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ITF reveals anti-doping stats

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TENNIS – ITF reveals anti-doping stats. The International Tennis Federation has published their anti-doping statistics. These show an improvement with 449 tests done out of competition compared to just 10 in 2010. But if the overall improvement is still remarkable, the numbers are very far from the sports where controls are the most rigorous. Giulio Gasparin

By the end of the last season, British cyclist Mark Cavendish attacked the International Tennis Federation from the pages of the Daily Telegraph for how little control was done on doping.

He reported that the ITF had conducted only 21 blood tests during the 2011 off-season, while in the same period, the cycling federation had conducted more than 4,000.

The latest data that the tennis federation revealed show how lots has been done to make sure that tennis would come as a sport that fights doping and from the 10 blood tests of the 2010 off-season, in 2013 449 tests were done out of competition.

But if the overall improvement is still remarkable, the numbers are very far from the sports where controls are the most rigorous, even considering that the ones showed by the ITF do not include the tests organised by national federations.

Novak Djokovic no longer than last year labelled the anti-doping officers as “negligent and unprofessional” and despite the growth in tests, it seems that some of the numbers showed by the freshly revealed documents prove his statement.

As it is almost common knowledge, doping during competition is growing smaller in every sport, but the same cannot be said about the off-season.

Athletes use banned substances during the off-season to improve their ability to sustain harder trainings and therefore improve their physical capacities ahead of the season of competitions.

For this reason, the role of off-season tests is pivotal for the control over athletes and the patrolling for clean sport.

Thus said, it is fundamental that controls during the season and especially during the big events keep being enforced, but it is during the off-season that the biggest efforts should be aimed.

The introduction of the famous whereabouts surely helped to give an important message in the fight against doping, but as stats reveal, not all the top players received many visits by inspectors during their winter “holidays”.

Andy Murray heard the doorbell ringing only between four and six times and the same happened to Djokovic and Serena Williams. Strangely it is the same range in which Swedish Sofia Arvidsson fell, despite, with no offence taken, she has never achieved as much as the other.

But if some players seem to receive more visits from anti-doping officers than from their families (Sara Errani, Roberta Vinci, David Ferrer, Petra Kvitova and many others have taken more than seven tests in the off-season and as many in the regular season), some others did not even have the chance to offer a tea to them.

The most striking case is the one of Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentine did not get to face any test during the off-season, despite finishing the year as world number five.

But he is not the only one being deprived from the pleasure of an off-season test: young up and coming promise Eugenie Bouchard and former world number one Jelena Jankovic lead the list of top players with no off-season tests.

It can be argued that tennis, differently from other sports, has never assisted to clamorous cases of doping, but it is clear that lots more need to be done to prevent any chance of that to happen in the future.

However, the effort that the federation is putting in the battle remains remarkable and the publication of data like the ones released in the past days is a sign of transparency that other sports should follow.

For more detailed data consult the archive from ITF at http://www.itftennis.com/antidoping/statistics/data.aspx

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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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