Novak Djokovic Steps into his Leadership Role

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the apparent latest decision of Novak Djokovic.

The coronavirus global pandemic has paralyzed folks around the world, both within tennis and just generally in every sphere of life.

As a result, everyone everywhere simply has way too much time on their hands. This can be both a good and a bad thing; we’re all accustomed to living healthy and busy lives, but what do you do if and when there’s nothing you can do but stay home and, like, simply be?

Well that can bring out both the good and the bad in people. And this week, we’ll highlight one of each.

Let’s start with the good.

You read that right. Novak Djokovic, current best player in men’s tennis and president of the ATP Player Council, apparently wants to take his leadership role to heart and intends to take steps to ensure the financial well-being of all fellow pros.

Granted, this is a late-breaking story so it’s not like we know all the details involved; as time progresses, we will likely learn more and more.

But as we’re writing this column, we know that the great Djokovic enlisted the help of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to create a plan for a Player Relief Fund and, ultimately, the raising of hopefully no fewer than $4 million. In his letter, which you can read in full here, Djokovic mentions that the ATP Tour has already pledged $1 million to the fund to help specifically players ranked between No. 150 and No. 400. For his part, the Serb wants to raise money to help out players ranked from No. 250 to No. 700, the players that Djokovic calls “the grass roots of tennis and base of professional sport” and those with the smallest financial security of all.

How can we do this? Well, says Djokovic, it’s up to Top 100 singles players and Top 20 doubles players to step up and contribute to the fund based on a sliding scale—between $5,000 and $30,000 each depending on where players are ranked. If this happens, that adds another $1 million+ to the fund and Djokovic’s hope is for all Grand Slam events to then contribute $500,000 each. There’s also something that can be done with the World Tour Finals prize money, should that event even ever happen.

There are more details if you’d like to know them but those are the clear highlights. In the end, the Big 3 wants to give each of the players ranked between No. 250 and No. 700 the lump sum of $10,000.

Whether this happens or not remains to be seen but the fact that Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have all backed the idea and lent their name to it speaks volumes. This is good news because there is a clear need for such an initiative since the 2020 season is increasingly looking like it will be shelved for the foreseeable future…if not forever. Tennis players, you might recall, don’t have guaranteed salaries of any kind and while the likes of Djokovic and company have plenty to eat, the same can’t be said for other, lower-ranked players.

We love this initiative for at least four different reasons. First, it targets directly those who need it most: $10,000 might not sound like much but consider that it’s more than half of the prize money No. 294-ranked Matthew Ebden has captured so far this year. In that sense, it’s extremely needed in this trying time; it’s fun to see folks and players participate in things like the “100 volleys” challenge, or whatever else, but ultimately these won’t help you pay your bills. Thirdly, this is a poignant example of folks coming together and trying to work toward a common goal and not looking to throw anyone under the bus. (We’re looking at you, Roland-Garros organizers.)

Finally, it’s coming from our favourite player ever so we’re bound to be all-in. Sometimes, that’s all there is to it.

Now, remember the beginning of this article? While he was putting into motion this would-be plan, Djokovic was also basically outing himself as a sorta-maybe-kinda-anti-vaxxer for the coronavirus?

Novak, what you even doing man wtf???? Smh.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

Time for Tennis to Stand up to Speed up

Time for Tennis to Stand up to Speed up

The sport of tennis is well liked across the world. It is a sport with truly global proportions. It is also one of the major sports with strong traditions, and little changes in its evolution. I am satisfied with the state of tennis today but I am not sure about its immediate future. In the competitive world of professional sports, I believe tennis is failing to earn a new generation of young fans who are more attracted to basketball (NBA) and mixed martial arts (UFC) these days. Blame it on popular cultural trends or decreased attention span, it is what it is.

We live in a world that is ever changing, though, the current COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to take a pause and reflect. We don’t know how the world is going to look in 50 days or what will happen in the tennis world once the professional tour resumes. But I am sure there will be some significant changes, in our daily lives and on the tennis circuit.

One of the changes I would like to see is shortening the length of tennis matches. I strongly believe that a change is needed to make tennis more dynamic and more attractive to millennials and Generation Z. During every Grand Slam event, I see tennis fans debate tennis scoring and sets formats on Twitter and on different online forums. I know for a fact that, even the die-hard tennis fans do not have time or patience to watch every second of Best of Five matches that last 4 hours straight. It is time for tennis to stand up to speed up. Speeding up matches will work well to generate more excitement and help players to rest and recover faster. It will also attract a younger generation to tennis which is vital for any sports to grow, and to capitalise on.

There are often debates if men should play Best of Three or Best of Five at Grand Slams, though a lot of current solutions are to shorten sets in the first place. Some of the popular shorter tennis formats include Fast4 Tennis initiated by Tennis Australia and Tie Break Tens. But the format that I’ve tried and liked the most is Thirty30 Tennis, also known as T30 Tennis. Thirty30 Tennis starts every game at 30-all. So you play less points to complete a game. It sounds and feels like regular tennis with sets still going to 6 games. If a set is to reach a score of 6-6, a nine point tie-break, first to 5 points and sudden death at 4-4, is utilised. There is no final set tie-break in this format, hence in a situation where it is a close match, it will go on until the better player wins. With the format of Thirty30 Tennis, sets are estimated to take no longer than 20 minutes, so a Best of Three match can be
completed in an hour. This is a perfect length of time for a sporting event to play recreationally or to stream and enjoy from anywhere in the world.

The Thirty30 Tennis format is created by Scotland based Mr. Mark Milne who has played recreational tennis all his adult life. His format was discussed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the governing body of tennis at their Rules of Tennis Committee meeting in Paris in 2017. The committee had decided not to put Thirty30 Tennis forward to the Board for consideration as their Rules already had enough alternative methods for shortening tennis matches. Milne has argued that the Thirty30 Tennis scoring method is possibly better than the ITF’s current alternative methods. He believes his format retains the traditions of tennis far better as sets still go to six games (lead by two), a tie-breaker is played at six games all and crucial advantage points are still played.

Milne has officially received support from Tennis Scotland. His format has been tried by many coaches, and he continues to earn support from players and coaches from all over the world (as seen at He plans to approach the ITF again in the future.

Milne hopes to see Thirty30 Tennis being played at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics which I believe is not a far-fetched dream. I have seen how Twenty20 (T20) Cricket and the Indian Premier League (IPL) revolutionised the traditional sport of cricket in the last 12 years. Cricket used to be played only in the Commonwealth, but today, thanks to the faster and more attractive Twenty20 format, it has entered new territories and is generating unmatched revenues. The same can happen with tennis here. And who knows? Maybe Thirty30 Tennis is the answer!

? Abhijeet Dangat, Project Manager  AMOS Lab  

USTA Announces Next Phase of Support for Tennis Industry

National Governing Body Will Provide Comprehensive Program of Financial, Educational and Other Resources to Help Tennis Industry Weather the COVID-19 Pandemic

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., April 16, 2020 – The USTA today announced a comprehensive suite of programs to support the tennis industry, which is battling the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This announcement is the second phase of ongoing efforts that the USTA is developing in concert with the American tennis industry.  The overarching goal of these efforts is to provide immediate relief, spur the industry’s recovery, and help the industry rebuild when the crisis passes.

On March 23, the USTA announced the creation of Tennis Industry United, a collaboration of the USTA, TIA, USPTA, PTR, ITA, major endemic media partners and others, that is assessing overall industry needs and making recommendations for those industry sectors that need immediate relief. The initial goal of the first phase was to provide help for the front lines of the sport including tennis facilities, tennis professionals, grassroots tennis programs and the hundreds of tournaments, college and high school matches, and league matches cancelled or suspended since the onset of the pandemic.  On March 26, through the collaborative efforts of the Tennis Industry United partnership group, the USTA published the industry resource guide at This resource guide is continually updated to provide the most current information regarding governmental assistance and other resources available to those in the industry.

“We recognized helping tennis facilities, community tennis programs, and teaching professionals navigate the multitude of government grants and loans was of immediate importance,” said Mike Dowse, CEO and Executive Director of the USTA.  “The foundation of our sport begins with these stakeholders and we need to ensure they can weather the storm and remain viable as the storm recedes.  This is all about ‘relief, recovery and rebuild’ for our industry.”

For the second phase of support, the USTA, along with its partners, will begin offering specific economic assistance packages, increased support to navigate government assistance for facilities and coaches, access to industry leaders, daily educational webinars and in-the-moment phone support to help individuals emotionally impacted from COVID-19.   The extent of this future support will be determined by the financial performance of the 2020 US Open and the impact that the current pandemic has on the event.  The USTA’s plans to stage the tournament remain ongoing, and all decisions regarding the US Open will be guided by federal and local governmental agencies and the health and safety of the players, fans, partners, and the broader tennis community.

Nevertheless, the USTA is taking immediate actions to cut costs for the eventual deployment of financial resources to support the tennis industry in the U.S.  Immediate first steps include identifying more than $20 million in savings by instituting salary reductions of USTA management, eliminating programs in marketing, Player Development and operations, and deferring all non-essential capital projects.

The following outlines a summary of the support and assistance currently provided or now in development to assist the U.S. tennis industry:

  • USTA Facility Grants:  USTA facility grants are being developed to support facilities in need of financial support to reopen.  This funding, expected to reach more than $5 million in total, will come from both USTA National and the USTA Sectional offices. Funding criteria, award levels, and the application process are being finalized and will be available on or before May 1.
  • Certified Tennis Professional Membership Grants: The USTA is working with the USPTA and PTR to ensure that certified tennis professionals are able to renew their annual membership dues moving into 2021.  This will allow these critical tennis providers to maintain their liability insurance, be Safe Play compliant, and continue to have access to educational opportunities. The organizations will be collaborating on this plan over the coming weeks. Grants are expected to exceed $2.5 million.
  • The USTA Foundation will provide $5 million in operating grants to grassroots tennis and education organizations supporting underserved communities through the National Junior Tennis and Learning network.
  • Access to legal expertise with links to identify and claim government support through the CARES Act at
  • The hosting of all tennis offerings from key organizations within the tennis industry on one central site to enable ease of access of key offerings available at
  • FREE access to online continuing professional development for facility owners and managers and tennis professionals at
  • FREE phone support to help the tennis industry cope with the emotional impact of COVID-19 through the USTA’s health provider, Aetna.  Those needing to utilize this service can call 1-833-327-AETNA and reference the USTA.
  • A dedicated email address, [email protected], has been created for those in the industry to submit specific queries regarding available COVID-19 support.
  • Daily updates and guidance by leading experts will be made available on that will give specific information about key steps to take to navigate the pandemic.
  • The USTA will provide a free website builder tool with marketing and content resources that allows turnkey solutions for communication tools for facilities and pros.
  • The USTA National office has recommitted as its top priority the continuation of the “grow the game” funding commitments of $35 million to community tennis programming in 2020 and 2021.  These funds are distributed through the 17 USTA Sections to get the money closer to grassroots decision-makers and fund grassroots tennis programs at parks, schools, NJTLs, and a variety of other local efforts.  Tennis providers are encouraged to connect with their local USTA offices to explore Section, District and State offerings.

The above equates to a commitment of more than $50 million in spending towards grassroots tennis and will engage the entire U.S. tennis ecosystem.

“With phase one and phase two, the priority has been to start the process of ensuring that the foundation of our sport remains in place and is viable in the future,” added Dowse.  “We now quickly are taking a look at the broader tennis ecosystem and are working with our colleagues within the Grand Slams, the ITF, the ATP and the WTA Tour to determine how to provide help for lower-ranked professional tennis players who are facing tournament cancellations and financial hardship.”

In the coming weeks, the USTA and its industry partners, will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. tennis marketplace.  Moving forward, the USTA will continue to aggregate all industry resources to aid in recovery while collaborating with all industry partners to develop and deliver programs to help rebuild tennis in the United States.

Can the US Open Save the 2020 Tennis Season?

One by one, they’ve all been falling down like flies.

When the world pandemic of Covid-19 first started messing with our tennis schedule, it first did so by attacking and overwhelming the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open—two of the biggest “kind of a big deal” events on the tennis calendar, but not the single two biggest events in the world. There was still hope then, is what we’re getting at.

But then, the actual biggest events in the world started getting postponed or cancelled. So far we’ve had the French Open organizers decided that they would reschedule their event to September in a classic case of selling off the bear’s skin before having killed it (and in what’s looking increasingly like a superfluous move), but also and perhaps most importantly the beloved Wimbledon decided that the 2020 edition would be cancelled.

Next came the cancellation of the Montreal Rogers Cup, bringing us to mid August now. The question on everyone’s mind would be whether the next domino to fall would be the biggest one, the massive pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow that is the tennis season, the US Open in Flushing Meadows.

As things stand right now at the time of this writing, the biggest party of the tennis season is still slated to be played in late August. Which is to say that as of this writing, the US Open is still slated to save the tennis season—and Steve Furgal’s International Tennis Tours is there to help you save it along with it.

You see, the travel agency is an official US Open and United States Tennis Association partner. As they write it on their website, “pick your hotel, choose your level of seating and let us take care of the rest.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Here’s the part where you counter with something like, “Well you know it’s great that they want to take care of the rest, but what kind of rest will there even be in the time of Covid-19?” On the one hand, we entirely agree: if and unless things change drastically, there will be no tennis played this summer—in New York or elsewhere—so in this case, don’t bother planning a trip to the Big Apple to watch the best tennis players in the world.

But we’re here to talk to you about what’s on the other hand, the scenario where things do improve and an event like the 2020 US Open does happen. Just imagine how big the biggest party in tennis would be after all this time off. If that’s what happens, then Steve Furgal is the place for you; if you want to turn your Flushing Meadows experience into a fairytale, look no further.

This comes in the form of first-week packages or second-week packages, each coming with four sessions of tennis and their choice of four- or five-star hotels. Diehards of the sport will also likely see the VIP Experiences or Labour-Day packages as appealing options. (Natives of New York actually have the option of Loge + Hospitality, which is not too shabby.)

One thing to note: no matter which option you pick for your stay, you’re in for a treat, a raucous atmosphere and, most importantly, likely to see the great Novak Djokovic emerge victorious.

That’s a promise.


What is a Pro Stock Tennis Racquet?

Did you know that your favourite player’s shiny new tennis racquet is not the same racket they use on tour? I will give a brief look at what a Pro Stock racquet is in this article.

The word Pro Stock is the exact sound of that. A tennis racquet specially created for a professional player. Judy, senior manager at TrumpLearning which provides the best mcat prep course says, Most of the popular tennis racquet brands such as Head, Wilson, Dunlop and others manufacture tennis racquets for their endorsed players only. The top players will take delivery of a new batch of racquets built just for them every 3 or 4 months.

Pro Stock racquets typically weigh more than their retail equivalent, plus the strength, swing weight, rigidity and string pattern are tailored to the particular pro specifications in question. The exact sound of that is the word Pro Stock. A tennis racquet customized to a professional player.

Most of the famous tennis racquet brands including Head, Wilson, Dunlop and others only produce tennis racquets for their players who are endorsed. The top players will take delivery every 3 or 4 months of a new batch of racquets made only for them.

Nick, who offers to do my accounting homework services with TAE says,  Usually, Pro Stock racquets weigh more than their retail counterpart, plus the strength, swing weight, stiffness, and string pattern are customised to the particular pro requirements concerned.

How Are Pro Stock Racquets Made?

They’re made just like every other racquet store. The difference is the mould that is being used, and what leaves the plant.

Most Pro Stock frames are built on moulds of old retail racquets which have been discontinued for a long time. An example of this is Novak Djokovic who uses a racquet made from the mould for the Head iRadical / Ti. Radical MP released in the early 2000s.

This varies significantly from the Head Speed X Limited Edition MP which he endorses. Its weight and rigidity are different, but even the head size on the Speed X is much smaller at 95 square inches compared to the 100 square inches.

That’s one of the more severe examples, but it highlights how different the racquet that a pro wields from the one that the public would buy.

Often, Pro Stock racquets are made in a bare-bones fashion where they appear to be lighter and not the finished item so no grip pallet, nothing in the cavity of the handle etc. Sometimes this is known in the industry as the ‘hairpin’ and the closest example is that of a blank canvas.

Lucky, an expert from whom students approach to write my essay for me says ,Once the grommet holes are drilled, and the racquet painted to the current design, they are sent to the house of choice for the racquet customisation of the player. This can be done either by the manufacturer in their own department of customisation, or by a third party.

That is where the guys like Priority 1 come in because they fit the racquets, add weight, mould the grips, insert silicon in the handles, etc. to create the finished product according to the player’s exact specification. That racquets in an uncustomized state leave the mould sheds some light on why pro racquets seem to give more feeling than retail counterparts.

Kelly who works with TFTH and provides services like assignment help sydney says, Mass-produced racquets leave the mould at their finished size, and they get additional carbon layers applied in certain areas and weight in the handle to meet the specified weight on the spec sheet. Nevertheless, pro stock racquets often leave the mould at about 300 gm and are beefed up by the racquet technician with lead and silicon.

Why Do Manufacturers Produce Pro Stock Racquets?

The explanation why there are Pro Stock racquets is because of the needs of their sponsored players. Most professional players have come through the junior ranks playing with a different tennis racquet model and are very particular about their equipment.

When they land on tour and taste success, the racquet becomes a trusted arm extension to which they are very attached. The question, however, is that to remain in business, racquet manufacturers need to launch new racquets each year.

New paint jobs and moulds are developed annually to enable clients to upgrade to the latest ‘technology’ to get the best tennis racquet available at the moment. However, no professional player willing to change racquets issues them at the same rate as manufacturers.

Adapting to a new racquet will take years and if the new frame specs aren’t near the old one anywhere, it just won’t work. Nick, who offers research paper writing service says, For this purpose, manufacturers must keep old (or custom) moulds in use to ensure that their brand ambassadors will continue to play with the racquet they have always used.

Federer is yet another prime example; from the early 2000s right up to 2013, he used the Pro Staff 90. It took some mixed results for him to make the move, an accident and Stefan Edberg.

Are Pro Stock Racquets Better than Retail Racquets?

One of the common misconceptions you see from players who have just found out about Pro Stock frames in the tennis forums is that these racquets have to be far better than retail versions.

And they aren’t. Pro Stock frames are made of the same material, from which all the high-end tennis racquets are made. There is no secret sauce or advanced technology; it’s just racquets constructed from older retail pieces. Of course,assuming that more labour-time and attention to detail would go into a Pro Stock frame than a retail frame is not a stretch. But this again does not automatically mean that they are stronger.

Even though the quality control may be slightly higher when it leaves the mould, for a specific player a pro stock racquet has been customised. And unless you’re playing an exact or very similar game to the respective player, it won’t be the right tennis racquet for you. It may bear the price tag to make you believe it will be a game-changer, but it will perform no better than hundreds of other readily available versions elsewhere.

A Closer Look at a Pro Stock Racquet

We may take a look at a Pro Stock racquet thanks to fellow tennis fan Nico B, as he is the proud owner of a frame used by Grigor Dimitrov.

The Bulgarian is a player sponsored by Wilson and has endorsed the Wilson Pro Staff 97S for a few seasons  as remarked by John, working with EduWorldUSA.. Although his racquet wore the 97S colour, however, it was drastically different from the retail model it was impersonating. This Pro Stock model is a 93? frame and has never been available for retail. Not all professional players use racquets, which were published 20 years ago.

Who’s on Your Tennis Dream Team?

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon completes a fun little hypothetical exercise.

In these bleak times of isolation and absolutely no tennis played, we have little choice but to let our imagination run free and give in to the hypotheticals.

Would Novak Djokovic still be unbeaten if tennis hadn’t stopped last month? Might Rafael Nadal be on its way to sweeping everything on clay court? What other, new stupid nonsense BS might Nick Kyrgios have treated us to in the meantime? How blessed by the Gods is Roger Federer to have taken four months off to nurse an injury right at the onset of a world pandemic? (Oops, that last one isn’t exactly hypothetical lol.)

All important questions to varying degrees in the sense that they take us away from our daily routine of not doing a lot of things and transport us to an alternate reality where things are still happening.

This is precisely what the below tweet from Tennis TV accomplishes when they ask their fans what their dream team would look like.

If you would play this game with us for just a minute, let’s run through our all-important choices in this fully hypothetical exercise in order to create the ultimate dream team of the #TennisElbow column.

Big 3 – Novak Djokovic

We’re picking our choice for the current best men’s player of all time and we’re not even blinking twice. In all likelihood, Novak Djokovic will finish his career as the man with the most Grand Slam titles in history, with the most prize money won and with the most weeks spent at No. 1 in the world. He also has a firm grasp on everything central that unfolds on the ATP, not to mention a winning head-to-head record against both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer here.

But mostly we’re picking Djokovic because this exercise asks us to create our dream team. Our dream wouldn’t be complete without our favourite player ever.

Young Guns: Daniil Medvedev

The thing about this category is that, like, Dominic Thiem is a full two years older than the other three listed? You might look at our choice and think that we’re underrating Thiem’s candidacy, his 16 career titles, 3 Grand Slam finals and No. 3 ranking spot.

But we feel like Medvedev should be the clear choice. Not only has the 24-year-old managed to grab seven career titles, he’s also made one Grand Slam final (and did just about everything but capture the title once there) at last year’s US Open.

Giving him the edge, above all, is the Russian’s dominance over the latter half of the 2019 season, when Medvedev reached six straight tournament finals, including three Masters event to go along with his US Open nod. Right or wrong, we just don’t see Thiem going on such a run.

Legends: Bjorn Borg

Justice for Bjorn Borg, please. The Swede was perhaps the first “best player ever” in men’s tennis—or at the very least, its first ever true superstar. Borg turned pro in 1973 and, starting the year after that, proceeded to pretty much rule men’s tennis like his own kingdom. Not only was Borg ranked No. 1 in the world from 1977 through 1980, he also was the first in the sport to grab over $1 million in prize money in a single season and also the first to capture 11 Grand Slam titles. By no means the lone star in the sport, he was certainly among those most responsible for making tennis that much more popular in the 1970s. (That’s what tends to happen when you grab six Roland-Garros titles and another five at Wimbledon.)

And my god, such glorious hair!

Trick shotters: Gael Monfils

Look, this is both not complicated but also heartbreaking. We absolutely keep renewing our membership on the Nick Kyrgios’s hype train, but it’s been nothing but an easy ride; the fact that the Kyrgios experience is such a relentless and thankless is probably half the fun. On any day, the Australian can trounce any other player on tour…or he can lose an easy matchup, like, 6-1, 6-0.

But since this category calls for us to pick one player known for his trick-shot ability specifically, Gael Monfils is the only possible choice; the man’s prowess is unequaled. He’s also, you know, himself quite the accomplished singles player.

Grand Slam Champions: Stanislas Wawrinka

Is this our hottest of takes here? All of our lives we’ve been told that this current era of men’s tennis was the golden age built around the career and presence of a big four: the three names you think of, alongside the name of Andy Murray.

But looking at the underlying numbers of Murray’s career, he stands much closer to fellow competitors inside this group of Grand Slam champions than he does of Djokovic, Federer or Nadal.

Meanwhile, Stanislas Wawrinka was for a time in the middle of the last decade perhaps the most destructive force in men’s tennis. We’re also trying to be proactive here: adding Wawrinka to our team would guarantee us that he wouldn’t foil Djokovic’s plans, as he has done no fewer than three times at the three Grand Slam events he won.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG