Archive for the 'ATP' Category


Match fixing evidence is being investigated by authorities.

Tennis’s anti-corruption authorities are looking into a spate of suspicious matches that have taken place at full ATP Tour events in Russia over the past two weeks. Highly suspicious betting patterns have been recorded in early round encounters involving male players at both last week’s $1million Kremlin Cup in Moscow and this week’s $663,000 St Petersburg Open.

The Tennis Integrity Unit, who work on behalf of the sport’s governing bodies, have refused to comment, but are sure to have had ‘red flags’ raised to them by the outcry among tennis punters, particularly on internet sites. Some British bookmakers have been so sceptical about matches in Russia they have reduced the number of markets offered to customers, despite the continuing popularity of betting on tennis. One match that drew particular attention happened in Moscow and involved a well-established Eastern European player losing to a lower-ranked opponent from South America. It attracted more than £1.5m of trades on Betfair alone and saw the odds mysteriously move in the opposite direction to what was actually happening in the match. By the time the underdog, who had originally opened at 5-1, went a set down he was bizarrely trading as favourite and when the match went into a third and deciding set he was 1-4 on to win the contest, which he duly did. The match in question was played between Nickolay Davydenko and Pueblo Cuevas and reulted in an upset win for the #70 ranked player 7-6, 7-6.  Davydenko was the subject of a similar investigation in 2004. Alarms were raised about several other outcomes.

There were about a handful in St Petersburg earlier this week, and it was enough to put several major British bookmakers on alert. Graham Sharpe, of William Hill, said in reference to St Petersburg: ‘Normally we would put up between 20 and 35 markets for each individual match, such as set

betting, but instead we have been offering just one, a straightforward win or loss. We’ve seen some strange peaks and troughs in the market in relation to what has been happening at the time.’


It’s time to change the Grand Slam structure to benefit the players and the fans.

Have you ever wondered why players who have no chance of winning an event go to all the expense of travelling with their entourages to compete? For most palyers the Grand Slams are an expensive lesson in futility. Unless they make it through the first 2 rounds in the first week they will probably lose money. They would have more potential for making money if they entered a Challenger Tour event. Being a participant in a Major tournament doesn’t buy the groceries! But participation is mandated by the ATP and the WTA. 

Take the case of a player ranked outside of the top 200 trying to gain recognition, points and to earn a living. Does he or she have a chance to win the French Open? Of course not. The best they might do is to qualify for the main draw where they will most likely be drawn against a top 20 player in the first round. And the match between this qualifier and the seeded player will take 2-3 hours to complete, and will be boring, non-competitive, and will drive potential fans away from the game. If the qualifier happens to be an American player we will be forced to watch the whole dismal affair on ESPN to the accompianment of mundane commentary by a group of experts trying to find something of interest to add to the match. The deafening noise you will hear is people switching channels.

I feel sorry for good players such as Alize Cornet, who has sunk down to #85, Ana Ivanovic, who has fallen to #60, Giles Simon, who finds himself clinging to a top 50 spot, and others who have had a temporary lapse in form. Because of the unfavourable draw they have to defeat a high ranked player to gain points, and begin their climb back up the rankings. It usually doesn’t happen.

As a fan I do not want to watch Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer playing against a Bulgarian of Chinese qualifier for 3 hours! If I cough up $100 for a ticket to Roland Garros I want to see my favourite players pushed to their limits in a match I will remember. I”m not interested in watching an out of shape Serena cruise through the first week against a bunch of alsorans as she plays herself into shape.

The structure of the Grand Slam events must change! One of the main reasons that revenues are up is because of the increase in the price of tickets!

Here’s my solution to the problem.

Divide the players into groups of 32 based on their current rankings. The winner of the top group will be the Champion, but to get there he or she must play 6 matches against 6 tough adversaries, no easy pickings.

The two bottom players, numbers 31 and 32 will go down to the group below, while the two top players from this group will go up.

So if you are Alize Cornet, for example, struggling to climb back up, she will only have to play players within her group ranked between 64 and 96. She will have a better chance of winning, and her matches will be far more interesting for the fans. As the winner of her group she will earn a sufficient portion of the total prize money to keep her in the sport. She will also have to have played 6 tough matches!


Stop whining and play tennis…..

The 2010 season is now into its 10th week. One Grand Slam has been played and tomorrow Indian Wells gets underway. Many of the top men on the ATP list have missed several events, and a couple are doubtful for the California event.

The head of the ITF has suggested that the player’s schedule be reduced, and that sets should go to a tie-breaker at 4-4. Is he crazy! The players whine and whine about the length of the season, the number of matches they are required to play, and the amount of travel they are forced to undertake.

Here are some interesting stats:-

Roger Federer has played 11 matches, 32 sets, earned $1,989,000.

Novak Djokovic has played 14 matches, 38 sets, earned $648,000.

Rafael Nadal has played 10 matches, 28 sets, earned $281,000.

Andy Murray has played 9 matches, 27 sets, earned $988,000.

Juan Del Potro has played 4 matches, 18 sets, earned $82,000.

Nikolay Davydenko has played 16 matches, 41 sets, earned $471,000.

Robin Soderling has played 9 matches, 23 sets, earned $420,000.

Andy Roddick has played 18 matches, 51 sets, earned $323,000.

This is over 10 weeks!! Most players have played less than 5 sets of tennis a week! Not a day, but a week!

Sure some of the poor babies are injured, some have played exhibitions and even represented their countries in the Davis Cup, but they are not overworked.

If he plays at Indian Wells, Federer will most likely receive a bye in the first round or play a qualifyer, some poor guy who is ranked outside of the top 200, thrilled to have a chance to play the #1, but for the spectators a ridiculous waste of time. The draw based on rankings sucks. Even the most ardent fan is bored by meaningless long tennis matches.

The format adopted in London at he year ending ATP Finals is the answer. Round robin events between players of equal skill levels, grouped into sections of 10 or 20 players. And just like other sports the top two in each group go up while the bottom two go down….simple!


ATP to switch from Mercedes to Corona!!

By the time the first Masters 1000 event of the year rolls around, the ATP will have formalised the full extent of the 5½-year deal with Grupo Modelo, Mexico’s foremost beer manufacturer, which has won the right to replace Mercedes-Benz as the lead sponsor. Unlike Sony Ericsson, whose $80 million (about £52 million) package with the WTA expires at the end of the year, Corona Extra will not be the tour’s title sponsor, but will become its most visible brand — on nets and stadium backdrops.

And so, what of an alcoholic beverage becoming the main partner of such a high-profile sport? Adam Helfant, the ATP’s chairman and president, said last night: “Beers have been associated with different sports before. This is nothing new, and we are happy that it is a great fit both for the company and the tour. Corona’s motto is ‘relax responsibly’ and we are very pleased with the nature of our conversations with their representatives. They will bring an exciting new creativity and marketing experience to the game.”

Helfant, who expects to make further announcements within weeks on additional sponsorship deals, confirmed that attendances at tour level in 2009 topped 4.4 million, a 7 per cent increase over the previous year, and that 14 tournaments set crowd records.


‘Hit for Haiti’ fundraiser set for Sunday in Melbourne. We can all help! Anyone who publishes a blog can add a link to their site to solicit donations.

Roger Federer has set up a series of exhibition games ahead of the Australian Open to raise funds for the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

The world number one has recruited a number of stars, including Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, to play doubles matches on Sunday at Melbourne Park.

“I had the idea that we could do something,” said the 29-year-old.

“It’s before the first Grand Slam, so it’s for some not so easy to mentally separate, but it’s a great initiative.”

Haiti was devastated by Tuesday’s earthquake, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, and the Red Cross has estimated the death toll at between 45,000 and 50,000, with millions more injured, orphaned or made homeless. If you would like to help donate to one of the many charitable organisations working to assist the people and children of Haiti. Follow this link to make a donation:-

Tennis players are not the only sport stars offering their assistance with America’s National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association all pledging sums of money.

I think it is something as a tennis family we’re very happy to do

With the first major tournament of the season set to begin on Monday, the top stars in tennis are keen to unite and help provide some funds for the victims of the tragedy.

Spectators will be charged A$10 (£5.60) on the gate, with the event taking place in the Rod Laver Arena, the tournament’s showpiece court.

Federer, who lost to Spain’s world number two Nadal in last year’s Australian Open final, added: “I spoke to some other top players. They all said ‘yes’, we should do something.

“So we’re going to play doubles or mixed doubles, also with top women’s players and try to fill up the stadium.

“I think there will be a donation at the door to come and see us play. I think it is something as a tennis family we’re very happy to do.”

Defending champion Serena, Belgium’s Kim Clijsters and Australia’s 13th seed Samantha Stosur will all play in the “Hit For Haiti” event, with other players set to be added to the line-up.


What’s in store for January on the ATP calendar.

2010 is only one week away and the new ATP World Tour season will soon be upon us. As always, the year will get started with what should be an entertaining, revealing, action-packed January.

However, the action really gets started later this month. It’s not an official tournament, just an exhibition, but the Capitala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi once again boasts a star-studded field. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the top two players in the world, have byes to the semifinals of the six-man event. Opening matches on December 31 will pit Robin Soderling against Stanislas Wawrinka and Nikolay Davydenko vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Two days after the Abu Dhabi, the official season will begin in Doha, Chennai, and Brisbane.

Federer and Nadal–not to mention Davydenko and Tsonga, as well–will be right back at in Doha, where Mikhail Youzhny, Viktor Troicki, and Ivo Karlovic will also kick off their 2010 campaigns. So far one wild card has been handed out; to 38-year-old Younes El Aynaoui, who last played in 2008.

Soderling and Wawrinka headline the field in Chennai along with defending champion Marin Cilic. Wild card recipients were Carlos Moya, Rohan Bopanna, and 2009 runner-up Somdev Devvarman.

Others will be looking to get a head start Down Under; among them in Brisbane are Andy Roddick, Gael Monfils, Radek Stepanek, and Marcos Baghdatis.

Most of the top players will take a week off from January 11-17 prior to the Australian Open, so the fields in Auckland and Sydney are not quite as strong. David Nalbandian, who missed most of 2009 due to hip surgery, is expected to have a wild card into Sydney.

Youngsters Nick Lindahl of Australia and Ryan Harrison of the USA have already played their way into the first Grand Slam of the season. Lindahl won Tennis Australia’s wild card playoffs while Harrison emerged victorious in the USTA’s wild card tournament. Lindahl beat Bernard Tomic in the Australian final, but Tomic received a wild card nonetheless. Carsten Ball and under-18 national champion Jason Kubler have also been given wild cards from Tennis Australia.

Andreas Beck, Xavier Malisse, and Mario Ancic are the only three main-draw direct entrants who have already pulled out of the Australian Open; Malisse, of course, against his well. Taking their places are Jan Hajek, Igor Kunitsyn, and Robin Haase.


My Favourite Things……..sing along!

With my apologies to Julie Andrews and the Sound of Music.

1. Rafa and Roger embracing and crying,

Delpo keeps winning without hardly trying,

Murray’s frustrations taken out on his strings,

These are a few of my favourite things…..

2.Backhands and forehands, drop shots and aces,

Melanie’s sneakers with bright coloured laces,

Nicolay soaring as if he had wings,

These are a few of my favourite things…..

When the Hawk-eye says the ball’s in

and the point is replayed,

I simply remember the rain in New York

and the reason the match was delayed.

3.Masha and Ana, Serena and JJ,

Looking ahead to a gigantic pay-day,

And the gossip surrounding their numerous flings,

These are a few of my favourite things…..

4.Roddick and Nole compete to be funny,

Andy wins out by wedding a bunny,

Clijsters returns and Vania sings,

These are a few of my favourite things…..


Ginepri will have to defend his Indy title in Atlanta next year!

The ATP Tour will return to Atlanta next season after the series purchased the sanctioning rights from the event in Indianapolis.

The ATP board last month voted to buy the Indianapolis sanction under rules which allowed the ATP to match any offer made for the event.

The hard-court tournament in Atlanta will be held over the week of July 17-25 2010 and marks the first time an ATP Tour event has been held in the US city for nine years.

Mark Young, ATP chief executive officer for the Americas, said: “This is a great win for the parties involved and is a wonderful example of co-operation and understanding between different authorities in tennis coming together to achieve the common goal of promoting and developing tennis in the United States.

“We at the ATP wish the tournament every success and are delighted we could find a way to work with the USTA to achieve this outcome.”

The host club for the hard-court tournament, to be held from July 17-25, is yet to be determined, though a decision is expected by mid-January ahead of ticket sales.

The first stop on the US Open Series – dubbed ‘the greatest roadtrip in sport’ by marketeers – starts two weeks after the European clay and grass court seasons end, and has traditionally struggled to attract European players capitalising on extra time around their local training bases.

But Oakes said he has already heard from the agents of two top-10 players. Robby Ginepri, this year’s champion at the Indianapolis event, is expected to ‘defend his title’ in Atlanta.

“This is two weeks after Wimbledon, so normally the top Europeans haven’t come over yet,” said Rex Maynard, president of USTA Southern. “What we’d hope to be able to attract would be the top American players, maybe the South American players.”

Previous winners from the Atlanta tournament, in its many guises, include Andy Roddick in 2001, Pete Sampras in 1998, Andre Agassi in 1989, 1991, and 1992 and John McEnroe in 1985.

There will be a 32-player draw in singles and a 16-team draw in doubles.


The London experience should be the template for the future.

The 2009 tennis season is finally over, and the pundits have misanalysed every player’s performance, offered their advice, voiced their opinions, and written articulate phrases to describe or condone every move that the players made during the course of a very successful year.

I’m not qualified to offer advice, nor do I presume to be an expert on the game, except as a spectator and fan. As a fan, I enjoyed the ATP Finals in London, the round robin format, the high quality level of the tennis, and the simple pleasure of seeing match after match played by the very best players. I have to pose the question, why don’t we see more of this type of event?

Wasn’t it a better test of tennis for a player such as Federer to be forced to play 4 matches against 4 ‘real’ opponents rather than to see him play 6 matches in a Grand Slam against just one or two worthy combatants?

From a fan’s perspective, and all the seats were sold out, there were no ‘garbage’ matches, no warm-ups for the top players at the fan’s expense, no walk-in-the-park offerings that give tennis its boring reputation, plus the additional benefit of a reduction in the court time for the players. Every match was a kin to a quarter or semi final, and the results reflected the competitiveness.

I’m all for dividing the ATP and WTA rankings into tiers of eight to twelve players, and the individual players would move up or down according to their match results within their tier. Top two up, and bottom two down, just like Soccer, the Fed Cup or the Davis Cup.

Tennis is due for some changes to make it more fan friendly, the traditional 5- 6 hour matches of Grand Slams are boring until the end, TV schedules are often disrupted, and Tennis remains as an elite sport supported by a core of frustrated weekend players.

Remuneration for players outside of the top 30 is barely enough for them to be able to continue in their profession without sponsor support. A tiered tournament could be structured to increase the prize money for those players who win and move up, instead of he or she being defeated in the first round by a top ten player and going home in debt.

With the sharp increase in injuries in 2009, the complaints from some players about the length of the season, and the separation of the top players from all the others, it is time to think about making some changes.


The eight best….a capsulized evaluation by NH.

Neil Harman, The Times Tennis Correspondent, delivers his verdict on the world’s best players as another season draws to a close.

Roger Federer: When he pulverised his racket in Miami in April, and came into his interview with eyes welled with tears, you paused and wondered if the year might spell a genuine changing of the guard. Within three months, he had won two tournaments on clay, including the French Open for the first time, reclaimed Wimbledon as his own and your entire thought process was reset. His recruitment of a personal trainer to travel full time which illustrates a determination to remain at a physical peak for as long as possible. Moves better now than he has and still know more about how to win when it matters than anyone.

Rafael Nadal: ‘Finished the batteries, No?’ Nadal said on Friday. To read some of the doom-laden accounts of his year, you would think he was finished altogether. Nadal has lost a piece of his edge, there is no doubting that, indeed he freely admits that he is struggling with the confidence required to strike his shots as he would want. His close season will be shorter than anyone’s with the Davis Cup final ending on December 6 and departing for an exhibiton in Abu Dhabi on the 30th. Did he really need that event, the profit aside? Needs to get his mind right before his game falls into place.

Novak Djokovic: Spend the end of the season like one of those metal orbs on a pinball machine, bouncing from one city to the next, have racket will travel. He talked to me about the stress involved in making the final of a tournament on a given Sunday, then playing someone of lower rank three days later at the start of the next. “You cannot know what a toll that takes,” he said. Wants so much to be better, adding pieces to his game all the time, but will still get through more matches on heart and spirit one than anyone else in the sport.

Andy Murray: We know that the game is there, it is a matter of transferring it to the mightiest stages when required. He has not been as open and chatty since Wimbledon as he was in the build-up to the most pressured two weeks of his year, remarkable as that may seem. Perhaps the defeat to Roddick in the semi-finals there took more out of him than even he appreciated. Still prefers to play tennis more as a picker of pockets rather than someone who might cosh his opponent over the head. It is all about finding the proper balance. A more consistent serve would not go amiss.

Juan Martin Del Potro: the discovery of year, but who would have said that in the weeks preceding the French Open? When he played Federer in the semi finals there, something seemed to click and on the hard courts of America, he once again showed his mettle, thumping his way to an improbable triumph in the US Open. Does anyone strike the ball quite as low, flat and mind-blowingly hard at the 6’7″ Argentine? And he is not averse to moving up the court with good hands at the net. Once he really starts to believe in himself, watch out.

Nikolay Davydenko: the Russian has experienced quite a glorious month, winning the ATP Masters in Shanghai, defeating Djokovic and Nadal on successive days in the semi final and final; and winning a group that contained that pair, defeated Federer in the semis and Del Potro in the final in London. Great movement, great hands, great anticipation, great energy, an improving serve, an ability to take the opponent’s strength away and impose his own on the match. Needs a grand slam for credibility’s sake.

Fernando Verdasco: When it came to the crunch, when the pin needed to be pulled, Verdasco came up short, which cost him the prospect of victories over Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Juan Martin Del Potro in the round robins. It may also tell you what separates him from challenging the very best in the biggest events. Some of his stroke making is quite breathtaking but then he will shove a relatively easy forehand into the tramlines and heave his shoulders in disappointment. Then he will do it again. A coach’s nightmare because he is such a competitor for 95 per cent of the time. That extra five will make all the difference.

Robin Soderling: Quiet and reserved, he almost made it to the Barclays final, having arrived as the first reserve with plenty in reserve. A ferocious forehand, an excellent service action which is very difficult to pick, an assurance about himself which is a trifle intimidating and, having traded blows so expertly with the top players, will be a real force to be reckoned with in 2010. His French Open was something of a fairytale but kept his season moving in the right direction all the way through.

Courtesy The Times.

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