LONDON: The attention should be on the court and not what is going on in the background. This is the message being stressed by the ATP less than two months before the launch of their latest masterpiece.
The ATP Cup has been billed as an event that has the potential to overshadow the historic 119-year-old Davis Cup. Held over 12 days at the start of January in Australia, 24 teams will lock horns in a group format. Unlike any other current team event, both ranking points and prize money will be up for grabs. A huge attraction for many of the men’s elite during what is a turbulent time in tennis politics.
“I ask you, I know there is lots of talk about tennis politics and all of that sort of stuff, but please get behind this event. I genuinely believe we are all in this business together, trying to sell our sport.” ATP CEO Chris Kermode pleaded during a press conference on Thursday in London.
“This (the ATP Cup) will be global and we want to try to reach new markets by presenting it in a different way.”
The tournament promises to provide a mixture of current stars working with former legends of the sport. The German team will be lead by captain Boris Becker, who was nominated for the role by Alexander Zverev. Under rules of the competition, captains are nominated by the top player from each country after discussions with their fellow teammates.
“Tennis is in a very good place right now. The fact that we have so many new competitions speaks for the interests, speaks for the image and the quality of the players we have.” Said Becker.
“This format gives players a chance to, in one way, represent their country, another way start the year off with a big bang.” He added.
It’s not perfect, but it will do for now
From 2020 there will be three team tournaments taking place on the men’s tour. Besides the ATP Cup, the Davis Cup now has a week-long finale at the end of the season in November. Meanwhile, the Roger Federer-backed Laver Cup occurs shortly after the US Open.
With three team events taking place during what is already a packed calendar, some have questioned the long-term likelihood of these events co-existing. Leading to some of the sport’s biggest names calling for the two of the biggest tournaments to be combined. A far from simple concept given the Davis Cup is run by the ITF, not the ATP. In recent months the two governing bodies have held somewhat tentative discussions with little compromise being reached.
“Of course we need to fix a couple of more things on the tour to make a big, big competition. I think two team tournaments, Davis Cup and ATP Cup in one month, is something that, in my opinion, is not good.” Rafael Nadal commented during the Paris Masters.
“My feeling is that we need to create one big, big competition to stay together. ITF, ATP, that’s a good opportunity to make that happen and we need to make that happen.”
Nadal is not along in his calls. World No.2 Novak Djokovic has also made similar comments. They argue that having one big event will alleviate pressure on the player’s schedule and not have such an impact on what is already a very limited off-season period.
Adavntage ATP Cup
1995 French Open champion Thomas Muster leads the Austrian contingent. He points out that the current date of the new event places it in a stronger position of that held by the Davis Cup. Djokovic and Nadal have both stated their intention to play in the Davis Cup next week. However, Nadal had admitted that he is unsure of how his body will hold. Meanwhile, Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic have both withdrawn due to injury. Furthermore, Federer and Alexander Zverev have opted to play exhibition matches instead of the event.
“That sort of brings back to the conclusion of why certain players are not playing at the end of the year at Davis Cup final.” Said Muster. “It’s just because it’s late in the season, and players are tired and they have played a lot, and there is not much time between now and the new start of the season.”
✅ All former World No. 1 players
✅ All #ATPCup captains
— ATPCup (@ATPCup) November 14, 2019
Fellow former world No.1 and Russian captain Marat Safin also issued the same sentiment. Deciding the ATP Cup as ideal preparation for the Australian Open. A tournament he won back in 2005.
“It’s a perfect setup for this event at the beginning of the year, so all the guys are already in Australia and they want to start with a good step in the new year,” Safin stated.
“Quite interesting placement of the event, the beginning of the year. I think it’s a good choice.”
There is a feeling that at some point, one team event has to give way. Although it is impossible to see which one. It won’t be the newly created ATP Cup, which has a prize money pool of $15 million. The Laver Cup has managed to gain growth within the past three years. Meanwhile, the Davis Cup has received a much-needed investment from Kosmos. Creating a complicated situation in the sport.
“Is this the perfect scenario? No.” Admits Becker. “But I don’t want to talk about the politics in tennis. I think we are here today to speak about a new competition, a new venture, a new event, which is great.”
“I’m not responsible for the Davis Cup format, and I’m not responsible for the Laver Cup, either.”
The ATP Cup will officially launch on January 3d.
Dominic Thiem reaches his first quarter final at the Australian Open
Dominic Thiem eased past Gael Monfils 6-2 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 50 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open. Thiem has extended his winning streak to 6-0 in his head-to-head matches against Monfils.
He fought back from two sets to one down to beat Australia’s Alex Bolt in the second round, but he won eight of his past nine sets to advance to the quarter finals.
Thiem got two breaks in the first set and never faced a single break point in the entire match. The Austrian player converted his fourth break point after three deuces, as Monfils missed a backhand volley wide. Thiem started the third set with an early break in the first game, as Monfils hit an inside-out forehand wide from the middle of the court wide. Thiem won his next service games and held his final game at love.
Thiem will face Rafael Nadal in a re-match of last year’s Roland Garros final.
“I think that I played my best match so far at this year’s Australian Open. It’s a very good feeling. The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and I was managing to hold my serve well. I am so happy because I am in the quarter final here for the first time”, said Thiem.
Alexander Zverev tops Andrey Rublev to set Australian Open quarter final against Stan Wawrinka
Alexander Zverev beat his friend Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open for the first time in his career and his third at Grand Slam level.
Zverev broke serve once in each set. The German player has not dropped a set at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.
Zverev ended Rublev’s 15-match winning streak. Rublev had not lost a match since October, winning four matches at the Davis Cup last November and back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide.
In the opening set Zverev earned his first break at 3-3, as Rublev hit a forehand into the net. He held his serve to consolidate the break and wrapped up the first set after 29 minutes, when Rublev hit a crosscourt backhand wide.
Zverev started the second set with an immediate break in the first game of the second set and closed it out with a hold at love with an ace after 29 minutes.
Zverev broke serve for the third time in the match in the ninth game of the third set to take a 5-4, when Rublev made a groundstroke error, and sealed the win with a forehand volley.
“It feels amazing. I played some great matches against some great opponents. This is Andrey’s first loss of the season, having won two tournaments and getting through to the fourth round with unbelievable tennis. I have known Andrey since we were ten years old. I think he will be top 15, top 10 very soon. I am just happy and I hope I can continue”,said Zverev.
Zverev will face Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final. The German star beat Wawrinka twice in their previous two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
Stan Wawrinka edges Danil Medvedev in a five-set thriller to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open
Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka reached the quarter final at the Australian Open for the fifth time in his career with a 6-2 2-6 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 win over fourth seed and 2019 US Open finalist Danil Medvedev after 3 hours and 25 minutes. Wawrinka qualified for the last eight for the first time since 2017.
Wawrinka earned his first break in the fourth game, when Medvedev sent his backhand long. Wawrinka did not convert two more break points in the sixth game before breaking for the second time at love to close out the opening set 6-2 after 32 minutes. Wawrinka won 85% of his first serve points and hit 16 winners to 8 unforced errors in the opening set.
Medvedev broke in the third game of the second set to open up a 3-1 lead, when Wawrinka netted his forehand. The Russian player clinched the second set with three service winners at 5-2 to level the score.
Medvedev broke serve in the seventh game of the third set after a backhand error from Wawrinka and closed out the set with a service winner in the 10th game.
Wawrinka wasted a break point in the fourth game of the fourth set. Both players traded service holds en route to the tie-break. Wawrinka earned an immediate mini-break to open up a 3-0 lead in the tie-break. The former Australian Open champion hit a half-volley winner to cruise to a 5-2 lead and converted his first set point, when Medvedev netted a backhand in the ninth point.
Wawrinka broke Medvedev at 15 in the first game of the fifth set and saved three break points at 2-1. Wawrinka went up a double break in the seventh game and forced an error from Medvedev to wrap up the match, as he was serving for the win in the eighth game.
Wawrinka set up a quarter final against Alexander Zverev, who beat Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4. Zverev beat Wawrinka twice in their two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
“That was an amazing match and an amazing atmosphere. It was really tough to play against Danil. It was really tough to play against Danil. I had to raise my level in the fourth and fifth sets. The level was super high and the atmosphere is something special here in Australia. I am finding solutions. I was losing a bit of confidence in the second and third sets, and was fighting against myself to play my game. I had to fight, stay positive and I am happy with the result”,said Wawrinka.
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