Djokovic-Led Player Union Latest: First Group Sign Up, Others Seek Clarity And One Council Member Switches Sides - UBITENNIS
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Djokovic-Led Player Union Latest: First Group Sign Up, Others Seek Clarity And One Council Member Switches Sides

Murray, Medvedev and Tsitsipas reacts to the significant development in men’s tennis. Meanwhile, one source has confirmed another member of the ATP Players Council resigned on Saturday despite having their signature feature on a letter opposing the new Association.

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During what has been an extraordinary weekend in men’s tennis few are talking about the upcoming US Open that will get underway on Monday.

 

Instead the focus is on the newly formed Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) co-founded by Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil which has divided the men’s Tour. Described best as a union, supporters say its aim is to speak up for players and campaign for them to be given more power when it comes to decision-making. On Friday Djokovic issued a lengthy letter to his peers, which UbiTennis has obtained, urging them to join him.

Less than a day after Djokovic’s plea members of the ATP Players Council, which includes Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, issued a statement opposing the move, as well as the Grand Slam board. Djokovic was the president of the Council but has now reportedly resigned. Their argument is that there are a lot of unanswered questions concerning the PTPA which has been formed with the help of legal firm Norton Rose Fulbright and its chairman Walied Soliman.

“The Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) did not emerge to be combative, to disrupt, or to cause any issues within or outside the tennis tour. Simply to unify the players, have our voices heard and have an impact on decisions being made that effect our lives and livelihoods,” Pospisil wrote on Twitter.

In what is a rapidly developing situation, the first series of players signed up to be members of the Association on Saturday night. Which includes top 20 stars Matteo Berrettini and Diego Schwzrtzman, as well as Canada’s top guns Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Whilst it is a promising start, others have voiced their caution. Three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray has said he would not be signing up at present but ‘is not against’ the idea of a players union. The Brit is also one of the very few players to question as to why women have been omitted from the PTPA.

“I won’t be signing it today. I’m not totally against a player union, player association, but right now there’s a couple of things,” Murray told reporters via zoom on Saturday.
“One is I feel like the current management that are in place should be given some time to implement their vision. Whether that works out or not would potentially influence me in the future as to which way I would go.
“Also the fact that the women aren’t part of it, I feel like that would send a significantly – well, just a much more powerful message personally if the WTA were onboard with it, as well. That’s not currently the case.”

Daniil Medvedev has confirmed that he will seek more clarity from both Djokovic and Pospisil before making his decision. The candidly-speaking Russian says he is not sure if he is happy with the current ATP structure due to his inexperience on the Tour and never being a member of the ATP Council.

I decided myself to think more about it after the US Open. I’ll definitely ask for more information from Vasek and Novak to decide for myself. That’s all I can say right now because I cannot say more,” he said.
“As I say, I have no decision made up for myself. I don’t know which way I’m leaning, but I need more info, that’s for sure.”

As for Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas, he appears to be blind to the whole situation at present after saying to Reporters that he ‘doesn’t even know what they’re talking about’ and he has ‘nothing to do with it (the PTPA).

In another development that hasn’t been publicly confirmed yet, it appears that Sam Querrey has changed his position on the ongoing situation. The American was one of the co-signatures on a letter issued by the ATP Council opposing the PTPA and urging others not to join. Although one top European national tennis official has confirmed that Querrey has now quit the Council and joined the association. It is not clear as to what led to this sudden change.

Who has joined the players association?

  1. Novak Djokovic
  2. Vasek Pospisil
  3. Casper Ruud
  4. Diego Schwartzman
  5. Matteo Berrettini
  6. Oliver Marach
  7. Rryan Harrison
  8. Christian Harrison
  9. Ivo Karlovic
  10. Nikola Mektic
  11. Andrej Martin
  12. Franko Skugor
  13. Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi
  14. Mate Pavic
  15. Ivan Dodig
  16. Hugo Dellien
  17. Guido Pella
  18. Rohan Boppana
  19. Aljaz Bedene
  20. Filip Krajinovic
  21. Damir Dzumhur
  22. Taylor Fritz
  23. Hubert Hurkacz
  24. Christian Garín
  25. Sumit Nagal
  26. Jozef Kovalik
  27. Leonardo Mayer
  28. Taro Daniel
  29. Marton Fucsovics
  30. Corentin Moutet
  31. Tommy Paul

    Note: list of names obtained via journalist Jose Morgado and based on a photo uploaded on Saturday evening of players signing up. Querrey not included as there is no public confirmation yet.

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Rafael Nadal Missing Fan Support Despite Emphatic Win At Italian Open

The 19-time Grand Slam winner reacts to his latest win 200 days after his last.

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Rafael Nadal (image via https://twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

The absence of a crowd at this year’s Italian Masters has been branded as ‘not beautiful’ by Rafael Nadal following his opening match on Wednesday.

 

The world No.2 raced to a 6-1, 6-1, triumph over US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta in what was his first competitive match of any sort since March 1st. Despite his lengthy break from the Tour, Nadal showed little rust as he dropped only eight points behind his serve and broke the world No.18 five times overall. The latest victory is Nadal’s 62nd in Rome and he has only won more matches at four other tournaments.

“Of course I have to improve things. The things that I have to improve, the only way to improve is to keep practising with the right attitude, the right intensity and to spend hours in competition matches,” he said afterwards.
“Today has been a positive start for me,”
Nadal later added.

Choosing to skip the New York bubble due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nadal is still getting used to the concept of playing without the crowds. Something many of his rivals has already had experience of. The Italian Open had originally hoped to allow fans to enter its grounds before the local authorities ruled against it over concerns it could trigger an outbreak of the Coronavirus.

“It’s Not beautiful the feeling of playing without the spectators because the energy of the fans is impossible to describe. But for me, at least, today has been a very positive comeback,” Nadal assessed.

It is a case of wait and see as to how the Spaniard will fare in the coming days given his recent lack of match play compared to his rivals such as Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic. Fortunately for Nadal, he is playing on the clay which is a surface which he has won more ATP titles on than any other player in the Open Era. As for the upcoming French Open, will a lack of play in recent weeks be problematic for him?

“I don’t think so, no. If Roland Garros was this week, maybe yes. Roland Garros is two weeks away.” He concluded.

Nadal will next play either Milos Raonic or Dusan Lajovic who will play their second round match on Thursday.

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Dominic Thiem And Thomas Muster: A Comparison

They are the only Austrian Slam champions in men’s tennis, but how do they stack up against each other?

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Dominic Thiem - US Open 2020 (via Twitter, @usopen)

The original version of this article was published on loslalom.it.

 

On October 24, 2011, Dominic Thiem had just turned 18 and was in the very early stages of his professional career, so the organisers of the ATP tournament in Vienna rewarded him with a wild card. On October 24, 2011, Thomas Muster had been 44 for about three weeks and at the sunset of his career, so he was also given the wild card for Vienna tournament. What no one could predict, neither the players nor the tournament organizers, was that the draw would pit them against each other in the first round, for what would be their first encounter, and ultimately the only one – after conceding with a 6-2 6-3 score in an hour and four minutes, Muster retired forever. He was the only Austrian to have won a Grand Slam tournament, in 1995 at Roland Garros, at least until Sunday night, when the then teenager who ended his career equalled him.

In the first decade of his career, Thiem has earned almost twice as much as Munster did in 18 (22 million dollars against 12). Thiem is right-handed, Muster a southpaw. Both sport one-handed backhands. It took 10 years for Muster to win a Major, and by the eleventh he was the world N.1, albeit not for long. He was a bona fide drop-shot chaser. It took nine years as a professional for Thiem to win at Flushing Meadows, but he has not yet risen higher than third in the ATP Ranking. Thiem is two inches taller (6’1’’ versus 5’11’’), he has an edge for the number of aces (5.8 per game on average against 3) and for the effectiveness of his first serve (74.2% vs 69.1%). The two are essentially tied with their second serve (53.2% vs 53.7) and in the break-points-saved department (62.9% vs 63%), but Muster is more dominant in the return games (31.6% break vs 23.5%) and, despite earning a street rep as a marathon runner, his matches were 11 minutes shorter than Thiem’s (an hour and 30 minutes against an hour and 41). His winning points ended on average in 35 seconds, Thiem’s in 37,8 seconds.

In his career Thiem has met stronger opponents, ranked on average at 35 in the world, while Muster’s foes usually hovered around number 52. Despite this, the latter managed to beat opponents better placed than him in the standings in only 9.8% of cases, while Thiem’s ​​percentage is 12.3 %. On the contrary, Thiem was beaten in 21.4% of cases by tennis players ranked worse in the rankings, whereas this happened to Muster in 19% of cases, a percentage that drops to 13% when it comes to clay only. For a couple of weeks at the beginning of 2020, Muster coached Thiem.

The following chart summarises the numbers: 

Gianni Clerici, the Italian Hall-of-Famer journalist and writer, gave Thomas Muster the moniker of “Mr Muscolo” (Mr Muscle). This is the portrait he made of him: “He’s not very nice, seven out of ten people say about Muster. A couple of them find him downright unpleasant. The remaining, meagre ten percent all but worships him. It is probably the attitude that does not appeal. His face appears incredibly rapacious, reminding of a bird of prey, or, if not strictly of an eagle or a hawk, at the very least of a possessed personality, those wide-open eyes animated by a blue and sinister light. But, even more than the face, what repels many people is his technique, his relentlessness devoid of human breathing which is fully on display as he gets back bopping on his side of the court a ripe thirty seconds before the  established one minute and 25, while the unfortunate opponent is still splayed on his chair, trying to recover some breath and peace in the aftermath of the gruelling races that Muster locked him into. If the style is the man, well, the Austrian’s style does not capture the imagination. His serve is average at best, and he cautiously avoids volleying, but he has some great weapons, like that terrible loopy forehand and, in the last couple years, that no less terrible backhand slap. Come to think of it, even Muster’s ancestors, Borg and Vilas, were no less engulfing, less repetitive. But Borg had more athletic talent, his runs were very fluid, his sense of playing so high that he even managed to adapt to the Wimbledon lawns where he won five times and where Muster instead looks like a wretch. Muster has the athletic pedigree of champions but certainly not the charisma”.

Clerici also had the opportunity to write on Thiem for “la Repubblica” (an Italian daily newspaper), stating that “he was born with tennis in his blood, […] he has a refined hand, as can be seen with his drop shots and with his cross-court volleys,” then adding: “I have seen many times the Austrian go all-out on his backhand, as if he were holding an umbrella wide open, while his forehand is more akin to a machete.” Yesterday morning, he added that Thiem reminds him of “the tennis players of my time during the Fifties, when tennis was different from today, perhaps more beautiful to watch, a spectacles that intellectuals like Giorgio Bassani enjoyed, and that could have taken place in the genteel backyards sketched out in his novels.” 

Translation and graphics by Andrea Canella

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Nick Kyrgios Slams French Open Over Crowd Decision

The world No.41 explains why he is ‘disappointed’ with the French major as other players also voice caution about playing in front of crowds.

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Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has accused officials at the French Open of not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously following their decision to allow spectators to attend.

 

The clay-court Grand Slam has created three separate zones where fans are allowed to attend with each of those having a daily capacity limit. The zones including court Philippe Chatrier and Suzanne Lenglen will hold up to 5000 each. Meanwhile an additional 1500 spectators will be allowed to visit the area surrounding the third court, Simonne Mathieu. The French Tennis Federation (FFT) says strict measures will be in place and their plans have been drafted following ‘advice from a committee of expert scientists.` Masks must be worn at all times by those attending.

Despite the measures that have been put in place, former top 20 player Kyrgios has criticised the move amid the number of cases in the country. France has recently seen a surge in their daily toll. On Tuesday they reported 7852 newly confirmed cases within a 24-hour period compared to 6158 the day before. Last Saturday the number surpassed the 10,000 mark.

“I am most likely not going to play,” Kyrgios told News Corp.
“Especially with the cases rising there. I don’t feel comfortable to go there and play.
“They are thinking about doing it with crowds. I don’t think the tournament is taking it seriously. It’s disappointing the level of seriousness they are taking towards it.”

Kyrgios hasn’t played a competitive match since February after choosing to skip the North American swing over concerns related to the pandemic. A decision that was also taken by the likes of Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep. Although he also previously hinted that it is unlikely that he will be travelling to Europe this year and therefore ending his season early. A approach that was also taken by compatriot Ash Barty.

The 25-year-old isn’t the only player to have express concerns about crowds at Roland Garros. 2018 champion Halep told reporters at this week’s Italian Open, which is being held behind closed doors, that she is hopeful that officials at the venue will be ‘strict’ with the measures.

“I just read that they will have fans,” she said. “But I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be very strict.
“We cannot be with the fans, we cannot be with the people that are not in the bubble, so I think they will be separate. Hopefully it’s going to be safe, and we will feel like here, like in the bubble.”

Meanwhile, cautiously-speaking Nadal says it is a case of wait and see what happens in Paris. This year he is bidding to win the major for an historic 13th time.

“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what’s the situation’s going to look like in Roland Garros,” he told journalists on Monday when questioned about the French Open.
“Let’s see how the virus evolves the next couple of weeks. Hopefully in a good way. Doesn’t look like that, no? Let’s see. We need to be patient and we need to wait to see how the situation improves.”

Unlike the main draw, the qualifying rounds will be held behind closed doors in order to make it easier for players to move around the venue. The tournament gets underway on September 21st with the main draw starting the week after.

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