Indian Wells: the first few days - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells: the first few days

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TENNIS – Both the ATP and WTA tours have stopped in the US for just over 3 weeks of action with the first stop being the desert location of Indian Wells California. The biggest “shocker” of the tournament thus far will have to be the early exit of 3rd seed Victoria Azarenka who lost in straight sets to American Lauren Davis 6-7, 0-6. Cordell Hackshaw

Both the ATP and WTA tours have stopped in the United States for just over 3 weeks of action with the first stop being the desert location of Indian Wells California, BNP Paribas Open (March 6 – March 16). This event, the most attended tennis event outside of the majors, is always special for fans as it gives them an opportunity to see many of their favourite players in one place at a fairly decent price. These premier hardcourt events are also the last stops before we head into the clay court season which culminates at the French Open in May. However, despite its desert locale, the tennis action at the BNP Paribas Open has been somewhat cold for the most part over the first 3 days. The biggest crowd draw thus far has been the doubles match up of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka v Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi. The 2011 finalist and 2008 Olympics gold medalists Swiss duo won 6-2, 6-7, 1-0.

The biggest “shocker” of the tournament thus far will have to be the early exit of 3rd seed Victoria Azarenka who lost in straight sets to American Lauren Davis 6-7, 0-6. Azarenka who was clearly hampered in the match, later admitted that she is suffering from nerve damage in her foot which has been plaguing her for some time. She added that she may have been a bit too stubborn to have not adhered to medical advice to not play this event. Despite this upset, other top women’s seed managed to hold their own to move through to the 3rd round: Agnieszka Radwanska (2), Simona Halep (6), Jelena Jankovic (7), Sara Errani (9), Carolina Wozniacki (10), Roberta Vinci (13), Carla Suarez-Navarro (14), Eugenie Bouchard (18), Alizé Cornet (22), Lucie Safarova (26) and Magdalena Rybarikova (31). A pair of qualifiers Casey Dellacqua and Yaroslava Shvedova took out seeded players Kristen Flipkens (19) and Kaia Kanepi (24). They will be joined by Annika Beck who took Elena Vesnina (30). Two time champion (2002 and 2007) Daniela Hantuchova (29) was also upset by Varvara Lepchenko in straight sets in the 2nd round.

With this being a 96 field draw and seeded players getting a bye into the 2nd round, Days 1 and 2 had some interesting match ups for the avid tennis fan. Russia’s Vera Zvonareva (2010 Wimbledon and US Open semi-finalist) saw her comeback to top level play cut short when Shuai Peng of China took her out in 3 sets. Peng went on to lose to Bouchard in the 2nd round. Fellow Russian Nadia Petrova had to retire from her match against Silvia Soler-Espinoza after just 2 games. While on the subject of veteran players trying to get back in major form, 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone took out young German Mona Barthel in the 1st round. She will face her opponent in that major final, Sam Stosur for a place in the 3rd round. Promising players of the likes of Julia Goerges and Monica Niculescu are also through to the 2nd round. Other results saw the comeback efforts of Andrea Petkovic and Urszula Radwanska halted by Camila Giorgi and Aleksandra Wozniak respectively.

There were many young up and coming players also in action in the 1st round here at Indian Wells. Great Britain’s Heather Watson won over the 16-year over Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. Although Watson lost in the 2nd round to Aga Radwanska in straight sets, it was a good effort against the top player. Not surprisingly, the United States put forward many of their young talents in the field. Shelby Rogers, Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe and Taylor Townsend all won their 1st round matches. Fellow Americans Victoria Duval, Alexandra Kiick, Alison Riske, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Christina McHale and Vania King were not so lucky. Keys went on to lose to Vinci in 2nd round.

On the men’s side, main draw action began on Thursday and like the women’s draw, the top 32 seeds were given byes into the 2nd round. Veteran and two time major winner, Lleyton Hewitt proved that he still has something left in the tank when he took out his countryman Matthew Ebden in 3 sets. Another veteran on tour Mike Russell of the US took out his fellow countryman Donald Young. Russell was joined by his compatriots Sam Querrey, Ryan Harrison and Tim Smyczek in the 2nd round. Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin won over Benjamin Becker in straight sets. It must be noted that it was a very lackluster performance from the German in this match up. There were so many careless errors from his racquet that at times it looked as though they were intentional. Nonetheless, a good win for the Frenchman.

Other winners included Radek Stepanek surprisingly over Denis Istomin. Stepanek will get for his 2nd round opponent, world’s number 1 Rafael Nadal. Speaking of Nadal, Lukas Rosol won his 1st round encounter and will try for another major upset as he faces Andy Murray in the 2nd round. Jeremy Chardy, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Ivo Karlovic and Juan Monaco also moved through to the next round. Tour veterans such as Feliciano Lopez, Jarkko Nieminen, Teymuraz Gabashvili, Nikolay Davydenko, Julien Benneteau and Victor Hanescu are also through to the 2nd round where they will all face seeded players.

The top seeds begin play on Saturday with Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and recent Australian Open champion Stanislav Wawrinka all set to play. The tournament is sure to come alive from here on end or so one would hope.

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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