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Richard Gasquet Blasts ‘Catastrophic’ ATP

The former world No.7 has criticised the ATP over their handling related to the COVID-19 pandemic and has called for tennis matches to be shortened.

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Richard Gasquet, Rolex Paris Masters 2018, Simple Messieurs, 1er Tour, Photo : Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

French tennis veteran Richard Gasquet has launched a verbal attack against the governing body of men’s tennis over both their management of the current COVID-19 pandemic and their policies.

 

The 34-year-old former Grand Slam semi-finalist ripped into the ATP during a recent interview with sports newspaper L’Equipe earlier this week. In it he accused the organisation of being ‘overwhelmed’ by the pandemic and lacking transparency. All competitive tennis tournaments have been cancelled since March due to the Virus with officials aiming to restart the Tour next month.

“The ATP is a catastrophe,” Gasquet told L’Equipe. “They don’t say anything to the players. They are simply overwhelmed. Nothing is said in Zoom conferences, so I do not attend.”

In recent weeks some players have expressed concerns about returning to action and travelling to America. A country which has recently seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in some parts. For the first time in history the US Open will be held behind closed doors and players will be essentially kept in what is being described as a ‘bubble.’ Although there is still a lack of clarity about quarantine measures when travelling between America and Europe.

The final decision about the US Open will be made by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and not the ATP. Tennis is made up of seven governing bodies and each Grand Slam has their own. Gasquet, who says he no longer listens to the ATP, has also hit out at those tennis federations which includes the one in his own country. Branding them as ‘puppets.’

“It is the authorities who decide,” Gasquet stated. “But neither Bernard Giudicelli (the president of the FFT) nor the president of the USTA are decision-makers. The federations are puppets.”
“You go to the hotel, you stay in your room, someone has a meal for you, and you go out to play. There just have to be a lot of regulations,“ he added about the US Open.

The route of Gasquet’s frustration is the unanswered questions he and others on the Tour are facing concerning its resumption. Due to the pandemic, the US Open and French Open will take place within seven weeks as well as two clay-court Masters 1000 events. Something the former top 10 player has described as ‘completely crazy’ during another interview with Le Parisien three weeks ago.

“I said from the start that tennis was going to be the sport most affected by this kind of pandemic,” said Gasquet. “It is confirmed. Here we are in a total blur. Nothing is known about possible quarantines upon return from the USA. And planes? At the moment you cannot book flights. Nobody knows anything.”

Besides the pandemic, a straightforward-speaking Gasquet also heavily criticised some other aspects of the sport. Making a jibe at the rules currently in place on the ATP Tour before coming out in support of shortening matches. Saying he can no longer watch long duels involving the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. According to the ATP, Gasquet has played 24 five-set matches in his career but has won only 11 of them.

“With the ATP you can do nothing. You open your mouth a little, you say something bad, it’s a $3,000 fine. Your coach whispers something, you get punished. It’s unbearable,” he fumes.
“I can’t even watch Roland Garros anymore. I can’t watch four or five sets of tennis, even for a Federer-Nadal match. We are the only sport where you play more than four hours…. There are some things to think about to shorten playing time.”

Gasquet has been ranked as high as seventh in the world rankings and has won 15 ATP titles. So far in his career, he has made more than $18 million in prize money.

note: translation of quotes obtained via Tennis Majors

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The Trial Has Ended: David Ferrer Is Now A Head Coach Of Alexander Zverev

The former French Open finalist is set to become a regular face on the men’s Tour once again but in a differnt capacity.

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By Emil Evtimov

David Ferrer is the new head coach of Alexander Zverev alongside his father Alexander Sr. The news was revealed by the world No.7 after his win against Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown in Nice.

 

In the beginning of July Zverev announced that he and Ferrer will work together on a trial basis for two weeks in Monte Carlo. Now the German confirmed that the former world No.3 and Roland Garros finalist will be on his side as a coach at least until the end of the year. 

“The trial period is over. We are together. We understand each other great and now we are a team,” said Zverev.

Ferrer won’t be the first prominent name in team Zverev. Previously the three-time Masters 1000 champion worked with Juan Carlos Ferrero and Ivan Lendl. Since the end of his relationship with Lendl, Zverev has been trained mainly by his dad.

“David and my father are both my head coaches now. My dad doesn’t get any younger. Both are extremely important for the team.”

For Ferrer this will be the first coaching experience. His playing career ended in May 2019 during the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid with his last opponent on the court being none other than Zverev.

For quite a long time Zverev was considered the big star from the young generation but in 2019 was a bit overshadowed by players such as Stefanos Tsitsipas and  Daniil Medvedev.

The German began 2020 with a great performance at the Australian Open reaching the semifinals where he lost to Dominic Thiem in four sets.

Zverev is on the entry list for the first tournament after the pandemic – the Western & Southern Open which will be staged in New York to create a “protective bubble” for the US Open. The 23-year old talks also about the Grand Slam tournament, saying he would prefer it not to happen, although he is going to play at this point.

“It is a bit crazy to play the US Open now. I would prefer if it would not happen and we just restart in Europe. Because of the pandemic it is not the right time to fly. But when they host the open – what shall we played do? Especially when everyone plays’ it is about ranking points, too. At this point I didn’t think about withdrawing. If everyone reacts within hygiene rules and it will be similar to the NBA bubble it could work out.”

Zverev was one of the tennis players most criticized for his behaviour during the pandemic. The reason was his participation in the Adria Tour where he and his colleagues weren’t following the social distancing rules very strictly. The German gave a negative test for COVID-19 after finding out about the positive test of Grigor Dimitrov. He promised to be in quarantine for safety reasons but was seen partying a few days after. This caused a criticism from Nick Kyrgios, as well as a Twitter war between the Australian and German legend Boris Becker.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas opens up: “I Wasn’t Sure If I Was Good Enough”

Stefanos Tsitsipas reflects on how hard it was in the beginning of his pro career.

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BY EMIL EVTIMOV

 

In the latest instalment of “Behind the Racquet” world No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas has shed light on the personal struggles he encountered whilst breaking into the sport.

Tsitsipas had a great 2019 season, climbing from N.15 to N.6 at the end of the year after winning the Nitto ATP Finals, as well as two ATP 250 tournaments in Estoril and Marseille. He also reached the final of the Madrid Open.

However, life wasn’t always so easy for the charming Greek. In his “Behind the Racquet” post, he recalls the times when he was playing Futures while doubting that he was good enough to play professional tennis. He admitted he was feeling “very lonely” and not having many friends on the ATP tour.

Here is the Tsitsipas story in the “Behind the Racquet”:

“In 2018, I broke into the Top 15 and was seeded in Grand Slams. That’s when I understood my potential. In the beginning, I traveled with only my dad. Now, I travel with my dad, mom, and three siblings. I’m the main source of income for my family. 

I have hobbies that keep me interested in different aspects of life. These activities keep me creative and are reflected in my tennis game and presence on court. Sometimes, I post things on my social media that not many people understand. These posts express my inner creativity. I’m just trying to be different from the rest. I put Stefanos’ twist on life. I am philosophical, I come from a country with a history of philosophy and I don’t know if I was Pythagoras or Socrates in my previous life, but I wouldn’t mind being either one. 

There was a time when I wasn’t doing well. I started to play futures and was doubting myself. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to play professional tennis. My country was going through hard times. Greece was on the verge of bankruptcy. The entire population was suffering. My father’s siblings were unemployed and couldn’t feed their families. People looked at me like I was the one ruling the country and they thought I was part of the problem. 

I felt isolated. I wasn’t home to see what was going on because I was traveling. I needed support. My mental coach shared his wisdom and inspired me. Then I said to myself, ‘You’ve dedicated your entire life to tennis, you can’t just give up. You’ve got to keep going.’ I play tennis to prove that my country has a great history and can achieve success. Tennis is a very introverted sport and we face everything alone. We have a team that follows us all over the world but I have spent countless sleepless nights on my own. All the traveling and competing causes a lot of stress and I grew very lonely.

I was an introverted child and I didn’t have many friends. When I first started playing on tour, I thought I would develop friendships but it turned out to be the opposite. Most players keep to themselves. I feel like players don’t want to become friends because they think someone will grab a secret from you to beat you. I guess they’re just too serious about the whole thing. Friends would make traveling less lonely.”

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Roger Federer enjoys calm year ahead of the 2021 season

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Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is happy to enjoy a calm year ahead of the 2021 season. The Swiss legend admitted in an interview to Sportpanorama on the Swiss channel SRF 2 that he has not started his preparation for the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where he will be bidding to his first Olympic singles gold medal. 

 

Federer started the 2020 season with a semifinal at the Australian Open. He saved seven match points in his five-set quarter final against Tennys Sandgren before losing to Novak Djokovic in the semifinal. Last February he underwent arthroscopic surgery for a right knee injury and ended the 2020 season to give time to his body to recover. 

“I have not started mental preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. When you have been on the tour for 20 years, you are happy to have a more calm year. We have so many matches and competitions that whenever you take a break you know that someone else is winning in that time. That’s why it is extremely difficult to say. I take a break. Everyone is now forced to have a break and I think that 90% of the players are thinking: fortunately I can have a break. Tennis is constant and nonstop. You could not really prepare for Tokyo as there would have been 20 tournaments before. They are also very important, even though maybe not as important as the Olympics, which have another significance. We have many big events. That’s why the preparation just starts three months in before. You have the block in tennis with French Open, Wimbledon and Olympic Games. It depends on which surface it is even though in tennis it’s classic on hardcourt in Tokyo. Everyone can play on hardcourt, but you have to specially prepare for clay and grass”, said Federer. 

Federer has enjoyed spending time with his family in the past few months. 

“For the first time in twenty years I have been at one place for five and six years. Of course I enjoy it. We have been incredibly careful and have not seen my parents and friends. We took everything serious which is the right way as it’s not been over yet. That’s why I did not do any interviews and keep distance in everything I do. That’s very important for us. When you are having an injury you can’t do much anyway and have more calm moments at home. You don’t have the stress of the next competition and match, you don’t have nerves, you don’t have the strain from travelling and having a jet-leg, you are not tired. You can enjoy your family life way more”. 

Federer hopes that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will take place in 2021. The Swiss Maestro will be bidding to win his first olympic singles gold medal after the title he won with Stan Wawrinka in the doubles tournament in Beijing 2008. 

“Unfortunately I was injured in Rio and now the Games were postponed, I had the feeling I always took a lot with me away from the Olympic Games. First to be part of it, then with the goal to get a medal, maybe even a Gold one. That’s a completely differerent situation how you enjoyed the Olympic Games. I am curious how Tokyo will be. I hope it will take place. We are one year away but there are voices who say: maybe it’s too early until we have everything under control. I am hopeful all will be good. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that in our position is a goal, otherwise you wonder why you even go there in the first place. I think something is possible. Whether this will be in singles, doubles or mixed. I don’t know yet what I am going to play. I think I would have a chance in singles. At a tournament everything is possible. It’s another story over a whole season but at one tournament many things are possible. At the situation I am in right now i have to honestly say that I would be glad to participate. When I am 100% fit I would be happy to get a medal. When I won’t have one, I would be disappointed but I know that I gave everything and I can look proudly. Tokyo has been great. It was another experience and I could participate at another Olympic Games. My family will be with me just like in London. It’s already a success for me when I am at 100% and can participate, but a medal should be the goal”, said Federer. 

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