Rafael Nadal, Patrick Mouratoglou To Restart Competitive Tennis Through Own Initiatives - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal, Patrick Mouratoglou To Restart Competitive Tennis Through Own Initiatives

Details have been announced about a series of projects that will be held in the coming weeks featuring some top names in the sport.

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As the governing bodies of tennis continue to ponder when professional tennis will be able to resume again, it has emerged that plans are already in place for a series of unofficial events to fill the void.

 

The ATP, WTA and ITF Tours have all been suspended until at least July 13th due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although some fear that the suspension could be expanded further in the coming weeks. As a consequence, players have been left housebound due to lockdowns being in place to help contain the virus. Although some European countries are starting to relax their restrictions. Paving the way for some of the sports most prestigious academies to capitalize on the opportunity.

In the French city of Nice an ‘ultimate tennis showdown‘ is set to take place. It will be held at the Patrick Mouratoglou Academy, which was founded by the coach of Serena Williams. Set to start on May 16th, Mouratoglou is hoping to stage 50 matches over five weeks. There will be 10 matches each weekend, but no spectators. There isn’t a complete list of who will be playing, but Alexei Popyrin vs. David Goffin has been named as the first match.

“We will test everyone, then they will have to undergo a 15-days quarantine, and then we will test them again just before we start,” Mouratoglou said of the anti-COVID-19 procedures that will be in place. “Of course, they will be absolutely no crowd watching. And of course, for safety reasons, we won’t be able to have coaches and families on the court, but we will find different ways to make them interact, as with headphones.’
“Players, instead of turning on the same side of the court at the changeover, are going to turn on the opposite side and sit on the opposite side. All the ball boys will wear gloves. The ball will be different for the two players, and they will be marked.”

For Williams’ mentor, he hopes the event will not be a one off as he drops hints about the possibility of prize money being rewarded. It is understood that the event will be targeted towards the younger demographic. Matches will also be live streamed.

‘The UTS is simply meant to be an alternative to what already exists,’ Mouratoglou explained.
‘It is a platform created to showcase the incredible talent, athleticism and personalities of the wide range of tennis players.
‘It offers a new and innovative approach, targeting a younger tennis audience and proposes a different way to distribute the money among the players.’

The move comes just weeks after Mouratoglou called for greater financial support to be given to lower-ranked players during the COVID-19 crises.

Rafael Nadal’s plans

Across the French border, Spain also has their own plans. The Rafael Nadal academy has said they would like to turn their venue into a ‘campus for elite players.’ The idea being that players from both the ATP and WTA Tours can train and practice at the facility during the Tour shutdown. They will also engage in matches that will be broadcasted worldwide.

“Right now tennis takes a back seat and the most important thing is everyone’s health, but if in the coming months the Academy can be used to help other professional players, I’d be delighted if they could come to train and also to compete,” world No.2 Rafael Nadal said in a statement.
“Although we have no upcoming tournaments, I think that competing among ourselves would help us maintain our game for when the tour restarts.”

Unlike Nice, Nadal’s plans aren’t for an annual tournament to be hosted. Located in Manacor, the venue held an ATP Challenger tournament in 2018 and 2019. There has been no details released about who may decide to take Nadal up on his offer.

“In recent weeks we have made our facilities available to Chairman of the ATP Andrea Gaudenzi with the goal of possibly making the Academy a centre for the coming together of players so that they can train in an environment that is ideal for first-class competition. While the priority is obviously for a resumption of play for the regular Tour, the ATP is evaluating all options, keeping in mind health & safety as the top priority”, said Carlos Costa, the Head of Business Development at the Rafa Nadal Academy.

The Rafa Nadal Sport Center holds 26 tennis courts on different surfaces.

Germany’s four-day extravaganza

Finally, Germany is set to hold their own exhibition event that features a total of 32 matches being played within a week. The Telegraph has reported that Dustin Brown will headline the event in Rhineland-Palatinate, which is one of the German states where rules surrounding the COVID-19 lockdown will be relaxed from Monday.

Whilst there are limited details about the event, it will be broadcasted by The Tennis Channel. Furthermore, it will be streamed for betting purposes after receiving authorisation from the Tennis Integrity Unit.

Due to current restrictions, only local players will be allowed to attend. Joining Brown is also former ATP finalist Yannick Hanfmann. The tournament will take place at the Base Tennis Academy. Only three people (the two players and a chairman) will be allowed on the court at one time. The PlaySight video-capture system, used to supply images for the Tennis Channel’s broadcast, does not need a camera operator.

The exhibition will start on May 1st.

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Andrey Rublev wins opening match of the Thiem’s 7 in Kitzbuhel

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This year’s Doha and Adelaide Andrey Rublev rallied from losing the first set to beat Jan-Lennard Struff 3-6 6-4 15-13 in the opening match of the Thiem’s 7 exhibition tournament in Kitzbuhel.

 

Struff broke Rublev in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Rublev broke straight back, but Struff earned another break to clinch the first set 6-3. There were only two break points in the second set. Rublev earned the crucial break to win the second set 6-4 forcing the match to the decisive super tie-break. Rublev earned two match points at 9-7, but he did not convert any of them. Struff earned a match point as he was leading 10-9 and got two more chances to win the match at 12-11 and 13-12, but he did convert them. Rublev won the final three points to clinch the tie-break 15-13.

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Kitzbuhel set to host the Thiem 7 tournament

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The famous Austrian alpine ski resort of Kitzbuhel hosts the exhibition tournament Thiem 7 organized by world number 3 and this year’s Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem from 7 to 11 July 2020.

 

The tournament features 2019 US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini, 2019 Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut, 2018 Paris Bercy champion Karen Khachanov, this year’s Doha and Adelaide champion Andrey Rublev, Jan-Lennard Struff from Germany, Casper Ruud from Norway and Dennis Novak from Austria.

The eight players were split in two groups. The Group IFA features Thiem, Rublev, Struff and Ruud. Berrettini, Bautista Agut, Khachanov and Novak have been drawn in the Soccercoin Group.

The format is similar to the ATP Finals in London. In the semifinals the respective group leaders face the group leaders of the other group.

In the third set there will be only one match tie-break up to 10. The semifinals will be held on Friday at 13.30 am and 15.00 pm.

“It’s just fantastic to be here again. I am really looking forward to seeing the other players again. Most of them, I have not met most of them since March at Indian Wells”, said Thiem.  

 During the first day four matches will be held. Rublev will play against Struff in the opening match. Thiem will open his campaign against Ruud. Berrettini will clash against Novak. Khachanov will meet Bautista Agut in the final match of the opening day.

Thiem won the Kitzbuhel ATP 250 tournament last year.

“It was the first time I saw a bit in the organization calling the players and asking if they were coming, which was a lot of fun. Of course it is also the first time in Kitzbuhel since the emotional triumph last year. My father Wolfgang is there as a sporting director and many Kitzbuhelers are behind the project”, said Dominic Thiem.  

In Kitzbuhel 500 spectators will be allowed for each session to respect all hygiene and protective measures. There are tickets for all days. There is a day and and an evening session.

“I learnt the lesson from the Adria Cup in Belgrade. The respect of all protocols will be very strict for the 500 spectators allowed in each session”, said Thiem.

 

Thiem will travel to Berlin for the next exhibition tournament in Berlin, which will be played on grass.

 

“It will be interesting because it is on the lawn”, said Thiem.

 

After a week off Thiem will start his preparation for next  Cincinnati Masters 1000 and the US Open.

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Roger Federer Eyeing Olympic Glory At The Age Of 39 In 2021

The Swiss tennis star isn’t ready to step away from the sport just yet.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has vowed to play at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo after undergoing two surgeries on his knee.

 

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January. Since then he had twice undergone arthroscopic surgeries which is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to diagnose and treat problems with the joints. Federer announced shortly after having the procedure done for a second time that he will not be returning to the Tour again this year.

Despite the setbacks, the 38-year-old has vowed to return to action at the start of 2021 with Olympic glory one of his main targets. He is already a two-time Olympic medallist after winning gold in the men’s doubles back in 2008 followed by silver in the singles draw at the 2012 London Games.

“My goal is to play Tokyo 2021. It’s a wonderful city. I met my wife in my first Olympics in 2000. It’s a special event for me,” Federer said on Monday during the launch of ‘The Roger’ shoe with Swiss brand ON.
“I had two surgeries and I can’t hit at the moment, but I’m very confident I will be totally ready for 2021.
“I do miss playing in front of the fans, no doubt. Now, I think if tennis comes back we know it won’t be in a normal way where we can have full crowds yet.”

Federer will be 39 when he returns to action, but is yet to speculate as to when he may close the curtain on his record-breaking career. He is currently the second oldest man in the top 200 on the ATP Tour after Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, who is 41.

Besides the Olympics, the Swiss Maestro is also setting his eye on Wimbledon where he has claimed the men’s title a record eight times. However, he hasn’t won a major title since the 2018 Australian Open. The Grass-court major has been cancelled this year for the first time since 1945 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of course I miss Wimbledon, of course I would like to be there currently playing on Centre Court for a place in the second week,” he said.
“Clearly, one of my big goals, and that’s why I do recovery work every day and work so hard, and why I’m preparing for a 20-week physical preparation block this year, is because I hope to play at Wimbledon next year.”

Even though he is not playing for the rest of the year, Federer incredibly still has a chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals due to recent changes in the rankings calculations. Due to the pandemic, players are now allowed to use their best results at 18 tournaments based on a 22-month period instead of 12 months. Something that could enable him to remain inside the top eight until the end of 2020 depending on how his rivals fair.

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