Mutua Madrid Open 2014. Interviews. Rafael Nadal: “I suffered a similar situation in Australia this year. So I know what I'm talking about and how bitter is it” - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Interviews

Mutua Madrid Open 2014. Interviews. Rafael Nadal: “I suffered a similar situation in Australia this year. So I know what I'm talking about and how bitter is it”

Published

on

TENNIS Mutua Madrid Open 2014 – R. Nadal d K. Nishikori 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 ret. An interview with Rafael Nadal.

Q. Congratulations for your fourth title. Maybe it’s a little bit bitter because of the Nishikori’s retirement. Happened the same thing to you in Australia, or is it tennis?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, it’s not tennis. There are circumstances, and sometimes those things can happen. I’m sorry for him. I’m really sorry. Of course when you have the dynamic that he’s having, when you suffer something like that, it’s really tough, he’s hard.

Well, obviously I suffered a similar situation, nearly the same, in Australia this year. So I know what I’m talking about and how bitter is it, especially when you’re playing an important match. So for me it was that day was, and for him it was this day. That’s the way it is. All of us have a moment have to face it, and today it was his day. He had to face it today.

Of course for me it’s a really important title.

 

Q. Congratulations for another Masters 1000 for your career. I wanted to ask you about Nishikori. Seeing how he played the first set and the rest of the tournament and Barcelona, too, do you think that that potentially he can be No. 1 of the world?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I have no idea. To be No. 1 is pretty complicated. At the end, you know, I don’t like to put someone so high very fast, or when someone is not playing is well just throw them to the ground quickly. You have to keep your feet on the ground in every moment and think calmly.

Kei promised a lot of things, promised a lot a couple years ago, and he’s still very young. He has had a couple injuries. Whenever you suffer injuries everything is really complicated. I’m sure that he’s going to be within the best. I’m sure if he keeps playing that level he’s going to be a clear candidate to be up there.

To be No. 1 he has to show if he’s capable of playing with high regularity all year and being able to win on all surfaces.

To be No. 1 today it’s quite expensive. There are some players that play few matches, and to be No. 1, you cannot commit any errors. You have to commit very few errors, and the correct place.

If not, it’s really tough.

 

Q. Before he suffered, did you see another possibility to come back to the match? What was the percentage?

RAFAEL NADAL: You know I never look at the percentages when I’m playing. I just looking at the next point. That was my percentage, the next point, then the next one, and on and on. That’s all.

You know, I went through a really complicated moment in the first set. I think I played a really high level with the first two points. I played with aggressiveness, and then I was blocked.

There was some moments where, I don’t know, I couldn’t find myself. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to play or I was missing intensity, I was just mentally blocked. I had to go over that block.

It’s also true that I had some moments to go over it, and I couldn’t do it, because at the beginning of the second set he played really well. He did a break and we were playing quite well. I missed two returns and he did an ace.

So there are circumstances of the match that strike you all during the match. When you’re blocked, you just need a spark to go out there and compete again. I think the most positive thing for me is that in the second set, suffering, having a bad time out there, I managed to find the way to compete. You know, I was competitive on the second set.

I was being competitive. I had to to get back into the match and I think I was getting closer. I think I was. I think when I broke him, I think he was not that bad. I think. I’m talking honestly. I try to speak honestly whenever it happens to me and when it doesn’t.

I think when I managed to recover from the break in the second set he was playing normally. I think I saved a couple good points. I battled with a lot of points to play aggressively. It’s true, after going back and doing the break that he was just gone. He was going down and he couldn’t play anymore.

So I was being competitive. I don’t know if I would have been able to win the match. I’m not trying to think on that. In this moment I’m pretty happy because of my attitude. Within the negativeness that was going on in the match, I was still with a lot of illusion. I still had the energy to keep on trying, even though it was pretty tough.

In the end, I was also thinking that I just    after the match that I lost in Barcelona, after the match that I lost in Australia, the match that I also lost in Indian Wells    I was also pretty close to winning in Dolgopolov    in some way I wanted to think that this year, you know, I just deserved something.

I was just fighting, because if I had the option I was going to be there to pick it up. It’s for sure that if I didn’t fight that tennis wouldn’t have given me that prize.

 

Q. The first day that you sat here you said that you had some doubts. How do you leave Madrid to face Roland Garros?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, much better, of course. Of course whenever you win in sport, well, it’s something basic. It’s a vital part of sport.

Because whenever you win, you see things more clearly. You see again how to play. You are calm once again. You know how to strike the ball properly in the key moments.

Even though I think that today I did a not so good first set, I think I did a great tournament. This is the reality of the situation. You know, I didn’t do this in Monte Carlo or Barcelona. It’s true in Barcelona against Dodig I did a little bit better. Against Almagro, I played a set and a half pretty well, but without being secure in what I was doing.

That security here in this tournament, I’ve really had it here. I have felt again that I had that    well, you know, it’s really complicated to explain. It’s a feeling that you have when you’re in the court. You know, the feeling of being secure.

The feelings that the things that you want to do you’re doing, that things are going in the line you want them to. I think I did that with Berdych and Nieminen, and with Bautista I did it for a long time.

Overall I think I did a pretty complete tournament. For me, you know, I should have maintained the level that I played during the first two matches during the whole tournament, which was the ultimate match for me to close this tournament.

I also have to face a complicated match and know how to battle them. That makes you stronger. I also needed to suffer and face complicated situations. I needed to go over them.

In this situation I hadn’t gone over them in the previous tournaments, and here I have. I won here, and it’s a pretty important tournament for me.

 

Q. Rafa, are you working on going up to the net? Today you didn’t do a lot of that, but it was very effective. The second serve, sometimes people that return well, they attack it. Are you working on those things?

RAFAEL NADAL: The second serve, you know, I served that way because of my general block. You know, my second serve was because of my confidence, because of my mental block. When going up to the net, you cannot go to the net when you are two meters behind the line returning.

Whenever you striking the ball, if you don’t have the confidence that it’s going to go in the court, you cannot go up. You do it three or four times and you see the space and you go up. That’s basic and logical in tennis. You cannot go to the net when you’re striking a good ball and then you throw three balls out of the court.

You just cannot go up. To go up to the net you need regularity. That’s what gives you the opportunity to go up to the net when you have opportunities.

 

Q. Two questions: First all, the crowd was of course supporting you. But as you just said, you were a little bit blocked. Was the crowd a support? And then secondly, you said that you are no longer 20 years old and we have another generation of tennis players coming. Which point do you think you are in in your career now?

RAFAEL NADAL: First of all, in my life I’ve had the feeling that the crowd, whenever I played, goes against me whenever I play home. And when I say that, the pressure is more than what the audience gives me. True that today whenever I had that negative feeling, whenever you’re playing home, maybe makes you a little bit more blocked because you want to do things properly.

You don’t want to disappoint all the people that are supporting you. You just want to do things well. But at the same time that I say that, thanks to the support of them. In the second set I was capable of competing again.

With what I was doing, the crowd just pushed me a little bit more and gave me the rest. So if you ask me, I’m always going to choose to play with the crowd supporting me, in my favor, of course. Obviously.

And talking about my career, I don’t know what you want to know. I am where I am. I’m 27 years old, nearly 28 in a few weeks. I don’t know. How many years have I been on the tour? 12? That’s a lot.

But I’m where I am. I’m competing for the tournaments that I’m competing for. I feel well physically. I’m feeling better and better physically, better than a year ago. This is the most important thing.

Mentally I still have the illusion for what I’m doing. It still makes me happy. I still feel fortunate for doing what I’m doing.

So those things make it worth it for me. Just doesn’t make me think on which moment I’m in my career. Just makes me think next week I’ll play in Rome and the next one, Roland Garros.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

 

Q. Can I get your assessment of the way you played today and what it means for you to have won this tournament four times playing in front of your home crowd in your home tournament?

RAFAEL NADAL: Always win at home is more special than wining anywhere. Have the chance to play in front of your crowd and enjoy the feeling, the full support, is unforgettable for me. This city give me a lot. Give me everything.

The feeling that it gives me to play in] Spain, and Madrid in this case, is very difficult to find this feeling away from here, no?

So a very important victory for me. Very sorry for Nishikori. I really hope that it’s nothing too bad and he will have the chance to compete very soon again. He’s very important for our tour.

Japan is a big market. He’s a good guy. He’s a fantastic tennis player. So he’s doing everything great, and I want to congratulate him for everything.

 

Q. Maybe somebody ask you in Spanish, but you said something on court after the match that he was kind of crying. You go there to say something to him. Could you tell me what you said to him?

RAFAEL NADAL: Just I was asking to him where was the pain. I thought was the back. He told me that was the leg.

I just tried to hurry up him, to give my support to him, because I know how tough is have these problems on court in front of a big crowd. Happened to me a few times in my career, and I can tell you that this is not fun.

These moments are tough to accept, and I felt very sorry for him.

 

Q. Maybe this also you answer, but could you just tell me your impression of Kei Nishikori, especially in the first set?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, he’s an unbelievable player. He’s a player that he will fight to be in London in the Masters Cup this year. I am sure of that. I really hope that the injury is not too bad and he will be able to compete in Roland Garros.

And he’s doing fantastic things since the beginning of the season. He’s playing at his best level of his career, and that’s great. I am really happy for him. It’s good to have a player like him on the tour.

 

Q. Congratulations on another victory. What was it that surprised you most about Kei’s performance in the first set, if there was anything that surprised you? And even when you were losing it did you feel you could still come back and win the match?

RAFAEL NADAL: Normally I am a positive guy in general, so I always believe that I can find a solution.

But it’s true that for moments it was really tough, because I really didn’t have not one good feeling.

So was frustrating for moments during the match, but it’s true that I was fighting and fighting mentally. Physically always is a little easier part. Mentally is the most difficult part.

I was trying to fight a lot mentally to change the direction of the match and to change my personal feelings. That was the thing that I was focused on, because I know he was playing great.

Okay, nothing to say with that. The thing that I had to do was play better on me, no?

I need to forget about the pressure and forget about the bad feelings and try to find my game.

ATP

EXCLUSIVE: Ex-No.1 Ana Ivanovic Backs Jannik Sinner To Wins More Slams

The former tennis star shares her thoughts about Italy’s new sporting sensation with Ubitennis.

Published

on

Image via https://twitter.com/anaivanovic/

Jannik Sinner’s triumph at the Australian Open was ‘incredible’ in the eyes of fellow Grand Slam winner Ana Ivanovic. 

At Melbourne Park Sinner became the first Italian player to win the tournament after staging an epic fightback against Daniil Medvedev in the final where he clawed his way back from two sets down to win. Something that has only been achieved in a title match at the Australian Open once before by Rafael Nadal. Earlier in the tournament, he also scored wins over fifth seed Andrey Rublev before ending Novak Djokovic’s 33-match winning streak in the semi-finals. 

The triumph of the 22-year-old has been hailed by Ivanovic who was two years younger than Sinner when she won the 2008 French Open. Ivanovic was one of the stars of women’s tennis during her playing days, winning 15 Tour-level titles and spending 12 weeks as world No.1. She was also runner-up at the 2007 French Open and 2008 Australian Open. 

It was incredible,” Ivanovic tells Ubitennis of Sinner’s latest achievement. “The way he played the whole tournament. He really showed mental strength and endurance. The way he strikes the ball with such a sweet spot was great to watch.”

One of those guiding Sinner on the Tour is experienced coach Darren Cahill who has also coached Ivanovic as part of the Adidas Player Development Program. Cahill has worked with some of the biggest names of the sport with his past clients also including Andy Murray, Lleyton Hewitt and Simona Halep. 

While the Australian is known by many in the sport, what is it like to work alongside him?

I always enjoyed working with Darren because he is so knowledgeable about tennis,” Ivanovic explained. 
“He was always giving me the best advice in the moments when you are the most under pressure. He always found words to calm me down and to point me in the right direction. 
“I was very happy when I saw him in Jannik’s box.”

Besides Cahill, Sinner’s team also includes co-coach Simone Vagnozzi, physio Giacomo Naldi and fitness trainer Umberto Ferrara.

Fame and the future 

Sinner was already a popular figure in his native Italy with thousands cheering on his run to the final of the ATP Finals in Turin last November. Shortly afterwards, he led his country to the Davis Cup title which was celebrated by a visit to the Quirinale Palace (residence of the Italian president) where he and his team mates were greeted by President Sergio Mattarella. 

However, his popularity has surged following his Australian Open win with his Instagram following reportedly increasing by around 800,000 to a total of 2.4M. To put that into context, the only active ATP players to have a larger following than him are Rafael Nadal, Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and Nick Kyrgios. 

He has held a one-to-one meeting with the Prime Minister of Italy, received congratulations from the Pope and visited the historic Rome Colosseum alongside two government ministers (Gennaro Sangiuliano and Daniela Santanché). 

It is fair to say that the tennis star’s profile is exploding which itself could pose a new challenge. Fortunately, Ivanovic has some advice for Sinner to follow in the coming months.  

“Now it is a different time with much more assent on social media vs in 2008 (when Ivanovic won the French Open),” she said. 
“I think the most important is to follow his path and his training, but I am sure he is doing that. He has a good team and support system behind him, so he can focus on his goals and rhythm.”

Should he stay on his path, the question remains how good could he become in the future? He is only the fifth Italian player to win a major singles title and the first man to do so since 1976. He also has 10 other ATP titles to his name and reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year. 

“He has a really good overall game style. He is mentally and physically super strong,” Ivanovic commented.
“If he just keeps doing what he is doing there are many more Grand Slam titles for him. I really enjoy watching him. He seems like a very nice person, which is very beautiful to see.”

Ivanovic, who married former football player Bastian Schweinsteiger and has three children, attended the Linz Open in Austria last week as a guest of honor. She recently announced a partnership with haircare company Schwarzkopf and has served as a National Ambassador for UNICEF Serbia since 2007. 

Continue Reading

Interviews

EXCLUSIVE: The ATP, Tennis Data And It’s Growing Demand

Ubitennis speaks to the Head of Product at TDI. An independent joint venture between ATP and ATP Media that was formed in 2020 to manage and commercialise data across a variety of global markets

Published

on

By

By Federico Bertelli

Another Grand Slam is over. As customary, the days following the event is a good time to catch our breath. 

Ubitennis brings to our readers an interview with Anthony Taylor, Head of Product at Tennis Data Innovation (TDI). TDI is a branch of the ATP Tour. In our exclusive Q&A we discuss what Tennis Data Innovation is and why it is becoming a key component for every player. 

UBITENNIS: First of all, thank you for your time, Anthony. Let’s start with a brief overview about TDI and your role there. 

AT: It’s a pleasure to discuss TDI’s role in the tennis world with Ubitennis. I am the head of product at TDI, a role that encompasses promotion and development of initiatives by TDI. TDI, a joint venture between the ATP Tour and ATP Media created in 2020, is responsible for collecting, managing & commercialising data & streaming across all ATP events from Challengers to Masters 1000s.  As for data, we collect it from various sources, including chair umpire data and optical tracking (like Hawk-Eye data). We aggregate all available ATP-level data points and derive informative products for the market from them, operating in the realms of betting, media, and player performance.

UBITENNIS: You’ve given us a great overview of your operations. Speaking of data analysis, just to be clear: Can we say TDI is now the sole official entry point for ATP level data point registration? 

AT: Yes, TDI is the single source of truth for ATP event data. We collect data point by point from the chair umpire, what we call “level 1” data. But we don’t stop there. We collect deeper data to create advanced, easily understandable metrics that can enhance fan engagement and be used for player analysis. This approach is already established in other sports, like the NBA or Premier League football. We use various data sources beyond chair umpire data, including optical detections like Hawkeye and other providers. These provide spatial tracking of ball movement, player positioning, and shot physics (speed, spin, net height, etc.). With this comprehensive data, we fuel a range of metrics like winners, unforced errors, shot distribution (forehand/backhand, rally length, net points won), and even game pattern analysis (offensive and defensive shots, counterattack exchanges). 

We also focus on synthesizing these metrics into significant, easily interpreted numbers that reflect shot quality. We’re showcasing infographics on our X and Instagram accounts that do just this: offering comparative indices and ratings for shots on a scale of 0 to 10. The aim? To quantify how well a player is performing in a match compared to themselves, their opponent, and the tour average. 

Another interesting metric is on-court attitude: is a player predominantly offensive or defensive? Here too, we offer a condensed representation based on speed, spin, and shot depth. And we assess how well a player exploits offensive situations or manages defense. These insights are distributed through ATP media, enabling ATP TV commentators to provide advanced insights during broadcasts. We also make these metrics available to players via ATP TennisIQ, our player performance portal. 

UBITENNIS: You mentioned an analytics platform available to players, Tennis IQ. I’m curious to know more about what it offers to players and how they’re using it. 

AT: We have staff at tournaments providing support and guidance on using the platform, and the feedback has been positive. For instance, data expert Mike James, who works with Holger Rune, has utilized it. The idea is to democratize data analysis access, which often involves high costs. Now, players can download raw Hawkeye data for their data analysis teams or directly use the metrics and insights we provide on Tennis IQ. This opens access to certain types of information for everyone. There are service providers who continue to offer more refined analyses, but in any case, we’ve freed access to ATP data for player performance purposes. Our next step is to link game footage tags to shots, allowing coaches to recall video of each shot type.

UBITENNIS: Speaking of data’s role in engaging the public, what do you think is in store for the media? Do you have a strategy to standardize the use of new metrics, like expected goals in football? 

AT: Certainly, this is something we’re very aware of. Looking at American professional sports (like the NBA, NFL, MLB) and European football, statistics flow through media and betting spaces and are easily consumed by the public. It’s part of the storytelling. You can’t flood people with statistics, but a few targeted metrics can lay the foundation for a narrative that highlights new aspects or objectively explains trends. After all, our name signifies our ambition; we’re TENNIS Data Innovation, not just ATP Innovation. 

We want to help elevate the use of data & analytics across the sport. ATP Media commentators can also request on-demand statistics on dimensions they deem relevant; for example, analyzing Djokovic’s return performance across sets. We think it’s important to make these tools available to other broadcasters to elevate the entire experience. From an editorial perspective, it’s useful to provide these insights for constructing stories across the media ecosystem. Here too, we’re thinking not just about making tools available, but also about their ease of use and flexibility, possibly allowing for ad-hoc information requests through parametric query interfaces. The idea is to enable journalists to validate their story about a particular match and add depth to the narrative by highlighting and quantifying game patterns that are difficult to discern and quantify by eye. For example, we’ve presented analyses on social media about Sinner’s serve improvement in the second half of 2023 through succinct infographics.

Immagine

Source: X account ATP_insights

The goal is to move beyond elementary statistics like break points and first serves. We want to show the real reasons why a player performs a certain way or why a match has gone in a particular direction.

UBITENNIS: The objectives are clear, but what would you say is the strategy for implementing this ambitious plan? 

AT: At TDI, as you mentioned, we have social media accounts where we develop our analyses, which serve as laboratories to experiment with new ideas and gauge reactions to new metrics we propose. This testing ground helps us introduce these new ideas to ATP media, incorporating these nuances and perspectives into the content of ATP and ATP TV accounts. These aren’t for everyone; the idea is that we reach the public through commentaries, regardless of the platform (pay TV, free-to-air TV, OTT, etc.). The goal is to work closely with ATP media, where we have a significant fan base. It’s an organic strategy that touches on all points of contact, aiming to incorporate our insights into the narrative.

UBITENNIS: Moving to the betting space, what developments do you foresee and what metrics might bettors be looking at in the coming years? What could be the killer analytic in tennis? 

AT: We work closely with our partner in this space, Sportradar, to surface additional statistics for betting clients. We’re developing new products to provide more in-depth insights. In my opinion, performance rating, which synthesizes overall player performance into a single number, could stand out. For instance, in the Turin final between Sinner and Djokovic, Djokovic played an outstanding match: according to our performance rating, which ranges from 0 to 10, he recorded the highest value ever in an ATP match since we began our measurements. 

This validates the quality of the match and demonstrates that Djokovic’s victory was more due to his own merits than his opponent’s underperformance. Another example: Rune versus Djokovic in Turin. Rune played a high-level first set, and Djokovic was slightly below his level. However, when Djokovic raised the bar, Rune’s level began to drop, indicating his level was dropping. Finally, “momentum” could be another valuable metric for betting, as it provides immediate trend indicators for live betting.

UBITENNIS: Lastly, I’ve noticed that for some tournaments, ATP live scores provide richer statistics than others, particularly for ATP 250 and 500 clay tournaments where Hawkeye might not always be implemented. Can you confirm this? 

AT: We work closely with ATP tournaments. Historically, ATP data was presented by Infosys, and where Hawkeye was present, the statistics are complete. Any event where Hawkeye wasn’t present, Infosys were unable to present full statistics. However, I can say that we are now collecting richer data across all ATP tournaments.  In 2024, we aim to achieve uniformity in data collection and analysis for all ATP events.

Continue Reading

Interviews

EXCLUSIVE: Ukrainian Tennis Chief On Historic Australian Open Run, Russian Flag Incident And Exhibition Controversy

Published

on

Marta Kostyuk - Roland Garros 2023 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

The performances by a group of Ukrainian players at this year’s Australian Open have been hailed as a ‘fantastic example’ for future generations but a senior tennis official from the country. 

The executive director of the Ukrainian Tennis Federation (UTF), Evgeniy Zukin, has praised the historic breakthrough at Melbourne Park where three female players from his country have reached the fourth round of the same major for the first time in history. Marta Kostyuk, Elina Svitolina and Dayana Yastremska have all made it through to the last 16 of the tournament. Lesia Tsurenko also made it through to the third round before losing 6-0, 6-0, to Aryna Sabalenka. 

“We are incredibly happy and proud as this is an example of the fighting spirit and a fantastic example for future generations of Ukrainian players,” Zukin told Ubitennis.

The triumphs come during what is a difficult period in Ukraine’s history due to their ongoing war with Russia which has resulted in the deaths of at least 10,191 civilians, according to figures provided by the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU). As the Russian invasion approaches its second anniversary next month, Kostyuk and her peers continue to use their platform to ensure that the world is not forgetting what is happening in their homeland. 

“If there was never a war in my life, I don’t think I would be able to grow this much as I grew in the last two years.” the world No.35 said after beating Maria Timofeeva on Sunday.

“I think it’s about the perspective, how you take it, because there are different things that are happening. But I think if you take them as a burden or, like, ‘Oh, why is it happening to me and it’s not happening to other people,’ or if you victimise yourself, which I think is normal. I think every person goes through this kind of feeling from time to time… I think the more you can minimise this feeling of being a victim, I think the easier it is to get through life.”

It isn’t just Kostyuk who has spoken out. Svitolina serves as an ambassador for the United24 campaign that aims to continue to bring awareness—and donations—to Ukraine’s ongoing war. Meanwhile, Yastremska spoke about the conflict during her on-court interview after beating Marketa Vondrousova. She revealed that earlier this year a rocket hit her grandmother’s house but she wasn’t hurt in the incident. They all also continue the practice of not shaking hands with Russian or Belarussian players following their match as a sign of respect to their army. 

Like his players, Zukin hopes the conversation around tennis and the war will continue to happen in the coming weeks. 

“Our girls try hard not only to win their matches but to send the World a message regarding the continuous war in Ukraine,” he said. “The UTF appreciates these efforts by the professional players a lot.”

The US Open flag argument

After her latest win, Kostyuk hit out at the US Open after its social media account published a post featuring her and the Russian flag of her opponent. Under current rules set out by the governing bodies, Russian and Belarussian payers are allowed to compete on the Tour but only under a neutral status. The tennis star accused the US Open of promoting ‘a murderous country and a country that uses its athletes as part of its propaganda.’ In a lengthy statement, she urged her sport to stop ‘promoting Russian peace.’ 

The United States Tennis Association, which runs the US Open, has not publically commented on the incident but the post has since been removed. Furthermore, in other posts featuring Russian and Belarusian players, they have not used their flags. Suggesting that human error could have been a reason behind the presence of the Russian flag. 

“I believe it is a human factor or the social media manager wanted to show that Ukraine beat Russia in particular,” Zukin commented.

“All Grand Slams, pro tours and the ITF continue no flag policy and no official teams policy.” He added.

Criticism should be towards those who play in Russia

Embed from Getty Images

Zukin is less understanding when it comes to a controversial event that was held last month during the off-season. In St Petersburg, the Northern Palmyra Trophies exhibition was held which features two teams facing each other. The event was sponsored by Gazprom which is an energy giant that is majority-owned by the Russian government. 

Among the participants was a group of non-Russian players which included Adrian Mannarino who has since defended his decision to play in the event. Other players included Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and Serbia’s Laslo Djere. Whilst Tour events are suspended in Russia, players are allowed to play exhibition events there if they wish to as they are independent contractors. 

“I’m a professional tennis player. I’m not into politics or anything. I just went there. I did my job. That’s what I did.” Mannarino recently stated. 

“I’m not supporting anything. That was a private event. That was not anything about political support. There’s nothing to talk about.”

However, Zukin believes players such as Mannarino have ‘something wrong with their ethics and morals‘ for choosing to play there. 

“When pro players are coming to play an exhibition event in a country which started an absolutely unnecessary war that lightened up into the biggest war in Europe since WWII, there is something wrong with their ethics and morals,” he said.

“This country (Russia) is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people* and wiped out cities from the face of the Earth. And these guys are running after the big buck. They are putting a big stain on their reputation and show disrespect to all that has been affected by this terrible war.”

*NOTE: The exact death toll for the ongoing war is unclear. Besides the UN records of civilian casualties, reports claim that over 40,000 Russian soldiers and almost 9000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed. Although these numbers have not been officially verified.  

Ukraine’s journey at the Australian Open continues on Monday with Svitolina taking on Linda Noskova and Yastremska playing two-time champion Victoria Azarenka. 

Meanwhile, Kostyuk has already booked her place in the quarter-finals and will play fourth seed Coco Gauff.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending