Amelie Mauresmo is Andy Murray's new coach - UBITENNIS
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Amelie Mauresmo is Andy Murray's new coach

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TENNIS – Defending Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has appointed former Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach on the day of Rafa Nadal’s ninth triumph at the Roland Garros. The former French star will help Murray during the upcoming grass season where he will defend both the Queen’s and the Wimbledon titles won last year. Diego Sampaolo

Murray has played without a coach since he split from Ivan Lendl who guided to the Olympic gold medal and the US Open title in 2012 and the Wimbledon triumph in 2013 (the first by a Briton since Fred Perry in 1936). He has had a season of ups and downs so far in 2014 since his back surgery last autumn but his form has improved in recent weeks. He reached the quarter final in Rome (losing a close match against Rafa Nadal) and the semifinal at the Roland Garros where he lost against the “King of Clay” Nadal.

With Mauresmo Murray will have the right person with the necessary experience to guide the Scotsman to win other Grand Slams. Mauresmo won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006 and the Olympic silver in 2004. She won 25 WTA career titles and reached the World Number 1 spot for five weeks in 2004 and for 34 weeks in 2006.

Mauresmo, who is currently coaching the French Fed Cup team, had already guided Michael Llodra during the 2010 grass season and helped to Marion Bartoli’s Wimbledon triumph last year.

I am excited by the possibilities of the new partnership. Amelie is someone I have been looking up to and admired. I have already a coaching coaching team in place. I think Amelie brings with her experience and tactical expertise and will push us to improve. She won Wimbledon and the Australian Open and was the World Number 1. She is very calm. She is a very good person. We will communicate well together”, said Murray.

It is not the first time that a male player is trained by a female coach. Murray was previously coached by his mother Judy. In the past Tim Mayotte was coached by Billie Jean King in the 1990s. Jimmy Connors and Marat Safin were coached by their mothers. The most recent example of player coached by a female trainer is World Number 49 Denis Istomin who is guided by his mother Klaudiya.

I worked with my mother for a long time. It doesn’t feel like a very different thing. I have always had a strong female influence during my career”, said Murray

Billie Jean King, 39-time Grand Slam champion, said that the gender is not important but there are far more important factors who can have an impact on how the relationship works. “It’s the strength of the relationship between the coach and the player that makes the partnership work. Women have coached men for years. What is important is that this is what Andy feels is better for his current situation”.

Murray first contacted Mauresmo a few weeks ago. and admitted that it was a bit of surprise.

I am happy about the new challenge. I am really excited to be able to work with Andy. He is an amazingly talented player and I feel I have plenty to offer to him and the team around him”, said Mauresmo.

During a press conference held during the Roland Garros following the appointment, Mauresmo admitted that Murray’s call came as a surprise: “Andy contacted me a few weeks ago. and we started talking about the possibility to be working together. It was little bit of a surprise. It’s not something I was thinking of doing when I stopped playing tennis. It’s a major event in the world of tennis. It’s a professional goal for me. This is what I am interested in”, said Mauresmo

He is looking for something different, about emotions and sensitive things. All I am interested in is to be able to help him in his goals. It’s a challenge. I want to take it. The point for him is to win more Grand Slams. Of course he is going to defend his title at Wimbledon. It’s not going to be easy. Miracles do not happen overnight.

Mauresmo continues the recent tradition of former stars who have been hired by present top players. Murray himself was the first to look for the help of a former legend and hired Ivan Lendl in 2012. At the end of 2013 some players announced the appointment of past players as their coaches. Boris Becker started his coaching relationship with Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open and has guided him to wins in Indian Wells, Miami and Monte-Carlo. Stefan Edberg has helped Roger Federer win in Dubai and reach the finals in Indian Wells and Monte-Carlo. Michael Chang has guided Kei Nishikori to his first European clay win in Barcelona and to his first Master 1000 final in Madrid. Martina Hingis is now coaching Sabine Lisicki. Goran Ivanisevic is the coach of Marin Cilic.

The appointment of Mauresmo comes as a surprise to many but the Frenchwoman could be the right person at the right moment especially because she could provide him the best advice on improving his net game.

I am not sure how she is going to get in the locker room. I think a few eyebrows will be raised. She has got all the credentials. She is smart and she a great game and Andy is not going just to pick someone for no reason. He is going to have to have done his home work. It’s a matter of him putting it together. If she can add something there I think it’s a great choice. Most people will probably be surprised but ..it may work well. I believe Andy has plenty of room to improve around the net. That would make him a better player and Amelie was a fantastic player around the net”, said former Australian star and 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash.

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Nick Kyrgios Slams Thiem Over Defence Of Controversy-Stricken Adria Tour

The world No.40 has accused the Austrian of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to understand his view.

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Australian star Nick Kyrgios has continued his public criticism of the Adria Tour by taking aim at two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem.

 

The 25-year-old has repeatedly hit out at the exhibition event, which Thiem participated in. Organised by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, the event took place in Belgrade and Zadar before it was scrapped following an outbreak of COVID-19 among both players and coaching staff. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric all got infected. The outbreak came after the Adria Tour was criticised for a lack of social distancing and players attended various public events together. Although at the time, all of their actions were done in accordance with local regulations. Something the Serbian Prime Minister now admits was a mistake.

However, Thiem has called out Kyrgios over his vocal criticism of fellow Adria Tour competitor Alexander Zverev. The German attended a party in southern France less than a week after the COVID-19 outbreak despite issuing a statement saying he would go into self-isolation.

“It was his mistake, but I don’t why a lot of people want to interfere. Kyrgios has done a lot of mistakes. It would be better for him to come clear instead of criticising others,” Thiem told Tiroler Tageszeitung.

Continuing to defend the actions of his fellow players, Thiem also jumped to the defence of Djokovic. Who has been under heavy criticism over the event with some going as far as questioning his position as president of the ATP Players Council.

“He didn’t commit a crime. We all make mistakes, but I don’t understand all the criticism. I’ve been to Nice and also saw pictures from other cities. It’s no different from Belgrade during the tournament. It’s too cheap to shoot at Djokovic.”

The comments have now been blasted by Kyrgios, who stands by his previous criticism of players. Accusing Thiem of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to see his point of view.

“What are you talking about @ThiemDomi? Mistakes like smashing rackets? Swearing? Tanking a few matches here or there? Which everyone does?” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
“None of you have the intellectual level to even understand where I’m coming from. I’m trying to hold them accountable.”
“People losing lives, loved ones and friends, and then Thiem standing up for the ‘mistake,'” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide and some players have voiced concerns over travelling to America which has recently seen a rise in cases. On Wednesday Alexi Popyrin became the first player to say he won’t play the US Open due to health concerns.

The ATP Tour is set to resume next month but it is unclear as to what events Thiem and Kyrgios will be playing in.

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Roger Federer Eyeing Olympic Glory At The Age Of 39 In 2021

The Swiss tennis star isn’t ready to step away from the sport just yet.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has vowed to play at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo after undergoing two surgeries on his knee.

 

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January. Since then he had twice undergone arthroscopic surgeries which is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to diagnose and treat problems with the joints. Federer announced shortly after having the procedure done for a second time that he will not be returning to the Tour again this year.

Despite the setbacks, the 38-year-old has vowed to return to action at the start of 2021 with Olympic glory one of his main targets. He is already a two-time Olympic medallist after winning gold in the men’s doubles back in 2008 followed by silver in the singles draw at the 2012 London Games.

“My goal is to play Tokyo 2021. It’s a wonderful city. I met my wife in my first Olympics in 2000. It’s a special event for me,” Federer said on Monday during the launch of ‘The Roger’ shoe with Swiss brand ON.
“I had two surgeries and I can’t hit at the moment, but I’m very confident I will be totally ready for 2021.
“I do miss playing in front of the fans, no doubt. Now, I think if tennis comes back we know it won’t be in a normal way where we can have full crowds yet.”

Federer will be 39 when he returns to action, but is yet to speculate as to when he may close the curtain on his record-breaking career. He is currently the second oldest man in the top 200 on the ATP Tour after Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, who is 41.

Besides the Olympics, the Swiss Maestro is also setting his eye on Wimbledon where he has claimed the men’s title a record eight times. However, he hasn’t won a major title since the 2018 Australian Open. The Grass-court major has been cancelled this year for the first time since 1945 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of course I miss Wimbledon, of course I would like to be there currently playing on Centre Court for a place in the second week,” he said.
“Clearly, one of my big goals, and that’s why I do recovery work every day and work so hard, and why I’m preparing for a 20-week physical preparation block this year, is because I hope to play at Wimbledon next year.”

Even though he is not playing for the rest of the year, Federer incredibly still has a chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals due to recent changes in the rankings calculations. Due to the pandemic, players are now allowed to use their best results at 18 tournaments based on a 22-month period instead of 12 months. Something that could enable him to remain inside the top eight until the end of 2020 depending on how his rivals fair.

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ATP Announces 22-Month Ranking System To Support Players Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Parts of the changes have been done to help support those who prefer not to or can not travel to tournaments due to safety concerns.

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The ATP Tour has revised their calculations for this year’s ranking system with the governing body admitting that the new changes could also be applied in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Players on the men’s Tour have been given a wider period where they can select their best tournaments to determine their ranking. Prior to the suspension of competitive tennis, male players were allowed to select their 18 best performances in tournaments within a 52-week period. This has now been expanded to 22 months (March 2019-December 2020). Although they are not allowed to use the same tournament twice.

In a press release the ATP says their new measures allows ‘flexibility and fairness’ with players on the tour. Furthermore, it has been designed with the possibility of the rules continuing into 2021 should the ongoing pandemic continue to disrupt the Tour in some degree. Outlining their objectives, the ATP says one of their goals is to protect those who ‘cannot or prefer not to compete in 2020 due to health & safety.’ A point recently raised by Australian player Alexei Popyrin who has voiced concerns about playing at the US Open.

“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.”

As a result of the changes, it remains to be seen if this will have any effect on other players concerning their decision to play at the New York major which will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history. Some parts of America have reported a surge in COVID-19 cases with 52,228 New Cases being reported on July 5th.

Under the new calculations, no player will have less ranking points than what they currently have at present. The ATP rankings have been frozen since March 16th but will resume on the Monday after the first tournament in the revised calendar concludes.

There are exceptions to the new 22-month ruling. Qualification for the ATP Finals will still be based on 52 weeks because the event is classed as an ‘additional tournament.’ Therefore it doesn’t count as one of the 18 key events to determine a player’s ranking. Points from last year’s tournament will drop off on November 9th after the Paris Masters. The reason for doing so is to make the chances of qualifying more fair. Furthermore Challenger and ITF events will also be based on the 52-week rule because ‘events are scheduled on a one-year basis and do not have consistent spots in the calendar.’

The ATP Tour is set to resume at the Citi Open in Washington during the second week of August.

A full FAQ of the new ranking system can be read here.

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