Battle Of The Brits Returns With Premier League Of Tennis

Andy Murray (photo: @the_LTA/Twitter)

WASHINGTON, December 17, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

The Lawn Tennis Association and Jamie Murray have teamed up again to bring Great Britain’s best men’s and women’s tennis players together for pre-season match play in an effort to replicate Australian Open conditions.

The Battle of the Brits Premier League Tennis event at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in Roehampton will take place from Dec. 20-23. It will include 16 players (both men and women) playing in a 30-match league format, in which each player will play at least once during the four-day event.

According to the LTA, the domestic-only match-play league “is designed to help British players prepare for the 2021 season with the chance to turn their practice matches in competitive opportunities which fans will be able to watch via live streaming.”

The Battle of the Brits Premier League Tennis matches will be streamed on the LTA’s social media channels as well as on YouTube.

Among the players who have committed to play are: Andy Murray, Dan Evans, Cameron Norrie, Jay Clarke, James Ward, Heather Watson, Emma Raducanu, Harriet Dart and Jodie Burrage.

According to Jamie Murray: “All the players were keen to get the chance to test themselves before the season begins. It’s been such an unusual year, with so many disruptions that any competitive tennis people can get is welcome. Even in preseason nobody likes to lose to their friends, so we’re expecting some tight matches.”

ATP Tour: Revised schedule reflects collaborative effort 

Early Thursday (Central European time), the ATP announced an update to the 2021 ATP Tour calendar, outlining a revised schedule covering the first seven weeks of season. It reflects how tennis continues to fluidly navigate its return during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the pre-Australian Open quarantining period, there will be an ATP 250 tournament from Jan. 5 -13 in Delray Beach, Fla. At the same time, there will also be an ATP 250 tournament in Antalya, Turkey. Men’s Australian Open qualifying will take place in Doha, Qatar Jan. 10-13. The ATP has scheduled concurrent ATP 250 events in Melbourne for Jan. 31-Feb. 6 and a scaled-back 12-team version of the ATP Cup will be held in Melbourne from Feb. 1-5. Finally, the Australian Open, the season’s first major, will take place from Feb. 8-21.

Look for caps on players and team members at Australian Open

According to Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, the Australian government is capping the total number of participants allowed to enter Australia for the Australian Open under the Special Practice Quarantine program to 1,000 people. The quota applies to players and their team members.

Marie Bouzkova: Finding Adventure in Alaska

After Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic completed her 2020 season at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open in Ostrava, Czech Republic, in October, she decided to step outside her comfort zone and took a solo vacation trip to Alaska in the United States. Now that Bouzkova’s back home in Florida (in the continental U.S.) training for the upcoming 2021 season, she shared her travel adventures with David Kane this week on the WTA website.

Mouratoglou Tennis Academy Jumeirah opens

Patrick Mouratoglou, best known for coaching Serena Williams, announced earlier this week that he has opened a new tennis academy in Dubai. The launching of the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy Jumeirah was revealed in a 15-second video on social media.

What they’re saying

Ivan Ljubicic, who coaches Roger Federer was recently quoted by Tennis Magazine Italia as saying this about the 20-time Grand Slam champion: “Even when he is weeks without playing, the ease he has in finding the sensations is incredible. From the outside it may seem a natural gift, but it is not something that comes from nowhere; it is the thousands and thousands of hours of repetition, which have built this apparent fluency.”

What they’re writing

Helene Elliott, who writes about tennis for the Los Angeles Times, has penned an insightful profile of young American Brandon Nakashima:

“His game is evolving nicely. He has a potent backhand, a strategically sound return game and an improving serve. His poise on the court, another distinct asset, allows him to stay focused. As he matures, he can add power and muscle. He’s already someone to watch in the seemingly endless search for the next standout American male tennis player.”

What they’re podcasting

The Behind The Racquet podcast welcomes American Jared Donaldson, who has missed much of the past two years while recovering from a knee injury. He discusses his recovery process and prognosis “and the reality of what’s staring him in the face.”

What they’re sharing on social media

Iga Swiatek / What a great place to be!

Kaia Kanepi / It’s always good to hit with Anett Kontaveit