At the final of the Delray Beach Open, Radu Albot achieved the dream of many professional tennis players. To win an ATP title. He would defeat Dan Evans in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9-7). It would be the third consecutive match Albot would have to grind out in three sets. Emotions of elation and gratefulness overwhelmed the 29-year old, becoming the first Moldovan-born player to win an ATP title.
“I think a lot of people were watching, especially my parents and my friends, and I want to say ‘Hi’ to my parents because they watched all my matches and I played all the time in the night so they didn’t sleep I don’t think,” Albot said. “I think it’s pretty difficult to explain with words how this feels.”
But with the proposed new changes to the ITF, the title for Albot may not have been an achievable reality. As stated in the newly proposed ITF rules:
“From 2019, players will only earn ranking points at Tour and Challenger level events, while also going deep in ITF 25K events. Those who go out before the finals at 25K events and who are competing in 15K tournaments won’t get any ATP rankings points anymore. However, those competing at 25K and 15K level will get ITF ranking points and thus be ranked in a new system.”
As a result, players will be deterred away from competing on the professional circuit. If they are not going to reward progression from Futures and Challengers to the ATP level, then what’s the point of undergoing the burden-ridden grind? Given that Radu Albot has been struggling for quite some time, he probably would not have been able to compete in the Delray Beach Open if the new rules were implemented.
It speaks to a great hypocrisy when the ITF tweets out its support for Albot.
Radu Albot is the first player from Moldova to win an ATP-tour level title and he's hoping he can be an inspiration ??? pic.twitter.com/9pqeIcabxZ
— ITF (@ITF_Tennis) February 26, 2019
A petition has now been filed, with the hopes of the ITF to change its course. Professional players, like Jared Hiltzik, are taking to social media to share their frustrations. Despite playing tremendous tennis, their low ranking cannot elevate them into a higher-level tournament, as per the new rules.
It’s tough. Playing some of the best tennis of my life right now and at 350 I can’t get into any challengers. At this point in my career is it worth it to play futures? Or am I just taking away opportunities from other players who are just starting out?
— Jared Hiltzik (@JaredHiltzik) February 26, 2019
The ITF vehemently denies the claims made by these players. It is sticking to the narrative that the organization is standing by its mandate of growing the game around the world.
Former top level ATP player Janko Tipsarevic disagrees, suggesting that the ITF rule changes are destroying the game
Janko's appeal to the world of tennis: Changes make sense if they are good. Changes make sense if they are for the benefit of tennis. However the latest changes to the rankings harm tennis and harm young upcoming players.
Posted by Janko Tipsarevic Official on Tuesday, February 26, 2019
The new proposed rule changes do the exact opposite. And for Radu Albot, he better be counting his blessings and maintaining his dedicated commitment of continued success on the Tour.
He may not have a choice with the ITF’s reforms.