ATP Chief Andrea Gaudenzi On Strategic Plan, Wimbledon, Events In China And More - UBITENNIS
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ATP Chief Andrea Gaudenzi On Strategic Plan, Wimbledon, Events In China And More

In a wide ranging press conference the head of men’s tennis spoke extensively about a wide range of topics. Including his claim that Russian and Belarussian players were willing to sign a document condemning the Ukraine war in order to play at Wimbledon.

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Andrea Gaudenzi (photo ATP Tour 2019)

The president of the ATP, Andrea Gaudenzi, held a video conference with the Italian press on Thursday concerning the presentation of the calendar reform. Madrid and Rome are expected to upgrade to 96 player draws over two weeks from 2023. The same pattern will be extended from 2025 to the Canada Open and Cincinnati… Here is the transcript of the press conference.

Gaudenzi: “I wish to express my satisfaction for achieving an important milestone which is the promotion of this calendar reform plan. Upon our arrival, two and a half years ago, we went through a series of serious issues: the fires in Australia, Covid, the war in Ukraine and more… We have been committed to making tennis survive in general. The fact that we have managed to pass such an ambitious plan makes us proud. We hope that this can be the first step towards a great future. But after two and a half years of negotiations and struggle, we perhaps deserve a pat on the back. I particularly like the upgrade of the Masters 1000 in Rome, as an Italian”.

 

Ubaldo Scanagatta, Ubitennis: “Will any tournament disappear?”

“No. There is a reorganization. Looking at the calendar you can see that there are two weeks that impact the 2025 calendar; The ATP 250 are moved. The idea is to enhance the Masters 1000 so as to reduce the gap that exists with the Slams, which of course is still very large. What everyone wants to see are the strongest players in the most important events. We want to give viewers a continuous story, from the beginning of the year to the end. We want to strengthen a model that already works, the one of Indian Wells and Miami, which have had this format for almost thirty years”.

Paolo Rossi, Repubblica: “Which was the greatest obstacle”?

“One could write a book about it. When we talk about general principles, we all agree, difficulties arise when we go into detail. There is a bit of fear on everyone’s side. And it was not easy to make compromises. All parties have compromised to focus on the long-term goal of enhancing our sport by putting selfishness and retaliation aside. Above all, there is a total lack of trust between players and tournaments. I believe it is partly justified because we are talking about a partnership in which players have never had the opportunity to access the economic accounts of the tournaments and are paid with prize money without knowing whether it is fair or not. This has always led to crazy quarrels. So the most difficult thing was removing individual egoisms, which are understandable, because it is an individual sport, and every player and every tournament thinks of itself; but there must be someone who thinks of the collective good, that is sport. It is difficult to find someone who does this and who has the trust and delegations from everyone.”

Riccardo Crivelli, La Gazzetta dello Sport: “Have you asked for guarantees for the enlargement of Rome? Have you seen plans for the roof? And then: has the idea of a Master 1000 on grass before Wimbledon been ruled out?”

AG: “Indian Wells is the only tournament that has had category protection for 50 years in 2003. And it was also the tournament that invested the most; it would be difficult to ask a tournament to invest millions if it could still be downgraded the following year. Hence a theme of accountability from standards point of view. There will be a committee made up of a representative of the players, a representative of the tournaments, and a third independent representative who will define – considering the unique peculiarities of each tournament, the reason why you cannot ask Monte Carlo to add four courts – standards aimed at raising the level, with larger stadiums, covered, more space for media and players. This is the direction. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: “ATP points at Wimbledon. Is the decision taken definitive? The risk is that a false ranking will come out and without great value after Wimbledon… Maybe a compromise solution would have been better, is it still being studied?”

AG: “The reason why we removed the points at Wimbledon is known; it is a matter of fairness and discrimination in response to a unilateral decision of the tournament that we do not consider right. Such a decision should have been taken collectively involving all seven components of tennis. This story proves once more that we need a unique governance in tennis. Having said this, we would be very happy to return the points to Wimbledon if the ban on Russians and Belarusians, who have said they are willing to make written statements because none of them is in favour of war were lifted. From a ranking point of view, we want to have a ranking in 2022 where each player had access to the same number of points. This is the only way to have a fair ranking at the end of the year. If we gave protection to those who played well at Wimbledon in 2021 it would be even more unfair to those who play well in 2022, because the points would still expire after 52 weeks as always happens. We can’t protect seven or eight players by creating even more damage to everyone else. Unfortunately, Wimbledon points will be missing in the year-end ranking, but from our point of view it is the fairest choice and WTA agrees with us.”

Vincenzo Martucci, Supertennis: “In the calendar system there are two critical issues: the overcrowded red clay season between the tournaments before Roland Garros with Madrid and Rome killing each other and then the one concerning Bercy, which has lost much of its significance”.

AG: “Madrid and Roma will become 96-draw tournaments over four weeks. Winning back-to-back Madrid and Roma today means winning ten matches in twelve days, an incredible and risky effort in terms of injuries. The 96-player draws instead allow for a longer rest. It is true there is an extra match, but there is a better scheduling and the players’ engagement is managed better. The other tournaments will be rearranged around these two events. In the future, keeping in mind the limit of 16 500 ATP events, we will try to join a couple of ATP 250. Even these tournaments would be glad if there were fewer tournaments of this category. We would also like to schedule 125 Challengers in the second week of the Masters 1000 for those player who lose in the first rounds. As for Monte Carlo and Bercy, the long-term idea is to have nine combined Masters 1000. They are two tournaments that have some problems in terms of infrastructure, but the idea is to make them grow too. As for Bercy, it is natural that at the end of the year the players will come to terms with fatigue and injuries, especially those who have already qualified for the Finals”.

Ubaldo Scanagatta: “Will there be tournaments in China this year? Doesn’t the WTA decision to cancel events from China create problems?

AG: “The first most important topic concerning tournaments in China is Covid. As for the WTA, the choice was made in relation to the case of Peng Shuai, and we took a different stance on this. However, there is probably a need to reorganize the calendar to find alternative solutions, as we did in the last two years. A miracle is required, because it is not easy to change dates when deadlines are so tight. We are trying to push the Chinese government to make a decision, and then we will make a decision.”

Piero Guerrini, Tuttosport: “When do you imagine a single governance in tennis? And about Turin, what do you expect in terms of growth this season?”

AG: “I hoped to close the matter in a year and a half, but there is an impressive number of details which need sorting out. There will certainly be a progressive solution, while in the meantime we have already started to collaborate in some details such as format, competition, rules, etc. … The unification of the tie-break format of the final set is also a result of this convergence. We will not go at a supersonic speed, despite being highly motivated to do so. You have to decide on the voting system, establish a starting point, etc… It is difficult to set timelines, even if it’s hard to imagine less than a couple of years. We hope to succeed, although it is not obvious that this process will be finalized. The first edition in Turin for me was extraordinary, also considering that we were still in the middle of COVID, which involved several ticket selling uncertainties. Then we hope to have an Italian at the Finals, who would certainly boost ticket sales.”

Riccardo Crivelli, Gazzetta dello Sport: “I saw that in the 2023 calendar the NextGen Finals will follow the ATP Finals. This year will be the last Italian edition. I was wondering if the call has been reopened and also if the scheduling after the Finals is not a bit demeaning for this event. Do you have any other plans for this event?”


AG: “The call has not yet been launched; we are still in reflection mode for NextGen. Since the event does not award points, it is not a big problem for the calendar, and scheduling the event in December could be interesting, since it is a fairly empty month and probably the young players still have a lot of energy and desire to play. We are considering various options, including merging it with a similar event for the WTA, because it would be nice to see the promises of the future all together. There is also the hypothesis of greater integration with the ATP Finals, although the logistical issue is not easy to solve, because it would imply having many matches in one day. We really like the NextGen format, they’re churning out the results of the future, and it’s a great format that allows to test innovative solutions.”

Ubaldo Scanagatta, Ubitennis: “Is some progress being made to unite the Davis Cup and the ATP Cup, perhaps returning to the old Davis Cup 3 sets out of 5 that had a different spirit and I think brought greater benefits to the tennis image? And then, a question that concerns journalists: it is not very clear what the ATP would like from journalists in the relationship with players. In Barcelona the mixed zone was in an area journalists could not access; in Acapulco there was a situation where first you could ask questions via Zoom and then they disappeared; in Indian Wells they all complained about how the mixed zone was organized, so I would like to know if you have also taken into account what Billie Jean King said at Roland Garros according to which it is also in the interest of players to have a human relationship with journalists, at least with those who live the tournaments the most,  because if we continue to separate journalists and players, we are not helping tennis and tennis players “.


AG: “With regard to Davis Cup/ATP Cup, we have an agreement with Tennis Australia also for 2023, but we are having talks. I think I’ve always been honest enough to say that having two events like Davis cup and ATP Cup so close is not good for our sport. If Davis cup were to disappear it would not be good news for tennis, in consideration of the value of its history and for what it has meant. It is necessary to find a solution, and this is another proof that these decisions should all be made together, also because if confusion is created, the public usually tends to move away. With regard to the other issue, this is not a subject I am very familiar with, because I have been dealing with other things. However, I have always been a promoter of the importance of the media and the importance of communicating with our fans, especially about things that happen off-court. 50% of the focus is on non-live, as the Formula 1 documentary [“Drive to Survive”] has also shown, which has aroused great attention, and you are a little bit the “enablers” of this story. It must be said that COVID has really created a great revolution in the way we work, and this theme should be reviewed and discussed, especially by also talking to players, because they are the first to have a say. We will review the matter and give you an answer.”

Vincenzo Martucci, SuperTennis: “Me too I’d like to reiterate Ubaldo’s question about the relationship between players and journalists. But my questions are different: first of all, I would like to know exactly what this relationship with the WTA means, and when will we see the real effects at a journalistic level? Compared to you, the WTA is in a prehistoric situation: they deal exclusively with American journalists, and some English. All Europeans, Spanish-speaking ones, Italians, perhaps with the only exception of L’Equipe, are almost ghettoized, despite the fact that there are outstanding characters who could be analysed in depth and promoted. I also have a question about doubles: have you considered the idea of starting the doubles tournament 2-3 days after the start of the singles so as to possibly recover some of the eliminated players, especially the most popular, to boost attention on the doubles tournament?”

AG: “I believe that integration with the WTA could improve this aspect, because we want to have a single point of access for players. The team will be united: today we have one only marketing team, then we also want to have one only team of PR, social media, commercial and many other things. Integration is progressively under way. Then there is always a problem of supply and demand: the demand from you is always much higher than the time offered by the players. And also from this point of view we must succeed in changing the current perception of players who think that playing the match is the end of their commitment. This profit-sharing that we are promoting is aimed at showing tournaments as partners, not as enemies who ask you to spend further 20 minutes with the media. The idea is that even the players of the new generations should understand the reality around the tournament and around the match. There is a need to tell stories, and therefore there is a need to give access to those who tell stories. If the players understand that the more they give time, the more the ecosystem in which they live grows, a virtuous circle will be created. Agents always tend to reserve the player’s time for initiatives that benefit the player and agent directly, and not the tournament, which benefits the whole system.  As for doubles, it’s part of the problem we’re facing with Challenger prize money. The prize money is too low for those players who are struggling to survive, so we have to help them. And this negatively affects doubles, that indeed needs support. However this 96-player format for masters 1000 singles tournaments is definitely a help: if you see the Indian Wells doubles draw there are many more singles players who also play doubles. First of all because they have to go to Miami so they have to stay there waiting, but then there is also the question of the rest day. A player never wants to play two games on the same day, but if he can use the rest day to play doubles, it becomes interesting. We’re trying to work on the Challenger issue and the doubles issue over the next six months, to try to make both of them more interesting to the public. It’s not easy because some players want to leave after losing in singles and don’t want to stay, but that’s one of the aspects that we have to deal with.”

Emilio Mancuso, RAI: “Wimbledon without points is really bizarre: if there had been Gaudenzi at the head of the players’ union who knows what would have happened. Also, if you skip the Asian season, will there be possibilities for more tournaments in Italy since it has been proven that in Italy you can organize good events?”

AG: “As far as Wimbledon is concerned, we found ourselves in a situation where no one wanted to be. We responded to a unilateral decision by Wimbledon and we would have preferred to take this decision together with everyone else, also to have a uniformity of action. Now in a few days the USTA will make its decision, Roland Garros has made its decision, and everyone goes their own way. Another reason why governance should be brought together. From our point of view it would have been hard for us to look away when there were 60 players involved in this decision, players who from their point of view were willing to do so many things, and who have done nothing wrong and who are not supporting what is happening. I understand the propaganda theme and the arguments brought by Wimbledon, but at the end of the day, calculating everything, we are a global sport, and we must use our platform to unite, without discriminating people owing to their passport. Let’s hope it will never happen again, and I hope it’s an accident which will bring us to sit at a table to talk. Sometimes you have to break an egg to make an omelette…”

NOTE: press confrence was conducted in Italian and has been translatred into English by Ubitennis.

ATP

ATP Montreal: Ruud Thrashes Auger-Aliassime To Reach Semis, Mixed Results For Brits

Casper Ruud eased past Felix Auger-Aliassime to set up a semi-final meeting with Hubert Hurkacz in Montreal.

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Casper Ruud (@OBNmontreal - Twitter)

Casper Ruud only dropped three games against Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach the semi-finals in Montreal.

 

The Norwegian is into the semi-finals in Canada after a dominant performance over home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Ruud dominated from the start of the match as he produced a sublime performance only committing nine unforced errors throughout the match to reach the last four.

Ruud has had a good season on hard courts this season and is looking to make his second consecutive hard court Masters 1000 final after reaching the final in Miami.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted he got a bit lucky but is happy to be in the last four in Canada, “It was one of those days where everything goes in one favour and luckily it was in my favour,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“With a player like Felix, you need to rely on some margins going your way. I didn’t expect them to all go on my side. It was a bit of a difficult start. I got broken but then was able to turn everything around. I hit my spots, made the shots I needed to and make him hit a lot of balls. That was the game plan and it worked well.

“The last hard-court tournament I played in was in Miami where I reached the final. I wanted to make a deep run here. I didn’t think it was too likely, being the first hard-court tournament back, but I have been playing great from the first point in the first match.”

Ruud will look to claim his first Masters 1000 title this week and rise to four in the world in the ATP rankings.

Next for Ruud is the only Masters 1000 champion left in the draw in the form of Hubert Hurkacz.

Hurkacz defeated the in-form Nick Kyrgios 7-6(4) 6-7(5) 6-1 to reach the semi-finals in Canada.

The eighth seed produced some big-serving and bold decision making as he reached his first semi-final since winning the Halle title.

Heading into their match, Ruud leads the head-to-head 1-0 where the Norwegian was victorious at Roland Garros this year.

Mixed results for British hopefuls

Meanwhile it was a mixed night for British players as Dan Evans reached his second career Masters 1000 semi-final while Jack Draper exited the tournament in the last eight.

Evans defeated Tommy Paul 1-6 6-3 6-4 to reach a landmark moment in his career in Montreal.

After his win Evans described the win as ‘extra special’ as he looks forward to a semi-final meeting with Pablo Carreno Busta, “The crowd, that’s what they buy their tickets for. That’s live sport,” Evans told the ATP website.

“You never know what’s going to happen. It was an amazing match, amazing atmosphere. I played on the court before. In the day it was amazing, but at night, there’s something about playing sport at night, it’s extra special.”

Evans will now play Carreno Busta in the last four after the Spaniard defeated British qualifier Jack Draper 7-6(4) 6-1.

Draper defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier in the week but was no match for the resilient Spaniard.

Saturday’s semi-final will be the first meeting between Evans and Carreno Busta.

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ATP

Canada Daily Preview: Semifinal Saturday Features Ruud/Hurkacz and Pegula/Halep

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Simona Halep on Friday in Toronto (twitter.com/NBOtoronto)

The singles and doubles semifinals will be played on Saturday in Canada.  In Montreal, a new men’s singles champion will be crowned, and Hubi Hurkacz is the only semifinalist to have previously won a Masters 1000 event (Miami, 2021).  Hurkacz is also in the doubles semifinals, so it will be a busy day for Hubi.  In singles, he faces a finalist from this year in Miami, Casper Ruud.

 

In Toronto, Simona Halep is the only former champion remaining, and is two wins away from her third title at this event.  On Saturday, she plays Jessica Pegula, who is into the semifinals in Canada for the second straight year.  Like Hurkacz, Pegula is also in the doubles semifinals.  She’s teaming with Coco Gauff, who will become the new doubles No.1 if they win the title.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Saturday’s play gets underway at 12:00pm local time in Montreal and 1:00pm in Toronto.


Hubert Hurkacz (8) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Not Before 3:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

Hurkacz ended the winning streak of Nick Kyrgios on Friday, taking him out in three sets for the second time this season.  But Ruud was even more impressive on Friday, bouncing back from a marathon victory on Thursday over Roberto Bautista Agut to overwhelm Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, dropping only three games.  Predominantly known as a clay court player, Casper is also establishing himself as a considerable threat on hard courts.  That’s especially true in North America, where Ruud has claimed 16 of his last 19 matches.  But Hubi’s success on this surface remains superior, as does his serving prowess.  While Ruud prevailed in their only previous encounter, just a few months ago at Roland Garros, Hurkacz is the favorite on a hard court.


Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Simona Halep (15) – 1:00pm on Centre Court in Toronto

Halep has been dominant through four rounds this week, advancing without the loss of a set.  Simona has quietly put together a strong record of 36-10 this season, though she’s yet to achieve a big result, with only one title at the 250 level at the start of the year.  Pegula only dropped one set this week, to defending champion Camila Giorgi.  And similar to Halep, she’s accumulated a solid record this year (29-14) without winning a title.  This will be the first career meeting between these two players.  Considering Halep is now 25-6 lifetime at this event, and the way in which she has easily prevailed all week, her superior movement and defense should be enough to reach her fourth final in Canada.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Dan Evans – Carreno Busta has played superbly this week, eliminating the likes of Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini without losing a set to this stage.  Dan Evans has survived two grueling three-setters in as many days.  This is their first career meeting.

Beatriz Haddad Maia vs. Karolina Pliskova (14) – Haddad Maia has earned three big wins across the last three days over Iga Swiatek, Belinda Bencic, and Leylah Fernandez.  Pliskova is looking to reach the Canada final for the second straight year.  They have split two previous encounters, both on hard courts.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Canada Daily Preview: Quarterfinal Friday in Montreal and Toronto

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Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime on Thursday in Montreal (twitter.com/OBNmontreal)

Canadian No.1 Felix Auger-Aliassime has thrilled crowds in his home country on back-to-back days in Montreal.  On Friday, he faces Roland Garros finalist Casper Ruud, who outlasted Roberto Bautista Agut on Thursday in a marathon match that went well over three hours.  Other ATP action in Montreal includes Washington champion Nick Kyrgios taking on Halle champ Hubi Hurkacz in a rematch from the Halle semifinals.

 

Coco Gauff has survived two extremely dramatic affairs in as many days, ousting both Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka in third-set tiebreaks.  In the quarterfinals, she plays a two-time champion of this event, Simona Halep.  Toronto’s matches on Friday also feature Jessica Pegula and Karolina Pliskova, both of whom reached the semifinals or better of this tournament a year ago.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play gets underway at 12:00pm local time in Montreal and 1:00pm in Toronto.


Coco Gauff (10) vs. Simona Halep (15) – 1:00pm on Centre Court in Toronto

Between Wednesday and Thursday, Gauff spent exactly six hours on court during the heat of the early afternoon, in two physically and emotionally taxing matches.  By contrast, Halep spent less than half that time on court across those two days, and is yet to drop a set this week.  And their three previous encounters have all been straight-set victories for Simona.  She prevailed on grass three years ago at Wimbledon, on a hard court this year at Indian Wells, and on clay this year in Madrid.  And considering Halep will be the far fresher player on Friday, there’s not much evidence to suggest a different result in her fourth meeting with Coco.


Casper Ruud (4) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (6) – Not Before 2:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

What will Ruud have left after a three-set match that lasted nearly three-and-a-half hours?  Auger-Aliassime had a much easier time on Thursday, avenging a loss from less than a week ago in the Los Cabos semifinals over Cam Norrie.  Casper and Felix have split four previous meetings at all levels: two at Challenger events, and two at Masters 1000 events such as this.  Three years ago in Miami on a hard court, Auger-Aliassime won in three sets.  Last year in Madrid on clay, Ruud prevailed in straights.  Accordingly, a hard court would seem to favor Felix, especially considering his superior serving abilities.  Most of Casper’s big results have come on clay, though he did reach the final of Miami earlier this year.  I expected the Canadian to play nervously at this event, as Auger-Aliassime was only 3-3 lifetime here ahead of this week, and had lost four of his last six matches since June.  But Felix has embraced the spotlight of playing in front of a packed Canadian stadium, and should be favored over a depleted Ruud on Friday.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Nick Kyrgios vs. Hubert Hurkacz (8) – Between singles and doubles, Kyrgios is 13-0 over the last 10 days.  Hurkacz saved a match point on Thursday, eventually defeating Albert Ramos-Vinolas in a third-set tiebreak.  Earlier this year in Halle when he played Nick, Hubi also prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.

Karolina Pliskova (14) vs. Qinwen Zheng – Both players were victorious after tough three-setters on Thursday: Pliskova over Maria Sakkari and Qinwen over Bianca Andreescu.  This is their first career meeting.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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