ATP Chairman: Something Needs To Be Done Now For The Players

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

One of the positives to come out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown has been a newfound sense of unity in pro tennis. The ATP and WTA Tours have promoted a theme of Tennis United and it was the theme of unity that ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi spoke of when he sat for an interview with Tennis Channel Live on Thursday, broadcast in the United States.

Despite an uncertain future for tennis during the global crisis – all competition is on hold until at least July 13, and likely longer – Gaudenzi is determined to strengthen the ATP relationship with the WTA and the ITF.

Among the interview highlights:

Gaudenzi said, “Nobody could have foreseen what is happening right now. The dynamics are complicated and the uncertainty is still there, but the spirit of cooperation among the governing bodies has been awesome the last few weeks.”

While Gaudenzi said that it’s difficult to know an exact date that tennis returns – and whether it will be with or without spectators – the challenges for tennis are much higher than the other sports. After all, tennis is truly an international sport in which tournaments are held globally throughout the year and it involves players shuttling across the world, too.

“We are going to try to step in in the next couple of weeks and provide support to the players who don’t have the means to go on financially during these very difficult times,” Gaudenzi said. “We are asking the Grand Slams to join forces. The discussions are very positive. … Something needs to be done now for the players, we will deal with the tournaments a little bit later when we have a clear idea on the calendar.”

Animated art meets tennis 

The 90-second changeover in tennis, which occurs after odd games from the third game during a set, is like a moment of zen for each player to enjoy. Some sit and stare straight ahead at a crowded, noisy arena, while others take a big sip of water or snack on a banana. Some even hide under a towel to try to block out the noise. There’s no right or wrong way to spend changeovers, right?

Well, the changeover happens to be a moment of nuance that a couple of artists, Adil Dara and Leah Goren, who happen to own a tennis resort near Indian Wells, Calif., picked up on and created a simple but snazzy 30-second animated video that’s all about the changeover. Dara, a graphic designer, recently told Baseline “We were watching old matches and noticed how players act between points and games seemed to be just as important as the next rally. As spectators, it’s fascinating to see what professional players to when they’re not playing tennis.”

During the video, Roger Federer can be observed looking straight ahead, Nick Kyrgios is seen eating a banana, Coco Gauff takes a sip of water, Garbiñe Muguruza is a study in concentration and Rafael Nadal is … well, his usual nuanced self, always fidgeting.

“Each player seemed to have their own way of dealing with the downtime of the changeover,” said Dara. “Some talked to themselves, meditated, read notes, broke racquets, and so on. “Similarly, on social media were seeing how people are getting through quarantine with puzzles, baking, workouts, making art, zooming, anything and everything. We’re resilient and tough that way.”

What they’re writing

Stuart Fraser, Times of London tennis correspondent on Coco Gauff, who wrote a first-person essay for the Behind the Racquet Instagram series this week: “The admission by 16-year-old Coco Gauff yesterday that she suffered depression during her rise to frame was sad to hear but not a surprise. Tennis is a sport in which there are countless tales of teenagers being overwhelmed by the pressure and expectation on their shoulders. Gauff is remarkably mature for her age and often a beacon of positivity in her press conferences, but even she is not immune to the mental health struggles that tennis can inflict on young people. The gladiatorial and global nature of the sport makes for an upbringing that is far from normal, and it can have lasting effects.”

What they’re podcasting

Patrick McEnroe, younger brother of Hall of Fame great John McEnroe, is a former pro and U.S. Davis Cup captain. Now, in addition to being an ESPN tennis commentator and analyst, he’s recently started a podcast, Holding Court With Patrick McEnroe – but with a twist. His guests are not only great conversationalists – among them so far, Billions creator Brian Koppelman and SNL and 30 Rock producer Marci Klein – they are all tennis fanatics.

Listen at holdingcourt.buzzsprout.com.

What they’re watching

With no Wimbledon Championships this year, it leaves a big void for all tennis fans. However, the Wimbledon YouTube channel has become a destination for reliving classic moments from the Open Era, both current – such as last year’s Novak Djokovic-Roger Federer men’s final or something from years gone by. It’s also a great opportunity to see past greats in action, whether it be Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova or Chris Evert.

Worth a good look for sheer excitement and tension is the 1995 women’s final between Steffi Graf and Aranxa Sanchez-Vicario, won by Graf, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5. It was her sixth of seven Wimbledon crowns. What is significant about this highlight reel is that with the score tied at 5-5 in the third set, Graf and Sanchez-Vicario produced one of Wimbledon’s greatest games in its storied history. It featured 32 points and 13 deuces and lasted 20 minutes. As Steve Tignor wrote for Tennis.com:

“Sanchez-Vicario fist-pumped after her winning points, until she couldn’t fist-pump anymore. Graf kept up her stony facade, until she couldn’t keep it up anymore, and finally broke up laughing. The NBC commentators, Dick Edberg and Chris Evert, celebrated each winner and counted each deuce, until they finally went silent and let the points speak for themselves.”

What they’re tweeting

David Law, co-host The Tennis Podcast, reacting to news that the Laver Cup has been cancelled for 2020

ATP Tour / Finding Dimitrov in a sea of Wawrinkas

Tennis Australia / At home with Thanasi Kokkinakis