The ATP plans larger draws, extended schedules for Madrid, Rome, Shanghai in 2022 - UBITENNIS
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The ATP plans larger draws, extended schedules for Madrid, Rome, Shanghai in 2022

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The players’ association CEO, Andrea Gaudenzi, has devised a project of 92 pages to drive the sport forward, including plans for a Masters 1000 event on grass, increased prize money, and investments to appeal to a younger audience.

 

The powers-that-be of the ATP are planning a revised scheduled for the men’s tour, starting in 2022, when Madrid, Rome, and Shanghai should receive more days (11, possibly 12) for their tournaments, while extending their main draws from 56 to 64 players. The top players would have to play one more match, but with more resting days in-between – as of now, most seeds have to play five straight matches from Wednesday to Sunday. As for a further increase to 96 players, that appears to be off the table at the moment, since the tournaments don’t have as many courts as Indian Wells and Miami do. Rome and Madrid could only do it by shelving the women’s event, and that’s not a realistic option.

The project is still in the early stages, and it is very possible that it has “leaked” as an endearment to the players who are still choosing between the ATP and the new union founded by Djokovic and Pospisil, the PTPA. The message feels a little ambiguous, something like: “It will only happen without further internal turmoil.” The aspect that should captivate the players is mainly the increase in the prize money, initially set at 2.5 percent.

MORE TRANSPARENCY BY THE MASTERS 1000

This increment could be a lot more significant if a deal could be reached with the tournament owners vis-à-vis letting a neutral firm access their financial records. In this way, it would be possible, with massive costs and after some time, to ascertain once and for all the actual revenues of an ATP event on a bi-annual basis. The aim is to achieve more financial transparency in order to increase the players’ earnings. If the ATP could pull it off, the PTPA would virtually lose most of its arguments – however, it may take a while to do it.   

The prime objective, as a matter of fact, would be to have a 50-50 split between the players and the organisers after expenses and taxes are paid. It wouldn’t be easy to convince the owners of the events, though, since they are the entrepreneurs actually endangering their finances, and this is why it’s never been done before. Moreover, such examination could end up uncovering greater combined financial losses than expected between the nine Masters 1000 tournaments, and that would drive the prize money into the ground, also an unprecedented instance. The new plan would include some sort of “financial solidarity” between them, which does not sound realistic. 

The real goal of the players, anyway, is to access a bigger slice of the Slams’ revenues, of which they now get about 15% on average. However, the ATP has no jurisdiction over these events, which make up 58% of the sport’s net revenue. Gaudenzi’s dream can only come true if the seven stakeholders in the game (the Slams, the ATP, the WTA, and the ITF) reach an agreement – will they? History would point to the negative.

THE WAY FORWARD

In a past interview, Gaudenzi stressed the fact that tennis is the fourth most popular sport in the world (behind football, basketball, and cricket), but it only generates 1.3% of global sports revenues. The game’s earnings (about 2.2 trillion dollars) are divided, more or less equally, between ticket sales, advertising, and TV rights. However, among major sports, tennis draws by far the highest percentage of its income from the box office, and by far the lowest from TV rights.

I will add a few points to these data, points that would probably require a separate article by themselves:

  • Just 55% of the fans watch live tennis. 30% watch highlights (probably because the matches take too long), and 12% follow the off-court activities of the players (rumours, private lives, pictures). It follows that digital content will only increase in amount, and this is why the ATP is thinking about creating its own media production center, rife with short and not necessarily match-related content. Of course, this would only work if the most marketable players would cooperate. 
  • Just like it’s happening this week with the US Open and Kitzbuhel, more ATP events would take place during the second week of a Slam, and several tournaments (the ones listed at the beginning of the article) would last 11/12 days instead of 7 or 8.
  • After years spent planning a reduction of the Masters 1000 tournaments from nine to seven, now there’s a plan to add a tenth tournament on grass. Both Queen’s and Halle are pretty successful, so…
  • The Masters 1000 would contribute some money to facilitate the expansion of TV coverage, and also to support some sickly ATP 250 events. In exchange for that, their status would be untouchable for 30 years. The same goes for the ATP 500 tournaments, which would contribute a lesser amount and would thus have a guaranteed license of “just” 15 years.
  • As Gaudenzi has repeatedly underlined, tennis needs to appeal to the younger generations and to expand the fanbase. How? By developing a social media policy inspired by streaming giants like Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, Amazon, and Instagram.
  • Betting data would need some consideration, particularly with regards to the streaming services that work within their domain – the idea would be to unify them. The ATP owns some of them, while the ITF has a 70-million-dollar deal with Sportsradar – so far, every association has fended for itself. Gaudenzi has created a committee involving executives from Apple Music, BWin, Facebook, and Amazon, and believes that it will take from three to five years to collect the necessary data, but only if the seven stakeholders will cooperate. Will that happen? 
  • Unlike Djokovic and Pospisil, Gaudenzi thinks that the money pool (currently set at 270 million dollars) needs to increase before there can be any talk regarding better redistribution of revenues. This is quite the ideological struggle, because, in the Italian manager’s view, the lower-ranked players would need to be patient for a few more years before seeing their bottomlines flourish. The ATP doesn’t have a claim to the Slams’ money, and its only big earners are the Masters 1000 (and not even all of them). Their income is usually similar to the prize money figure, which is not a lot, especially if some want a bigger and bigger slice of it.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Names His Best Personality Trait Ahead of Wimbledon Showdown With Kyrgios

The Greek has named one ‘defining aspect’ of her personality but will it have any relevance for his next match?

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Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) - Credit: AELTC/Joe Toth

Stefanos Tsitsipas says he is ‘thrilled’ to book a Wimbledon third round meeting with Nick Kyrgios later this week after seeing off Jordan Thompson in straight sets on Thursday.

 

The world No.5 rallied his way to a 6-2, 6-3, 7-5, over Thompson to record only his fifth main draw win at the tournament in his career. Despite his accolades on the Tour, Tsitsipas has endured disappointment at The All England Club. In his four previous appearances, he lost in the first round three times.

Nevertheless, the Greek appears to be heading in the right direction on the grass after winning the Mallorca Open less than a week ago. Although he will be truly tested on Saturday when he faces the dangerous Kyrgios who he lost to in Halle earlier this year after winning the first set. Kyrgios produced a clinical performance in his second round match which he said was a message sent to media criticism him.

“Nick has more matches on me in these courts. He claims to like grass. I think his game is good for the grass,” said Tsitsipas.
“I am definitely thrilled to be facing him. I respect him a lot, on the court, what he’s trying to do. Although he has been a little controversial in the past, I think he’s playing good tennis.’
“I’m going to try and concentrate on doing my thing and pay attention to my own game from start to finish. Hopefully I can stay there and do something great, have a great competitive match against him.”

Kyrgios’ talent has never been disputed but it is his mentality which has at times been his downfall. In his first round match, he was aggravated by the crowd, argued with a match official and spat in front of some people in the stands who were ‘disrespecting’ him.

As for Tsitsipas, the 23-year-old believes his mental strength is one of his best personality traits.

“My mentality is pretty strong. If I fall, I’ll always get up and work hard. I never really have these days where I’m saying, I don’t want to practice today,” he said
“I feel like other players would have that a bit more often than I do. If I fall, I always get up, one thing to get stronger.”

It remains to be seen if Tsitsipas will come back stronger against Kyrgios as he seeks revenge for his recent loss. Although he has lost to the Australian on two other occasions with his only victory in their rivalry being at the Laver Cup.

You just go out on the court hoping to have a good match, hoping to be able to get balls back, be precise with your shot selection. That comes with good preparation. The rest will hopefully follow if you’re able to approach that with the right mindset.” Tsitsipas explained.

Tsitsipas is the only seeded player remaining in his section of the draw after two rounds played.

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Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer form dream team for London’s Laver Cup

Build-up to September’s Laver Cup has already begun and some big names are set to feature.

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Andy Murray’s Wimbledon may have come to a disappointing end yesterday, but there is hope on the horizon yet.

 

It was announced shortly before his second-round encounter with John Isner, that the three-time Grand Slam champion has signed up to play in September’s Laver Cup.

This would mark Murray’s first appearance in the competition.

Being a home tournament for the Brit, fans will be hoping and praying he stays fit for September’s showpiece at the O2 Arena.

Team Europe assembles dream team

With the confirmation of tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, the addition of Murray adds more stellar firepower and history to Europe’s cast.

With three of six confirmed, who could the other three names be?

Surely, teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz should be given a place at the table.

The Spaniard has taken the ATP Tour by storm this season, winning not one but TWO Masters 1000’s in Miami and Madrid.

He also became the youngest member of the top ten since you guessed it, his idol Nadal.

Another strong contender would be Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.

Having spent three months out with a hand injury, he stormed to titles in Stuttgart and Queen’s proving to be the season’s standout player on grass.

He unfortunately had to pull out of Wimbledon on the eve of his first-round match after contracting Coronavirus.

If fit, he would be a worthy addition after debuting at the event last year.

The romantics would love for another big name in Stan Wawrinka.

The Swiss is well and truly in the twilight of his career.

Like Andy, he has won three Grand Slam’s and would be warmly welcomed by close friend Roger, who he won the 2008 Beijing Olympics doubles gold alongside.

And then there’s Marin Cilic who was in fine form to reach the semi-finals of the French Open, making him only one of five active players to reach all four Grand Slam semi-finals.

The former US Open champion played in the inaugural Laver Cup back in 2017.

Team World – Diego Schwartzman, Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger Aliassime confirmed

The challenge of Team Captain John McEnroe is that his counterpart, Bjorn Borg has a wealth of talent at his disposal.

Whilst, the American doesn’t quite have the same luxury.

Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman and Indian Wells winner Taylor Fritz were the first two confirmed names.

Canadian talents Felix Auger Aliassime (confirmed) and Denis Shapovalov (not yet confirmed), are the standout names that Team World will bolster their ranks with.

That would then leave two places left with McEnroe likely to call on past stalwarts from previous editions.

This could be 37-year-old Isner, who was highly impressive in defeating Murray yesterday at Wimbledon.

Meanwhile, the seven-time Grand Slam champion is a known fan and admirer of the feisty Nick Kyrgios.

The two big servers could therefore be the final names.

Other possibilities would be American’s Frances Tiafoe, who has played the Laver Cup before, and the talented Sebastian Korda.

Following the announcement of Murray, more confirmations cannot be far away.

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Spain’s Bautista Agut Latest Player To Test Positive For Covid At Wimbledon

It is understood that The All England Club is reviewing their Covid-19 policy amid fears of an outbreak.

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Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

This year’s Wimbledon men’s tournament has had a third seeded player forced to pull out after testing positive for COVID-19.

Roberto Bautista Agut, who was the 17th seed in the draw, has withdrawn from his second-round match against Daniel Elahi Galan which was set to get underway on Thursday afternoon on Court Three. Announcing his decision on Twitter, the Spaniard said his symptoms are ‘not very serious‘ but he believes not playing is the right thing to do.

“Today I have notified Wimbledon of my withdrawal. I have tested positive for Covid-19. Fortunately, the symptoms are not very serious but I think it is the best decision (not to play).” Bautista Agut wrote.
“I hope to be back soon.”

 

The 34-year-old was making his eighth main draw appearance at The All England Club this year. In 2019 he reached the semi-finals in what is his best-ever result at a Grand Slam tournament to date.

Earlier this week Marin Cilic and Matteo Berrettini also withdrew from Wimbledon after positive Covid tests. However, they hadn’t played their first round match which Bautista Agut did. The trio of cases raise fears of a possible outbreak in the tournament given how contagious it can be.

Wimbledon’s Covid-19 policy is made in conjunction with advice issued by local health officials. Although it is unclear if a player is required to withdraw from an event if they have the virus. Ubitennis asked a spokesperson for clarity on the matter but was instead given a generic statement.

As a major event we have and continue to work in conjunction with the UK Public Health Security Agency and our Local Authority,’ An All England Club spokesperson said via email on June 26th.

“As a major event we have and continue to work in conjunction with the UK Public Health Security Agency and our Local Authority.

“We have maintained enhanced cleaning and hand sanitising operations, and offer full medical support for anyone feeling unwell. We are following UK guidance around assessment and isolation of any potential infectious disease.

“Our player medical team also continue to wear face masks for any consultation.”

The Guardian has reported that a review of Wimbledon’s guidelines is underway. This was before Agut said he had also contracted the virus. However, there has been no formal announcement concerning any review. 

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