Turin is a smaller stage than the prestigious London event, but the excitement was real, especially for young Italian stars Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini.
TURIN, Italy - There is a huge world map in the atrium of the five star hotel in Turin where the principal players stayed during the ATP final which ended on Sunday.
That was not the ideal phor. Although men's tennis is unmistakably global, with tournaments on six continents (no Antarctica at the moment), it is not at the moment an intercontinental sport at the top.
As the 2021 touring season ends, the top 10 in singles is exclusively European: from Serbian Novak Djokovic, 34, No. 1 to 20 Jannik Sinner of Italy at n ° 10.
Although there were some male touring leaders who thought this would have been a smarter growth strategy and a safer financial decision to take the ATP final elsewhere - see Tokyo or Singapore - it is certainly in phasese with the time when the end of year touring championship remained in Europe.
The surprise w like this it has come in Turin . The ATP Finals were in Lo ndon at the O2 Arena from 2009-2020, serving as the second annual serving of high-profile tennis for a big city and major media center that already had Wimbledon.
But Turin, the new host for a five-year race, is a very different and riskier game. Although Turin is the capital of the Italian region of Piedmont, it is only the fourth most populous city in the country behind Rome, Milan and Naples. It has a tennis culture - clubs and courts are common - but does not have a regular male or female touring event and has never produced a major tennis star, although LorenzoSonego, 26, a native of Turin currently ranked 27th, is training and playing hard to change that (he has wins over Djokovic and 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem). Image A mascot posed at the ATP Finals fan village. Credit ... Alessandro Di Marco / EPA, via Shutterstock
Fiat, the car manufacturer that once ruled the city, moved on, leaving an economic vacuum. Turin has its strengths: good wine and food, an Egyptian museum, an elegant city center and the Juventus football club. What has given it the advantage for indoor tennis is the Pala Alpitour, the largest and most modern of the indoor arenas in Italy.e. It was built to host ice hockey at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and Turin officials were eager to rekindle the Olympic spirit and raise the city's international profile with another significant sporting event.
This may be more difficult than they think. The ATP Final is arguably the most prestigious annual men's tennis event outside of the four Grand Slam tournaments. Only the top eight men qualify in singles, and this is a goal and topic of discussion throughout the season as well as one of the biggest ranking wins and increases available. An undefeated champion gets 1,500 ranking points: more than any tournament outside of Grand Slam events, whose champions get 2,000.
But the ATP finals are nowhere near as big as a fishbowl. Gagner is important to a champion's legacy, but not essential. Rafael Nadal never made it, but no one is about to remove him from the game's short list of the best players.
Three of the last five ATP Final champions - Grigor Dimitrov, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev, who won in 2018 and again on Sunday - have yet to win a Grand Slam title.
But with Nadal, Thiem and Roger Federer out of action for long periods of time as they recover from major injuries, Turin made the most of what was available. No.1 Djokovic, No.2 Daniil Medvedev and No.3 Zverev all reached the semi-finals after going through their round robin groups, and all expressed satisfaction with theur new playing field even though Medvedev made him grumpy and briefly compared to a mid nor-league "challenger " event in his opener when he struggled to get delivered balls at his preferred pace before serving.
There were certainly more serious issues, some of which are beyond the control of the organizers. The coronavirus pandemic has made advance planning a challenge. The prize money has been cut in half - from $ 14.5 million to $ 7.25 million - largely due to the reduced capacity of the arena. Although Turin had predicted a limit of 75 percent, the Italian authorities eventually opted for 60 percent, which turned away hundreds of fans in a short time. Once inside there were long lines and a dearth of concessions (the sponsors seemed to be doing well).
But theThe enthusiasm was real and audible, even with just over 7600 fans in the stands. This was also true in the historic center of Turin, where traders put tennis rackets in their shop windows and shop windows and the city turned Piazza San Carlo into a tennis village with large video screens and a small tennis court. size. Image Sinner signed autographs for fans in front of the Principi di Piemonte hotel in Turin. Credit ... Jessica Pasqualon / EPA, via Shutterstock
Is it better to take an event like the ATP Finals to a city in the world where it will be at most a side show or to bring it to a more modest place like Turin where it can and probably will be dominant?
Option # 2 has its charms.
" The idea of Turin was that the city would really embrace the event, and we would have done even more if it hadn't been for Covid, "said Andrea Gaudenzi, president of the ATP Tour. "Overall I think there are a few things that we need to improve, especially in the fan experience outside of the arena when you come without the company ticket. But overall I'm personally happy with the field experience. "
The potential downside is that you create waves in a small pond instead of ripples in a larger uncharted waters that could help develop the game in the long run. As the Big Three near the end of their careers, men's tennis is surely on the verge of experience a lull.
But after all the empty stages of the pandemic, the buzz is an even greater virtue, and Italy is buzzing around tennis and rightly so. When Turin and the Italian Tennis Federation started pushing for the ATP Finals in 2018, Sinner and Matteo Berrettini had yet to break through (and Gaudenzi, a former Italian star, was not yet became ATP President).
It turned out that 25-year-old Berrettini, a Wimbledon finalist this year, qualified directly for Turin and when he had to forfeit after a game with an abdominal injury, Sinner was ready to step in as a substitute. The atmosphere when he played was the best of the week.
"We could never have imagined that two Italian players would participate in the f first ATP finals in Turin ”, declared Angelo Binaghi, President of the Federation Italian tennis.
This is quite a bonus, and considering the youth and youth of Sinner and Berrettini. talent, this may not be a one-time bonus.