Giving tennis more than a shot

London, Year-End No 1, Taxes

There were many events that happened today in Shanghai, not all of them positive, but still worth a mention. Another player booked his place for London, the year-end no 1 ranking was sealed and Rafa Nadal talked about income taxes, which led to quite a discussion a little everywhere among tennis fans.

 

We’ll start by the good news, now, shall we? 

 

David Ferrer qualifies for the World Tour Finals

(Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

He did it at the last moment last year, but no such thing this year! World no 5 David Ferrer, by defeating his great friend and countryman Juan Carlos Ferrero today in Shanghai (1-6 7-5 6-2), became the fifth player to qualify for the World Tour Finals, in London, thus joining the Fab Four. It’s the second consecutive year that Ferrer qualifies for the “Masters of the 8”, and the third time in his career.

 

And to tell the truth, I cannot be happier. David Ferrer, to me, is the epitome of the hard-working player. Compensating his small stature (5’9″) by an incomparable court coverage, Ferrer never, but never gives up, forcing his opponents to always hit one more shot. The immense work he does on and off-court makes him one of the fittest players on Tour and it shows at almost every match he plays.

 

By qualifying this early for the WTF this year, Ferrer will get to London with more rest than last year and I’m pretty sure he’ll also have better results.

 

At the Rolex Masters, in Shanghai, Ferrer will tomorrow face Andy Roddick for a place in the semi-finals.

 

Novak Djokovic ends the Fedal reign

There were quite a few shocking losses since the beginning of the tournament and today was no exception. Gilles Simon (8) lost to Matthew Ebden (6-2 2-6 7-6(8)) who, with this first-ever Master 1000 quarter-finals appearance, will crack the top 100 for the first time. Then Feliciano López knocked out Tomas Berdych (6) (6-4 6-4) to close the day. But what struck a lot of us today was the defeat of Rafael Nadal (1) to the hands of Florian Mayer (15) (7-6(5) 6-3), a loss that is explained by the great tennis displayed by the German during the match.

 

(Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

Nadal losing today automatically ensured Novak Djokovic of finishing the year on top of the tennis world, where he is since after Wimbledon. It may sound crazy that with 3 Grand Slam titles, 5 Masters 1000 titles, 64 wins and 3 losses, Djokovic wasn’t yet assured of the year-end number 1 ranking, but Nadal still had, until today, a mathematical chance of regaining the top spot.

 

By clinching the year-end no 1 ranking, Djokovic puts an end to the reign of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the top of the tennis world, as either man has finished the year at no 1 since 2004. Whether you like Djokovic or not, what he accomplished so far this year is absolutely incredible and finishing the year no 1 is more than deserved.

 

Congratulations to Novak the First!

 

Professional tennis is taxing… in more ways than one!

This has been the “talk of the town” for the last couple of days: Rafael Nadal will not play Queen’s next year as his Wimbledon preparation, but will play Halle instead. Why? Because Great Britain taxes too much.

 

In a very interesting article (in French), Yannick Cochennec explains how Great Britain automatically takes 20% off the prize money won by the players who don’t reside on British soil, but also how there, the sportsmen can also be taxed on up to an extra 20% because of their sponsoring revenues. And that’s before their homeland income taxes.

 

So Nadal had enough of that. With Wimbledon and the World Tour Finals, adding Queen’s to that was too much for him. And as he said, he hadn’t played in Germany for a long time. And from another perspective, I can also say that Germany is a bit faster to reach after Roland Garros.

 

Of course, some will rightfully argue that he makes enough money as it is during a year, and so on. It’s true. But at the same time, I will argue that when playing in Great Britain, it’s almost 50% of his prize money that he’s lost. All right, it’s still a lot of money, but that’s not really an incentive to wanting to come back.

 

Something tells me that he will not be the only one to make this kind of decision over the next months…

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2 Comments

  1. 13 October, 2011    

    Great entry! I somehow ended up having a long discussion about the tax issue over Twitter. I personally find Rafa’s stance to be perfectly valid. Many people argue that since Rafa earns so much money, he shouldn’t think about taxes. But as many others have said, being a multi-millionaire does not mean you don’t think about money. Everyone thinks about money. Also, the tax issue in Britain has been a much-discussed one in the sports world, so Rafa’s complaints are not exclusive to him. Other high-profile athletes have recently spoken out against it as well. With the WTF London contract coming up for renewal in 2013, this discussion over tax is much more relevant right now.

    I oppose the principle that you have to pay taxes to a country for income that was earned elsewhere and this is why I find the athletes’ arguments to be valid. Is it insane the amount of money Rafa earns? Yes. Should Rafa have spoken openly to the press about tax issues? Not on his own initiative. But once you overstep that hurdle and actually look at what he is saying, it’s a very valid argument he raises.

    I also don’t buy the argument that his decision to switch from Queens to Halle is so astonishing because it constitutes a break in his routine. They make it sound like he decided to play on grass in Ulanbatar, not Germany! Halle is at most an hour longer journey than Queens, although I suspect like you said that Germany is easier to reach, even if by plane. Who knew tax issues would become such a great issue?!

  2. 14 October, 2011    

    Sorry about the delay in moderating the comment, Janie. Shouldn’t happen again, as you now have one comment approved.

    A very interesting debate, that of the taxes. As I wrote in the entry, Rafa’s point is pretty valid to me too. Maybe he makes millions, but being deprived of up to 40% of it at the source is quite a lot. And this will indeed come into mind when renegotiating the contract for the WTF. Britain might lose a great source of income if they don’t change those laws a little.

    Maybe Rafa shouldn’t have spoken up. I don’t know. But maybe it’s a good thing he brought to the light that yes, those are issues for the players, even if the top players like Nadal do win a lot of money.

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