ATP Issues Updated Calendar Following Roland-Garros Rescheduling

The ATP has issued an update to the ATP Tour calendar with the addition of ATP 250 clay-court tournaments in Belgrade, Serbia and Parma, Italy, in the week prior to Roland-Garros.

The additions to the calendar follow the one-week postponement of the second Grand Slam of the season, with a number of tournament applications received in order to fill week 21 (24 May) of the schedule.

The additional Belgrade event will be held at the same location as next week’s Serbia Open, the Novak Tennis Centre, while the Emilia-Romagna Open will be held at the President Tennis Club of Montechiarugolo.

The MercedesCup, the ATP 250 in Stuttgart, plans to remain in its original week, commencing 7 June.

Meanwhile, the Libema Open, the ATP 250 grass-court tournament in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, will not take place in 2021.

All other events remain as originally scheduled on the 2021 ATP Tour calendar.

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New ITTF Table Tennis Youth Ranking announced ahead of inaugural WTT Youth Series Event

The newly formed WTT Youth Series, which replaces the ITTF World Junior Circuit and now complemented by the new ranking regulations, becomes the first step in the whole of sport pathway that will drive today’s most promising young talent towards the pinnacle of the sport.

Divided into two tiers, WTT Youth Star Contender and WTT Youth Contender, the WTT Youth Series will form the basis of an event pyramid designed to provide youth players with the opportunity to transition into professional careers.

The ITTF Table Tennis Youth Ranking, to be published weekly, follows a similar structure to the ITTF Table Tennis World Ranking, and will see points awarded based on performance for each age category for boys’ and girls’ singles. A youth player’s ranking will comprise of the best eight results in 2021 and best 10 results commencing in 2022. Doubles and mixed doubles rankings are now also included as part of the new regulations.

The World Youth Championships will sit atop the ITTF Table Tennis Youth Ranking with 3,000 points awarded to the winners, Under-19 WTT Youth Star Contender and WTT Youth Contender champions will collect 2,250 and 750 points respectively, with the number of points reducing for each subsequent age category.

Youth players will also have the opportunity to earn senior rankings points at WTT Youth Series events and vice versa, with points earned by youth players at WTT Series level to be included in a their ITTF Table Tennis Youth Ranking.

Portugal will host the first ever WTT Youth Series event, with the inaugural WTT Youth Contender to take place in Vila Real from Tuesday 11 to Monday 17th May. It will be the first youth event to be held since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tiago Viegas, WTT Youth Series Manager says “The new WTT Youth Series and ranking regulations will bear witness to more inter-generational competitiveness across the age categories and provide opportunities for talented and fast-improving players to put their skills to the test against slightly older opponents.

We are looking forward to launching our first WTT Youth Series event in Portugal despite the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We are very grateful for the support and commitment given to us by Vila Real and Portuguese Table Tennis Association for ensuring this event can occur safely”.

Performance at WTT Youth Contender events is crucial for players to qualify for the WTT Youth Star Contender events where USD 17,000 in prize money will be on offer.

The new ITTF Table Tennis Youth Ranking regulations are available here.

World Table Tennis Successfully Launches In Doha

The two historic events took place at the Lusail Sports Arena with WTT working closely with the Qatari authorities to ensure the new WTT style of events could begin during the pandemic, which makes hosting events extremely complicated.

ITTF CEO/WTT Director Steve Dainton said: “I am delighted that, despite the many challenges of a global pandemic, we are able to give our players, fans and supporters across the world the opportunity to enjoy live, competitive international table tennis at the elite level.  Our brand new events this year, starting with the Contender series here in Doha, are taking our sport to the next level, for competitor and viewer alike.

“Doha was selected as the venue for the WTT’s first new-look competitive tournament because the Qatari authorities’ enthusiasm to host it, together with the city’s 25 year track record of successfully hosting sporting and other international events.

“I would like to say a special thank you to the Qatari authorities, and in particular Mr Khalil Al-Mohanndi, the President of Qatar Table Tennis Association and WTT Director. Without his enthusiasm, pragmatic leadership and visionary foresight, we simply wouldn’t have been able to host this event.”

President of Qatar Table Tennis Association and WTT Director, Mr Khalil Al-Mohanndi said:

“Here in Doha we are very proud to be playing our part in making table tennis history. At a time of continuing challenge for us all, I am delighted that we have been able to bring together some of the best players in the world to compete at the highest level.

“This is the beginning of an exciting period of modernisation for our sport and today we have taken the first step towards taking table tennis to the next level for both players and spectators.”

Fans were treated to a whole new presentation of Table Tennis with the eight-sided court, centralised TV production, sensational event presentation and a brand new savvy social media strategy that brought fans closer to the event than ever before.

France’s Simon Gauzy was among the 125 professional players from 40 countries to have competed at WTT Middle East Hub and he was pleased with the new identity WTT has brought to revolutionise table tennis.

“It’s really cool with the black tables and blues lines. It’s amazing and something totally different from what we were used to seeing in the past. Obviously, it’s also very nice for viewers to see this kind of set-up,” said Gauzy.

Stringent COVID-19 management measures were in place to ensure the events remained safe for all involved. At the event and the pre-tournament qualifying, participants had to maintain social distancing, have PCR tests every six days and were required to wear masks at all times. These measures proved to be highly successful with zero COVID-19 cases recorded.

Japan dominated the WTT Star Contender singles events with Tomokazu Harimoto clinching the men’s singles title after defeating the surprise packet of the event Germany’s Ruwen Filus 4-2 (11-9, 11-9, 12-14, 11-5, 7-11, 11-8) and Mima Ito securing the women’s singles title after beating Singapore’s Feng Tianwei 4-1 (10-12, 12-10, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6) to add to her WTT Contender title last week.

“I’m very pleased with how I’ve played over the last two weeks in Doha. I lost to Dimitrij Ovtcharov in semi-final of the WTT Contender Doha. He is a very good player and was a better player on that day. But I’m very happy I made a good comeback in the WTT Star Contender Doha and won the title,” said Harimoto.

Korea Republic stole the show in the doubles events with Lee Sangsu and Jeoung Youngsik prevailing over Spain’s Alvaro Robles and Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu 3-2 (2-11, 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 11-3) to win the men’s doubles title while their female compatriots Jeon Jihee and Shin Yubin overcame Japan’s Miu Hirano and Kasumi Ishikawa and Korea Republic’s to take home the women’s doubles title.

Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching and Lin Yun-Ju won the mixed doubles after beating Jeon Jihee and Lee Sangsu of Korea Republic 3-1 (10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6).

Follow up on the historic first ever series of WTT events on worldtabletennis.com

General News Press Releases

Nitto ATP Finals 2021 Presented In Turin

The Nitto ATP Finals, the prestigious season finale of the ATP Tour set to be staged in Turin from 2021-2025, was today presented at a stakeholder engagement event in the Piedmont capital, hosted by Intesa Sanpaolo.

The event, broadcast live with tournament partners, key regional and national government representatives and media in attendance, showcased the long-term vision and positioning of the Nitto ATP Finals as it moves to its new home in Turin, following 12 successful years in London.

Presentations by Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman, Angelo Binaghi, President of the Italian Tennis Federation, and Chiara Appendino, Mayor of Turin, alongside other key stakeholders, explored Turin’s successful bid to host the tournament — which saw the city triumph among 40 applicants — and the city’s ambitions to build on the legacy and growth of the ATP’s showpiece event, whilst promoting the region.

All roads on the ATP Tour this season lead to Turin and the FedEx ATP Race To Turin has officially begun, with only the best eight ATP singles players and doubles teams set to qualify. With players travelling to Australia to begin their 2021 campaigns, Daniil Medvedev, the Nitto ATP Finals defending champion, and Matteo Berrettini, Italian No. 1, sent their support via video message.

In addition to providing an overview of broadcast, marketing, ticketing and corporate hospitality operations, organisers thanked the tournament’s portfolio of globally renowned commercial and media partners for their support, including Nitto, who recently extended their commitment as Title Partner of the Nitto ATP Finals until 2025.

Gaudenzi said: “The Nitto ATP Finals has been an incredible story of growth and innovation, taking place in iconic cities around the world over the past 50 years. Now, we look forward to raising the bar together in Turin, an impressive city with the ambition and vision to build on that legacy and create something inspirational for our fans. We would like to thank all event partners for their invaluable commitment to the Nitto ATP Finals, and also to our players, who will be instrumental in writing future chapters of our most special event.”

Binaghi said: “Our management team has become accustomed to setting ourselves ambitious goals, as highlighted by the success and growth of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome over the past 20 years. Now, we have climbed Everest. The Nitto ATP Finals is the most important indoor tennis tournament in the world. Throughout the bidding process we were supported by the Government, the Region, the Municipality and the largest financial institution in our country and together, we have reached the top.”

Appendino said: “Thanks to a great team effort, we are here today, speaking about Turin as the centre of the tennis world. Turin won the bid against some of the best cities in the world, and now we look forward with confidence to delivering an outstanding event over the next five years. We are working together to create an event that engages city of Turin all year round, with great attention paid to each local territory.”

The 2021 Nitto ATP Finals will be held from 14-21 November. Tickets are currently available at NittoATPFinals.com and via Ticketone.

Australian Open Set For Historic Start, Total Prize Pool Revealed

Australian Open 2021 will take place at Melbourne Park from 8 to 21 February. Tickets will go on sale on Wednesday 23 December.

“This will be an historic Australian Open on so many levels,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.

“For the first time in more than 100 years the Australian Open will start in February and we look forward to offering the players what we believe will be one of their best playing experiences in 2021.

“From the outset, ensuring players have the best possible preparation for the Australian Open, while at all times protecting the precious COVID-free environment that the Victorian community has built through incredible sacrifice and hard work over the past six months, has been paramount.

“It has taken eight months of working alongside government authorities, here in Victoria, nationally and interstate, to give us the opportunity to present an Australian Open that will play a major role in both the economic and psychological reinvigoration and rejuvenation of Melbourne and Victoria.

“AO 2021 is going to be all about supporting local businesses – our tennis coaches, the farmers, food and wine producers, chefs, artists and musicians – and celebrating everything that is great about our country, as well as providing opportunities to those who’ve been so hard hit during the pandemic, particularly in Melbourne and Victoria.”

Australian Open 2021 will feature singles, doubles and wheelchair competitions. AO qualifying will be held offshore, with the women’s event taking place in Dubai, and men’s qualifying in Doha from 10-13 January. The AO Junior Championships has been postponed until later in the year.

Players will compete for more than $80 million in prize money during their time in Australia, with the AO total prize pool remaining at the 2020 level of $71.5 million. Players exiting in the first round of the AO will take home AU $100,000, up 15 per cent from 2020. There have also been significant increases to prize money for qualifying and the early rounds, with the full breakdown to be provided in the coming weeks. 

The world’s top players have been eagerly awaiting final confirmation of the AO dates and details and can now prepare to arrive in Australia from 15 January and undertake mandatory quarantine for 14 days. All players and their teams arriving for the AO are above and beyond the numbers of returning Australians.

“Melbourne is the home of the biggest sporting events and it’s fantastic that arrangements have been settled for Melbourne Park in February,” Acting Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Jaclyn Symes said.

“The 2021 Open will look a bit different and that’s necessary to ensure the safety of everyone, from players, ballkids and the wider community.”