Fresh Faces Descend Upon The Laver Cup To Fill Void Left By Big Three - UBITENNIS
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Fresh Faces Descend Upon The Laver Cup To Fill Void Left By Big Three

With Roger Federer and Co sidelined, those posed to replace them in the future are hoping to make their mark.

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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 22: (L-R) Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, alternate player Feliciano Lopez, Matteo Berrettini, Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud, Vice Captain Thomas Enqvist of Team Europe, Rod Laver, Captain John McEnroe, Vice Captain, Patrick McEnroe, Diego Schwartzman, Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Nick Kyrgios, alternate player Jack Sock, John Isner and Reilly Opelka of Team World pose for a portrait with the Laver Cup trophy in front of the Boston skyline at LoPresti Park ahead of the 2021 Laver Cup on September 22, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Laver Cup)

This weekend’s Laver Cup will be a test for organisers to see how their event fair with fans without some of the sports biggest names gracing their presence.

 

Since its debut back in 2017, the team competition has grown rapidly on the men’s Tour and even has a slot in the ATP calendar after being given special status two years ago. The competition is inspired by Golf’s prestigious Ryder Cup event with players from Europe taking on those from the rest of the world. Named after tennis great Rod Laver, players battle it out over three days with the first team to 13 points being declared the winner.

This year’s edition is taking place at the TD Garden in Boston 12 months later than originally planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time since its birth, no member of the Big Three will be present. Roger Federer, who helped create the event, and Rafael Nadal are sidelined with injury. Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic has opted not to participate.

“Obviously we’re missing the top three guys, but our team (Europe) is one of the strongest I think we’ve ever had,” four-time Laver Cup participant Alexander Zverev assures. “We have all the young gun generation guys, which is great to see. Everybody is very motivated. It’s going to be a fun, entertaining week for all of us.”

The absence of the trio ironically provides an opportunity for the Laver Cup which will still feature 10 out of the world’s top 20 players in the competition. The Organisers are keen to showcase that there is much more to the men’s game than just three players if they want their event to last for years to come. Recently Discovery Sports locked in a 10-year deal to broadcast the Laver Cup exclusively until 2030.

In Team Europe a quartet of players will be making their debut with one of those being recently crowned US Open champion Daniil Medvedev. The world No.2 says he has sought advice from one of his teammates ahead of the competition.

“I asked Sascha (Zverev) when we practiced, how was it (the Laver Cup) in Chicago because that’s when we (Team Europe) were kind of the guests. He told me everybody is gonna be against us,” Medvedev told reporters on Thursday.
“I think the toughest is when you’re not ready and everybody is against you, that’s when you’re gonna have problems. So we are all ready for it.”

Whilst there are no ranking points up for grabs, there is big money to be made. Those who win the Laver Cup this year are reportedly set to earn $250,000 each. Meanwhile, the runner-ups will receive half of that.

Although money isn’t everything for those taking part. Some are relishing the experience of being able to play alongside their peers instead of against them. Federer recently said he hopes the Laver Cup provides an opportunity for the younger players to learn from those who are more experienced.

“It’s an amazing atmosphere here. We are all making fun of each other. We spend a great time together. We are practicing well, preparing well, and we will see what’s gonna happen,” Laver Cup debutante Andrey Rublev said.
“Many guys said that they are the best players. All of them know how to play tennis, what is inside, how we feel, how each player is going to feel. All of us can give advice, if someone sees something from outside the court.” He added.

Norway’s Casper Ruud is another newcomer who says he has benefitted from listening to what his fellow peers have said about the event. Earlier this year Ruud won three consecutive ATP titles on the clay within as many weeks. Since then he has reached the quarter-finals of two Masters events but lost in the second round of the US Open. He will play in the first match of the Laver Cup on Friday against Reiley Opelka.

“I’m really excited. It will be fun to kind of get the show going. I’m sure I will feel some nerves, in the 24 hours when I’m about to step on court,” Ruud admits.
“I have great teammates. They shared their knowledge in our team dinner about how it was, and we have a good plan, I think. Hopefully I can get Team Europe off to a good start.”

On the first day of the competition, three newcomers will be playing for Europe. Besides Rublev and Ruud, Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini will also take to the court against Felix Auger-Aliassime. The Canadian is one of two players in Team World who is playing in the event for the first time along with Opelka.

“We have Sascha and Stefanos (Tsitsipas) who have been here before. They have helped to explain and to share their knowledge about how this event is all about,” vice-captain of Team Europe, Thomas Enqvist, commented.
“The guys have been unbelievable how quickly they come together and how hard they have been working to preparing for this event. I’m really looking forward to the matches.”

Team Europe head into the tie seeking their fourth consecutive trophy and are yet to lost to Team World.

Day 1 order of play

1pm (local time)
Reilly Opelka (World) vs. Casper Ruud (Europe)
Felix Auger-Aliassime (W) vs. Matteo Berrettini (E)

7pm
Diego Schwartzman (W) vs. Andrey Rublev (E)
John Isner/ Denis Shapovalov (W) vs. Matteo Berrettini/Alexander Zverev (E)

*All matches count 1 point

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Roger Federer’s Team8 Considering Bid To Buy Cincinnati Masters Rights From USTA

The potential move has gained support from one former world No.1 player who says ‘it is nice to see responsible names’ in the mix to buy the prestigious event.

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Roger Federer Wimbledon 2021
Roger Federer (SUI) playing against Adrian Mannarino (FRA) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

It is understood that sports and entertainment company Team8 which was co-founded by Roger Federer is looking into potentially submitting an application for ownership of the Cincinnati Masters, according to two sources.

 

Sports business publication Sportico and Steve Weissman from The Tennis Channel have both reported that the business is among a number of interested parties who want to buy the event that is best known as the Western and Southern Open. In February this year it was confirmed that the USTA is selling their 93.8% stake in the tournament for a ‘nine-figure sum.’ It is understood that the organization doesn’t want the event to be relocated from Cincinnati in part of any deal.

“The USTA’s Board of Directors believes now is the right time to explore potential strategic options and alternatives in order to optimize the long-term growth of the tournament and take the tournament to the next level,” the USTA said in a statement published by tennis.com.

The USTA brought the rights to the men’s event back in 2009 for $12.5M and has since spent an additional $65M. Whilst Cincinnati is a combined tournament, the ongoing negotiations only apply to the men’s section. The women’s tournament is overseen by Octagon management.

Neither Federer or a member of Team8 have commented on the reported plans. The company was founded by the 20-time Grand Slam champion and his agent Tony Godsick back in 2013. Since then they have been involved in the creation of the Laver Cup, became a ‘major investor’ in the Universal Tennis system and are a ‘strategic investor and partner’ to On Running.

Should Team8 become the new owners, questions may arise about conflicts of interest with Federer still being an active player on Tour. The 40-year-old is currently sidelined from action due to a knee injury but is aiming to stage a comeback at the Swiss Open later this year. However, former world No.1 Andy Roddick has given his full backing to the possible takeover.

“In the world of tennis, where conflicts of interest know no bounds at all, Roger can do this. He has, obviously, been a great steward for the game and has created an incredible relationship with the fans in the city of Cincinnati. You’d like to see it stay in the tennis family with someone who actually knows and loves our sport.” Roddick told The Tennis Channel.

Federer has won the Cincinnati Masters a record seven times in his career.

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Daniil Medvedev ‘Happy To Play Wimbledon’ If Ban Is Lifted

The world No.2 says he is willing to speak with other players about the situation ahead of his return to action following surgery.

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Daniil Medvedev (RUS) in action against Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Daniil Medvedev says he is still hopeful that he might be able to play at this year’s Wimbledon Championships should officials at The All England Club decide to change their stance.

 

At present the reigning US Open champion will not be allowed to play at the grass court major due to his nationality. Officials at the Grand Slam have confirmed that Russian and Belarussian players have been banned from the event due to the war in Ukraine. Ian Hewitt, who is the chairman of The AELTC, said the action was taken in order to prevent ‘the propaganda machine of the Russian regime’ from potentially benefiting from their players’ success.

The ban is a controversial move for the sport which until now had a united approach when it came to allowing those players participate in tournaments but only as neutral athletes. Former Wimbledon champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokopvic and Andy Murray have all expressed some degree of opposition to the decision. Meanwhile, the ATP and WTA are considering the possibility of removing the allocation of ranking points at the event.

Speaking about the ban ahead of this week’s Geneva Open, Medvedev acknowledges that it is a ‘tricky situation’ but is still hopeful that a u-turn could occur which would allow him to play. The 26-year-old has made four main draw appearances at Wimbledon with his best result being a run to the fourth round last year.

“There has been a lot of talk around it. I just tried to follow what’s happening because I don’t have any decisions to make. It’s right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved,” news agency AFP quoted Medvedev as telling reporters in Switzerland.
“It’s a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody’s going to give a different opinion.
“I can play: I’m going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament.
“I cannot play: well, I’m going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play.”

The former world No.1 has been among a group of Russian players who have previously called for peace in the region. Although none of them have gone as far as publicly condemning the actions of their government. Something which has drawn criticism from Ukraine’s Elina Svitoliva.

“I had some time to follow what is happening, yeah, it’s very upsetting,” Medvedev commented on the war.

Geneva will be the first event Medvedev has played in since reaching the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. He took time away from the Tour to undergo hernia surgery but has confirmed he intends to play at next week’s French Open despite his lack of match play on the clay.

During his time at those events, the tennis star says he is more than happy to speak with other players about the Wimbledon ban should they want to.

“Since I haven’t been on the tour, I haven’t talked to any of them face to face. It was the first time when I came here on Saturday when I can talk to players, and if they start talking about this, we can discuss,” he said.
“I don’t know exactly what’s happening, what’s going to happen, if there are going to be more decisions made.
“Same about Wimbledon. I don’t know if this decision is 100 percent, and it’s over.”

Granted a bye in the first round, Medvedev will start his Geneva campaign against either Richard Gasquet or John Millman.

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Conquering the world: Carlos Alcaraz beats Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic to cement Barcelona-Madrid titles (Part Two)

Carlos Alcaraz will now look to translate his success from the ATP Tour to Roland Garros.

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Carlos Alcaraz (@MutuaMadridOpen)

In part one, I assessed how Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz continues to take the tennis world by storm after his victory in Barcelona.

 

Now I turn my attentions to his success in another famous Spanish city.

Madrid Masters victory

Alcaraz again began his Madrid Masters campaign in style, beating the dangerous Georgian Nicoloz Basilashvili in straight sets.

A stern test came in the form of Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who pushed the birthday boy that day to three sets.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CdMSI6uKJZB/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY=

Alcaraz moving through 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 to set up a blockbuster quarter-final clash with his idol Rafa Nadal.

Now, some context is needed that the 21-time Grand Slam was appearing in his first tournament back since recovering from a rib injury.

An opening round win against Serbian Miomir Kecmanović was backed up with a tight three-set triumph over Belgian David Goffin, with the veteran Spaniard saving four match points.

To his credit, Nadal pushed his young apprentice all the way, before going down 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, with the second set showing his obvious quality, despite being partially fit.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CdOP5Jtg2Pn/

If this moment was a changing of the guard in Spanish tennis, then Alcaraz’s impressive win over Novak Djokovic could point to the man who may dominant the future of tennis.

The world number one was fortunate to play a match less, after the shock withdrawal of old rival Murray in the third-round.

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CdRFDuFgIHv/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY=

But he was no match for the imperious Alcaraz who triumphed at front of the delighted home support, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).

The first player ever to beat Nadal and Djokovic back-to-back on a clay court in the history of tennis.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CdQ4yADqinS/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY=

And Alcaraz made it a highly commendable 5-0 in finals, destroying Germany’s Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-1, with little challenge unlike the previous encounters with Norrie, Nadal and Djokovic.

James Spencer (Twitter: @jspencer28) – Alcaraz Verdict

In truth, I had a sneaky feeling that Alcaraz would triumph in Barcelona.

The way he is playing with such finesse and confidence, particularly against the Monte Carlo Masters champion, Stefanos Tsitsipas, was incredible to see.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CdQ4yADqinS/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY=

Saving match points against Alex de Minaur, also showed his mettle.

He also has an unbelievable shot selection and fitness levels.

Beating Nadal and Djokovic back-to-back is no easy feat.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CdRGhGyq64J/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY=

Often just one win knocks the stuffing out of you, mentally and physically, but not for this kid.

Alcaraz doesn’t get carried away. And this has been shown consistently this season.

Winning the Miami Masters could have led to a drop in motivation, yet he has looked even more motivated if anything.

He’s performed on hard-court and clay court surfaces with an assuring dominance.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CdRDN0Hq_zY/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY=

In fact, he is unbeaten on clay this season, losing three times in total all season.

Matteo Berrettini in five at the Australian Open.

Nadal in the semis of Indian Wells in a tight three sets, that ultimately injured the elder Spaniard, which could have ramifications on his entire fitness this season, and the destination of the French Open trophy.

And a close three-set defeat to up and coming youngster Sebastian Korda in Monte Carlo.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CdTpZI6o1kX/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY=

The new world number six must surely be the new favourite to WIN the French Open later this month.

Skipping the Italian Open should help the 19-year-old heal any niggling injuries.

If he does win in Paris, he will be the youngest Grand Slam champion since you guessed it, Nadal.

Only time will tell.

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