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

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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