Italian National Championships To Be Revived Amid Coronavirus Lock-In - UBITENNIS
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Italian National Championships To Be Revived Amid Coronavirus Lock-In

The event will be the first of a local 5-tournament tour due to take place in Italy during the summer. Fabio Fognini’s presence still doubtful. Governmental approval to allow sports events is still pending

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Fabio Fognini - Italy - South Korea, 2020 Davis Cup (photo Felice Calabrò)

The impossibility to travel internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted several initiatives to organize small events with local players to offer some of the pros a chance to play matches waiting for the ATP and WTA Tours to resume. In Italy, MEF Tennis Event, a company that has been organizing national and international tournaments for the past 10 years, has decided to launch the MEF Tennis Tour, a summer circuit that will see four events take place in Italy starting on 15 June.

 

The first event of the MEF Tennis Tour will be the 2020 edition of the “Campionati Italiani Assoluti”, an old and prestigious national event that used to crown the “National Champion” in Italy that was discontinued in 2004. The list of winners for the event sees 2-time Major champion Nicola Pietrangeli, and former Top-10 Corrado Barazzutti and former Davis Cup captain Fausto Gardini all appear seven times each, with Lucia Valerio and Lea Pericoli dominate the competition among the ladies with 10 titles apiece. Furthermore, in 1970 a memorable five-set final between 20-year-old up-and-comer Adriano Panatta and the 36-year-old veteran Pietrangeli is widely considered to have been the “changing of the guard” between two generations of Italian players.

“While we wait for a new confirmed date for the 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia next September – explains the President of the Italian Tennis Federation (FIT) Angelo Binaghi – we are thrilled to see through the launch of a new circuit of events with a new edition of the ‘Campionati Assoluti’. These events will provide our players the opportunity to compete at the top level in maximum safety, and it will give our fans the chance to enjoy exciting live matches on television”.

The event will take place in Todi, a small village near Perugia in Central Italy, on the clay courts of the local Tennis Club. The men’s tournament will have a 32-player draw while the women’s event will see 16 players compete for the national title. Italian free-to-air television SuperTennis will broadcast all matches live in Italy, and the feed will also be available in streaming through the tournament’s website and social media accounts. ATP n. 11 Fabio Fognini was announced to be among the participants by FIT, but the player later issued a note saying his participation is still not confirmed. There will be however most Italian top ATP and WTA players, including some of the top juniors in the country who will be able to avail of some of the four wild-cards made available to FIT Technical Directors Filippo Volandri and Tathiana Garbin.

At the moment sporting events, even behind closed doors, are still prohibited in Italy as a measure to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease, but the Government is due to review its policy within the next few weeks. The event is therefore pending governmental approval, but it will be ready to go as soon as a decision on the matter is made by the Executive.

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Roger Federer Named Highest Earning Tennis Player Of Past 12 Months

He may have only played in one tournament but the Swiss maestro has made an extraordinary amount of money in recent months.

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Roger Federer has made more money than any other tennis player over the past year even though he has only played in one tournament, according to Forbes magazine.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam has been named the seventh highest paid athlete in the world by the publication which takes into account both on-court and off-court earnings. According to Forbes, Federer has made a total of $90M between May 2020 and May 2021. However, $89.7M of that is from endorsements. The Swiss Maestro missed most of last season on the Tour due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures. Since then, he has only played one tournament which was at the Qatar Open in March where he reached the semi-finals.

Forbes notes that Federer’s earnings come from endorsement deals with the likes of Rolex, Credit Suisse and Uniqlo. In 2018 he signed a 10-year deal with Uniqlo which is estimated to have a total value in the region of $300M.

It is possible that Federer’s fortunes could rise even more in the coming months amid reports that shoemaker ON is planning to launch an initial public offering as early as this autumn. Meaning that they will be offering shares to the public. Federer bought a stake in the company back in 2019. According to Bloomberg, the business could be valued in the region of $5 billion.

On the court, Federer is tuning up his game ahead of his return to competitive tennis next week at the Geneva Open. The 39-year-old has previously stated that his goal is to reach peak condition in time for the Wimbledon Championships. As to his title chances, rival Dominic Thiem recently told reporters in Rome that he shouldn’t be ruled out.

“I think so. Why not?” Thiem replied when asked if could go deep in a Grand Slam draw. “I think otherwise he wouldn’t be playing. He’s too good. He had I think too much success in the past also. I guess if he knows that he’s not playing for the big titles any more, he wouldn’t be playing. So I definitely expect him, especially in Wimbledon, that he can go very, very deep and also play for the title.”

Federer has won 103 ATP titles so far in his career which is the second highest tally in the Open Era after Jimmy Connors.

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French Open 2021: ‘Philanthropic’ Prize Money, Hour Of Freedom For Players And Murray’s Possible Wildcard

Details about the upcoming Grand Slam event have been revealed.

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The French Open has vowed to support those who have been the most severely affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic after publishing details of their plans.

 

A ‘Philanthropic’ prize money fund has been set out by the French Tennis Federation (FFT) which has been designed to help lower ranked players on the Tour participating. The money pot for this year’s event will be 34m euros which is a fall of roughly 4m euros compared to 2020. However, there will be no changes made to the winnings on offer during qualifying and the first two rounds of the singles tournaments.

In light of the current situation, we are proud to have once again opted for a philanthropic prize fund, which allows us to support the players who have been severely affected by the health crisis, financially-speaking,” tournament director Guy Forget said.

After delaying the start date of the tournament by a week earlier this year, the French Open will welcome fans to their event. Under an agreement with the government, 5388 spectators will be allowed to attend each day between 30th May to 8th June. Then from the 9th June they will welcome 5000 spectators with a ‘health passport’ to the Philippe Chatrier Court and the number allowed inside the stadium will increase to 13,146. However, only one out of the 10 night sessions will be opened to the public this year due to the 9pm curfew. The only exception will be on June 9th when the curfew is extended to 11pm.

As for the players, they will have to abide by a strict health and safety protocol which has been ‘inspired by the one adapted by the WTA and the ATP.’ Upon arrival at their hotels, they will be required to have a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their first match. They will only be granted permission to attend Roland Garros if that test is negative. From then on, they will be tested every four days.

However, players will be allowed one hour each day to spend time ‘outside their social distance bubble.’ The idea being that they can go out for a jog or enjoy some ‘fresh air.’

“Our goal is not to put them in a necklace and attach them to their hotel or to the Roland Garros stadium,” Forget stated.

Forget says players will have access to restaurants and fitness facilities in their hotels but will not be allowed to train at Roland Garros on the day they don’t have matches.

Murray a wildcard contender

Former world No.1 Andy Murray faces a wait to see if he is eligible for a wildcard this year but Forget says he does ‘deserve’ one given his credentials. The Brit has fallen down to 123rd in the world and as it currently stands will have to take part in the qualifying tournament if he wishes to play at the Grand Slam.

“I know that Andy entered the qualifying (rounds), I know he’s practising right now in Rome, I saw him play some games and sets with Novak Djokovic,” Forget said.
“Andy is a great player, he sure deserves one (a wildcard). It is a discussion we have to have with him and our team. We want to see him in good shape, I hope he feels well.
“He hasn’t played any matches yet, which is obviously what any player wants to do before committing to a big tournament, especially when you are going to play the best-of-five sets.”

Murray is yet to play a singles match on the clay this season but is taking part in the doubles tournament at the Italian Open this week after receiving a last-minute entry. He is paired up with Liam Broady.

“It’s the French Open’s decision what they want to do – I’d love the opportunity to play there but I also respect they have lots of good players, lots of players ranked between 120 and 160, and I haven’t been fit for the last three or four months,” Murray told BBC Sport.
“I appreciate for them they would want to see me play matches. I’ve done all the training and physically I’m fit but it is different playing matches and that’s where I obviously need to prove myself.”

The French Open qualifying tournament will start on May 24th followed by the main draw a week later. Officials are yet to reveal which players they will issue wildcards to.

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Tennis Canada Considering Possibility Of Moving National Bank Open To Another Country

Whilst there is still hope of staging the tournament on home soil, Tennis Canada has had discussions with their American counterparts.

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Tennis Canada has held ‘productive dialogue’ with the government regarding staging this year’s National Bank Open but admits they are looking at a variety of options.

 

The staging of the tournament, which usually takes place during August, is critical for the national body as it generates 90% of their total revenue each year used to invest back into the sport. Known to some as the Canadian Open the event has been in existence for more than 100 years. It alternates every year between Toronto and Montreal in hosting the men’s or women’s event.

Providing an update on the status of this year’s event, Tennis Canada says they are confident in hosting the event in some capacity. The 2020 edition was forced to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More recently in April the country also cancelled six Challenger tournaments.

“We remain confident there are still multiple options for our tournaments to be held in Montreal and Toronto this August, such as in broadcast-only or limited-fan models, both of which have already been planned for in detail,” Eugène Lapierre, Tournament Director of the Montreal National Bank Open, said in a statement.

Among the discussions currently taking place is the possibility of moving the event across the border to America. A similar concept to what happened last year with the Cincinnati Open moving to New York prior to the start of the US Open last year. Officials say this option would only take place if discussions with Canadian authorities are ‘exhausted.’ However, negotiations are already underway.

“Tennis Canada has also held preliminary conversations with the USTA to discuss what options might be available as an alternative in the United States. However, it is important to understand this would be considered only after we have exhausted our options in Canada,” Lapierre commented.

UbiTennis has learned that officials are considering moving the event to Cincinnati where the men’s and women’s tournament would be played in consecutive weeks. It would take place before the start of the Western and Southern Open. The state will lift their mask mandate and all remaining coronavirus health orders except those for nursing homes and assisted living facilities on June 2.

On May 11th Canada reported its lowest number of daily COVID-19 cases since March. More than 16.5 million people in the country have received at least one dose of a vaccine which works out to be roughly 40.5% of the population.

As it currently stands, the tournament is scheduled to take place from Aug. 7-15 with the women and men playing in Montreal and Toronto, respectively.

The National Bank Open is categorised as a Masters 1000 event for the men and as a WTA 1000 for the women. Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu are the reigning champions.

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