Plans Underway To Start 2021 WTA Season Outside Australia - UBITENNIS
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Plans Underway To Start 2021 WTA Season Outside Australia

The first details of what the new tennis season will look like has been released.

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The governing body of women’s tennis has confirmed that a series of events will take place during the first week of January but none of them will be held in Australia.

 

WTA chief Steve Simon says plans are underway to hold a series of tournaments during the week commencing January 4th at venues that are yet to be publicly confirmed. The development comes as the Australian Open is set to be delayed from January 18th to February 8th due to their quarantine rules which required players to isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Whilst Tennis Australia are still yet to outline their requirements for the first Grand Slam of next year, it is believed that players will be allowed to arrive from January 15th to start their quarantine. They are set to be kept in a ‘biosecure bubble’ but will be allowed to leave their hotel room for up to five hours a day. Players will also be allowed to train but not play any professional matches.

“The Australian Open, we’re expecting it to happen,” Simon told Reuters during a telephone interview.
“Obviously the Australian Open will come with a quarantine period to enter Australia so it does create challenges around the month of January.
“We’re looking right now at hopefully close to finalising in the next week or so the ability to stage some events in the week of Jan. 4 to start the year.”

It is not uncommon for tennis Tour’s to start a season outside of Australia with New Zealand and China previously hosting such events. However, the ASB Classic in Auckland has already been cancelled due to the pandemic. Furthermore, China has strict measures for international arrivals but has recently started hosting international sporting events again.

Reuters has quoted Simon saying that the WTA is working with both players and Tennis Australia to finalise their plans. Although he made no specific mention of a date where an announcement will be released regarding the 2021 calendar.

“I think we’re again getting to a good place and we’ll be able to start the year and then transition into Australia and then have a great year,” he said.

As for men’s tennis, the ATP is yet to disclose their plans for the new season. Doha does usually hold an event during the first week of the year.

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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.’

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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.”

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Kevin Anderson talks about the ATP-WTA merger, the vaccine and challenges of tennis in 2021

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Former Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson, a long-time member of the ATP Council, gave his opinions on some of the main topics in tennis in an interview to Tennis Majors. 

 

The South African star talked about the challenges faced by players amid the pandemic, the possible merger between the ATP and the WTA, the vaccine and the Professional Tennis Association (PTPA). 

Anderson admitted that the biggest challenge for players in the coming year is to continue playing on the ATP Tour despite the challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic. 

“Navigating the virus and trying to put as much tennis on the calendar as possible is going to be the biggest challenge. We only really a calendar through Miami. It’s a waiting game. Some tournaments had to cancel, most notably Indian Wells. They are potentially trying to postpone it. I mean, who knows when or how that’s even possible. That’s going to be the biggest challenge. Then secondary, we have obviously got a lot of other things we are working on. There is new ATP management and they are trying to put in different plans and working towards their version of improvements and changes they want to make to the sport, so I guess that’s going on in the background as well”. 

Anderson was asked if it is stressful to face protocols and quarantines, when he travels around the world. 

“I think it affects some people more than others. The biggest one, from my standpoint, was that it was really difficult travelling with my family. Obviously, there is a big difference not playing with fans. It really was nice, the few tournaments that allowed some fans. I think from what I am understanding, Australia will have a good number of fans, so I think everybody will be looking forward to that. If you test positive, you are going to be quarantined, you are not going to be able to play, and no matter how safe you are yourself, there is always a little bit of that uknown element. That part is a little bit tough to deal with, especially, we are not in a contained bubble the whole time we are travelling. A lot of tournaments that we are playing, it’s not. They are doing a good job with a lot of safety protocols, but it’s by no means a complete and protected bubble, which is obviously very hard to pull off logistically”. 

The biggest issue for the players has been the cut in prize money compared to the past tournaments. 

“From the Council standpoint It has worked pretty well with the tournaments. Obviously we understand that, whether you agree with them or not, the bottom line is the big revenue producer of these tournaments is fans and not just directly fans but the amount of sponsorship on site. I think everything just comes down. I think it’s a very reasonable position to work with the tournaments. I think it’s a good negotiation for the players to understand that and accep these prize money reductions. I think it’s a good system. It’s based on what percentage of fans are in the stadium. That’s a sliding scale. It’s something that we have discussed a lot about in the Council. It’s obviously not an ideal situation for everybody but I think it’s sort of necessary for these tournaments to take place”. 

Vaccines against Covid-19 are beginning to be rolled out. Anderson discussed the issue that players will have to receive the vaccine in order to play on the Tour. 

“I think rightfully so, vaccines are being administered to the first responders, the people who are at risk. Hopefully, when it becomes more widespread, we will probably have more discussions about it. Initially, there was talk about if you have a vaccine, you don’t have to be subject to the testing protocols that the ATP has in place. There was something discussed that even if you get the vaccine, you could potentially spread the virus. There are still questions to be decided and we still need to get more information before we start deciding what potentially is mandated within the ATP Tour”. 

There has been talks of a possible merger between the ATP and the WTA in the past two years. 

“There has been no real discussion on a merger. I don’t really have too much to discuss on that because it’s not been something that’s been on the table. I mean, other than just a sort of vague notion. There would be a lot of details that everyone would have to work out. Obviously the sport is strongest when everybody works together, but I can’t really comment on what it looks like from a logistical and a business standpoint. I know that part of ATP management’s new plani s to work together with these separate entities and from an ATP perspective, the WTA is a huge partner, so that’s really needs to be looke at carefully. I don’t know if the merger talk was something that some players wanted to chat about but maybe the pandemic sidetracked people. As for now that’s not a conversation we have had internally with ATP o any conversations with the WTA either. As far as the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), I don’t see how we can possibly work together. I don’t know what the PTPA’s visioni s and how they see them progressing forward”. 

Anderson has been plagued by a series of injury problems and was forced to withdraw from the Paris Bercy tournament with an injury. 

“There is the challenge of keeping the body as healthy as possible, but I feel like I have got a good team in place. We work as hard as we can, but I really looking forward to building some momentum. It’s been a couple of years for me in terms of injuries. So hopefully, I will be able to overcome that and give myself the best possible chance. The injury in Paris Bercy was very short, fortunately that just needed a few days. I am looking forward to heading down to Australia”. 

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Roger Federer trains with Dominic Stricker in Dubai

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Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has been training hard with his compatriot Dominic Stricker in Dubai, where he traditionally spends his off-season. Federer published a photo on his social media with Dominic Stricker, who won the Roland Garros Junior title and current world junior number three. 

 

Stricker made a comment on his Instagram account: 

“What three weeks. I really enjoyed every single minute in Dubai. What a great start to the new season. I am looking forward to playing some tournaments. Thanks to Roger Federer and his team for these great practices”, said Dominic Stricker. 

Federer will skip the Australian Open, but he may make his come-back in Rotterdam or Dubai. His main goals for the 2021 season are Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympi Games in Tokyo. He has pulled out of the Australian Open because his wife Mirka did not approve of the quarantine conditions set out for his family. 

“Roger had two options. He could come with the whole family and quarantine. The problem is that Mirka and his children could not leave the room. They would have to stay 14 days in the room”, said Australian Open director of player relations Andre Sa. 

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