Auger-Aliassime, Anderson Eager For ATP Cup Innovations To Debut
Spare a thought for the Canadian ATP Cup player who, during any of Felix Auger-Aliassime's matches, wants to rest his legs. Because the #NextGenATP star will be having none of that in Brisbane, thank you very much.
“I want 'em up,” Auger-Aliassime told ATPTour.com.
The 19-year-old will have a direct view of who's standing and sitting as well. At the ATP Cup, teammates will support their countrymen from “Team Zones”, which are positioned alongside the baseline rather than the usual location for team benches, closer to the net post.
The change, along with on-court coaching from both the captain and the players' respective coaches, are among a number innovations that will be featured during the inaugural 24-team event from 3-12 January in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.
“It's going to be interesting to see what kind of dynamic it brings into the team and with the fans,” Auger-Aliassime said.
Cristian Garin, Chile's No. 1 singles player, said the new placement of the Team Zones “is great to see.”
“I've never played like that before, so it's going to be new. But, of course, I will enjoy with them, and I will feel the support from them closer. So I think it's nice to put those kind of things in this new format,” Garin said.
Team Greece, led by No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, looks at the Team Zones as another way to make tennis more of a team sport at the ATP Cup.
“Tennis is an individual sport. You always feel alone on the court. Having your teammates, your coaches, everyone that are close to you when you sit down, I think it's going to be very helpful for the psychology of the player and also for tactical purposes,” Michail Pervolarakis, Greece's No. 2 singles player, said.
Apostolos Tsitsipas, Greece's team captain and father of Stefanos and Petros, both Greek ATP Cup players, is also eager to use the insights and statistics, including ATP's Second Screen, an advanced platform providing player and ball tracking data in real time, that will be available in the Team Zones.
“I think that it's very, very important for the players and for the coaches to have all this data. And also, we have the [strategy] room, which is also very important because the coaches and the players can prepare better for the competition, and that's what it's all about, professionalism,” Apostolos Tsitsipas said. “I think starting from this tournament, it's really impressive how well it's organized and prepared.”
Kevin Anderson, South Africa's No. 1, has played with his teammates close by at Laver Cup, but never as close as they'll be at Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane. The 2018 Nitto ATP Finals qualifier is also eager to have input from both his personal coach, Diego Moyano, and South Africa's captain Jeff Coetzee.
“When I first practised there and saw it, I thought, 'This is really exciting',” Anderson said of the team zones. “Having both Jeff and your own coach out there, your whole team right behind you, that definitely is a different feeling out there and different atmosphere. So I think we're all looking forward to seeing what that's like and really getting behind each other.”
Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt, a mentor to Aussie No. 1 Alex de Minaur, gets along well with De Minaur's coach, Adolfo Gutierrez, and is excited to team up with him during De Minaur's matches.
“It's another great initiative to the ATP Cup,” Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt said. “We understand each other's roles as well and he's a great guy, so I'm sure that he will be out there and helping us as much as possible.”
Serbian captain Nenad Zimonjic, who, at 43, is still playing, said he's pleased to see innovations at the inaugural event. “I'm for that, to try something new, to see what it is,” he said.
Other ATP Cup captains also weighed in on the innovations:
Francisco Roig (Spain, Perth)
“I will try my best working with the individual player coaches and helping the team as captain and also as Rafa's coach. I’ll have a coach of the player next to me and we will see how it works out during the match.”
David Macpherson (United States, Perth)
“It’s new territory for everybody, the situation of the player box and the change of ends. It’s a first for me to work with Taylor, Tommy, Rajeev and Austin. It’s always a challenge as captain when you’re working with players you haven’t helped before. But we’ll be trying to do the best job we can and communicate well together. Obviously as captain, I’m looking forward to it and understanding this is something we haven’t done before, with new rules and a new event.”
Christian Ruud (Norway, Perth)
“I think the innovations are very good and I am used to some of them having been with Casper at the Next Gen ATP Finals in November. As captain I’ll be very involved, I’m working with the coaching to figure out strengths and weaknesses, and try and use to that to our advantage. We’re excited to get going and be involved in the big tournament and make a mark.”