Just back from a great trip to Rome and a huge thanks to all the lovely people who came from all over the globe including New Zealand, USA and Greece. We really appreciate the efforts that many made to be with us in Rome and we enjoyed your company enormously both on and off the court! We are fortunate to attract so many interesting people from around the world. Our love of tennis and Italy helps us all to gel well together.
Il Foro Italico just keeps getting better with even more courts being added. Even at its busiest it is always possible to see most of the great players up close in a practice or match environment.
We were disappointed to lose Alcaraz so early in the tournament but we were able to experience his wonderful character on the practice court and the great fun and enthusiasm he demonstrated with all the young kids watching. He is truly a great role model for the game and life in general.
Highlights/Talking Points of Rome
Best 2 players to watch - Dan Evans and Taylor Townsend were certainly 2 of the most interesting players to watch with both players having such a variety of shots. It was great to see Taylor back competing at a high level with a great win over Pegula and even though Dan lost to Carbaelles Baena, it was one of the matches of the tournament for shot making and drama. The Italians really adopted him as one of their own I think appreciating his beautiful style of play and cheeky character. For entertainment I would give both these players the top spot!
Tsitsipas - Poor attitude with kids
Unfortunately Stefanos didn't endear himself with the local kids after a practice session when he showed zero enthusiasm to sign anything or appear the least bit interested. He threw out a few pre-signed cards and left quickly. Such a shame as he is a great player but not in the same league as Alcaraz in terms of a role model. The situation with his coaching team of mum & dad maybe doesn't help his mood - who knows?
The Italian crowd
Apart from supporting the local players the Italians seemed to enjoy the more colourful characters like Bublik and Dan Evans. The local Roman crowd is fairly noisy and when you combine that with large numbers of school children (better behaved than some adults) and very loud music on the show courts it all creates a classically chaotic Italian atmosphere! When in Rome........
Relationship of coaches to players
Sitting in some of the great seats that we had near the coaches was very interesting especially as they are now allowed to communicate in a limited fashion - apart from Tsitsipas mum who was almost thrown out by Mohammed!
In my view too many of the players look like they are almost blaming their team for their own errors. Rublev was particularly amusing when he complained about his opponent hitting the lines all the time and also that his drop shots were dying on the damp front part of the court. His team sat in bewilderment not really knowing what to say. Needless to say he lost that match. I do like Rublev even if he is a little insane.
Medvedev seemed a bit calmer towards his coach than usual, maybe because his expectations were so low. He really is an interesting character and I loved his celebratory dance after beating Stefanos (in retaliation to one done by the Greek recently apparently after beating Daniil). His chat after matches is always so honest and refreshing that I find myself almost liking him again, but it's always easier when you are winning to stay calm, so let's see what happens in Paris......
The challenge of doubles and it's popularity
So much has been said and written about the place of doubles on the tour in recent times. I wouldn't claim to have the answers but after spending every day at the Italian open I have a few thoughts.
The men's game (even on clay) just doesn't have enough rallies to keep the crowd interested. The general level of serving and court coverage at the front of the court with eye formation just makes it so difficult to have more than a 2 or maybe 3 stroke rally. More players like Jamie Murray or Dan Evans would make it better to watch but even artists like these guys struggle with the ferocity of the hits.
I fear for the future of men's doubles whereas the women's game is more interesting with lots of one up and one back play and plenty of rallies and lobs.
It's more relevant to club players in the way they try to play tactically.
Men's singles players playing doubles helps, but the reality is they have little incentive to stay in the draw if they are still in the singles event and pulling out only devalues the competition.
Be great to hear your views on this if you have any? firstname.lastname@example.org