled away to win the tie-break 7-2. Thiem did not face a break point and won 80% of his first serve points.

Thiem will face Fernando Verdasco, who came back from one set down to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6 6.2 6-1

Italian Next Gen star Jannik Sinner beat Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-4 in his ninth career ATP match setting up a second round match against either Gael Monfils or Dennis Novak. Sinner beat Monfils last week in Antwerp en route to becoming the youngest ATP semifinalist since Borna Coric at the 2014 Swiss Indoors in Basel.

Sinner earned his first break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. The Italian 18-year-old player saved three break points at 4-2, but he held his serve. Sinner sealed the opening set 6-3 on his first set point.

Sinner got the decisive break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held his final two service games to seal the second set 6-3.

Hyeon Chung fought off a late come-back from Milos Raonic to take a confidence-boosting 6-4 7-5 win in 1 hour and 44 minutes. Chung set up a second-round match against either Andrey Rublev or Felix Auger Aliassime.

Chung broke serve in the opening game of each set. The Asian player built up a 4-2 lead in the second set, but Raonic came back by winning three consecutive games. Raonic did not convert a set point at 5-4 on Chung’s serve, when Chung hit a forehand winner. Chung reeled off 10 of the next 14 points.

 

 

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Taylor Fritz upsets Alexander Zverev in Basel first round

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Taylor Fritz upset last year’s Alexander Zverev 7-6 6-4 after 1 hour and 24 minutes in the first round of the Swiss Indoor Open at the St. Jakobshalle in Basel.

 

Zverev earned a break point chance in the third game of the opening set, but Fritz saved it with an ace. Both players stayed neck and neck until the tie-break, where Zverev went up a 4-1 lead. Fritz clawed his way back by winning his next two points on serve. Zverev saved a set point at 5-6 and earned his own set point, when Taylor missed a forehand. Fritz drew level to 7-7 with a smash winner. The Californian player got another mini-break before sealing the opening set with an ace after 49 minutes.

Zverev did not convert his last break point chance in the second game of the second set when he netted his return. Fritz got his only break of the match in the third game to take a 2-1 lead after a loose forehand from Zverev.

Fritz never looked back in his next service games to clinch his 29th win of the season.

Fritz, who lost eight of the last matches after reaching the final at the Los Cabos last August, hit 37 winners to 27 unforced errors. The young US player earned the only break of the entire match.

“I played really solid, so it feels good to get that win, instead of him getting me for the third time in a row. I got out there today and the sliders on my serve were working well”, said Fritz.

Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-3 7-6 (8-6) in a hard-fought match. The Greek Next Gen star won his only break of the first set in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and held on his next service games to close out the first set 6-3.

Tsitsipas earned another break in the fifth game of the second set to take a 3-2 lead. Ramos Vinolas broke straight back in the next game to draw level to 3-3. The Spanish player saved two match points at 4-6 in the tie-break. Tsitsipas forced Ramos Vinolas to a forehand error before closing out the match after 1 hour and 44 minutes.

“I knew it was going to be a difficult battle out there. He fought hard and gave me a hard time out there, but I am satisfied and happy that this match did not go longer or to three sets. The players that make it into ATP 500 tournaments are all playing well, so I expect every match to be difficult. You have to fight for everything”,said Tsitsipas.

 US giant Reilly Opelka battled past Chilean Christian Garin 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (12-10) after a match with no breaks of serve. Opelka fended off set points at 6-7 and 8-9 in the tie-break of the second set before sealing the win on his fourth match point. Opelka will face either David Goffin or Marin Cilic.

Fabio Fognini cruised past Next Gen Australian player Alexey Popyrin 6-2 6-4 boosting his chance to qualify for the ATP Finals in London. Fognini is currently ranked number 11 in the ATP Race to London with 2235 points.

“Tennis has started to change again with these young guys, who are amazing on their first and second serves”, said Fognini.

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Stan Wawrinka Explains ATP Cup Absence And Olympics Situation Ahead Of Basel

Stan Wawrinka has explained why his Olympic dream is in doubt as he prepares to start his campaign in Basel.

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Stan Wawrinka (@usopen - Twitter)

Stan Wawrinka has explained why he is absent from the ATP Cup line-up as he begins his campaign in Basel on Wednesday. 

 

The three-time grand slam champion enters his home tournament in Basel having lost a three set final to a resurgent Andy Murray in Antwerp.

Despite the loss Wawrinka has been on a momentum swing himself having reached the US Open and Roland Garros quarter-finals this season.

Although this year has been a success, the Swiss’ 2020 calendar remains a mystery having been absent from Switzerland’s team for the ATP Cup next year.

Speaking to puntodebreak.com, Wawrinka explained his decision to not participate in the cup competition in January as well as questions over his Olympic eligibility, “I have a contract with the Doha tournament, which takes place at the same time as the ATP Cup,” Wawrinka explained.

“I would like to play it (Olympics). The desire is there, but now I have to adjust my calendar for 2020 with my team. I don’t know what criteria are required to get a Wild Card.” 

The 34 year-old is not the only one requiring a wildcard to enter the Olympics with Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori amongst others relying on the same rule.

Meanwhile Wawrinka is preparing for his first match in Basel, where he doesn’t have the best record having never reached the final.

A first round match against Pablo Cuevas awaits on Wednesday and he admitted his tension when performing in front of a home crowd,“In Basel I have always been a little tense, too hesitant,” he admitted.

“Correcting that and winning my first round match against Pablo Cuevas on Wednesday depends on me. It is not the tournament that suits my style of play and that is why, although I have played some good matches here, I do not have such a good performance.”

If Wawrinka wants to reach his maiden Swiss Indoors final, he will potentially have to go through Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.

That dream last eight match is a long way away though as Wawrinka will have to go through Pablo Cuevas and the winner of Frances Tiafoe against Dan Evans.

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