Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 31st of March 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 31st of March 2014

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TENNIS – Andy Murray gets slimy. Miami sets an unwelcome record. Serena Williams becomes the fourth woman to win 7 titles at the same event. The men prepare for Davis Cup duty and the women play in Charleston and Monterrey. Joshua Bosco

 

Murray gets gunked

Andy Murray got more than he bargained for during his press conference at the Crandon Park Tennis Center last week. Buckets of green goo were thrown all over him as a publicity stunt for Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards 2014.

 

I feel incredibly privileged to receive Nickelodeon’s UK History Maker Kids’ Choice Award […]. Getting slimed is definitely the most outrageous award acceptance I’ve ever done – it was pretty good fun” said Murray afterwards.

Tennis History in the making

Tennis history was in the making in Miami last Friday. Both the men’s semi-finals scheduled for that day were resolved with a walkover, with World No.1 Rafael Nadal and World No.2 Novak Djokovic advancing to the final of the Sony Open without having to play a single point.

According to the ATP, It’s the first time in the Open Era (since 1968) that both semi-finals at a tour-level event end in walkovers.

The first player to withdraw from his match was Kei Nishikori: the Japanese player, after a successful week in which he defeated Grigor Dimitrov, David Ferrer and Roger Federer (all ranked higher than him), was forced to forfeit the semi-final due to a left groin injury.

In the second walkover of the day  Tomas Berdych was forced to pull out of his match against Nadal with gastroenteritis. Despite his withdrawal the Czech player will now rise to No.5 in the ATP rankings, matching his career-best reached in August 2013.

Yesterday’s final marked the 40th match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard, after last night’s 6-3 6-3 loss, still leads 22-18 in the Head2Head. Worthy of mention is the fact that  Nadal and Djokovic are now defending champions in all nine  ATP World Tour Masters 1000, with 5 titles to Djokovic’s name (Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Shanghai and Paris) and Nadal trailing with just 4 (Madrid, Rome, Canada and Cincinnati).

7 times Serena

After winning the Sony Open in Miami on Saturday, World No.1 Serena Williams became just the fourth woman to win the same tournament at least seven times. She managed to do so thirteen years after her first triumph there in 2002, a straight sets victory over the then-World No.1 Jennifer Capriati.

She joins Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Chris Evert in this elite club: Navratilova has won 8 different tournaments seven or more times (including 12 titles in Chicago in a fifteen year span and 9 Wimbledon titles), while both Graf and Evert have won “only” 2 different tournaments at least seven times (Wimbledon and the German Open for Graf, Roland Garros and the Family Circle for the American).

Davis Cup weekend

No major tournament will take place this week in the ATP World Tour as players will be busy with the Davis Cup quarterfinals and Zone Group I and II ties this weekend.

Japan vs Czech Republic will feature Miami’s semi-finalist Kei Nishikori and two-times Davis Cup champion Radek Stepanek;
France vs Germany will see a full-powered French team (Tsonga, Gasquet, Monfils and Benneteau) take on a German side missing its four best-ranked players;
Italy vs Great Britain Wimbledon champion Andy Murray will have to defend himself against Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi on clay;
Switzerland vs Kazakhstan World No.3 & No.4 Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer will be hoping to reverse the result of the 2011 Davis Cup when Kazakhstan beat Switzerland 5-0 and reach the semi-finals for just the third time in over 90 years.

Some fascinating encounters can also be found in Zone Group I and II ties: the most anticipated is Poland vs Croatia, which will see World No.21 Jerzy Janowicz and formidable doubles team Fyrstenberg/Matkowski take on Marin Cilic and junior sensation Borna Coric.
Colombia will put faith in their consolidated quartet, made up of Santiago Giraldo, Alejandro Falla and doubles Miami finalists Cabal/Farah, for their Colombia vs Dominican Republic tie and World No.15 Grigor Dimitrov will play in Athens this weekend in Greece vs Bulgaria.

Family Circle & Monterrey

The WTA Tour, however, won’t stop this week:

In Charleston, World No.1 and Sony Open winner Serena Williams will try to win her third successive Family Circle Cup (and fourth in total) but will have to compete against a tough field including her sister Venus, Jelena Jankovic, Sara Errani, Sabine Lisicki, Sloane Stephens, Eugenie Bouchard and Lucie Safarova. Nadia Petrova received a wildcard while Alize Cornet, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands have withdrawn before the start of the tournament.

In Monterrey players including Flavia Pennetta, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Kirsten Flipkens and Garbine Muguruza will try to take advantage of the absence of last year’s winner Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and World No.4 Victoria Azarenka to take home the title.

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Unseeded Ugo Humbert Becomes First Player In Over A Decade To Win Halle On Debut

The 22-year-old fired nine aces and 29 winners to claim his first ATP 500 title.

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image via https://twitter.com/ATPHalle

France’s Ugo Humbert has clinched his maiden ATP title on the grass after defeating Andrey Rublev in straight sets at the Noventi Open in Halle.

 

Humbert remained unbroken throughout his 6-3, 7-6(4), win over the Russian fourth seed who has won more matches on the ATP Tour than any other player since the start of 2020 (74). The Frenchman was particularly impressive behind serve where he won 83% of his first service points and 55% on his second. It is the first time he has beaten Rublev on the Tour after losing to him on two previous occasions in 2019 (Monte Carlo) and 2020 (St. Petersburg).

“It’s incredible,” said Humbert. “The best victory of my career. I’m very proud because it wasn’t easy, I was a little but tired today but I tried to stay focused on each point. It’s very nice.”

The triumph concludes what has been a marathon week in Halle for the 22-year-old. En route to the final he had to come through four three-set matches where he scored wins over Sam Querrey, Alexander Zverev, Sebastian Korda and Felix-Auger Aliassime. Becoming only the second player in Halle’s 28-year history to have reached the final by playing only three-set matches.

Meanwhile, runner-up Rublev paid tribute to his opponent following their clash. The world No.7 is now 1-2 in finals played so far this season after winning Rotterdam before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Monte Carlo. To put that into perspective, in 2020 he won all six finals he played in.

“I have often told my coach that you play in an incredible way,” he said. “You have everything to be a very great player. So keep working, doing everything you do. You play very well, you have incredible shots. I wish you a great career.”

Humbert, who won two ATP titles last year in Auckland and Antwerp, is the first player to win Halle on the debut since 2010. On that occasion Lleyton Hewitt prevailed over Roger Federer in the final. He is now projected to rise to a ranking high of 25 on Monday when the ATP standings are officially updated.

The Frenchman will be hoping that he can continue his winning streak heading to Wimbledon where he reached the fourth round back in 2019. His best ever result in a Grand Slam to date.

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David Goffin Out Of Wimbledon Following Halle Accident

It has been reported that the unfortunate injury he suffered is ‘more serious’ than a sprain.

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David Goffin has been forced to withdraw from Wimbledon after suffering an ankle injury during the Noventi Open earlier this week.

 

The former top 10 player was taking on Corentin Moutet in Halle where he slipped on the grass and subsequently hurt his right ankle. Forcing the Belgian to retire from the match at the start of the third set. Providing an update on Goffin’s health, agent Martin Roux said he is unsure how long he will be absent from the Tour for.

“Yes, David has officially withdrawn from Wimbledon following his ankle injury in Halle. For the moment we do not know more about the exact duration of unavailability, ” Roux told lesoir.be. “He is of course disappointed to miss a Grand Slam tournament, especially since he had recovered well on grass before his injury. “

Elaborating further, Roux confirmed Goffin’s injury is ‘more serious’ than a sprain and tests are ongoing to assess the extent of the damage which has been caused to the ankle. It is not the first time he has suffered a freak accident on the court. During the 2018 Rotterdam Open he hurt his eye after a tennis ball rebounded into his face, forcing him to pull out of Marseille and Indian Wells that year.

“David told me that it was more serious than a minor sprain, after exams in Belgium.”Roux added. “The ankle has not yet deflated (stopped swelling). David realizes that ice and bandages won’t be enough to play. The ligaments must be affected in one way or another. The idea is to do new exams at the end of the week in order to then have a healing protocol, especially since after Wimbledon the Olympic Games will arrive quickly. These are now his next goals. “

The 30-year-old has achieved a win-loss record of 14-13 so far in 2021 and won his fifth ATP title in Montpellier. He has also reached the semi-finals in Antalya and quarter-finals in Monte Carlo. However, recently Goffin has struggled on the Tour with Halle being the fifth tournament in a row where he has failed to win back-to-back matches.

Goffin is currently ranked 13th in the world.

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Dominic Thiem Follows Nadal In Olympic Games Snub

The world No.5 says his decision is related to his performance on the Tour so far this season.

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Dominic Thiem training at the 2021 Lyon Open (photographer Sammy Dancyger - Owned by Sport Plus Conseil - GM Sports Consulting)

Austria’s Dominic Thiem has pulled out of the Olympic Games in order to focus on his title defence at the US Open later this year.

 

The 27-year-old issued a statement on Thursday saying he was ‘not ready’ to play in Tokyo following what has been a roller-coaster start to the season. Thiem enters Wimbledon with a win-loss record of 9-8 and recently lost in the first round of the French Open. His best results so far this year were reaching the last 16 of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of the Madrid Open.

“Hi everybody, I have some sad news to share with you all. After talking with my team and analysing the situation I have taken the very difficult decision to withdraw from competing in the Tokyo Olympics,” the 27-year-old Austrian wrote on Twitter.
“For me, like all athletes, taking part in the Olympics and representing my country is a huge honour and that makes this decision even tougher.
“However, 2021 did not start as expected and I don’t feel ready to play my best in Tokyo.
“My goal is to work hard the coming weeks, give my best at Wimbledon and keep training and hopefully defend my US Open title.”

Thiem, who also skipped the 2016 Olympics, had previously said that his views on the multi-sport event have changed over recent time. During one interview with Tennis Deutschland he said it would be a ‘dream’ to play at the Olympics and he would ‘definitely play’ at the event if he had the chance to. Thiem is coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu who won a gold medal back in 2004.

The world No.5 says he hopes to be able to play at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris where the tennis tournament will be held at Roland Garros. The same venue as the French Open.

On the same day as Thiem’s announcement on Thursday, Rafael Nadal was another player to confirm he would not be travelling to Tokyo, as well as Wimbledon, in order to recover from the clay season. The Spaniard said he wants to take a break from the Tour in order to preserve his body and prolong his career on the Tour.

The Olympic tennis event will take place between July 24th – August 1st. Andy Murray is the defending champion in the men’s tournament.

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