Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 21st of April 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 21st of April 2014

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TENNIS World of Tennis – Big numbers for Nadal and Federer. Tsonga and Sharapova celebrate their birthday. Laura Robson will undergo surgery. British tennis stars rally for Baltacha and who is playing where. Joshua Bosco

 

Federer 950th, Nadal 300th on clay

On Friday World No.4 Roger Federer won his 950th tour-level match after beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2-6 7-6(6) 6-1 in the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion is just the third player to reach the 950 win milestone in the Open Era after Jimmy Connors (1253) and Ivan Lendl (1071).

The day before, World No.1 Rafael Nadal became the 11th player to win 300 tour-level clay court matches in the Open Era when he defeated Italian Andreas Seppi 6-1 6-3 in just 74 minutes.

He then lost in the quarterfinals to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer who is not far behind him with 270 wins in this special ranking, topped by Guillermo Villas with an incredible 644 clay victories.

Happy Birthday Maria & Jo-Wilfried

World No.12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrated his 29th birthday on Thursday coming back from a set down to beat Fabio Fognini 5-7 6-3 6-0. After the match he was congratulated by the crowd with a rendition of “Bon Anniversaire”.

Maria Sharapova turned 27th on Saturday and she celebrated by adding Speedy, a new candy in the form of a Porsche 911, to her Sugarpova range.

Robson wrist concerns

Laura Robson announced last week that she will undergo surgery to resolve the wrist problem that has been troubling her for more than a year. The British No.1 will now miss both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

In a message on her Facebook page she said that she will be operated at the Mayo Clinic by Dr Richard Berger, the same specialist that recently performed surgery on Juan Martin del Potro.

Rally for Bally

Many British players will get together on 15th June to hold a fundraising event to show their support for former British No.1 Elena Baltacha, who was recently diagnosed with liver cancer.

The event, dubbed “Rally for Bally”, will see the likes of Andy & Jamie Murray, Heather Watson, Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski and WTA legend Martina Navratilova (who herself survived breast cancer in 2010) take on each other in mixed doubles matches at Queen’s Club, Eastbourne and Birmingham.

The proceedings from the Rally, which follows a similar event held last year in support of Ross Hutchins, will be equally split between the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis.

Who’s playing where

After the first ATP Masters 1000 of the season in Monte Carlo, some players will rest before Madrid while others will be playing in Barcelona or in Bucharest.

World No.1 Rafael Nadal will try to shrug off his shock defeat in Monte Carlo with a ninth title at the ATP 500 event in Barcelona. Here he will be joined by fellow Spaniards David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo, Nicolas Almagro, Fernando Verdasco and, among others, Fabio Fognini, Kei Nishikori, Ernests Gulbis and Benoit Paire.

In Bucharest Lukas Rosol will have a hard time defending his 2013 title in a draw including eight Top 50 players including top seed Grigor Dimitrov, Mikhail Youzhny, Gael Monfils and Andreas Seppi.

World No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska will lead a star-studded draw at the Premier event in Stuttgart. Aga will be joined by defending champion Maria Sharapova and other Top 10 players like Simona Halep, Jelena Jankovic and Australian Open semi-finalist Dominika Cibulkova. German players Andrea Petkovic and Julia Georges have received wildcards for the event.

In Marrakesh Francesca Schiavone will be up against Daniela Hantuchova, Elina Svitolina, Bojana Jovanovski and Garbine Muguruza as she tries to win back-to-back titles at the Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem.

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Next Gen Star Alexei Popyrin Fears He May Be Forced To Play US Open Despite Health Concerns

Like many other lower ranked players on the Tour, the 20-year-old finds himself in a tough situation.

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One of Australia’s rising stars has said he is worried that he may have to play at the US Open against his will or risk losing a chunk of ranking points.

 

Alexei Popryin has raised his concerns about travelling to the New York major in August amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in some areas of the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were 52,228 New Cases of the virus on July 5th compared to 24 hours before. Furthermore, the governor of New York recently announced that people travelling from 16 different states in America are now required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they visit the city. According to USA Today this ruling applies to roughly 48% of the entire American population.

Despite the concerns, the organisers of the US Open have insisted they will be able to hold the tournament in a safe manner and will be implementing various restrictions. Including holding the event without fans for the first time and conducting frequent testing of players. However world No.103 Popryin admits that he still has his concerns about attending.

“There are talks regarding the US Open but I really don’t want to go with the situation in America right now,” Popyrin said at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown over the weekend.
“But we have to see if we would be forced to go because of ranking points.
“If the ranking points won’t be frozen, then most of us would be forced to go play cause our ranking will drop and we wouldn’t have any say in it.
“But if the rankings are frozen, then I am staying here.
“I will stay in Europe where it’s safe with my family.”

Popryin has a considerable amount of points to defend in New York after reaching the third round there last year. Therefore, if he skips the event he faces dropping further down the rankings. Something which will then impact on his chances of entering the bigger tournaments later in the year. Usually the cut off for Grand Slam tournaments is around 105.

It is still to be announced as to what will happen with the ranking points system at the US Open and if there will be any adjustments made due to the pandemic. Although organisers will likely be against any idea to remove them from the event as it is a key factor to attract players to take part.

Another player to voice their concerns about the US Open is France’s Benoit Paire, who has said he would not attend the event if it was taking place today. Speaking to RMC Sport the world No.22 said he would rather not go to the event if he meant that he would be ‘taking a risk’ with his health.

“Going to the United States would be at risk of catching it. I am a great professional and I am one of those who would always like to play tennis, but your health is the most important thing,” he said.
“If going there is taking the risk of catching the disease and staying quarantined when I return, I prefer not to go, really.’
“It looks like if we play the US Open, we will have to sacrifice not to play the Mutua Madrid Open or the Masters 1000 in Rome.”

Meanwhile, world No.3 Dominic Thiem recently told Austrian media that he believes a final decision regarding the Grand Slam will be made within a week. Something that is yet to be confirmed by officials.

Should it go ahead, the US Open will start on August 31st.

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REPORT: Former Spanish Tennis Star In Talks To Coach Alexander Zverev

A former world No.3 could be returning to the Tour later this year in a new position.

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Tennis sensation Alexander Zverev could soon be mentored by somebody whose career he ended last year at the Madrid Open.

 

Spanish newspaper Marca have reported that the world No.7 is set to enter in a 15-day trial with former French Open finalist David Ferrer where the two will get to know each other better. Ferrer has reportedly travelled to Monte Carlo to start working alongside Germany’s top player. Should everything go well, the two could start a formal partnership in September ahead of the European clay-court swing of the Tour, which has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both men are already fairly familiar with each other after facing off nine times on the ATP Tour, including three times last year. Zverev was the last player Ferrer played against at the Madrid Open before officially retiring from the sport at the age of 37.

“He’s the most respectful guy for me on Tour, and one of the most loved people on the Tour as well,” Zverev told reporters in the Spanish capital following their match.

Whilst never winning a Grand Slam, Ferrer achieved numerous accolades throughout his career. Including spending 4914 consecutive days in the world’s top 50, winning 27 ATP titles and achieving a ranking high of No.3 back in 2013. Overall, he has played 1011 matches on the ATP Tour (including Grand Slams) which is more than John McEnroe.

Should Ferrer receive the green light, Zverev will be the first high-profile player he will be responsible for. The Spaniard had previously hinted at his desire to enter coaching with his long time objective being to captain the Spanish Davis Cup team. He is also currently serving as the tournament director of the Barcelona Open.

“I would be very proud to be able to be (Davis Cup captain),” Ferrer told Marca in April 2019. “I also understand that this is very far away and there are players who are ahead. First, I have to train as a professional in teaching (coaching).”

Neither Ferrer or Zverev has publicly commented on the report. At present Zverev is coached on the Tour by his father who guided him to the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January.

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Father Of Dominic Thiem Condemns Criticism Of Novak Djokovic’s Role In Adria Tour Fiasco

Wolfgang Thiem has come to the defence of the world No.1 before suggesting that COVID-19 cases among players at charity events are worth it.

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The father of world No.3 Dominic Thiem has said it is ‘too cheap’ to blame Novak Djokovic over the outbreak of COVID-19 at the controversial Adria Tour.

 

Wolfgang Thiem lent his support behind the 17-time Grand Slam champion during an interview with Austrian newspaper Die Presses on Friday. The Adria Tour, which was founded by Djokovic, was cancelled following an outbreak of the virus during the Zadar leg of the event in Croatia with Grigor Dimitrov being the first player to confirm a positive test. Shortly after, Djokovic and Borna Coric also tested positive as well as some coaching staff. Viktor Troicki also contracted COVID-19, but only played the first leg of the Tour in Belgrade.

Throughout the Belgrade and Zadar events organisers were criticised for a lack of social distancing being applied. Players were seen playing basketball matches, attending nightclubs and interacting with the public. Although all of those actions were in line with local government rules.

“I do not approve of what happened on the Adria Tour, but condemning Djokovic and saying he screwed it up is too cheap for me,” Wolfgang commented.
“Of course the dance at the disco was not optimal, but Djokovic basically did nothing wrong. They just got a little sloppy, they were euphoric,” he continued.

Djokovic, who has been at the centre of the criticism, is yet to publicly speak about the incident. On Friday it was confirmed that both him and his wife Jelena have now tested negative for the virus. 10 days after they were first diagnosed.

As for Thiem, his father said the Austrian tennis star will be donating his money from the event to charity. Although he did not say how much that would be or which cause it would go towards. It comes just days after Djokovic donated 40,000 euros to the Serbian town of Novi Pazar, who has been hit hard by the pandemic.

Speaking about the outbreak of COVID-19 among players, Wolfgang has suggested that it is worth it if it meant raising money for charity.

“I prefer that there be a few more cases of coronavirus and be able to raise a few thousand euros for a childhood cancer clinic,” he explained.

Since the Adria Tour, Thiem has played at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) in France. He has undergone five COVID-19 tests in recent days with all of them testing negative for the virus. The 26-year-old withdrew from the UTS on Wednesday to focus on the upcoming Thiem 7 event in Kitzbuhel which will start on July 7th.

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