The 'Players Voice' Movement And Tennis' Not So United Front - UBITENNIS
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The ‘Players Voice’ Movement And Tennis’ Not So United Front

Not even the COVID-19 pandemic could halt the war of words being exchanged behind the scenes in tennis.

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Vasek Pospisil, co-founder of the PTPA (image via twitter.com)

In his opening match at the Miami Open Vasek Pospisil was penalised by the umpire for his behaviour on the court but it was what he said during the argument that caught the attention of many.

 

Speaking to official Arnaud Gabas the highly animated Canadian said the day before he was ‘screamed’ at by Andrea Gaudenzi who is the head of the ATP Tour and even threatened to sue the men’s governing body if he defaulted from the match. Pospisil was making reference to an encounter he had with Gaudenzi during what was meant to be a routine Players meeting that usually takes place behind closed doors and out of the media spotlight. For this reason it is hard to establish what actually happened in Miami. Although opencourt.ca claims that the the world No.67 was brought to tears at one point following a series of criticisms.

Those alleged criticisms concern the Professional Tennis Players Association. An independent body that was co-founded by both Pospisil and Novak Djokovic. The aim of the PTPA is to campaign for players to have a greater say in the decision making processes. However, the movement isn’t without controversy. The ATP is against such a movement, arguing that it divides the sports and objectives of the group are unclear. In the past the ATP Council, whose members include both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, urged their peers not to join.

“Vasek Pospišil is my good friend and I empathize with him wholeheartedly. Players on tour would agree that he is an individual of the highest integrity who cares about the well being of his fellow competitors,” Djokovic wrote on social media.
“I am hopeful players recognize the importance of standing together,” he added.

It is clear there is a divide in men’s tennis but it is unclear as to how significant it is. Following the Pospisil incident, the hashtag ‘#playervoices’ emerged on Twitter with various players supporting calls for an independent body of some sort. Former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic wrote ‘voices need to be heard, respected and acknowledged. Don’t try to silence them, but work with them.’ Ivo Karlovic, who has played on the ATP Tour for 20 years, said it is ‘more obvious than ever that we need a players only association.’ Away from the internet, Denis Shapovalov spoke out in favour of the PTPA following his win at the Miami Open on Saturday.

“I have heard from several players a lot of not great information. So I’m definitely on the PTPA side. I think we are not underrepresented, but I think there is ways that we could be represented better,” he said.
“I don’t think that the ATP is doing the fullest job that they can be. I think there are other ways and there are players that are trying to introduce or help within the ATP bring in different information or sponsors and this and that, and basically we’re all getting shut down. They are just telling us to go and play tennis which in my opinion it’s not right.”

Quoting Kevin Anderson the PTPA does have some ‘unanswered questions’ concerning their long-term objectives for the sport. The world of tennis politics is a complicated one which isn’t helped by the fact there are seven separate governing bodies operating within the sport.

Perhaps the best way forward is to stick with facts and figures. Such as the SportsBusiness Annual Media Report of 2018 which shows that more than a billion people worldwide describes themselves as tennis fans. Furthermore, some of the sports best players are the highest paid athletes in the world. With this in mind, questions are being raised over why tennis only accounts for 1.3% of the total value for global sports TV. Etienne de Villiers, who served as ATP chairman from 2005 to 2008, said during a recent interview with Bloomberg that trying to change the business model of tennis is tough because “everyone distrusts everyone else.”

Just earlier in the week John Isner called for more transparency concerning prize money in the sport which has been dramatically reduced in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the American does acknowledge that the ATP has been more forthcoming in information recently.

“Look, there’s always going to be some things that players are unhappy about,” he said.
“I do think recently the players have felt like the tour has been more transparent with them. We’re trying to understand the process a bit more.”

It is unclear what the future has in store for the PTPA but it is clear that Tennis is not entirely united at present.

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Auger Aliassime overcomes slow start to beat Seppi in Washington

The Canadian looked down and out early in the match but bounced back to avenge a loss he suffered at the French Open in June.

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Second seed Felix Auger Aliassime survived a huge scare in his opening match at the Citi Open in Washington.

The Canadian was on the verge of being upset by the Italian Andreas Seppi but battled back to beat him 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 59 minutes. Blasting a total of 25 winners and nine aces in the win.

 

“In my mind, I wanted to find a way to come back. To get that early break in the second really helped me a lot and I think I served a little bit better and I put more volume and height on my shot,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I was more patient and in the first set I was missing too quickly in the rallies so digging deep physically and mentally allowed me to come back nicely in the match and to finish strong in the third set. I am happy with the way things turned around for me today”.

It was the world number 88 with the better start to the match and after both players held their opening service games he had two chances to get the early break and took a 2-1 lead. After consolidating the break, the Italian set up another breakpoint with a stunning forehand winner, broke again for a 4-1 lead, and served out the first set.

Auger-Aliassime was keen on getting back into the match and wanted to avoid a second straight upset loss to the Italian. After holding serve in the first game of the second set he had two chances to take an early lead and broke for the 2-0 lead with a forehand up the line of his very own on breakpoint. That was enough for him to serve out the second set and send the match into a decisive third set to decide the winner.

It was the Canadian who repeated what he did in the second set holding the opening service game and breaking Seppi’s serve with a sublime passing shot. The Italian responded the next game by breaking right back but failed to consolidate the break as the world number 15 broke again with his powerful backhand winner.

At 5-2, the Auger-Aliassime found himself at match point and it took him five attempts before being able to convert and seal the match. Avenging a loss he suffered at Roland Garros.

After the match in his post-match press conference, the Canadian was asked if he had the loss to Seppi at the French Open in the back of his mind during the match.

” In a way yes of course because we played once and he beat me and as a player, you never want to go down twice in a row against a player but it happens but in my case, I really wanted to find a way to win that match and get revenge just for myself to try and get the win”. he said.

Auger Aliassime will now face the winner of the second-round match between Jenson Brooksby or Frances Tiafoe in the third round.

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Vasek Pospisil survives scare at Citi Open

The Canadian battled back from a set down in what was a tricky opening encounter.

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Vasek Pospisil was pushed to limits by qualifier Emilio Gomez in his opening match at the Citi Open.

The Canadian required three sets to beat the Ecuadorian qualifier 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and 11 minutes of play. He hit a total of 10 aces en route to the second round.

 

” It’s always good to get through a tough one and I felt dialed in during the second set,” said Pospisil. “I was a little bit distracted during the first set but I am glad to get match play and getting the win is important so I am happy I got it done”.

The first three games of the opener went on serve and at 2-1 the Canadian had three chances to take an early break but the world number 165 saved all three and held serve. At 3-3, Pospisil played a poor service game and Gomez took full advantage by breaking him at love. That one break of serve was enough for him to serve out the first set.

The Canadian was determined to stay alive in the second and broke the Ecuadorian early to take a 2-0 lead and managed to turn it into a double break for a commanding 4-0 lead. Gomez got one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the world number 61 would serve out the second set to force a decider.

The third set started with three breaks of serve but it was the Canadian that was finally able to hold serve and consolidate a break. That break was enough for him to serve out the match and complete the comeback.

Pospisil will next face the young American Sebastien Korda in the third round who is the 12th seed this week in the American capital.

” It’s going to be a tough one because he is playing some great tennis this year and he is an up and comer and a great player,” he said of Korda. “I will have to play really well to win that one because he is a dangerous player so I will have to serve well and return well”.

Other results

It was a busy day one at the Citi Open being held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC with some thrilling matches. Kei Nishikori beat Sam Querrey in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 and Marcus Giron pulled a three-set comeback against Ilya Marchenko 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.

In the battle of the Belorussians, Ilya Ivashka beat Egor Gerasimov in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Meanwhile, Jenson Brooksby avenged a loss to the South African Kevin Anderson by beating him in straight sets 7-5, 6-3.

Andreas Seppi needed three sets to dispatch Yasutka Uchiyama of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, Ricardas Berankis beat the American qualifier Mitchell Kreuger in straight sets 7-6, 6-2, and Daniel Elahi Galan beat another American Tommy Paul in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

Finally, in the last match of the day an American favourite, Jack Sock advanced to round two after his Japanese opponent Yoshito Nishioka was forced to retire due to injury during their match.

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John Isner Wins 16th ATP Title In Atlanta

The 6ft 10 American got revenge on his American opponent for the loss he suffered last week in Los Cabos.

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John Isner has continued his love affair with the Atlanta Open by ousting Brandon Nakashima to win the tournament for a record sixth time.

 

The sixth seed beat the American teenager 7-6, 7-5 in one hour and 57 minutes. Firing a total of 21 aces and winning 81% of his first-serve points en route to the victory.

“I think if you count the last two weeks playing singles and doubles I played 12 matches in about 10 or 11 days so I have played a lot which is exactly what I need,” Isner said following his win. “Hopefully I can take this and go forward and build some momentum for tournaments ahead.’
This tournament has meant everything to my career it’s amazing”. He added.

The first set was extremely tight and neither player gave an inch in their respective service games. The opener was decided by a tiebreaker which Isner is accustomed to. Whilst the first set was tight, the tiebreaker was an even tighter affair Isner squeezing out a 10-8 win to take the first set 7-6.

Again the second set was competitive and again neither player got an edge on their return game. It was only at 5-4 that the Dallas, Texas native found himself at triple match point but the world number 115 saved all three.

Nakashima would save a fourth before holding serve and at 6-5, the world number 35 earned a fifth match point. That’s where he closed out the match and sealed the win and the title.

After the match, Isner was asked about his history of playing numerous tiebreakers throughout his career.

” I play a lot of those and it’s a situation I am comfortable in since I have been on tour forever,” he explained. “Honestly I think today (Sunday) I was just a little bit luckier and that’s what It really came down to. It’s amazing to be out here again playing on a Sunday and it was awesome”.

Isner confirmed that he will not be making the trip to Washington, DC for the Citi Open and instead he will take a week off after playing back-to-back tournaments in Los Cabos and Atlanta. He is next scheduled to be in Toronto for the National Bank Open.

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