Tennis - ATP World Tour
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The stars of the ATP World Tour thrill fans around the world. And now, those fans have an opportunity to pay back the players. For the first time, the International Tennis Hall of Fame is utilising fan voting as part of its process to decide who gains entry in the Class of 2019.
This year, five former ATP World Tour standouts were nominated: former World No. 1s in the ATP Rankings, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Thomas Muster, former No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings Jonas Bjorkman, 22-time tour-level champion Goran Ivanisevic and 1993-94 Roland Garros titlist Sergi Bruguera. Conchita Martinez, Li Na and Mary Pierce are also on the ballot. Fans can have their say until voting closes on 7 October at 11:59 pm ET.
“There is a real opportunity for fans to actually get someone over the hump and get someone in. And it’s something that should happen. Our memories are only as great as we remember them because of fan participation, whether it’s in a match or at practices or watching us on TV, so there’s no reason that should stop when it comes to the Hall of Fame,” former World No. 1 and Class of 2017 inductee Andy Roddick said in an interview with Tennis.com. “I think it’s a great idea, I think it’s a progressive idea, and I applaud the Hall of Fame for taking this step and I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do.”
Entry into the Hall of Fame requires a 75 per cent affirmative vote. In the past, only Hall of Famers, historians and journalists were allowed to vote. But now, the fans can make an impact. The Top 3 recipients in the Fan Vote will receive bonus points. The top vote-getter will add three percentage points to their total, the second-placed player will be awarded two extra points and the third-placed athlete will get one point.
As an example, if a player receives affirmative votes from 72 per cent of the Voting Group, but they win the fan vote, the three bonus percentage points they earn will bring them to 75 per cent, earning them entry into the Hall of Fame.
“We’re thrilled to add this new Fan Voting component to the Hall of Fame voting process,” said International Tennis Hall of Fame CEO Todd Martin. “Creating an authentic connection between tennis fans and the greatest champions of our sport will be an engaging execution of our mission to promote and celebrate tennis history. Tennis is such a global sport and the fans of our inductees come from every corner of the globe. We know they might not all be able to get to Newport to see an induction, but hopefully this voting program will offer an opportunity for them to enjoy being part of the process.”
More than 25,000 fans from more than 120 countries have voted thus far. As of 20 September, Ivanisevic leads the field, followed by Li Na and Mary Pierce.