Ranking Points At The Olympics A Distant Dream For The Men’s Elite - UBITENNIS
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Ranking Points At The Olympics A Distant Dream For The Men’s Elite

Novak Djokovic onced described the Olympics as ‘a fifth grand slam.’ So why are players not being awarded for their performance by their governing body?

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LONDON: 31 years have passed since tennis was reintroduced back into the Olympic Games. Since then the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray have all claimed medals for their countries. Yet the event continues to be plagued by one aspect putting some players off participating. 

 

Points are the holy grail for many on the tour, particularly those lower down in the rankings. They range from one point in Futures events to 2000 for those who triumph in the grand slams. Looking at the Olympic tennis event at-a-glance, it seems common sense that points should be awarded there too. However, it is not as simple as it seems. 

The four-year event is under the jurisdiction of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). A different governing body to that of the ATP. Whilst the two are in a partnership, they still ultimately compete against each other. Something departing ATP CEO Chris Kermode admits is a barrier. 

“It’s (ATP points) the only equity the ATP has.”  Kermode said during a press confrence on Wednesday.
“We tried and we had discussions, but for instance, quite a few of our tournaments in the summer, even the Masters events, suffer from repercussions caused by the Olympics.’
“Was there a way the Olympics compensate those tournaments for points and stuff like that? We had those conversations, but we never got across the line.”

Simon Higson, who is the head of communications for the ATP, has previously echoed a similar sentiment to that of Kermode. Saying there have been ‘collaborative discussions’ with the ITF and International Olympic Committee. Which was previously confirmed to Ubitennis back in April

There appears to be little enthusiasm from either side about the chances of an agreement coming soon. Ubitennis spoke with a representative from the ITF last month. Heather Bowler in their director of communications. Addressing the upcoming 2020 Games in Tokyo, she empathized the ITF’s commitment to continue investment into the event in the future.

”Over the last 30 years, tennis has successfully established itself as an integral part of the Olympic and Paralympic programmes, and the ITF continues to work with the IOC, IPC and other stakeholders to maximise both the athlete and fan engagement and experience.” Said Bowler. 

Whilst working in partnership with those organizations are positive, with regards to the ATP it isn’t so black and white. Illustrated best by their continuous differences over the team tournaments. The newly revamped Davis Cup belongs to the ITF, but from January they will face an annual rivalry from the ATP Cup. 

“No ranking points will be awarded at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Tennis Event, but the ITF will continue to liaise with the ATP and WTA about future Games.” Bowler states without further elaboration.

The irony is that it is the player’s ranking that is used to partly determined their place in the Olympics. Providing they meet their Davis\Fed Cup participation requirements or have launched a successful appeal to the ITF. 

Roger Federer has already announced his intention to play in Tokyo. The 2008 Olympic champion has twice been a flag bearer for Switzerland. For him, the event is like no other with the elevated feel of national pride.

“It is just something completely different to the tour tournaments that we have,” he told CNN in October.
 “Obviously, I do feel like I represent Switzerland wherever I go, it is always Roger Federer from Switzerland. I just feel at the Olympics it is next level.”

Clearly, there is something about the Olympics that attracts the likes of Federer. The feeling of representing your country in a sporting extravaganza that dates back to 1896. It is an event that captures the attention of the world. The 2016 Rio Games attracted a worldwide audience of 5.2 billion TV viewers according to one IOC report.

So with such a milestone event, will an agreement for ranking points eventually occur? 

“I don’t know. You can ask the new man,’ was the discouraging response from kermode. 

Nothing is going to happen soon. The hope now lies with Kermode’s replacement, Andrea Gaudenzi, who played in the 1996 Summer Olympics. Will he work on striking a deal?

Let’s wait and see. 

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Diego Schwartzman Receives Threats On Social Media Following Shock Davis Cup Defeat

The world No.15 is the latest player to speak out about recieving abusive messages on social media.

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The weekend has been an emotional rollercoaster for Diego Schwartzman, who suffered ‘one of the worst’ losses of his career before helping secure victory for his country in their Davis Cup tie against Belarus.

 

On Saturday the world No.15 was stunned by unranked 18-year-old Daniil Ostapenkov who is yet to play a professional match on the pro Tour. Ostapenkov is currently ranked 63 in the world on the junior circuit. The comprehensive victory shocked the Argentinian team who was hosting the tie at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.

Despite the shock upset, Schwartman managed to redeem himself the following day when he defeated Alexander Zgirovsky 6-1, 6-2. That victory handed his country an unassailable 3-1 lead in their tie and secured their place in the 2022 Davis Cup qualifiers which will take place next March.

Not only playing Davis, but in Buenos Aires, with a lot of people you don’t see, it’s not easy. My level can be and has to be much better. After the game on Saturday I had a difficult day in the spirit of being able to get up and enjoy with the group,” La Nacion quoted Schwartzman as saying.
“The most normal thing was that we won the series. It’s what everyone expected. But when you have a very difficult day at work like it was on Saturday and then you win, it excites you because you have some internal things withheld.”

Between those two matches, Schwartzman revealed that he was trolled on social media by some people unhappy about his loss in the tie. The 2020 French Open semi-finalist said he received criticism and even threats from some asking him to leave his home country. Something he admits affected him at times.

“It was one of the worst days of my career,” Schwartzman commented on his loss to Zgirovsky. “I lost to an unranked, inexperienced player. All that already affects (me) a lot. Although 80 or 90 percent of the people are always encouraging (me), there was a minority who criticized me with bad intentions.’
“I received threats, insults and requests not to return to Argentina. More or less, it affects (me)”.

Schwartzman is not the first player to speak out about online abuse. During the US Open Shelby Rogers said she was expecting to receive ‘death threats’ following her loss to Emma Raducanu who went on to win the title. Sloane Stephens has also previously spoken out about being the victim of racism online.

The 29-year-old says he has previously tried to interact with those who have trolled him on social media to find out why they are doing so.

Sometimes I start to answer some messages and I ask those people if they realize what they are sending,” Schwartzman said during his press conference. “The vast majority apologize and say they had not realized it. But at the moment it hurts. That very ill-intentioned criticism is the only bad thing about social networks.”

Schwartzman has won four ATP titles and earned more than $10M in prize money so far in his career.

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Spanish Veteran Feliciano Lopez Addresses Future On The Tour

23 years after he played his first main draw match on the ATP Tour, Lopez says his longevity in the sport has been achieved with the help of of some luck.

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Feliciano Lopez of Spain is pictured during the semi-final of ATP Fever-Tree Championships tennis tournament at Queen's Club in west London on June 20, 2019.

Feliciano Lopez has dismissed any speculation that he could retire in the coming weeks after saying he is taking life on the Tour in his stride.

 

The 39-year-old Spaniard is currently the second oldest player in the world’s top 200 after Roger Federer, who is a year older than him. Lopez made his ATP Tour debut at the 1998 Barcelona Open which was before the birth of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. In June he became the 10th active player to record his 500th win on the Tour.

Currently ranked 111th in the world, some are starting to wonder how much longer Lopez will continue playing. So far this season he has achieved a win-loss record of 9-19 with his best performance being a run to the quarter-finals of the Mallorca Open which was held on the grass. It was in Mallorca where he defeated Karen Khachanov who is the only top 30 player he has beaten so far in 2021.

I play year-by-year, the last 6-7 years have been like this, a tennis player at that age cannot think about extending his career. After turning 30 I have been lucky, I have obtained the best results of my career,” Lopez told reporters on Friday.
It is not very common for players my age, at (almost) 40 years to continue playing in the best tournaments.” He added.

Throughout his career, Lopez has impressively played in a record 78 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments dating back to the 2002 French Open. During that period he has reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament on four occasions.

“I don’t play to break records, what makes me most excited is to continue playing Grand Slams. For me, maintaining that record (78 consecutive Grand Slams played) is very nice, but more to follow. Being competitive,” he commented on the milestone.
“It is difficult for someone to overcome it because it is 20 years in a row without missing a great one. I have had continuity and enormous luck. Those of my generation are practically all retired.”

Away from the court, the former world No.12 is the current tournament director of the Madrid Open. Making him one of a few players historically to both be playing on the Tour and managing a tournament at the same time. Recently it was confirmed that Madrid will continue hosting it’s combined event until at least 2030 following a renewed agreement between the city council and the Madrid trophy promotion.

Lopez has won a total of seven ATP titles so far in his career and has earned more than $18M in prize money.

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ATP Moves Closer To Staging Five More 12-Day Masters 1000 Events After Board Approval

Changes are coming to the men’s Tour which includes a brand new ‘profit-sharing formular’ for players.

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Masters tournaments in North America, Europe and Asia are set to be expanded over the coming months after the ATP Board recently approved some ‘key aspects’ of their strategic plan.

 

In a letter issued to players, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said an agreement has been reached concerning a variety of topics, which include the expansion of various Masters 1000 events. It is understood that the plan is for Rome, Madrid, Canada, Cincinnati and Shanghai to be increased to 12-day events instead of just one week. Putting them more in line with Indian Wells and Miami. Tennis.com reports that under the new structure, ATP 250 events will also take place during the second week of those tournaments and they could receive a subsidy from the ATP Tour, provided by extra fees paid by the Masters tournaments.

Masters 1000 events are the third highest-ranked category events in men’s tennis after Grand Slams and the ATP Finals in terms of prize money and ranking points on offer. The series was first introduced back in 1990 but it wasn’t until 2009 that the name ‘Masters 1000’ was born. The number represents how many ranking points the winner receives.

Besides the proposed changes to the Masters series, the Board has also given a green light to “a new Profit-Sharing formula” and “long-term prize money levels.” The prize money increase is reportedly said to be 2.5 percent of a base level, plus a bonus pool with a 50 percent share of the collective profit of the Masters events.

“This represents significant progress for our sport and the way our player and tournament members operate under the equal partnership of the ATP Tour. It is only through the spirit of this partnership, transparency, and alignment of interests that we can truly maximise your potential and switch our focus to the competition we face in the border sports and entertainment landscape,” Gaudenzi wrote in his letter to players.

Part of the plan also include making changes to ATP Media, who are in charge of broadcasting the events. At present it is currently jointly owned by the Tour and each of the Masters 1000 events. However, in the future it has been proposed that those tournaments trade in their ownership rights for shares in ATP media. Exact details about this process have not been publicly disclosed and it is unclear if all of the tournaments would agree to such a move.

The ATP also wants to create a ‘Tennis Data Innovations’ which will be an independent entity.

All of these proposed changes are still subject to further agreement around additional matters. The ATP have been working on details of their strategic plan for the past 18 months.

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