Masters 1000: Madrid And Rome Will Increase Draw Size To 96 Players From 2023 - UBITENNIS
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Masters 1000: Madrid And Rome Will Increase Draw Size To 96 Players From 2023

Madrid and Rome will switch to the enlarged formula next year whereas Canada and Cincinnati will adapt this from 2024. Many other details have yet to be settled to define the calendar.

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Article was first posted on ubitennis.com – translated by Alice Nagni, Michele Brusadelli and Kingsley Kaye

 

There’s no doubt that Andrea Gaudenzi’s tenure as ATP-president has been one of the most tumultuous in tennis history so far: it began with the five-month interruption due to the pandemic, then he had to deal with the growing protests of the players on the prize money division and the creation (without too many consequences so far) of the PTPA. In January 2022 the Djokovic affair in Australia, then the “China problem” (the autumn tour is still in troubled waters despite being formally confirmed) and now the implications of the war in Ukraine with Wimbledon’s recent decision to ban Russians and Belarusians from the Championships.

Even the most hyperactive leader may feel overloaded. However, Gaudenzi’s main focus during this period has laid on the development and the implementation of his strategic plan to lay the foundations for building an increasingly sustainable tour in which players can finally get their fair share of the earnings. Masters 1000 profits can represent the backbone of the future sport sustainability.

The most significant change in Gaudenzi’s strategic plan is the extension of all Masters 1000 tournaments to 11-12 day joint tournaments with 96-player draws. The tournaments structured in this way, with their greater revenues, will be able to include a series of smaller events, from the ATP 500 to the ATP 250 and to the Challenger Series, so that they will be offered logistical support and allowing a reduction in expenses through economies of scope and scale.

Last October, during an interview to the Sports Business Journal, Gaudenzi confirmed that the strategic plan was already 70% approved and that only the final pieces were missing to move on to the operational phase of the project.

During the last tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami, the ordinary meetings of the ATP executive were held as usual and, according to what Ubitennis has found out, they definitively approved the passage of most Masters 1000 to longer events with a 96-player draw. In particular, the Mutua Madrid Open and the Italian Open should start with the new format in the 2023 season, while the Canadian Open/Western&Southern Open in Cincinnati should switch to the extended draw only from 2024.

It is not clear, at the moment, how the calendar will be reorganised to allow for the expansion of these Masters 1000 tournaments, which in the case of the “Internazionali BNL” of Italy will also need to solve some logistical problems in order to provide support to the additional players (and most likely men and women) who will be arriving in Rome owing to the new extended draw.

Traditionally the back-to-back of the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open monopolises the entire month of March, with four weeks entirely dedicated to just two events. It has not yet been confirmed how the Madrid and Rome tournaments will be held, considering the new configuration: in the past years there was discussion, also at the ATP Board level, about the possibility of joining the two events in a “ying-yang” mode by compacting them into three weeks only and dividing the 23 days available (including the weekend before the start) between two tournaments of 11-12 days each. This would have involved playing the finals of the Madrid tournament on Wednesday, an option firmly opposed by the former owner of the Madrid event, the volcanic Romanian Ion Tiriac. Now that Tiriac has been replaced by IMG, which has acquired the Mutua Madrid Open, in addition to the Miami Open that they have already owned for many years, the situation may be different, but no statement on such matter, neither official nor unofficial, has been released.

Another option could be to replicate the Indian Wells / Miami model, scheduling in the second week of the two ATP Masters 1000 a “satellite” tournament at ATP 250 level, which players who have been eliminated from the main draw of the Masters 1000 could participate in. In this way it would be easier to bring these ATP 250 events under the protective wing of the corresponding Masters 1000, and the calendar would not be disrupted, allowing the smaller tournaments that are currently scheduled to find an attractive placement.

The official announcement is expected quite soon: Gaudenzi was harbouring the not too secret ambition to define the 2023 calendar in the Indian Wells meetings, and even if all the details have not been defined, it is likely that we will soon have a much more solid idea of what the 2023 season will be like.

Naturally there are various other relevant aspects to be defined: in the first place it will be necessary to understand if the WTA Tour will implement the same changes, so as to align the joint events. This year the Mutua Madrid Open has featured quite a bizarre discrepancy: the WTA event will start on Thursday with a 64-player draw (no byes for the top seeds) and rest days will be introduced in the second week. As a result, the third round of the men’s draw will be played on the same day as the women’s semifinals. 

The part of the season which follows the US Open is still shrouded in doubts. China has not yet relented its zero-Covid-policy, which has led to a harsh lockdown for Shanghai, and immigration laws are still extremely strict. Travellers coming from foreign countries are subject to a three-week hotel quarantine. It’s unlikely tennis players will accept such terms after almost a year of “normal life”. Therefore, the situation, also as far as 2022 is concerned, appears to be rather fluid. 

Neither can the Bercy issue be overlooked. Scheduled at the end of an exhausting season and just before the Nitto ATP Finals and the Davis Cup Finals, the Paris Masters 1000 often appears as an earthenware pot amid iron vases. A few years ago ATP had considered moving the event to February, and such an option could be pondered on again. 

Great changes ahead for the Tennis Tour Calendar, which over the next two seasons may find a better balance in dividing profits between tournaments and players as well as an improved sustainability for facing the future with greater confidence.      

ATP

The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter

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By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.

 

We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

PositionPlayerCountryPts 
1DjokovicSerbia11540
2MedvedevRussia8640
3ZverevGermany7840
4TsitsipasGreece6540
5RublevRussia5150
6NadalSpain4875
7BerrettiniItaly4568
8RuudNorway4160
9HurkaczPoland3706
10SinnerItaly3350
11Auger-AliassimeCanada3308
12NorrieGB2945
13SchwartzmanArgentina2625
14ShapovalovCanada2475
15ThiemAustria2425
16FedererSwitzerland2385
17GarinChile2353
18KaratsevRussia2351
19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

PositionPlayerCountryPts
1AlcarazSpain6820
2NadalSpain6020
3RuudNorway5820
4TsitsipasGreece5550
5DjokovicSerbia4820
6Auger-AliassimeCanada4195
7MedvedevRussia4065
8RublevRussia3930
9FritzUSA3355
10HurkaczPoland2905
11RuneDenmark2888
12ZverevGermany2700
13Carreno BustaSpain2495
14NorrieGB2445
15SinnerItaly2410
16BerrettiniItaly2375
17ShapovalovCanada2105
18CilicCroatia2075
19TiafoeUSA2000
20KhachanovRussia1990

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?

BEST RANKING

Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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ATP Finals Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Faces Casper Ruud in the Championship Match

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Novak Djokovic on Saturday in Turin (twitter.com/atptour)

The biggest ATP non-Major final of 2022 takes place on Sunday in Turin, Italy.

 

2022 has been a bizarre year in the career of Novak Djokovic.  It started with his deportation from Australia, forcing the unvaccinated Djokovic to miss the first Major of the year.  That would be one of six prominent events that Novak would miss this season due to COVID-19 entry rules (Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal, Cincinnati, US Open).  Yet Djokovic was still able to accumulate a record of 41-7, and win his 21st Slam at Wimbledon.  He is now 17-1 at indoor ATP events this fall, and will end the year as the World No.5  With a win on Sunday, he would tie Roger Federer for most all-time ATP Finals titles.

2022 has been a groundbreaking year in the career of Casper Ruud.  He had already established himself as a top 10 player, but prior to this season, was predominantly thought of as a clay court specialist, with five of his six ATP titles coming on that surface.  Yet that all changed this season, starting in Miami when he reached his first Masters 1000 finals.  Casper would go on to also reach his first two Major finals, in Paris in New York.  He is now 51-21, and into his fourth big final of the year.


Sunday’s action in Turin starts at 4:00pm local time with the doubles championship match, featuring Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (4) vs. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (2).  Both teams are an undefeated 4-0 this past week.  This is Ram and Salisbury’s second consecutive year in the final, having lost a year ago to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.  Mektic won this title two years ago alongside Wesley Koolhof, while this is Pavic’s first appearance in the final of this event.  These teams have not met since the semifinals of this tournament last year, when Ram and Salisbury prevailed.


Casper Ruud (3) Novak Djokovic (7) – Not Before 7:00pm

Ruud is 3-1 this past week, with his only loss coming in a dead rubber against Rafael Nadal.  Prior to his three top 10 victories across the last seven days, Casper only had two all season (Zverev, Auger-Aliassime).  And he is yet to win a title above 250-level in his career, with the aforementioned three losses this year in big finals.  Ruud was a semifinalist here a year ago in his ATP Finals debut.

Djokovic is an undefeated 4-0 this week, which includes an arduous effort to defeat Daniil Medvedev on Friday in a dead rubber.  Novak is now 10-3 against top 10 opposition in 2022, having taken nine of his last 10 against the top 10.  He is 4-2 in finals this year, though he lost his most recent one, two weeks in Bercy, to Holger Rune.  Djokovic is an eight-time finalist here, though he hasn’t won this title since 2015.

Djokovic has played a lot more tennis across the last two days than Ruud.  On Friday, Novak spent over three hours on court, while Ruud had the day off.  But Djokovic still looked plenty fresh for his semifinal on Saturday against Taylor Fritz, and was able to prevent the American from extending that tight contest to a third set.  Novak is 3-0 against Casper, which includes a straight-set victory at this same event a year ago.  And considering Ruud’s poor record in significant finals, Djokovic is a considerable favorite to win his sixth title at the ATP Finals on Sunday.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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ATP Finals: Fritz Close But No… Final, Djokovic Advances

Novak Djokovic beats Taylor Fritz in two tie-breaks and is just one win away from his sixth title at Nitto ATP Finals

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Novak Djokovic - 2022 Nitto ATP Finals Turin (photo Twitter @atptour)

[7] N. Djokovic b. [8] T. Fritz 7-6(5) 7-6(5)

 

Even when physically not at his best, Novak Djokovic can still count on his incredible ability to play the most effective tennis in the most important moment. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if the opponent misses an easy shot while attempting to close out the set, but the pressure Djokovic puts on whomever is on the other side of the net makes even the easiest shot look a little bit harder.

The former world no. 1 has put together a clinical display of efficiency during the first semifinal of the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin edging Taylor Fritz by two points in the tie-breaker of each set to reach his eighth finals in the end-of-year Championship.

It was not the best Djokovic, and it was not the best match: lots of errors on both sides, and a huge opportunity for Fritz to take the match to the distance when he served at 5-4 in the second set and then missed an easy backhand sitter to go a set-point up at 40-30, blaming an idiot spectator who indeed shouted in the middle of the point, when he really should have been able to put away that point blindfolded.

Fritz did not start the match in the best possible way: 10 unforced errors during the first five games, a break conceded at love at 2-2 and Djokovic appeared destined for a relatively quiet afternoon. But it was not going to be that easy: errors started flowing also on the Serbian side, and Fritz was able to equalize at 3-3. A tie-break was then needed to decide the winner of the first set, and the deciding point was a laser forehand down the line by Djokovic who swept point and set at 6-5 and headed off to the toilet for a comfort break after taking a one-set advantage.

But the break did not do him much good: unforced errors kept coming from the baseline, and Fritz blitzed 2-0 up with a break. At 4-3, the American wowed the Italian crowd with a magical backhand stop-volley to recover a service game where he found himself down 0-30, but when it was time to serve out the set, he missed that easy backhand we described earlier to give Djokovic another chance to close out a match in two sets.

And another chance is the last thing Djokovic should be gifted, although on a day like today, with Christmas time upon us, gift trading became the thing of the match. Two great points at 4-4 in the tie-break warmed the 12,000-strong crowd at Pala Alpitour to what could have possibly been a great end of the set, but Djokovic first earned a match point to be played on his serve with a good action from the baseline closed by a volley and then squandered it all with a very unusual unforced error on a routine backhand. But on his second match point, just a minute later, Fritz badly missed an inside-out forehand putting an end to the match and gifting Djokovic a chance to win his sixth title at the Nitto ATP Finals, the first in Turin.

On Sunday he will face either Casper Ruud or Andrey Rublev: he has never lost to Ruud in three previous matches (3-0) and the only time he did not beat Rublev (2-1) was last spring in Belgrade in the final of the tournament organized by his family.

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