Netflix Slam 2024: Nadal, Alcaraz and Las Vegas, or the shining symbol of the new tennis bubble | Tennis | Sports

There they are both, vigilant, Batman and Robin in profile, coming to say that they are here to give what is demanded of them, that after all it is a spectacle. Simply Show. Welcome to the indescribable environment of Las Vegas, to this Nadal-Alcaraz announced with great fanfare at the end of last year, and which will take place this Sunday (9:30 p.m. Spanish time) in an experimental way:streaming? Yeah, streaming. That is, real-time playback. The first test of this type that Netflix carries out with a sporting event in Spain. And for this, money, a lot of money involved, and two of the strongest tennis players in the world, one entering and the other leaving. The neon lights of the city point at them and their faces shine on all types of signage or support: the same applies to the gigantic pyramid of the Luxor hotel, as well as the glass megasphere converted into the latest attraction, where U2 has played, for example, as well as the gate. airport welcome. “Cling, cling, cling!” the slot machines sound everywhere; coins and more coins clinking as they fell against the metal basket. Allow the metaphor: this is what tennis sounds like today. Something is moving in the sport of racket.

It was said this week that the ATP has signed a “strategic” (and above all million-dollar) alliance with Saudi Arabia, in an agreement that definitively opens the door to the oil country, and now Las Vegas highlights the growing weight of large-scale exhibitions, in which the continent and its distribution take precedence as much as the content. That is, an ideal packaging and fireworks. Dollars and more dollars. With the exception of those who follow the competition closely, few will know who has won the Acapulco or Dubai tournament, or who were the last players to win a WTA title. However, many will have breakfast on Monday with the images of the two great Spanish icons rallying and doing tricks on the court of the Michelob Ultra Arena. Nadal and Alcaraz have not faced each other since 2022, then Indian Wells and Madrid; But, what the natural course of its sport could not bring, is now organized in style by the platform, without financial figures regarding the event having been revealed. It is an exhibition, two sets and a tiebreaker if necessary, but the focus of tennis today is in Nevada.

The transmission channel is new, but a dynamic that is beginning to gain more and more strength is not. While the intermediate or low profile tournaments (the 250 or the 500, Acapulco itself without going any further) begin to lose competitive support, the exhibitions are dotting a historically saturated calendar. Concentrated until now in December, as a preseason, the unofficial matches are gradually expanding in time with the juicy incentives they provide to both sides, with the fan involved: media projection, entertainment for a new audience that It demands other types of stimuli – the concentrated and instantaneous enjoyment that footballer Gerard Piqué proclaimed with his Davis – and fixed through the roof, certainly superior to what other events included in the annual program can offer. Thus began the Laver Cup promoted by the Swiss Roger Federer, today already embedded as another tournament, in September. Alcaraz, he says, will play the next edition.

The Murcian is probably the biggest draw for new audiences. He has huge pull and fresh legs to move from here to there. Last year he dropped by Mexico in November — he played in front of more than 20,000 people at La Monumental — and the following month he met Novak Djokovic in a bolus in Riyadh, where other top-level players attended. It will close this season with at least three exhibitions, another of them in Riyadh, in October. The Six Kings Slam. Along with him will be Nole, Nadal, the Italian Jannik Sinner, the Russian Daniil Medvedev and the Dane Holger Rune; that is, the best tennis players of the moment. And the six will compete for the highest prize of all time. According to information from the British newspaper The Telegraph, all of them will pocket around 1.4 million euros for the best performance, while the champion will get close to 5.5 million, above the record of 4.8 that Djokovic pocketed for winning the last edition. of the Turin Masters Cup, or the 2.7 that Alcaraz from Wimbledon, the most generous great, received. Sinner, winner two months ago in Melbourne, entered 1.9.

From Emirates to Saint Petersburg

“These exhibitions have the biggest stars in the world, as if they were an All Star. I would say that, rather, all these 250 that are played week in and week out, they do dilute the interest in our sport,” explained the Australian Nick Kyrgios a couple of years ago. “The calendar is too demanding, we practically don’t stop,” Alcaraz lamented in January. The Scot Andy Murray came to the cross recently: “I just think that sometimes the players are a bit hypocritical with the calendar. They fly all over the world to play exhibitions, but that’s their choice. They don’t have to play all of them, nor do they have to play all the ATP tournaments.”

Alcaraz, for example, ruled out playing in the Vienna tournament because, as his director pointed out, Herwig Straka, his cache amounted to 750,000 euros. A figure that only the wealthiest can achieve. Fronts are opening up for the circuits and the luxury exhibitions and the emergence of Saudi Arabia on the board can alter the functioning of a system threatened by the economic power of the eastern country, which has already designed a circuit parallel to the traditional ones in the golf (LIV) and tries, according to different information published during the last year, to take ownership of a Masters 1000, the second in the pyramid after the majors. Since 2019, it has organized the Diriyah Cup and the United Arab Emirates hosts two other exciting events, the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open and the World Tennis League. The story, however, does not stop there. Last year, Gazprom, which owns the monopoly on exporting gas via gas pipelines to Europe, held an exhibition in St. Petersburg in early December.

Now the action is set in Las Vegas, where Netflix guessed a breakthrough in the generational changing of the guard between Nadal and Alcaraz. The first – 38 years old on June 3 – will reappear this Sunday after the injury suffered in January in Brisbane that prevented him from competing in the Australian Open. Although his initial intention was to previously travel to Doha to compete there, the Mallorcan has preferred to wait and after making contact this weekend, he will travel to Indian Wells to participate in one of his favorite venues. ; In fact, he will debut early Thursday morning. The 20-year-old from Murcia will also go to the Coachella Valley, who will not force the machine in this friendly duel either, since he is still dealing with the grade 2 (moderate) sprain that occurred during his last intervention, a little over a week ago after suffer a sprained ankle in Rio de Janeiro. It will be the fourth time they clash – 2-1 in favor of the Balearic Islands – while spectators grab popcorn, tennis processes the news and the roulette wheels continue to spin in Las Vegas.

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