How The Top Player’s On The ATP Tour Have Responded To The Prospect Of Playing US Open - UBITENNIS
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How The Top Player’s On The ATP Tour Have Responded To The Prospect Of Playing US Open

Here are what 12 men currently eligible to play in the main draw of the New York major have said about travelling to the American city and the reservations they have.

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On Monday the world of men’s tennis will learn what the remainder of the 2020 season could look like when the United States Tennis Association make their announcement.

 

June 15th is set to be the day where it will be confirmed if this year’s US Open will go ahead and what rules will be in place. Over recent months there have been concerns about whether or not the event should get underway in a place that has been the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in America. According to latest official figures, the state of New York has recorded over 209,000 cases with 17,000 deaths.

The conundrum has left newly appointed tournament director Stacey Allaster with three options :-

  • The US Open and the Masters 1000 to be played at Flushing Meadows, but this would require the cancellation of the qualifying tournament and the downsizing of the doubles draw to 24 couples;
  • The cancellation of Cincinnati with the US Open maintaining the qualifying draw and a full-size doubles event;
  • The cancellation of both Cincinnati and the US Open.

It is still to be confirmed what option the USTA are leaning towards, but they are desperate to hold their premier event given the current financial difficulties. It is unknown if fans will be able to attend the tournament or not, but they still have various TV and sponsorship deals at stake. But if it does get the green light, how many top names on the men’s tour will be on board?

Here is a collection of the views from some stars of the men’s tour.

The top 10

Novak Djokovic (world No.1)

Three-time champion Novak Djokovic has been one of the most high-profile players on the tour to admit he has doubts about playing in New York. The Serbian, who is also the president of the ATP Players Council, said the possible measures that could be in place may be problematic for him. In his view, one of the most troublesome is the idea of allowing just one member of a player’s team to be on site with them. Instead, he has hinted that he may choose to concentrate on the clay this year.

“For me at the moment, as things stand, the most realistic is that the season will continue on clay, in early September.” Djokovic told RTS on June 6th about his potential US Open plans. “Madrid, Rome, probably some more tournaments before Roland Garros.’
“Of course, we would all like to return to the court as soon as possible, to play tournaments. Before the US Open and the US Open itself. I hope that will happen, but there must simply be some kind of compromise and agreement between the players and the organizers. Will it happen? We will see.”

Rafael Nadal (world No.2)

As the reigning champion Rafael Nadal has 2000 points to defend, so any decision to miss the US Open will be a costly one. On June 6th the Spaniard was asked if he would play at the US Open if it was taking place today, which he said no to. During a recent online press conference with members of the International Tennis Writers Association, Nadal said he was ‘confident’ that the USTA would make the right decision without committing to playing or not.

“It’s not an ideal situation. If you asked me today if I wanted to travel to New York and play I would say no,” Nadal said. “But in a couple of months I don’t know how the situation will improve. Hopefully it will be in the right way. I’m sure the people who organise the event, the USTA, want a safe event.’
“I am confident that they will make the right decision at the right moment. To be sure that if the tournament is going to be played, it will be under safe circumstances. If not, in my opinion, it doesn’t make sense. We need to be responsible.”

Dominic Thiem (No.3)

Australian Open runner-up Dominic Thiem is sticking to the cautious side before committing to playing. The Austrian was knocked out in the first round of the US Open last year. Speaking to reporters in Belgrade, where he is playing in the Adria Tour, Thiem said there should be changes first before the event goes ahead.

“All of these circumstances are pretty tough,” the world No.3 said. “So I think some circumstances will have to change (for it to) make sense to go there,” the 26-year-old Austrian said.

Roger Federer (No.4) – has ended 2020 season due to injury

Daniil Medvedev (No.5)

Has made no public comment about playing at the US Open or not. The only time he touched on the topic was during a French-speaking interview with We Love Tennis where he said he doesn’t believe the dominance of the Big Three will be ended if the Tour resumed later this year. Medvedev was runner-up at the US Open to Rafael Nadal last season.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (No.6)

The Greek tennis sensation says a big sticking point for him is the prospect of playing the grand slam without an audience. An option reportedly being considered due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place. Speaking to Greek journalist Vicky Georgatou during an interview for sdna.gr, Tsitsipas argues the Tour shouldn’t restart until things ‘are back to normal.’

“My personal view is that it is important to have these tournaments with people and not in front of empty stands,” he said. “For me, they have to wait until things get normal again, get back to the pace we were before and not think about the financial part, which is definitely the biggest factor. For example, in the US Open there are a lot of sponsors, a lot of financial interests and that’s why I think they want the tournament to take place. And I totally understand that, but for me it’s important to wait until we get back to normal and do everything in the ideal way, without there being such big changes that we’re not used to playing with.”

Alexander Zverev (No.7)

Germany’s top player told Sport Klub this weekend that the tournament should not be going ahead based on the current circumstances. Alexander Zverev has concerns that the restrictions are going to make it too hard for player’s to perform at their best abilities. He is yet to progress beyond the fourth round of the tournament.

“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.”

Matteo Berrettini (No.8)

It was at the US Open last year where Matteo Berrettini made his major breakthrough on the tour. It was at the tournament where he became only the second Italian man in history to reach the semi-final stage. A milestone that helped elevate him inside the world’s top 10 for the first time. Unlike others, Berrettini seems to already be planning to travel to New York if it goes ahead.

“If in the next few days we will have certainties about the restart, there will be over two months to prepare for the US Open, so I don’t see any difficulty,” he told Corriere Dello Sport. “Rather, the problem will be to quickly regain the rhythm of the game. Of course, in Flushing Meadows I will have to defend many points, it will not be the ideal situation.”

Gael Monfils (No.9)

The Frenchman hasn’t publicly commented on this subject, but has previously stated his intention to play at his home grand slam. Which is set to take place shortly after Flushing Meadows. Monfils has reached the quarter-finals or better at the US Open three times.

David Goffin (No.10)

The Belgian joins Monfils and Medvedev in dodging questions about if he would play at the US Open or not. However, during a recent interview with RTL he said that playing behind closed doors would be different. He has also retuned to training and will be playing in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) in France.

“Of course it will not be the same thing at all because we live with the public and the public gives us energy. And sometimes, that’s what makes me better and that’s it that we love too. Now we will see. Even if we can play matches behind closed doors, there will still be this tension of wanting to do well, of wanting to win the match. But it will not be the same anyway.”

How other player’s have reacted

“Until I know more it is very hard to comment on it because there are so many moving parts. Also if you think about it, it is changing by the day and by the minute. So if something is valid about a week ago, right now it is completely different rules. I think once a decision is set I feel that I can comment more on it.”
Grigor Dimitrov to Sport Klub

“The ATP is trying to make the US Open go ahead. Selfish with everything going on at the moment. Obviously Covid, but also with the riots, together we need to overcome these challenges before tennis returns in my opinion.”
Nick Kyrgios wrote on Twitter on June 11th.

“I do not agree with certain measures. There are players for whom the physical trainer is very important, like the physiotherapist. Limiting the staff to only one coach seems to me to be a measure that will be difficult to pass. In any case, I will not accept it. Even if the tournament puts a physiotherapist at your disposal, not having your physiotherapist with you at the hotel is not possible.”
Roberto Bautista Agut to Eurosport

“If you look to the current environment in America right now, both with COVID and the riots, it’s probably not the most conducive conditions. Obviously the USTA, they have an objective and that is to try and play it at all costs. I understand their predicament. But for me, that timeframe looks a little unlikely.”
John Millman to The Sydney Morning Herald.

“I don’t think having one person of your team only allowed is such a big deal – the majority of the draw would only travel with one coach. Not everyone’s travelling with physios and fitness trainers like Novak said, so I think his argument there is not really valid for the rest of the draw, apart from the real top guys.”
Dan Evans to Radio 5 Live.

ATP

Nick Kyrgios Slams Thiem Over Defence Of Controversy-Stricken Adria Tour

The world No.40 has accused the Austrian of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to understand his view.

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Australian star Nick Kyrgios has continued his public criticism of the Adria Tour by taking aim at two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem.

 

The 25-year-old has repeatedly hit out at the exhibition event, which Thiem participated in. Organised by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, the event took place in Belgrade and Zadar before it was scrapped following an outbreak of COVID-19 among both players and coaching staff. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric all got infected. The outbreak came after the Adria Tour was criticised for a lack of social distancing and players attended various public events together. Although at the time, all of their actions were done in accordance with local regulations. Something the Serbian Prime Minister now admits was a mistake.

However, Thiem has called out Kyrgios over his vocal criticism of fellow Adria Tour competitor Alexander Zverev. The German attended a party in southern France less than a week after the COVID-19 outbreak despite issuing a statement saying he would go into self-isolation.

“It was his mistake, but I don’t why a lot of people want to interfere. Kyrgios has done a lot of mistakes. It would be better for him to come clear instead of criticising others,” Thiem told Tiroler Tageszeitung.

Continuing to defend the actions of his fellow players, Thiem also jumped to the defence of Djokovic. Who has been under heavy criticism over the event with some going as far as questioning his position as president of the ATP Players Council.

“He didn’t commit a crime. We all make mistakes, but I don’t understand all the criticism. I’ve been to Nice and also saw pictures from other cities. It’s no different from Belgrade during the tournament. It’s too cheap to shoot at Djokovic.”

The comments have now been blasted by Kyrgios, who stands by his previous criticism of players. Accusing Thiem of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to see his point of view.

“What are you talking about @ThiemDomi? Mistakes like smashing rackets? Swearing? Tanking a few matches here or there? Which everyone does?” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
“None of you have the intellectual level to even understand where I’m coming from. I’m trying to hold them accountable.”
“People losing lives, loved ones and friends, and then Thiem standing up for the ‘mistake,'” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide and some players have voiced concerns over travelling to America which has recently seen a rise in cases. On Wednesday Alexi Popyrin became the first player to say he won’t play the US Open due to health concerns.

The ATP Tour is set to resume next month but it is unclear as to what events Thiem and Kyrgios will be playing in.

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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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ATP Announces 22-Month Ranking System To Support Players Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Parts of the changes have been done to help support those who prefer not to or can not travel to tournaments due to safety concerns.

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The ATP Tour has revised their calculations for this year’s ranking system with the governing body admitting that the new changes could also be applied in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Players on the men’s Tour have been given a wider period where they can select their best tournaments to determine their ranking. Prior to the suspension of competitive tennis, male players were allowed to select their 18 best performances in tournaments within a 52-week period. This has now been expanded to 22 months (March 2019-December 2020). Although they are not allowed to use the same tournament twice.

In a press release the ATP says their new measures allows ‘flexibility and fairness’ with players on the tour. Furthermore, it has been designed with the possibility of the rules continuing into 2021 should the ongoing pandemic continue to disrupt the Tour in some degree. Outlining their objectives, the ATP says one of their goals is to protect those who ‘cannot or prefer not to compete in 2020 due to health & safety.’ A point recently raised by Australian player Alexei Popyrin who has voiced concerns about playing at the US Open.

“There are talks regarding the US Open but I really don’t want to go with the situation in America right now,” Popyrin said at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown over the weekend.
“But we have to see if we would be forced to go because of ranking points.
“If the ranking points won’t be frozen, then most of us would be forced to go play cause our ranking will drop and we wouldn’t have any say in it.
“But if the rankings are frozen, then I am staying here.
“I will stay in Europe where it’s safe with my family.”

As a result of the changes, it remains to be seen if this will have any effect on other players concerning their decision to play at the New York major which will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history. Some parts of America have reported a surge in COVID-19 cases with 52,228 New Cases being reported on July 5th.

Under the new calculations, no player will have less ranking points than what they currently have at present. The ATP rankings have been frozen since March 16th but will resume on the Monday after the first tournament in the revised calendar concludes.

There are exceptions to the new 22-month ruling. Qualification for the ATP Finals will still be based on 52 weeks because the event is classed as an ‘additional tournament.’ Therefore it doesn’t count as one of the 18 key events to determine a player’s ranking. Points from last year’s tournament will drop off on November 9th after the Paris Masters. The reason for doing so is to make the chances of qualifying more fair. Furthermore Challenger and ITF events will also be based on the 52-week rule because ‘events are scheduled on a one-year basis and do not have consistent spots in the calendar.’

The ATP Tour is set to resume at the Citi Open in Washington during the second week of August.

A full FAQ of the new ranking system can be read here.

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