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ATP In Talks WTA Over Possibility Of Grouping Commercial Rights Together

Momentum concerning a possible merger appears to have stalled but there are indications that a greater degree of collaboration between the two tennis bodies is on the cards.

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Calls for the two governing bodies of men’s and women’s tennis to potentially merge in the future remains a work in progress, according to the chairman of the ATP.

 

Andrea Gaudenzi has confirmed that talks between his organisation and Steve Simon’s WTA are ongoing and he is optimistic that progress can be made in the coming months. Although he didn’t go as far as saying that the two would transform into one body due to the various challenges there is. Last year a call for a merger started to gain momentum with top names such as Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Billie Jean King publicly supporting such an initiative.

The prospect of seeing one tour for both male and female players remains a long way off. However, both the ATP and WTA have agreed to collaborate on closer terms with Gaudenzi saying such an approach makes the sport stronger.

“I think it’s a great strength of our sport that we have a very strong women’s product. I think it is a unique selling point. Our biggest events are combined and the fans want to see both,” Gaudenzi told The Tennis Channel.
“I truly believe we need to start selling, packing and distributing the product as one because we belong to the same story (timeline). Starting in January and ending at the end of the year.”

Whilst Gaudenzi has shown enthusiasm with such an initiative, discussions among the ATP chiefs about merging with the WTA is currently undocumented. In January Kevin Anderson, who is the president of the ATP Players Council, confirmed that ‘no real discussions’ have taken place.

We’re working very closely with the WTA,” the ATP chief stresses.
“We now have a joint marketing and social media department. We are also looking to aggregate the commercial rights. So it’s progress.”
He added.

No further details were given over how such a move concerning commercial rights would be made or how advance the talks between the two are.

The ATP is currently in the midst of an internal battle with some of its players who have joined the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA). An independent group created by Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil which campaigns for players to have a greater say in decision making. Although both the ATP and its Players Council (which include Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer) have voiced their opposition.

Former top 20 player and long-time coach of Pete Sampras, Paul Annacone, believes the governing system of tennis is preventing the sport from making any substantial progress regarding a merger. Although he believes nothing can happen until players have a greater clarity about their view of the ATP.

“Like everything else in our tennis world, it’s a complex spider web of governance, which kinda restricts a lot of this stuff from happening. It’s very complicated,” he said in response to Gaudenzi’s remarks.
“The players have to figure out what they want to do. Is it the structure they don’t like? Is it the people that are representing them in the structure? Is it the governance? There are a lot of different things that are happening.

One of the joint projects the ATP and WTA are working on is a live scoring app to ‘enhance the coverage and alignment of professional tennis for fans and the media.’ In a statement published on Monday, it was confirmed that the app is set to be released during the early part of next year.

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Miami Open Tournament Director Fined For Breaching Betting Rules

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The tournament director of the prestigious Miami Open has been fined more than $50,000 and issued with a suspended ban for violating rules relating to betting sponsorship. 

 

James Blake, who is also a former professional player, has been hit with a financial penalty of $56,250 with a further suspended fine of $131,250 and a suspended ban of 18 months by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA). Due to his status as a tournament director, the American is considered as a ‘covered person’ who must abide by the sports rules regarding betting. An official press release confirmed that the 44-year-old fully cooperated with the investigation and did not contest the charge against him. 

The ITIA has ruled that Blake’s violation was unintentional and he will not be suspended unless he breaks another rule within the 18-month period, which started on February 9th this year. According to the official rulebook, it is stated that “No Covered Person shall directly or indirectly, facilitate, encourage and/or promote Tennis Betting (‘Facilitation’).”

“Across our members – the ATP, WTA, ITF and Grand Slams – the rules prohibit accredited individuals from having commercial relationships with betting companies,’ Karen Moorhouse, CEO of the ITIA, said in a statement. 
“This case is more a matter of perception, rather than corruption. The rules apply to players, coaches, officials and accredited tournament staff – who all have the ability to influence results or have access to inside information. 
“We urge anyone in the sport who is unclear or is considering commercial deals like this to get in touch with us to seek guidance.”  

Blake has been head of the Miami Open since 2018. A mixed Tour-level event that is classed as a Masters 1000 for men and as a WTA 1000 for women. As a player, he reached a ranking high of No.4 and won 10 ATP titles. He is also a three-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist. 

There is yet to be any public comment from Blake regarding his fine. The Miami Open will get underway next month. 

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Iga Swiatek avenges her Wimbledon defeat against Elina Svitolina to reach the quarter final in Dubai

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World number 1 Iga Swiatek beat two-time former world champion Elina Svitolina 6-1 6-4 after 1 hour and 24 minutes in the third round at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Swiatek has extended her winning streak to six straight victories in the Middle East after claiming the Doha title last year. 

 

Swiatek won seven consecutive games from 1-1 in the first set. The Polish player won a tighter second set that featured five consecutive breaks to reach the quarter finals in Dubai for the second consecutive year. 

Swiatek earned leads of 2-0 and 4-2 in the second set before breaking serve to take a 5-4 lead. She served out the win after saving a break point for 5-5.

Swiatek avenged her defeat to Svitolina, who beat her Polish opponent in three sets in the quarter finals at Wimbledon last year. Svitolina has returned from a back injury she sustained at last January’s Australian Open. 

Swiatek now leads 2-1 in her three head-to-head matches against Svitolina. The four-time Grand Slam champion has won 25 of her last 26 matches dating back to a fourth-round defeat to Jelena Ostapenko. She has extended her winning streak to 13 matches against top-20 players.

Swiatek will face either Zheng Qinwen or Anastasia Potapova in the quarter final. 

Swiatek finished runner-up in the final in Dubai last year. 

“I really wanted to improve my focus compared to yesterday. I am happy I did not lose my focus and I remembered what I have to do and it worked. I was a little bit calmer than I was yesterday”, said Swiatek. 

Coco Gauff came back from one set down to beat Karolina Pliskova 2-6 6-4 6-3 reaching her second consecutive quarter final in Dubai. Gauff stopped Pliskova’s 11 match winning streak. The Czech player claimed her first title since 2020 at Cluj Napoca and reached the semifinal in Doha before withdrawing ahead of her scheduled semifinal match against Swiatek due to injury. 

Gauff has won 23 of her last 24 matches players ranked outside of the top 20. The US player has reached the quarter finals or better in three of her last four appearances in Dubai, where she advanced to the semifinal last year. The young US player has reached her third quarter final in 2024 after winnin her second title in Auckland and reaching her first Australian Open semifinal. 

Gauff saved two break points in the first game of the third set before earning a decisive break with a forehand down the line to take a 5-3 lead. Pliskova earned two break points in the final game, but Gauff pulled back to deuce with her strong serves. The US player sealed the win on her second match point with her unreturned serve. 

Gauff set up a quarter final match against this year’s Australian Open quarter finalist Anna Kalinskaya, who beat Jelena Ostapenko 6-4 7-5 in 93 minutes. 

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Andy Murray wins his first match of the 2024 season in Doha

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Andy Murray beat Alexandre Muller 6-1 7-5 to clinch his first win of the 2024 season at the Exxon Mobil Open in Doha. Murray won two Doha titles in 2008 and 2009 and reached three finals in 2007, 2017 and 2023.

 

Murray converted three of his five break points he earned. 

Murray came back from 0-40 down to break serve on Muller’s first service game. The British player held serve to open up a 3-0 lead, but he asked for a medical time-out due to a knee issue. The double Olympic spoke to the physiotherapist on court, explaining that he had been feeling pain in the area for a few days and had received for a cyst on his meniscus the day before Tuesday’s match. 

Nevertheless, Murray returned on court and did not convert two break points. The Scotsman earned his second break and held serve to seal the opening set in 46 minutes. 

Murray did not convert break points in the fourth game of the second set. Both players held on their service games before Murray earned a break with another winner to take a 4-3 lead. Muller broke straight back to draw level to 4-4. Both players on serve in the next four games en route to the tie-break. 

Muller earned the first mini-break with a drop-shot to take a 4-2 lead in the tie-break, but Murray pulled back on serve to draw level to 5-5. Murray won the next two points and sealed the win with a backhand return. 

“Obviously the past few months have been really tough on the court for me. I have not won many matches and lost a lot of close ones as well and it was getting tight at the end there as well, so obviously I am delighted to get through”, said Murray. 

Murray set up a second round match against Jakub Mensik, who upset Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 in just his eighth tour-level match to clinch his first win against a top 30 player. 

Mensik came back from a break down twice en route to winning the tie-break of the first set 7-3 with four mini-breaks. The 18-year-old Czech player earned a decisive break in the first game of the second set before sealing the win after 93 minutes on his first match point. Mensik won 70% of his first service points. 

Mensik, who is the youngest player in the top 200 in the ATP Ranking, reached the third round at last year’s US Open and beat Denis Shapovalov as a qualifier on his Australian Open debut last January. 

Mensik will face either Andy Murray or Alexandre Muller. 

“I just tried to play my best. It’s a crazy opportunity to play an ATP 250 here in Doha, so I reached the second round and I will do my best to show this performance in the second round”, said Mensik. 

Christopher O’Connell beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 6-4 to improve his head-to-head lead to 2-0. O’Connell broke twice in the second and seventh game to take a 5-2 lead. Struff pulled one break back in the eighth game from 3-5 but O’Connell closed out the first set 6-4 on his first set point. O’Connell broke serve in the fifth game to take a 3-2 and sealed the win on his third match point. 

O’Connell set up a second round match against world number 46 Emil Ruusuvuori, who beat Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 in one hour and 47 minutes. Both players went on serve with no break points en route to tie-break. Ruusuvuori, who reached the quarter final in Rotterdam last week, earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. Ruusuvuori earned his first break of the match in the opening game and saved four break points to hold serve at deuce in the second game. Zeppieri broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Ruusuovori converted his second break point in the 11th game and sealed the second set 7-5 on his first match point. 

Gael Monfils beat Botic Van de Zandschulp 6-1 7-6 (11-9). Monfils broke twice in the second and fourth games to win the first set 6-1. Van de Zandschulp broke serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. Monfils broke back in the ninth game. Both players held on serve in the next games en route to a tie-break. Monfils earned three match points at 6-3 in the tie-break, but Van de Zandschulp  won three consecutive points to draw level to 6-6. Both players traded mini-breaks to draw level to 8-8. Monfils won two consecutive points to win the tie-break 11-9 on his fourth match point. 

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