Inside the ATP World Tour
CHRIS KERMODEThe ATP World Tour is off to a fast start in 2016 after a record breaking season last year. So far we have already seen wins by established stars like Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori as well as great performances from up and coming stars such as Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem.
Djokovic has continued on where he left off last year, posting big victories at the Australian Open as well as completing the Masters 1000 “double” in Indian Wells and Miami for an incredible third consecutive year.
Novak’s sixth Miami title also took him one title ahead of Rafael Nadal as the all-time leader in Masters 1000 crowns, with an amazing 28 titles overall.
Elsewhere, Wawrinka is also a two-time winner so far this year, while Nishikori held off fast rising American #NextGen star Taylor Fritz, to win in Memphis. Fritz has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past 14 months, jumping from No.1,151 to crack the top 100 in the Emirates ATP rankings at just 18 years and four months of age. In reaching the final against Nishikori, Fritz became the youngest American to reach an ATP World Tour final since Michael Chang in 1989.
Fritz joined the likes of Kyrgios, Zverev and Thiem as stand out members of the ATP’s “Next Generation” campaign which was launched before the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. They are among 15 players in the Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, including six players in the top 100, born in 1995 or later.
The 20 year old Kyrgios has been a standout member of #NextGen to date with a brilliant win at the Open 13 in Marseille in February. The exciting Aussie didn’t drop his serve once during the tournament, beating top names Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic on his way to his first career ATP World Tour title.
Thiem joined Kyrgios in the spotlight, posting two early season titles of his own with victories at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires and at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco.
Germany’s 18-year-old Zverev has shown plenty of promise this season. His powerful game has taken him to a quarter-final and semi-final so far this year, taking him to the brink of the top 50 of the Emirates ATP rankings.
There was also plenty of attention for some standout tournaments at the start of this season with the announcement of the Tournaments of the Year at the 2015 ATP World Tour Awards.
The BNP Paribas Open retained its title as the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Tournament of the Year. The tournament has firmly established itself as the highest attended ATP World Tour event of the season, with more than 400,000 fans in attendance each year.
The Aegon Championships in London won its third straight Tournament of the Year award, this time as an ATP World Tour 500 event after previously winning in the 250 category. The win ended Dubai’s well deserved seven-year reign at this level.
Two events were named as joint winners in the ATP World Tour 250 category with the St. Petersburg Open and the Qatar ExxonMobil Open sharing the honors. All tournaments deserve the highest congratulations for their much appreciated efforts.
On a personal front, I was also delighted to be appointed for a second consecutive term as ATP executive chairman and president. I have taken great pleasure in leading the ATP since 2014 and I look forward to continuing to maximize growth opportunities in the years ahead.
I’m also looking forward to working with the other governing bodies of tennis to continue to protect the integrity of our sport.
Tennis faced a challenge to its integrity with some media reports published before the Australian Open that alleged possible corruption in tennis. The threat posed to the integrity of the game by worldwide gambling interests is something that tennis recognized several years ago, leading to the creation of the Tennis Integrity Unit in 2008.
However, with the explosion of internet gambling and in-play betting, the allegations made in Australia were taken very seriously and the ATP and the other tennis governing bodies reacted immediately by setting up an independent review of how the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) and tennis as a whole can deal even more effectively with this growing threat, which challenges all sports all around the world.
We believe that, as a sport, we are at the forefront of recognizing and reacting to this threat, and will do whatever is necessary to protect the game. We all have confidence in the TIU as it now operates, and we look forward to incorporating any recommendations that come from the review.
With a third of the 2016 season behind us, we can all now look forward to the upcoming clay court swing as the top names, and the fast rising young stars, showcase their skills across some of the most historic and glamorous stops on the ATP World Tour.