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Date: July 6, 2022 4:59 am

The scene is repeated regardless of the tournament: a tennis player with a mobile phone in his hand studies what is happening in the cybernetic depths of the device. Of course, this also happens in Paris, where Paula Badosa (7-5, 3-6 and 6-2 against Kai Yuvan) arrived on her nerves. Two weeks earlier, the 24-year-old world No. 4 decided to cut her losses and removed most of the social media apps she had installed on her phone. – Yes, almost everything. I only keep those in which I can control who can contact me,” he replies to this newspaper, while the hype spreads and the professionals explain. Tennis and nets, nets and tennis; strange contradiction. Exposure, income from fame. Also a source of trouble.

“I made this decision because they leave me more than they give,” says the Catalan, who has more than a hundred thousand followers on Twitter and more than half a million on Instagram. “I think that by giving, they give little. Perhaps they make you famous and can serve brands, although the most positive thing is the closeness they create between fans and athletes, which was not possible a few years ago. It’s very good because the future is digital, but I think the athlete has a lot left too, because some people or the press feel they have the right to judge you without knowing what is behind it, ”continues the player from Begur about the problem, that excites the entire tennis environment, from organizations to coaches.

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“It’s a hopeless battle,” says Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Alcaraz’s coach, when asked about the extent of players’ dependence on mobile phones, an element that, over the years, has become an extension of a tennis player’s life and which, in many cases, it makes you lose focus and knock you down. out of the way, especially the younger ones.

“Networks cause a lot of stress. I use them, today they are part of our lives, but it is important to learn how to manage them. I don’t think it’s good to take them away from the player, but the formula needs to be found. We must try to understand the youth of today. For them, life on the track can be lonely. Most of us players spend a lot of time with our mobile phone and it’s not ideal, but we have to control it,” says number one male Novak Djokovic (35).

Twitter, “the most negative place”

“We have to guide new generations,” said Roger Federer (40). “I can’t imagine starting my networking career, I don’t know how I would have handled it… For every ten good comments, there is always one negative one, and of course that’s the one you focus on. on,” added the legendary Swiss tennis player.

Coaches argue that this technology is directly related to the gradual loss of the culture of effort that characterized the players of the past. That is, they exercise less and spend more time in front of screens, feeding their egos and also being one of the most significant parts of their future income.

Osaka testing her phone at the 2020 Australian Open.ISSEI KATO (Reuters)

“Why am I still in them? Because it’s my turn, because tomorrow will be like this…,” Badosa simplifies after Japanese Naomi Osaka, who has 2.8 million followers on Instagram, admitted a few days ago that she didn’t consult with them after the defeat and that she forgot about Twitter because “it’s the most negative place.”

Many professionals frown upon crossing extreme boundaries. “We will kill you,” was recently dedicated to the Frenchman Benoit Peru after the fall in Estoril. “You insult the sport. I hope you break both legs. Die. You made me lose a lot of money. I hope you get raped and you die of cancer,” the Argentinean Paula Ormaechea was threatened after the defeat in Bogota. And there is a connection between them: the players.

Abuse and long-term damage

Last year, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) issued two statements asking for greater oversight of the platforms. “Time and time again we see the devastating impact of insults, threats and discriminatory language on the Internet. The level that the players have to endure is in many cases unacceptable,” explained the president of the first body, David Haggerty. “Many cause lasting damage and great suffering,” they stressed from the second.

“If you have messages telling you to kill yourself and quit tennis, it will affect you. I have learned not to pay too much attention to it, but there are players who are different or more sensitive to certain things. I know it’s hard for some of them to deal with it,” says 18-year-old American Coco Gauff, a spokesperson for a new group of young people who are growing up with TikTok and other apps as their primary tools for transmission and assertion as well as projection. . yourself and invoice thanks to the marks.

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Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (24) is another example of a round trip. “They are good distractions. I think it’s okay to spend your free time productively, doing something good, entertaining other people, and striving for a better world. I think that some impact can be made; You can help not only with tennis, but also outside of sports, ”he notes.

However, two years ago, he temporarily abandoned them due to satiety and disappointment, and instructed his agent directly to coordinate a commercial performance in front of a million and a half fans who follow in his footsteps via Instagram: “You have to take this joke aside. Definitely, I want to live in reality for a bit.”

Badosa lives it these days on leisure lanes, when instead of picking up a mobile phone, he walks near the Eiffel Tower or accompanies his team members during a game of golf on the ParisLongchamp lawn. “I felt a lot of pressure. I am the first one who does not want to lose and is rude to himself, so extra comments of this kind are not needed. They don’t help me, I’m not a robot. I decided not to read them anymore.

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