Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 12th of May 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 12th of May 2014

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TENNIS – Mardy Fish to try and qualify for the Golf US Open. The list of qualified players and Wild Cards in Rome. Dinara Safina retires. IPTL moves the opener to Manila and Nadal becomes an honorary citizen of Madrid. Joshua Bosco

 

Fish to play US Open qualifiers

While other tennis players are busy on clay, former World No.7 Mardy Fish is trying to qualify for the US Open… not the one played in Flushing Meadows though.

The American is taking part in local qualifiers hoping to earn a place in the prestigious golf Major Championship and, after shooting a 73 at the TPC Valencia in LA, he is now the first alternate. The tournament will take place in Pinehurst, North Carolina from June 12th to June 15th.

All we can say is, good luck Mardy!

Qualifiers and wildcards in Rome

Italians Simone Bolelli, Marco Cecchinato, Paolo Lorenzi and Filippo Volandri have all received wildcards for the BNL Internazionali d’Italia which are underway in Rome. Among the seven qualifiers we find 33 year old Stephane Robert, who got himself noticed at this year’s Australian Open when he became the first Lucky Loser to reach the fourth round – where he eventually lost to Murray in four sets – and Italian World No.296 Stefano Travaglia, who will play his first ATP World Tour level match against another Italian, World No.164 Bolelli.

In the women’s draw Italians Nastassja Burnett, Camila Giorgi and Karin Knapp have received wildcards while Mona Barthel , Lauren Davis, Belinda Bencic and Christina McHale are among the qualifiers for the main draw. Paula Ormaechea will play in the first round as a Lucky Loser.

Who’s not playing in Rome

Juan Martin del Potro, Nicolas Almagro, Richard Gasquet, Florian Mayer, Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire have all announced their withdrawal before the start of the tournament. Novak Djokovic, who didn’t play in Madrid, is expected to play here in Rome while World No.4 Roger Federer is still in doubt after his wife Mirka gave birth to twins last Tuesday.

Victoria Azarenka is still off court due to her ongoing foot injury, while Kaia Kanepi and former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki announced their withdrawal last week. Serena Williams, who withdrew from her Madrid quarterfinal match against Petra Kvitova due to a left thigh injury, is already in Rome and expects to be ready to play her second round match against either Romina Oprandi or Andrea Petkovic.

Dinara Safina officially retires

Former World No.1 Dinara Safina has officially called time on her career, three years after playing her last match on the WTA Tour.

“I played the last professional tournament of my career here in Madrid and that’s why I think it’s the best place for me to quit the game” said Safina, who kept delaying the official announcement in the hope of recovering from the back injury sustained during her second round match against Julia Georges in May 2011.

IPTL opener moves to Manila

Due to a tense political situation in Thailand, where the Prime Minister was ousted for nepotism by the Constitutional Court after months of anti-government protests, IPTL organisers have decided to move the first leg of the tournament from Bangkok to Manila, in the Philippines.

League founder and doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi released a statement saying that bringing tennis to new audiences has always been one of the IPTL’s objectives and Manila is a perfect city to do so, thanks to world class indoor venues which hold more than 20,000 spectators.

This means that Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Victoria Azarenka will now represent Manila against Singapore, Dubai and Mumbai. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams are among other players who will take part in this new competition, set to start in late November.

Nadal is now a Honorary Citizen

Last Monday World No.1 Rafael Nadal was awarded the Honorary Citizenship of the city of Madrid in a ceremony that took place at the Cibeles Palace, the Madrid City Hall.

The honorary title, which is the highest honour that the city can grant to people who were not born there, is intended as an acknowledgment of Nadal’s “extraordinary sports career” and to enforce the close tie that binds the tennis player to the Spanish capital.

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Andy Murray Surging In Confidence After Reaching First ATP Quarter-Final Since 2019

The 34-year-old believes he is getting better with every match played on the Tour as he eyes a spot in the final later this week.

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Andy Murray (image via https://twitter.com/ATPTour_ES)

Former world No.1 Andy Murray says he is starting to gain more belief in his game after reaching the quarter-finals of the Moselle Open on Wednesday.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion rallied to a 6-3, 6-3, win over Canada’s Vasek Pospisil in the French city. Murray dropped serve only once at the start of the second set but broke his opponent four times en route to the victory. It is the first time he has registered back-to-back wins on the ATP Tour since Wimbledon and it is the first time he has reached a quarter-final since winning the 2019 Antwerp Open.

Murray showed glimmers of his best tennis recently at the US Open where he took Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets in the first round before losing. However, in his following tournament on the Challenger circuit he lost in the second round to world No.154 Roman Safiullin. Despite the mixed performances, the Brit says his fitness continues to improve and he believes he is heading in the right direction.

“For me, this period of the last few years has been the most I have played really,” Murray said following his win over Pospisil.
“My body feels good and I am starting to gain just a little bit of confidence with each match, starting to see the points and how I want to play them, which is great.
“There have been times in the past year where I have been a little bit confused and not seeing how the points are developing which was always a strong part of my game.
“It made me feel quite uncomfortable on court when I was feeling that way, so I am starting to get that back and the results are coming, my tennis is getting better.”

The 34-year-old, who now plays on the Tour with a metal hip after undergoing two operations, is targeting a return back into the world’s top 100 for the first time since 2018. He came agonisingly close in July when he reached 102. At present, he is currently ranked 113 but will climb at least four places following his run in Metz this week.

In the next round Murray will play either top seed Hubert Hurkacz or former top 10 player Lucas Pouille. Both players are likely to be a stern challenge for the three-time Grand Slam champion who is hoping to reach the final for the first time since 2007.

“I would love to get another opportunity to play here in the final, but there is a lot of tennis to be played before then potentially against the number one seed in the next round,” he reflected.
“It is not going to be easy if I want to reach the final, but I am playing well and have an opportunity.”

Murray has won 42 ATP titles and has earned more than $62M in prize money so far in his career.

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Diego Schwartzman Receives Threats On Social Media Following Shock Davis Cup Defeat

The world No.15 is the latest player to speak out about recieving abusive messages on social media.

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The weekend has been an emotional rollercoaster for Diego Schwartzman, who suffered ‘one of the worst’ losses of his career before helping secure victory for his country in their Davis Cup tie against Belarus.

 

On Saturday the world No.15 was stunned by unranked 18-year-old Daniil Ostapenkov who is yet to play a professional match on the pro Tour. Ostapenkov is currently ranked 63 in the world on the junior circuit. The comprehensive victory shocked the Argentinian team who was hosting the tie at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.

Despite the shock upset, Schwartman managed to redeem himself the following day when he defeated Alexander Zgirovsky 6-1, 6-2. That victory handed his country an unassailable 3-1 lead in their tie and secured their place in the 2022 Davis Cup qualifiers which will take place next March.

Not only playing Davis, but in Buenos Aires, with a lot of people you don’t see, it’s not easy. My level can be and has to be much better. After the game on Saturday I had a difficult day in the spirit of being able to get up and enjoy with the group,” La Nacion quoted Schwartzman as saying.
“The most normal thing was that we won the series. It’s what everyone expected. But when you have a very difficult day at work like it was on Saturday and then you win, it excites you because you have some internal things withheld.”

Between those two matches, Schwartzman revealed that he was trolled on social media by some people unhappy about his loss in the tie. The 2020 French Open semi-finalist said he received criticism and even threats from some asking him to leave his home country. Something he admits affected him at times.

“It was one of the worst days of my career,” Schwartzman commented on his loss to Zgirovsky. “I lost to an unranked, inexperienced player. All that already affects (me) a lot. Although 80 or 90 percent of the people are always encouraging (me), there was a minority who criticized me with bad intentions.’
“I received threats, insults and requests not to return to Argentina. More or less, it affects (me)”.

Schwartzman is not the first player to speak out about online abuse. During the US Open Shelby Rogers said she was expecting to receive ‘death threats’ following her loss to Emma Raducanu who went on to win the title. Sloane Stephens has also previously spoken out about being the victim of racism online.

The 29-year-old says he has previously tried to interact with those who have trolled him on social media to find out why they are doing so.

Sometimes I start to answer some messages and I ask those people if they realize what they are sending,” Schwartzman said during his press conference. “The vast majority apologize and say they had not realized it. But at the moment it hurts. That very ill-intentioned criticism is the only bad thing about social networks.”

Schwartzman has won four ATP titles and earned more than $10M in prize money so far in his career.

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Spanish Veteran Feliciano Lopez Addresses Future On The Tour

23 years after he played his first main draw match on the ATP Tour, Lopez says his longevity in the sport has been achieved with the help of of some luck.

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Feliciano Lopez of Spain is pictured during the semi-final of ATP Fever-Tree Championships tennis tournament at Queen's Club in west London on June 20, 2019.

Feliciano Lopez has dismissed any speculation that he could retire in the coming weeks after saying he is taking life on the Tour in his stride.

 

The 39-year-old Spaniard is currently the second oldest player in the world’s top 200 after Roger Federer, who is a year older than him. Lopez made his ATP Tour debut at the 1998 Barcelona Open which was before the birth of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. In June he became the 10th active player to record his 500th win on the Tour.

Currently ranked 111th in the world, some are starting to wonder how much longer Lopez will continue playing. So far this season he has achieved a win-loss record of 9-19 with his best performance being a run to the quarter-finals of the Mallorca Open which was held on the grass. It was in Mallorca where he defeated Karen Khachanov who is the only top 30 player he has beaten so far in 2021.

I play year-by-year, the last 6-7 years have been like this, a tennis player at that age cannot think about extending his career. After turning 30 I have been lucky, I have obtained the best results of my career,” Lopez told reporters on Friday.
It is not very common for players my age, at (almost) 40 years to continue playing in the best tournaments.” He added.

Throughout his career, Lopez has impressively played in a record 78 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments dating back to the 2002 French Open. During that period he has reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament on four occasions.

“I don’t play to break records, what makes me most excited is to continue playing Grand Slams. For me, maintaining that record (78 consecutive Grand Slams played) is very nice, but more to follow. Being competitive,” he commented on the milestone.
“It is difficult for someone to overcome it because it is 20 years in a row without missing a great one. I have had continuity and enormous luck. Those of my generation are practically all retired.”

Away from the court, the former world No.12 is the current tournament director of the Madrid Open. Making him one of a few players historically to both be playing on the Tour and managing a tournament at the same time. Recently it was confirmed that Madrid will continue hosting it’s combined event until at least 2030 following a renewed agreement between the city council and the Madrid trophy promotion.

Lopez has won a total of seven ATP titles so far in his career and has earned more than $18M in prize money.

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