Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour Offers Hope, But No Guarantee Of What Tennis Could Look Like In The Future - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour Offers Hope, But No Guarantee Of What Tennis Could Look Like In The Future

Belgrade looks and feels like how a tennis tournament should be. But it is also giving the sport a false sense of hope?



The Novak Djokovic Tennis Center in Belgrade (image via

Watching the Adria Tour get underway in the Serbian capital of Belgrade has given tennis fans a much needed reminder of what the sport was like before COVID-19 brought everything to a standstill.


Hundreds of spectators sat shoulder-to-shoulder cheering on the players from the sidelines, which included three members of the top 10. Among them is co-founder of the event Novak Djokovic. The ball boys and girls had their usual tasks of handling the balls, as well as towels. Then when matches finished, the traditional signing of autographs took place. It was a delight to see, but looks can be deceiving.

On the opening day of the Tour many were quick to question the lack of social distancing at the event. A protocol encouraged worldwide in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Serbia has not been the hardest hit country by the virus, but they still have a fight on their hands. According to the latest figures, there have been just over 12,000 cases with 250 deaths.

“We have different circumstances and measures, so it’s very difficult to think of international standards,” Djokovic said.
“You can also criticize us and say this is maybe dangerous, but it’s not up to me to make the calls about what is right or wrong for health,” he continued. “We are doing what the Serbian government is telling us and hopefully we soon will get back on tour collectively.”

Whilst some have criticised Djokovic’s event, it is not the first in Serbia to attract a mass crowd. In fact, earlier in the week 25,000 people turned up for a local derby in Belgrade between two football teams. Something physician Dejan Zujovic described as a “a huge, enormous, totally unjustified epidemiological risk”. Zujovic caught COVID-19 whilst treating others in the city.

Nevertheless, the Adria Tour has illustrated that it is still possible to organize a top-level tournament during the health crises. But how likely is it that the achievements and approaches taken by the Belgrade event could be applied to the Tour when it resumes again?

On Monday the United States Tennis Association will make their final decision regarding the US Open and if it will get underway on August 31st. There has been a lot of debate over the event with many player’s voicing their concerns over what Djokovic describes as ‘extreme measures.’ Under one set of proposals, players will not be able to go to Manhattan and they will only be allowed on site with one member of their team.

“All of these circumstances are pretty tough,” Dominic Thiem told reporters on Friday.
“So I think some circumstances will have to change (for it to) make sense to go there.”

Germany’s Alexander Zverev shares a similar view with Thiem when it comes to Flushing Meadows. New York has been the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in America with more than 17,000 deaths. This is more than 60 times higher than that of Serbia.

“With how it is right now, if it stays like that with the quarantine times, only being able to take one person (to the site), having to stay in one hotel and not being able to use the showers on site. It’s tough to play a grand slam because everything at a grand slam has to be perfect,” he said.
“I’m not sure a lot of player’s are for it right now, but the USTA has to decide.’
“In my opinion with how it is now we should not be playing.”

The great thing about the Adria Tour is that it provides a brief break in guessing what the professional Tour’s could look like when they resume. However, in reality the idea of repeating scenes with a packed crowd and player’s interacting face-to-face with fans is still a long way off in professional tennis. Even Djokovic’s Tour has experienced their own problems related to COVID-19 with the Montenegrin leg being axed on Saturday over concerns.

“I am so sad for the Montenegro leg,” the world No.1 told Sport Klub.
“We tried everything, but the borders are still not open and we don’t have time to organise it all.”

Montenegro’s withdrawal is yet another reminder of the complexity the sport faces over the coming months. Tennis is in some way at a disadvantage of being a global sport with player’s all over the world gathering to play at one specific location at a time. Rafael Nadal, who is the defending champion at the two remaining Grand Slams hoping to be played later this year, believes the sport shouldn’t resume until it is accessible for everybody.

“If we are not able to organise a tournament that is not safe enough or fair enough where every player from every part of the world needs to have the chance to play the tournament we can’t play, that’s my feeling.” Nadal stated.

It is clear that there remains a high degree of discontent when it comes to the idea of potentially resuming the sport. Djokovic’s well organised and highly entertaining Adria Tour provides a much needed break to all this uncertainty. But don’t expect the scenes of the event to be replicated on the ATP and WTA Tour’s in the coming months.

The sad reality is that tennis still has a long way to go with many hurdles to tackle during the era of COVID-19.


Former Roland Garros champions and five top 20 players to highlight a great edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo



The Ladies Open WTA International in Palermo will be the first tournament to be held next August since last February.


The Italian tournament will feature a great line-up which includes two confirmed past Roland Garros champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Ostapenko and five top 20 players. There is a good chance that 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep could be added in the field.

“We are glad about Simona Halep’s great interest in Palermo Ladies Open. We will be waiting for her at the Country Club for an historic edition of the Palermo tournament. We have been in contact with Halep’s manager for some time. We have been talking for days about her potential participation in Palermo. She is one of the best players in the world and her presence would contribute to make an already high-level tournament extrahordinary. We will leave our doors open to her for as long as possible, as well as for other top ten players that will want to resume their season in Palermo”, said tournament’s CEO Oliviero Palma.

The other stars who have signed up to the Ladies Open are 2019 Roland Garros champion Marketa Vondrousova, two Grand Slam semifinalists Elise Mertens (2018 Australian Open) and Anastasija Sevastova (2018 US Open), Aryna Sabalenka (winner at the Wuhan Open in 2018 and 2019, WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and Doha in 2020) and Elina Rybakina (winner in Hobart and finalist in St. Petersburg and Dubai in 2020), Dayana Yastremska (winner of three tournaments in Hong Kong in 2018, Thailand and Strasbourg in 2019).

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova lift the titles in Perugia



Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova won the Zzz Quill Tennis Tour in Perugia. Sonego followed up his Italian title won the previous week in Todi with a 3-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 win over Croatia’s Viktor Galovic (world number 269 and number 7 seed) in the final of the Perugia tournament.


“Galovic started very well. It was difficult to adjust to his game and improve during the match. I maintained the right attitude and I managed to win the title. I enjoyed two fantastic weeks in Todi and Perugia. This confirmed my good work in training in the past two weeks. I gave my best and I am confident for the rest of the season”, said Sonego.

World number 117 Liudmila Samsonova won the women’s title came back from one set down to beat world number 307 Stefania Rubini 4-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6) in the women’s final after saving two match points.

“I won a very tough final with a lot of ups and downs. I am happy that I played many matches. It was one of my goals on the eve of the tournament. I showed that I am able to keep the level of my tennis high, when I play focused”, said Samsonova.   



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[EXCLUSIVE] Brandon Nakashima: “I Love Federer, But My Game Resembles More Djokovic’s”

Nakashima speaks to UbiTennis about his liveliest memory of training with Nadal at Wimbledon. The duels he had with Lorenzo Musetti and Tseng Chun-Hsin, the high praise for Sebastian Korda and Hugo Gaston. Why he doesn’t like clubbing and what his new coach Pat Cash has been advising him to do.



The latest instalment of UbiTennis’ video series sees Ubaldo Scanagatta and Steve Flink speak with Brandon Nakashima. An 18-year-old American tennis star born on August 3, 2001, who goes by the nickname B-Nak.


He is at No.220 in the ATP Rankings (with a career best at 218) and is second-best among those who were born in 2001, trailing only Jannik Sinner. His surname is of Japanese origin, but it was his Vietnamese maternal grandfather who initiated him to the game of tennis when he was three. He is 1.85 metres tall and weighs 78 kilograms. He was born in San Diego, and his father Wesley was also born in California – his parents are both pharmacists. He played for the University of Virginia, where he was the Freshman of the Year for the Atlantic Coast Conference, before moving on to the pros.

Since Delray Beach, in February, he’s been working with Pat Cash, immediately reaching the quarter finals and beating four Top 100 players. His best shot is his two-handed backhand, and his favourite player is Federer. A superb athlete, he is considered the best American prospect. He is self-described as shy, but he actually isn’t that much, once he gets going. He loves sushi, but also admits to having a sweet tooth. Given the status of some of his victims, it can be assumed that he’s already better than his ranking.


Minute 00:00: Introduction and recap of his highest-profile wins.

03:40: His behaviour during the Covid-19 pandemic: “I wear a mask whenever I’m outside. I’ve been trying to stay cautious as much as possible in public areas”. He also appreciates the chance of being able to train at some local private courts.

05:07: The special relationship with his grandfather: “My mom’s dad is from Vietnam. He first started to get me out on the court when I was about three and a half years old, just feeding me balls at a local park and from that time onward I started practicing more and more everyday”.

06:45: Bonding with his main coach, Pat Cash, during the pandemic.

07:38: Cash claims he noticed immediately Brandon’s “extraordinary racquet control” – does he think that this is his best quality too?

08:42: Their first meeting: “We had a couple of mutual friends; at the time I had just turned pro and I was looking for a good coach…”

11:53: His idols growing up: “I always liked to watch Federer play, but I think now my game is more similar to Djokovic’s”.

12:40: The experience of hitting with Nadal: “A couple of years ago I was playing the junior Wimbledon tournament…”

14:36: His thoughts on the best future prospects…

17:20: His transition as a pro aged only 17: “It was crucial on and off the court for me to go to college and to then play a full season at 17 [Editor’s Note: at the University of Virginia], it helped my game and made me mature as a person. I’d advise most players to go to college and get that experience…”

19:45: Recapping his best junior Slam results.

21:25: Developing his game with Pat Cash: “During these training blocks here in California, we definitely decided to work a lot on the transition and net game to add more variety into my game…”

23:55: What are his current plans? “It’s tough to plan tournaments right now since we don’t know when or if they’re even starting…”

25:35: How does he feel about the issue of playing behind closed doors? “It will be interesting, everybody is so used to people watching, so I think most players will find it maybe a little weird at the beginning…”

26:47: His off-court life: “I try to relax and have fun. I like playing other sports, on days off I play golf with friends or relax at home watching TV, just getting the mind away from tennis. I don’t like going to dance or clubs, it never was my type of feeling of going out; I like a more chill state with my friends.”

30:04: His knowledge of tennis history.

31:30: Where does Brandon see himself in 2022/23? “The goal is to keep improving my results and my rankings, and maybe…”

33:20: After the Big Three era, who is his pick to become the next world N.1?

36:10: Pat Cash’s most frequent tip: “I have to train to get ready for the Slams…”

Article written and translated by Tommaso Villa

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