Don’t Expect Top Players To Prop Up The Tour, Warns John Millman - UBITENNIS
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Don’t Expect Top Players To Prop Up The Tour, Warns John Millman

The former US Open quarter-finalist has jumped to the defence of fellow player Dominic Thiem.

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One of Australia’s top players have dismissed the idea that his fellow rivals on the tour should contribute towards a fund to support those ranked lower than them after Dominic Thiem received criticism for his opposition.

 

John Millman, who is currently ranked 43rd on the ATP Tour, believes the problem lies with the governing bodies of the sport. Recently Novak Djokovic issued a letter to the ATP Tour outlining a plan where he hoped that those in the top 100 would contribute towards a fund set up to support those during the tour suspension. The donations range between $5000 and $30,000 depending on where a player is positioned inside the top 100.

However, the initiative failed to receive the backing of Thiem. Who lost to Djokovic in the Australian Open final in January. The world No.3 said he didn’t want to donate to the fund because he has concerns that the money could go to those who are ‘unprofessional’ or don’t commit fully to the Tour. Prompting many to hit out at the Austrian. Including Algerian player Ines Ibbou, who published an emotional video detailing her struggles on the tour. The 21-year-old has only managed to make $27,825 in prize money so far in her career.

“There are just a few things that bother me about the whole thing,” Thiem told Sky Sports Austria.
“I don’t back down from my opinion that there are some players I don’t want to support. Therefore I would much prefer it to be chosen by the players themselves, because then those players who really need it and who really deserve it will benefit.”

Speaking with the Australian Associated Press, Millman has jumped to Thiem’s defence by arguing that his comments have been misinterpreted. Thiem never said he wouldn’t donate to a program that would help players, but said he wanted to choose who to donate to.

According to Millman, he believes the problem lies with the management of the ATP, WTA and ITF. The veteran player have played on the ATP Tour for a decade and has made more than $3.5 million in prize money earnings.

“Look, players outside 100 are struggling all year round whether there is coronavirus or not,” Millman told AAP.
“I don’t think it should come down for someone like Dominic to prop up the tour.
“It should be managed better by the ATP, the WTA and the ITF.
“There should have been a bigger effort earlier on for these organisations to have made it a priority to grow the game and help people make money from the game.”

Elaborating further, Millman said he was frustrated that it took the COVID-19 pandemic to get the ball rolling. All professional tennis matches have been suspended since March until at least July 31st.

“My biggest problem is that it has taken coronavirus for us to be talking about it,” he said.
“There have been plenty of opportunities over the years to try and get more people making money out of the sport and I don’t think we have done a good enough job.”

Recently the ATP, WTA and ITF announced the launch of a player relief fund set out to support those in need during the tour break. Valued at an estimated $6 million the money will be targeted towards an estimated 800 ATP/WTA singles and doubles players providing they meet certain criteria.

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Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83

Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.

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Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.

 

Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.

Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.

After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.

Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.

The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Hails Laver Cup Participation Days After Jibe From Nick Kyrgios

The Greek tennis sensation said he was left feeling ‘emotional’ when selected to play in the three-day event last year.

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Reigning ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas has labelled the Laver Cup as his favourite tournament due to the ‘magical’ feeling of playing alongside some of the sports greatest ever players.

 

The 21-year-old has praised the team competition less than a week after he and his European team mates was criticised by Nick Kyrgios. Who has played in all three editions of the event since its birth that sees Europe take on the rest of the world over three days. During an Instagram Live chat with Andy Murray, a slightly intoxicated Kyrgios said his rivals had ‘no banter’ before going on to take a swipe at the friendship between Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

“I am there with my best buds, trying to beat some European guys who have no banter, don’t give one-eff about each other and act like they care for one week which p*sses me off,” the Australian ranted.
“Let’s be honest, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas and (Alexander) Zverev hate each other, then they are besties all of a sudden…p*ss off.”

Tsitsipas, who has lost both of his matches against Kyrgios on the ATP Tour, didn’t directly address his rivals comment during a recent interview with Eurosport. However, he did speak about his enthusiasm for the event which has been scrapped from this year’s calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tsitsipas made his Laver Cup debut last year in Geneva, where he won two out of three matches played. He played in two doubles matches alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

“My favourite tournament is the Laver Cup. I love the vibes at the Laver Cup, we were all so connected, we came into the tournament as a union, trying to represent our continent and it just felt magical to be on the same team as Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal],” he told Eurosport’s Hanging out with Babsi.
“I got to play doubles with both of them and it was a great experience for me. It was a dream come true for sure. As a child, I would never have dreamed the Laver Cup would ever happen – a competition between Europe and the Rest of the World – I would never think that would be possible but it happened and I got to be part of it. I got invited which was such an honour.”

Elaborating further the world No.6 said he felt ‘emotional’ when he was selected to play. Team Europe won the 2019 event for the third year in a row with a score of 13-11.

“Playing for your country is one thing, but playing for Team Europe – if you just sit down and think about it – you are among the best European tennis players. You get to be chosen as one of the top tennis players to play for your continent. That makes you feel very emotional.” He added.

After being postponed this year, The Laver Cup is set to return in 2020 in the American city of Boston.

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‘Money Talks’ – John Millman Issues Stark Warning Over Resumption Of Tour

The world No.43 has said the coming weeks will show if tennis bosses are willing to put money ahead of health.

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Australian tennis star John Millman has said the decision to start professional tennis at some stage will be an indicator as to if tennis’ governing bodies are willing to put money ahead of players’ health.

 

The WTA, ATP and ITF Tour’s have all been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic with officials hoping they will be able to resume the sport during August in North America. Meanwhile, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) are still hoping to stage the US Open later this year with a final decision expected to be made during June.

However world No.43 Millman believes the idea of starting the sport again in August is too soon given the global reach of tennis which requires players from all over the world to gather in one place. It is also unclear how the various travel restrictions would impact the Tour. Despite his concerns, Millman fears that money will be the decisive factor.

“I feel as if it is probably way too early to get back into it or even thinking about returning in August,” he told the AAP.
“Indian Wells, the last tournament we were meant to play, was cancelled because there was one case in the region. It is a bit of a contradiction if they say come August ‘there are cases around but you guys can travel and play some tennis’.
“But money talks at times and our hand could be forced, unfortunately.
“What is more important – money or the health of not just yourself but the community?” he added. “We will see what is tennis’s priority.”

Despite his own reservations, the former grand slam quarter-finalist feels that his fellow competitors may have no choice about returning should the Tour get a green light. Unlike team sports with contracts, tennis players are essentially self-employed. Therefore the majority of them, especially those outside the top 100, solely earn money from prize money generated from tennis tournaments.

“Unfortunately, when the tour says we are back playing your hand is forced a bit because it is your career at stake.

As to when the 30-year-old would be happy to return to the Tour himself, he said that he will need to be certain that it is safe to do so first. America, which is where tennis officials are hoping to start the sport, has more infections of COVID-19 than any other country in the world. An estimated 1.5 million Americans have tested positive for the virus which has resulted in 91,000 deaths.

“Players would have to be coming from places where the virus isn’t there any more and going to tournaments where the virus isn’t there any more,” he said. “For that to happen on a global stage, I think we are a fair way off that.”

Millman has reached two ATP Finals so far in his career and earned more than $3.6 million in prize money.

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