Coronavirus Risk Not Severe Enough To Deny Struggling Players Earning Opportunities - UBITENNIS
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Coronavirus Risk Not Severe Enough To Deny Struggling Players Earning Opportunities

Most tennis players struggle to break even during an average year, so they desperately need opportunities to earn money in 2020.

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Danielle Collins at the 2019 Australian Open (photo @Sport Vision - Chryslène Caillaud)

According to a 2015 professional circuit review by the ITF, it costs the average tennis player about $160,000 per year (including coaching costs) to compete.

 

By anyone’s estimation, that is a lot, so it should come as no great surprise that only around 160 men and 150 women earned enough in 2013 to break even from prize money alone.

Even though prize money has increased a bit since then, most professional players still do not have a lot of money in the bank to fall back on when times are hard. And a total suspension of the tennis tours due to a global pandemic is about as difficult as it gets.

However, the number of people infected with coronavirus is falling all the time, and the risk level associated with the disease is rapidly dwindling, so it is now time for professional sport to resume.

Naturally, precautions are needed. But sports such as football have shown exactly how to put these in place in order to hold events safely. Admittedly, tennis is one of the most complicated sports to organise responsibly due to its global nature.

Despite this, the ATP, WTA and ITF governing bodies have a responsibility to enable players to have the opportunities they need to earn enough money to pay all of their living costs.

That is why, whatever you have heard some of the top players say about it, the USTA is doing the right thing by continuing to plan for the US Open to take place on the dates it is scheduled for, from 31 August to 13 September.

Vickery Speaks Out

Sachia Vickery, the World No.158, summed up the situation in the most effective way when she responded to comments made by Novak Djokovic that it would be “impossible” to play at Flushing Meadows due to the restrictions imposed by the USTA.

“He should go and play a 60k (lower-level ITF tournament) in Troy, Alabama and then come back and let us know how hard the conditions are,” Vickery told Sky Sports.

“It’s a little selfish to say that in a way because there are so many players who cannot afford to have seven or eight people travel with them in their team. Most of us are used to travelling with just one or two people.”

The American later added on Twitter, “Make no mistake he (Djokovic) has earned everything he’s worked for in his career and he’s incredible , my point is not all players have the luxury of traveling with an entire entourage so if they have to make a few restrictions in order for everyone to make a living it’s understandable.”

Danielle Collins, the World No.51, expressed a similar view in an Instagram story post. “No one has been able to play sanctioned events or make money since February,” she said. “This is a massive opportunity for players to start making money again, and here we have the top player in the world saying only being able to bring one person with [him] will be too difficult.”

Top Players Do Not Have Money Concerns

Novak Djokovic (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Collins’ last point about Djokovic being the top player in the world is an important one because it is obvious that the Serbian does not have to worry about money. He can decide whether or not to compete based entirely on whether he feels comfortable doing so.

Furthermore, the decisions made by Djokovic and other players about whether to compete when tennis resumes should not be criticised. They should be free to make whatever choice they want. However, top players should not go around telling the media about all the reasons why tournaments should not take place because their negative views on the matter do not help anyone.

They can think they want about the situation, but they should keep it to themselves and let the rest of the tour get on with the business of earning enough money to live by.

As Boris Becker put it when he spoke to Eurosport Germany’s Vocal Podcast, “I am concerned about the profession of a tennis player. Not about the first hundred players of the world, who hopefully have enough money in their accounts and don’t need next week’s prize money. But a thousand players, who also call themselves tennis pros, they have nothing to work for at the moment. If this break lasts any longer, they will have to look for another job. They have to feed themselves and pay the rent.”

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Emma Raducanu Looking For Experience After Splitting With Coach

Emma Raducanu revealed her post-US Open plans as she prepares for life on the main WTA tour.

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Emma Raducanu (@CambridgeAwe - Twitter)

Emma Raducanu is looking for more experience in her team after splitting from her short-term coach Andrew Richardson.

 

The US Open champion revealed the news at the ‘homecoming party’ set up at the National Tennis Centre in London where the Duchess of Cambridge was present.

Speaking at the event Raducanu said that she needed more experience as she will now play on the main tour on a regular basis, “At this stage of my career I really need someone that has had that WTA Tour experience at that high level,” Raducanu was quoted as saying by the BBC website.

“Especially right now as I’m so new to it, I think I really need someone just to guide me who has already been through that themselves. “Never did I even dream of winning the US Open and now I’m ranked 22 in the world, which is pretty crazy to me.”

Richardson was always a short-term arrangement with him now committed to improving his 10 year-old son.

As for Raducanu she is now 22 in the world and faces unfamiliar territory in playing a full-time schedule.

After winning the US Open as a qualifier, Raducanu has received unlimited amount of attention and expectation which is something she will need guidance with.

Now Raducanu will set out a schedule in the next few days with the Brit set to return as early as Indian Wells which starts on the 6th of October, “I got back on court a few days ago, and yesterday I did a full training day,” she explained.

“I was feeling pretty good about myself and my game, and I am very excited to compete again. All the opportunities I am getting have been very fun, but where I really want to be is on the tennis court, as I’m just thriving out there.

“I haven’t decided on my schedule yet – I will decide in the next few days where I am going to go to – but wherever I play next, I’m going to make sure I’m ready. I don’t want to jump into things too early.”

Should the 18 year-old make a strong end to the season then she could make the WTA Finals in Guadalajara.

Although she is 14th in the race, players such as Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka could miss the event and it’s something that is on the back of the mind of Raducanu, “The WTA Finals I would never even dream of before, because it was just so far out of reach and out of sight, but coming reasonably close to it now, I think it would be great if I qualified,” she admitted.

“But if not, it’s a complete bonus, because my priority is just putting in the best possible pre-season that I can, so I can start strong next year and next season.”

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Berrettini pulls off comeback win over Auger Aliassime at Laver Cup

Matteo Berrettini contributed to a 3-1 overall scoreline for Team Europe over Team World after day one of the Laver Cup.

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Matteo Berrettini (@LaverCup - Twitter)

The Italian fought back from a set down to beat the Canadian and give team Europe a commanding lead.

 

In the longest match in Laver Cup history so far Matteo Berrettini needed a match tiebreak to beat the world number 11 and good friend Felix Auger Aliassime 6-7, 7-5, 10-8 in a match that lasted two hours and 52 minutes.

The Italian hit 15 winners and served seven aces while the Montreal native hit 37 unforced errors in the loss.

“I was fighting and I felt the match was really hard and Felix (Auger-Aliassime) was playing well and he didn’t give me anything and he made no mistakes and he was serving really well and I felt a different energy because we are playing for a team, not just myself and they helped me a lot”.

The first set stayed on serve until 2-2 when it was the Italian with the first two breakpoints of the match but the Canadian was able to save both and hold serve.

The next game was a rollercoaster and the Montreal native responded by earning four chances to break and after 13 minutes finally made the breakthrough to take a 4-2 lead.

At 5-3, the world number 11 found himself with two set points but failed to convert and the Italian fought back and got the break back and at 6-5 the Canadian had five more set points but again the Italian saved all five and the set was decided by a tiebreaker.

Auger Aliassime got the early break to take a 2-0 lead and that break was enough for him to finally serve out the first set and take a 1-0 set lead. The world number seven was keen to bounce back and had two early chances to break at 1-1 but the Canadian saved both and held serve once again.

The very next game it was the Montreal native turn to apply the pressure on the Berrettini serve but the Italian managed to save both breakpoints he faced and held serve.

At 5-5, the Canadian kept pushing earning two more break points but couldn’t get the breakthrough, and the very next game the Rome native pounced and managed to get the crucial break to win the second set and force a match tiebreak.

The breaker was extremely tight until 3-3 when the Canadian managed to get the break and jumped out to a 5-3 lead before losing two straight points and the breaker was even at five.

Once again the world number 11 got the break again and was up 7-5 but again lost two straight points and we were even at seven and then at 9-8 Berrettini with the rally of the match sealed the win with a great passing shot.

After the match in his post-match interview, the Italian was asked about being selected to play doubles in the night session.

“I am going to be honest when they told me I would be playing singles and doubles I didn’t expect to play a match that long so I spoke with the captain and we will see but I am still young”.

Day 1 results

Casper Ruud got the ball rolling for Team Europe as he beat the American Rielly Opelka in the first match of the day in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 to give his team the first point of the tournament.

In the first match of the night session Andrey Rublev gave Team Europe a convincing 3-0 lead as he came back to beat the Argentine Diego Schwartzman 4-6, 6-3, 11-9 in the match tiebreaker.

Finally in the last match of the day Team World got their first point as the duo of John Isner and Denis Shapovalov came back from a set down to beat the doubles pairing of Matteo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev 4-6, 7-6, 10-1.

Day 2 preview:

Day 2 features some amazing matchups in both the day and night session with Stefanos Tsitsipas starting the day against the Aussie Nick Krygios before John Isner takes on Alexander Zverev.

In the night session Denis Shapovalov takes on the US Open champion from Russia Danil Medvedev with another doubles match wrapping things up as the team of Andrey Rublev and Tsitispas will take on John Isner and Nick Kyrgios.

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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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