Federer, Djokovic React To ATP Finals Moving To Turin
Italian city will host season-ending championships beginning in 2021
The announcement that Turin, Italy, will host the ATP Finals from 2021-2025 has been met with excitement from the biggest names in tennis. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Kevin Anderson, Borna Coric and Fabio Fognini all expressed their support for the year-end championships moving to Pala Altipour Stadium, Italy’s biggest sporting arena.
“Exciting new chapter for the ATP Tour,” wrote Federer on Facebook. Djokovic, World No. 1 and President of the ATP Player Council, said in a statement that the ATP Finals is “a tournament that has historically moved around and so I’m very excited to see it move to Turin from 2021. It’s still a few years away but I know that the players will be very excited to compete there, and I also hope to be part of what will be a very special event.”
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Fognini, Italy’s top-ranked player, said the country will take advantage of the chance to host another major sporting event and rally behind the ATP Finals.
“This moment for Italian tennis is quite good. We have the most important tournament of the year here in Italy,” said Fognini. “I played at the ATP Finals for doubles [in 2015] and everyone is happy to be there and enjoy it. I’m happy that our country gets a chance to improve what is already the best tournament of the year.”
Anderson, who reached the semi-finals in his ATP Finals debut last year, tweeted that “last year was one of the best moments of my career so far. Congrats to Turin and hopefully I get to play there some (or all) of those years.”
The #ATPFinals last year was one of the best moments of my career so far. Congrats to Turin and hopefully I get to play there some (or all 😊) of those years. https://t.co/r6WQPWH0L3
Zverev, Thiem and Tsitsipas breaks down Spaniard’s game on clay
Time was winding down before the start of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. At 1 p.m., Rafael Nadal stepped on to Court 9 of the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona to work on some last-minute adjustments with coaches Carlos Moya and Francis Roig. After an hour of training, the Spaniard headed back to the locker room to decompress before beginning his quest for a 12th crown in Barcelona.
On Wednesday, Nadal outlasted Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-2 advance to the third round, where he’ll face fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.
Twelve titles is an unprecedented benchmark, but for the 32-year-old from Manacor, it’s business as usual. His numbers at other clay court events are equally impressive: Nadal is an 11-time champion at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and emerged victorious eight times at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. In the 455 matches he’s contested on clay, Nadal has emerged victorious 92 per cent of the time. In all, Nadal has hoisted 57 trophies from tournaments competed on clay. Those credentials have solidified Nadal’s place as the undisputed King of Clay.
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So what is it about Nadal that makes him such an unstoppable force on his favorite surface?
Dominic Thiem has an idea. As one of only two players to defeat him once in each of the last two seasons (QF in Rome 2017 and QF in Madrid 2018), the Austrian understands it takes special circumstances and the right conditions to unravel Nadal. Since 2017, they have faced each other seven times in European clay-court events, with Nadal holding a 5-2 edge.
“I think that Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Roland Garros are the tournaments where it is more complicated to beat him,” said Thiem. “He’s at home and in his zone when the courts are slow and it makes landing a winner that much more difficult.
“He’s also a master when it comes to conserving energy. He launches powerful shots, but he knows how to generate just the right amount of power at exactly the right time. Combine that with his mobility on the surface and you’ve got the perfect formula for success on clay.”
Even a surprising 4-6, 2-6 loss last week to eventual champion Fabio Fognini at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters does little to convince Nadal’s peers that he’s anything but invincible. World No. 3 Alexander Zverev is winless against Nadal in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (0-5), with three of his losses coming on clay.
“He’s a colossus; the best clay-court player in the world,” said Zverev. “You know it’s never going to be an easy day if you have to play with Nadal on clay.”
In addition, the conditions to fight for the Conde de Godó Trophy add an extra element that Sascha does not overlook: Nadal plays at home.
“Facing against him in Spain does not make the challenge easier. We played once in Spain, in Davis Cup [in 2018], and it was a very difficult game,” said Zverev. “I have the feeling that he enjoys it. He knows he’s the best and somehow connects with the stands.”
A similar reaction generates Stefanos Tsitsipas’ association to Nadal’s name and the red clay. The Greek already knows what it is to cross Nadal on this surface, having done so last year in the Barcelona final.
”He has a gift … in my opinion, he’s very fast,” says the No. 8 in the world. “He covers the track very well so you always have the feeling that, no matter what stroke you use, you’re always behind the ball. He always plays with a lot of depth and has a lot of topspin effect in his shots. On clay, that’s not easy to handle.”
Denis Shapovalov is another player who has experienced just how powerful Nadal is on this surface. He played the Spaniard last year in the third round of Rome and only managed to win five games.
“You realise why he’s so good,” said Shapovalov. “He knows the tactics perfectly. Even if you know what you are going to do, it is very difficult to react or try to stop it. He is so aggressive on this surface and his tactics are so well built.
“He reads your punches and is a complete player in clay, but he’s hard to beat on any surface. He is a great champion and his style of play is very hard. He is a fighter. Even if you go up 40/0 against him, you know you can’t lose concentration. He’s never going to give you a free point and it puts enormous pressure on the opponent. It’s something that I’ve always admired about him and I’m trying to incorporate that into my game.”
Another #NextGenATP player, Frances Tiafoe, joked that all clay-court tournaments should carry the Spaniard’s name. Pista Rafa Nadal in Barcelona is apparently not enough.
“I don’t think anyone will ever manage to emulate what he has achieved,” said the American. “He’s won Monte Carlo eleven times! You can’t match that. I am happy to see a player who has done that in our sport. Rafa is one of the best players of all time.”
Andy Murray is “cautiously optimistic” about returning to action “at some point this summer”, says mother Judy.
The British three-time Grand Slam winner, 31, said in March that he was pain-free after hip surgery but his chances of playing singles at Wimbledon this year were “less than 50%”.
Murray said the operation meant it was possible he would not be able to play professionally again.
“It is still early days so we will have to wait and see,” Judy Murray said.
She told the BBC: “He was told not to do impact work, which basically means running around the garden hitting a ball, for three months but he’s been hitting against a wall from a static position.”
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Murray broke down in tears at the Australian Open in January, saying in his pre-tournament news conference that he planned to retire after this year’s Wimbledon because of pain in his hip.
However, he said the first Grand Slam of 2019 could prove to be the last tournament of his career.
After a gutsy first-round five-set defeat by Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, Murray appeared to soften his stance by telling the Melbourne crowd he hoped to see them again next year.
In his post-match news conference, he said he was considering the resurfacing operation primarily to improve his quality of life.
Murray had the hip resurfacing operation – which keeps more of the damaged bone than a hip replacement, smoothing the ball down and covering it with a metal cap – in London on 28 January.
American doubles player Bob Bryan had the same surgery last year and returned to action, alongside twin brother Mike, five months later. No tennis player has competed in singles after having the operation.
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There’s no disguising the sense of quiet optimism emanating from the Murray camp at the moment.
The social media “thumbs up” from Andy Murray himself to his hip replacement; pictures of him enjoying a round of golf; his mum Judy now saying there’s every chance he could be back on tour at some point this summer. Admittedly, that gives him plenty of wriggle room, as the summer tennis season drags well past September’s US Open.
He won’t be at the French at the end of May but is there a chance he could feature at some point on the grass in June? Queen’s Club and Wimbledon would be the obvious targets, even if only on the doubles court.
However, if a pain-free, rested, rejuvenated Murray starts serious on-court weight-bearing work at some point next month, there is a possibility he will play singles at the All England Club in July.
He only gave himself a 50% chance of that a few weeks ago but it’s certainly no less than that now. Quite a turnaround when you think that, in January, he was tearfully contemplating retirement.
Hometown Favourite Balazs Stuns Millman In Budapest
17-year-old Sinner wins first ATP Tour main draw match on Wednesday
Attila Balazs gave the hometown fans plenty to cheer for at the Hungarian Open in Budapest. The wild card, currently No. 246 in the ATP Rankings, stunned 2018 runner-up and sixth seed John Millman of Australia 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
Balazs, who took out in-form Pole Hubert Hurkacz in the opening round, is through to his first ATP quarter-final in seven years (2012 Bucharest SF, l. to Fognini). The 30-year-old returned to action in March after missing seven months due to a hip injury. Balazs’ injury woes forced him off the tour for two years, but he returned to action in August 2016 and has played primarily on the ATP Challenger Tour since then.
Next up for Balazs is Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, who rallied from 1-5 in the opening set and saved a set point to defeat Matthias Bachinger of Germany 7-5, 6-2. Bachinger moved into the draw as a lucky loser after third seed and defending champion Marco Cecchinato of Italy pulled out due to illness.
Italian teenager Jannik Sinner won the first ATP Tour main draw match of his career by defeating Hungarian wild card Mate Valkusz 6-2, 0-6, 6-4. The 17-year-old snuck into the draw as a lucky loser when Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters finalist Dusan Lajovic of Serbia withdrew due to an elbow injury.
Sinner won his first ATP Challenger Tour title this February in Bergamo. He started the year at No. 546 in the ATP Rankings and is guaranteed to move into the Top 300 on Monday. The teenager will now face fifth seed Laslo Djere of Serbia for a place in the quarter-finals.
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Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay hung tough to defeat German qualifier Yannick Maden 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Cuevas, who won last week’s ATP Challenger Tour event in Tunis without dropping a set, will take on top seed Marin Cilic of Croatia on Thursday.
Rafael Nadal missed out on three set points in the first set on Wednesday, but battled back against Leonardo Mayer to keep alive his bid for a 12th title at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.
Four days on from his shock semi-final loss to Fabio Fognini at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, Nadal committed 36 unforced errors (16 in the first set) in the windy conditions at the ATP 500 tournament, but grew in confidence on serve to complete a 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-2 second-round victory over Mayer in two hours and 50 minutes.
The 32-year-old, who has an outstanding 59-3 match record in Barcelona, will next challenge fellow Spaniard and former World No. 3 David Ferrer, who he beat in the 2008-09, 2011-12 finals. Nadal has a 25-6 record against Ferrer in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
Top seed Nadal failed to close out the first set when serving at 5-3, and struck a forehand into the net at 5-4, with Mayer serving at 30/40. Two further set point chances for Nadal weren’t converted at 6/5 and 7/6 in the tie-break, before Mayer ripped a forehand winner at 8/7 to complete the 72-minute opener.
Nadal bounced back immediately, breaking in the opening game of the second set, which saw him lose seven of his service points and save one break point at 4-3, 30/40. He made his move in the fifth game of the decider with consecutive passing strokes to cheers of the capacity Pista Rafa Nadal crowd, and broke for a 5-2 lead courtesy of a forehand winner down the line.
Nadal has never lost consecutive matches on clay, on which he has compiled a 419-37 match record (.919) according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone. Earlier in the day, Ferrer swept past No. 15 seed Lucas Pouille of France 6-3, 6-1 for a place in the third round.
Felix Auger-Aliassime will face two-time Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell champion Kei Nishikori for a place in the quarter-finals of the ATP 500 event.
The 16th seed won 77 per cent of his first-serve points and fought off Tunisian Malek Jaziri 6-3, 7-6(7) to make the third round. Auger-Aliassime improved to 2-1 during the European clay-court swing, after making the second round at last week’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. to Zverev), the season’s first clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event.
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The 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime, No. 31, is at a career-high in the ATP Rankings. He is the highest-ranked player his age since No. 25 Lleyton Hewitt on 8 November 1999. It will be his first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting against No. 7 Nishikori, who won the event in 2014-2015.
Monte-Carlo semi-finalist Daniil Medvedev backed up his best Masters 1000 run with a gritty performance against Barcelona native Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who made the Monte-Carlo final in 2017, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.
Medvedev, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic last week, saved five of six break points to make the third round and will next meet American Mackenzie McDonald, who knocked out 11th seed Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-2.
“I’m really happy with the way that I finished the match, and the first and third sets were a really good level,” Medvedev said.
Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini withdrew (hamstring) but Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena took advantage of his lucky loser spot, beating Spanish wild card Nicola Kuhn 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2. The 2018 Quito titlist will play reigning Houston champion Cristian Garin, who dismissed ninth seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada 7-5, 6-2. Garin beat #NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud earlier this month to win his maiden ATP Tour title at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship.
The ATP Finals will move from London to Turin after the Italian city was named as host of the event from 2021 to 2025.
Manchester, Singapore and Tokyo were also on a five-city shortlist to stage the season-ending tournament.
It has been held at London’s O2 Arena since 2009 but will move to the Pala Alpitour stadium.
“We believe that Turin has all the ingredients to take the event to new heights,” said the ATP’s executive chairman Chris Kermode.
The ATP Finals feature the world’s best eight singles players and doubles teams of the season and will boast a record prize fund of $14.5m (£11.2m) in 2021.
Turin will be the 15th city to host the event, and first in Italy, since it was first staged in 1970.
A cumulative total of more than 2.5 million spectators have watched the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena, which will host the event in 2019 and 2020.
The Pala Alpitour stadium, which was opened in 2005, has a capacity of around 15,000 and is Italy’s largest indoor sporting arena.
World number one Novak Djokovic, who lost to Alexander Zverev in last year’s final, said: “The ATP Finals is the biggest and most prestigious event that we have at the ATP.
“It’s a tournament that has historically moved around and so I’m very excited to see it move to Turin from 2021.”
Italy also hosts the Next Gen ATP Finals, with Milan staging the first five editions of the tournament for 21-and-under players from 2017 to 2021.
BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller
With the exception of New York’s Madison Square Garden, no other city has hosted the ATP Finals for as long as London.
The event does need to move around, and the world number one and ATP Player Council president Novak Djokovic has been making that argument for some time.
The O2 Arena’s 12-year run has been a phenomenal success, consistently attracting more than 250,000 people with style and panache. The departure of the Finals robs British tennis of a prime spot – at a traditionally fallow time – to showcase the sport.
Turin has a very hard to act follow. But there is a lot of money behind this bid.
Prize money will increase by more than 50%, and put men on a par with women.
The current disparity had not gone unnoticed by ATP players. The prize fund in London this year will be $9m; in Shenzhen, at the start of a 10-year run in China for the WTA Finals, it will be $14m.
Season finale to move from London, the tournament city since 2009
The ATP announced today that the city of Turin, Italy, has been selected to host the ATP Finals from 2021-2025. The five-year agreement will see the world’s greatest players in men’s professional tennis compete for the biggest indoor tennis title in the world at Turin’s Pala Alpitour stadium, Italy’s largest indoor sporting arena.
The winning Turin bid was put together by the Italian Tennis Federation and Sport e Salute SpA in partnership with the Italian Government, the municipality of Turin and Regione Piemonte. The move to Turin brings the ATP Finals to Italy for the first time in its 50-year history and makes Turin the 15th city to host the prestigious season-ending tournament since its inception in 1970.
Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman & President, said: “Our congratulations to Turin on putting together such a comprehensive and impressive bid. Italy provides us with one of the strongest and most established tennis markets in Europe and has a proven track record for hosting world class tennis events with the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, as well as the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
We’re delighted to expand on our successful partnership with the FIT and Sport e Salute SpA and we look forward to bringing the ATP’s flagship season-ending event to tennis’s growing fanbase in Italy for the first time.
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“The success of the ATP Finals is critical to the health of the ATP and we believe that Turin has all the ingredients to take the event to new heights and to continue the tournament’s growth following a highly successful 12-year stint in London that will come to an end in 2020. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all our event partners in London, particularly AEG, and all the fans that have made the tournament such a success at The O2 since 2009.”
Novak Djokovic, World No.1 and President of the ATP Player Council, said: “The ATP Finals is the biggest and most prestigious event that we have at the ATP. It’s a tournament that has historically moved around and so I’m very excited to see it move to Turin from 2021. It’s still a few years away but I know that the players will be very excited to compete there, and I also hope to be part of what will be a very special event.”
Chiara Appendino, Mayor of Turin, said: “We are extremely proud that Turin has been chosen to host the ATP Finals 2021-2025 as sport has long been a significant part of the history and the culture of our city. As a City we will come together to harness the knowhow of a vast range of local experts in organizing international sporting events and we are confident that our unique combination of passion and experience will deliver opportunities to appreciate this exhilarating sport in sustainable and innovative ways. Turin looks forward to building a truly spectacular event for players and fans the world over!”
Angelo Binaghi, President of the Italian Tennis Federation, said: “The assignment of the great task to organize the ATP Finals in Turin from 2021 to 2025 represents a remarkable international success of our country. Our project has proved to be extremely successful thanks to the great work carried out together with the Italian Government and the local authorities. A team work which I am sure will live up to the wonderful tradition of the end-of-season historical Masters, and offer a very brilliant future”.
The unique season-ending tournament, featuring only the world’s best eight qualified singles players and doubles teams of the season, will boast a record prize purse of US$14,500,000 in 2021.
Turin was the first capital city of Italy from 1861 to 1865. The city has hosted some of the world’s biggest sporting events, such as the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, and is also home to two Serie A football teams, Juventus FC and Torino FC. The ATP’s decision brings to a close an extensive international bid process that began in August 2018 in which more than 40 cities worldwide expressed an interest in hosting the ATP season finale.
An official presentation with representatives from ATP, FIT, Italian government and City of Torino will take place in Turin on Monday 29th April at 12:30PM at Palazzo Madama, Piazza Castello.
World No. 6 Kevin Anderson announced Tuesday on Twitter that he will not compete on clay this year in order to further recover an elbow injury.
“I wanted to let you all know that I will unfortunately be missing the clay season this year. After discussing with my doctors and team, we thought the best decision is to rest and rehab my elbow injury for a few more weeks,” wrote Anderson, whose most recent tournament was in Miami, where he advanced to the quarter-finals. “I will keep working hard each day to get healthy again in time for grass.”
Anderson, a first-time qualifier for the Nitto ATP Finals last year, was scheduled to compete in Estoril, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros. In 2018, he made the semi-finals in Madrid and the fourth round at Roland Garros.
The grass season proved a key part of last year’s season for the South African. After losing in the first round at Queen’s Club, Anderson made his second Grand Slam final at Wimbledon.
“I know this is the right decision for the longterm in the career,” Anderson said of not competing on clay in 2019. “I will also miss seeing the fans there, but I appreciate all of your support and look forward to seeing you again soon.”
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