Normally, the ATP tournament season ends with the Rolex Paris Masters. It is contested in the AccorHotels Arena in Bercy, which is in the city’s 12th arrondissement. The facility sits on the edge of Parc de Bercy whose tranquility is made even more appealing because of all the benches that offer a front row seat as life passes before your very eyes. The area is wonderfully Paris “funky” and nothing is more appealing before attending the matches than taking time to watch the skateboarders use the sloping sides of the arena to showcase their amazing collection of acrobatic moves on their boards. Nearby streets have a tantalizing array of cafes, shops and restaurants that are inviting and interesting to boot. The neighborhood doesn’t send out “Visit Me” vibes like locations such as the Musée d’Orsay or the Louvre, but it has its own distinct appeal that says, “this is Paris and we live here…”
We, (my wife Cheryl Jones is also a tennis journalist), have always loved traveling to Paris in November for the tournament. There is a charm that is particular to the autumn. There is a bit of bite in the air, which is often accompanied by fits of rain – and maybe even a flurry of tiny snowflakes that seldom last beyond their collision with the ground. Over all the setting has a much different “feel” than Paris during Roland Garros in the spring. The days are less frenetic. It is an opportunity to really savor experiences without the hustle and bustle of tourists on photographic safaris.
Of course, these are remembrances from “normal” times and 2020 has not even come close, on any level, to being normal. I wonder though if looking back is a good way to prepare for the future. For us, there was more to the forty-ninth staging of the event than listing the names of the winners.
That doesn’t mean Russian Daniil Medvedev’s 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Germany’s Alexander Zverev, in the final, should not be praised. The same applies to unseeded Felix Auger-Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz, the Canadian/Polish tandem’s, surprising Matic Pavic of Croatia and Bruno Soares of Brazil, 6-7, 7-6, 10-2 for doubles honors.
The singles finalists and the winning doubles team have a lot in common.
Medvedev is twenty-four and stands six-foot, seven-inches tall – which is just a shade over two meters. Zverev is a year younger and an inch shorter. At twenty, Auger-Aliassime is the youngest of the group and being a mere (this is a joke) six-foot-four is the shortest of the quartet because Hurkacz is six-foot, five inches tall and is twenty-three years old.
The Rolex Paris Masters finals showcased the game’s future in terms of age, height and sheer athleticism.
This year, COVID-19 ravaged society and sports. It called attention to a “new normal” in which social distancing and mask wearing have become practices that everyone should have adopted by now. For us, the pandemic, along with the 2020 tournament results, created a special awareness. We have treasured our Bercy adventures of yesteryear and now we appreciate those memories even more.
Looking ahead, we realize that in life and in tennis there are new rules to play by. Travel, tournaments and tennis journalism have been altered permanently. Being flexible and adapting are essential “musts” every day, for everyone… But isn’t this exactly what the game is all about? Analyzing what is taking place, deciding on the necessary adjustments to make then looking forward to enjoying what will take place. In short, making the best of what is and not getting caught up in what could have been.
There wasn’t a full stadium roar from the crowd when Medvedev won. There wasn’t a cadre of journalists and photographers eliciting comments from and recording Auger-Aliassime and Herkacz’s astounding victory as an unseeded team. Still, the jubilation they all felt was very real. The history books won’t have an asterisk by their names; their victories will be noted across from the designation 2020.
Looking ahead, no one knows what to expect as the virus continues to pillage individuals and countries. But one thing is certain – Time will have all the answers. It always does.
Alexander Zverev Ditches Federer’s TEAM8 Management Firm To Return To His ‘Roots’
Zverev speaks out about his ‘short and long term strategies going forward.’
German tennis star Alexander Zverev has confirmed his departure from TEAM8 as he set out his coaching plans for the season ahead.
The world No.7 posted a statement on Instagram saying that he no longer wants to be represented by the management firm, which was co-founded by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick. Zverev says part of his decision was because he wanted his family to take a greater role once again. Instead, he will be managed by his brother Misha, who is the captain of the German ATP Cup team, as well as Sergei Bubka.
“I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management,” Zverev wrote.
“I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”
Zverev’s announcement comes less than two weeks after it was confirmed he will no longer be working with David Ferrer. A former world No.3 player who joined his camp last year. Ferrer confirmed that the ending of their partnership was on mutual terms and there was no conflict between the two. The Spaniard said his role as tournament director of the Barcelona Open and family commitments contributed towards his decision.
Last year the 23-year-old broke new territory in his career by reaching the final of the US Open which he lost in five sets to Dominic Thiem. Zverev also won two ATP titles in Cologne. However, his on-court success was overshadowed by events in his personal life. He has been accused of mental and physical abuse by his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova, which Zverev has denied. Meanwhile, it was revealed that another former partner of his is pregnant with his child.
Heading into the Australian Open, Zverev is likely to face more scrutiny over the domestic abuse allegations after it was confirmed that a new account from Sharypova will be published in the coming weeks. New York Times journalist and freelance writer Ben Rothenberg confirmed that a second interview will be released before the start of the Melbourne major. It is unknown as to what the interview will entail but there has been a prior reference to one ‘incident’ in China.
Zverev’s Instagram statement in full
“What a year 2020 has been, for the whole world and for myself. I reached my first Grand Slam final without my parents and brother being court-side due to them contracting COVID-19. An almost 2 year long legal dispute with my former agent finally came to a successful resolution, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about my short and long term strategies going forward. For this reason and because of the ongoing worldwide restrictions, I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management. I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”
No Special Treatment For Andy Murray, Says Australian Government
The three-time Grand Slam champion still wants to travel to Melbourne later this month but will it be possible?
Andy Murray must provide a negative COVID-19 test and no preferential treatment will be given to him if he attempts to play the Australian Open, according to a government minister.
The former world No.1 was set to travel to Australia later this week but is unable to after testing positive for the coronavirus. As a result, Murray is currently self-isolating in his London home and is therefore unable to start the mandatory 14-day quarantine period along with other players. Although he is hopeful to still travel to Melbourne at a later date.
Whether or not he will be allowed to do so in the coming weeks is unclear. In a statement Tennis Australia wished the three-time Grand Slam champion a ‘happy recovery’ but didn’t address the possibility that Murray can travel at a later date than his peers. It is understood that negotiations are currently ongoing with coach tournament director Craig Tiley.
“The Australian Open fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he’s worked for this opportunity,” a statement reads.
Murray is not the only player unable to travel this week as a result of a positive test. Others include Madison Keys, Davidovich Fokina and Dominic Thiem’s coach Nicolas Massu. Tennys Sandgren also tested positive but has been allowed to fly because health officials say he is ‘viral shedding from a previous virus’. Sandgren tested positive for the virus back in November.
Martin Foley, who is the Minister of Health for the Victorian government, says no special treatment will be provided to Murray in his bid to play in the Grand Slam. The Brit was granted entry into the main draw thanks to a wild card. He missed the 2019 tournament due to pelvic bruising and the year before he stunned the sport by saying he may be forced to retire before later undergoing career-saving hip surgery.
“In regards to Mr Murray, we’ve been clear from the start that anyone who tests positive is not able to be part of the program coming into Melbourne and Australia,” Foley told reporters on Friday.
“Mr Murray, and the other 1240 people as part of the program, need to demonstrate that if they’re coming to Melbourne they have returned a negative test.
“So should Mr Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else.
“Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused.”
This year’s Australian Open is taking place under strict COVID-19 protocols. During quarantine players will be allowed to train up to five hours each day but not play in any professional tournaments. Those who break the rules could face a fine of AUS$20,000, prosecution and even deportation.
The Melbourne major will start on February 8th.
Andy Murry Tests Positive For COVID-19, Australian Open Hopes In Doubt
A representative for the former world No.1 has confirmed that he is currently in isolation.
Andy Murray faces a race against time to make the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.
Multiple British media sources have confirmed that the three-time Grand Slam champion has been in self-isolation since testing positive and it is believed that he is in good health. The Daily Mail has reported that Murray is experiencing only ‘minor symptoms’ of the virus. He undertook the test as part of the requirement by Tennis Australia under their COVID-19 protocols which requires all arrivals to test negative. However, Tennys Sandgren has been given the all clear to travel despite testing positive.
Murray and his team are now hoping that they will still be able to make it in time for the Australian Open which begins on February 8th. Nicolas Massu, who is the coach of Dominic Thiem, finds himself in the same situation as Murray. Besides being required to test negative, players must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Australia before they are allowed to play in any tournaments. Although they are allowed to train during this period for up to five hours a day. Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Murray and if they will allow him to join their ‘bio-secure bubble’ at a later date.
There is no proof of where Murray caught the virus but growing speculation surrounds the National Tennis Center in Roehampton where it has previously been reported that a minor outbreak occurred. The Brit had been training at the facility and it is understood that fellow player Paul Jubb have also contracted COVID-19.
The 33-year-old is eager to return to the Australian Open two years after admitting at the tournament that he may be forced to retire from the sport due to a serious hip injury. In 2018 he stunned reporters by saying ‘I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months’ before going on to say that the Australian Open may be his last tournament. Following his first round loss, the Brit even had a video tribute played to him at the event. However, since then he had managed to continue his career with the help of hip resurfacing surgery. It was another injury (pelvic bruising) that also forced him to skip the Melbourne major last year.
Murray is a five-time finalist at the Australian Open.
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The ATP updates the 2021 calendar with two new tournaments in Singapore and Marbella
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REPORT: Novak Djokovic Sends Letter To Australian Open Chief Over Quarantine Measures
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Australian Open Champion Sofia Kenin Loses Management Contract
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