Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 16th of June 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 16th of June 2014

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TENNIS BITS & PIECES – Federer and Dimitrov win on grass. Gerry Weber Open honoured. Azarenka ready to return. Kumantsov banned for life. Monica Seles ties the knot. Happy Birthday Steffi. The Wimbledon Wild Cards and the Mallorca will turn to grass. Joshua Bosco

 

Grass winners

Grigor Dimitrov won his first career grass court title, defeating Feliciano Lopez 6-7(8) 7-6(1) 7-6(6) in the final at Queen’s. It’s the third title for Dimitrov in 2014, after Acapulco (hard) in March and Bucharest (clay) in April.

It’s been a good week for Ana Ivanovic who lost only 21 games in five matches on the way to her first grass court title, in Birmingham, where she beat Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova 6-3 6-2. It’s the third title for the Serb this year, after winning Auckland and Monterrey (hard). She also reached the final in Stuttgart (clay) where she lost in a thrilling three set match to Maria Sharapova.

In Halle Roger Federer won his 14th title on grass and his 79th title overall with a tightly contested 7-6(2) 7-6(3) victory over Alejandro Falla. By doing so he successfully defended his only 2013 title and captured his second trophy of the year. Federer will now rest for a week before starting his campaign for an eighth Wimbledon Crown.

Russian player banned for life

Former Russian tennis player Andrey Kumantsov has been banned for life after being found guilty of charges related to betting and match fixing.

Kumantsov, who has a career-high ranking of No.261, was sentenced based on the findings of an investigation relating to incidents between 2010 and 2013. The ban, which applies with immediate effect, forbids the player from entering any event “organised or sanctioned by the governing bodies of professional tennis.”

Grass will grow in Mallorca

The Spanish island of Mallorca will host a new WTA grass-court tournament starting from 2016. The event, which will be played two weeks before Wimbledon, will feature a 32-player draw.

The tournament, which will take part in Nadal’s hometown, will have 5 natural grass courts, the construction and maintenance of which will be in collaboration with The All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Gerry Weber Open honoured

The Gerry Weber Open has won the 2014 ATP European Award of Excellence for the best fan experience. The award was presented on Monday by Chris Kermode, the ATP Executive Chairman and President, to the Tournament Director Ralf Weber.

Kermode later said: The Gerry Weber Open offers the fans a great tennis and entertainment program. It is noteworthy that 12,500 spectators came on Monday for the tournament”. In 2015 Halle will become an ATP World Tour 500 tournament.

Azarenka comeback

It looks like former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka is finally making her comeback on the WTA Tour. The Belarusian, who has played just one match since her loss at the 2014 Australian Open, has taken a wildcard for Eastbourne and said: I’ve worked hard to rehabilitate my injury and to get fit for my return. [..] The grass courts are world-class, which will give me the best possible start to the second half of the season, and the perfect preparation for Wimbledon.”

Wimbledon wildcards

Five British men were awarded wildcards for the 2014 Wimbledon Championships: Daniel Cox, Kyle Edmund, Daniel Evans, Daniel Smethurst and James Ward. Marcos Baghdatis and Jiri Vesely also got a place in the main draw along with Australian youngster Nick Kyrgios, who won the Nottingham Challenger last week.

Naomi Broady, Tara Moore and Samantha Murray are the three British women who have been given wildcards for the main draw along with Silvia Soler Espinosa, Taylor Townsend and Vera Zvonareva. Krystyna Pliskova, winner of the Nottingham $75,000 tournament, will also be in SW19 while the last wildcard is still to be announced.

Martina Hingis, who won the singles title in 1997 and the doubles in 1996 and 1998, will make her Wimbledon comeback after being awarded a wildcard for the doubles with Vera Zvonareva.

Who’s playing where

Both men and women player will continue their preparation for Wimbledon this week playing tournaments in Eastbourne and ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Defending champion and fresh Queen’s winner/finalist Feliciano Lopez, top seed Richard Gasquet, Alexander Dolgopolov, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Ivo Karlovic will battle for the men’s title in Eastbourne, while Spanish poker David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, Roberto Bautista Agut and Marcel Granollers will lead the field in the Netherlands.

Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki will battle for the women’s title in Eastbourne, while Simona Halep will try to defend her 2013 title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch against Dominika Cibulkova, Eugenie Bouchard, Andrea Petkovic, Kirsten Flipkens and Klara Koukalova.

Happy Birthday Steffi!

On Saturday, legendary former tennis player Steffi Graf celebrated her 45th birthday.

The 22 time Grand Slam champion is the only player to have ever completed a Golden Slam, winning all the four Slam tournaments and the Olympics Gold Medal in 1988. She spent 377 weeks at the top spot in the rankings (all time record), 186 of those weeks being consecutive between August 1987 and March 1991 (a female record).

All we can say is, Happy Birthday Steffi!

Monica Seles to tie the knot

According to reports, former World No.1 and nine time Grand Slam singles champion Monica Seles is engaged to her partner Thomas Golisano. The 72 year old billionaire and Seles have been dating for the last 5 years and live together in Florida.

 

Editorial

A new documentary, and the rekindling of Serena Williams’ tryst with 2018 US Open destiny

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Serena Williams, 2019 US Open, Patrick Mouratoglou
Photo Credit: US Open/USTA

It’s almost a year since Serena Williams got embroiled in a war of words with chair umpire Carlos Ramos in the 2018 US Open final. The subject is yet to ebb entirely from memory though. The first episode of ESPN’s new documentary series Backstory – featured on the incident involving the 23-time Grand Slam champion – does its bit to ensure that on the eve of the 2019 US Open, attention is centred on what occurred a year ago.

 

Titled Serena vs the Umpire, the episode is an extrapolation of the match’s progression and what transpired within it. It presents facts through the pros and cons of Williams and Ramos’, and also of Patrick Mouratoglou’s actions that charted the match. Yet, in spite of this, the program makes Williams out as the wronged one.

First, by her coach, Mouratoglou, who displayed his commitment as a mentor by using hand signals to try and guide her. Then, by Ramos who penalised her for the Frenchman’s infraction. Without heeding her vehemence that she was not a party to her coach’s decision-making. The narrative of the program puts it out that regardless of Williams’ behaviour that saw her scream and rant at the umpire and call him a liar and thief, she did not deserve to be termed as the pariah of the match.

The program’s one-sided leaning does not change the problematic aspects of Williams’ and Mouratoglou’s behaviours. Williams, in protesting her innocence about receiving (and accepting) coaching, did cross the line with her aggressiveness. There was – and is – no denying her disrespect towards the authority on the chair officiating the match. And, rationales like the momentousness of the occasion getting to her do not justify her stance at all. Rather, they hinted at her being ill-equipped to handle the scenario in what turned out be the proverbial repeating of history, at the same tournament.

Mouratoglou’s near-immediate (after the end of the match) admission that he tried to help her – and his maintaining to do so, even now – also debilitates Williams’ position. The 49-year-old’s statements about what he thought was Ramos’ inability in letting the match spiral out of bands, is a bemusing segue as well.

“Ramos’ job is also to keep the match under control. He totally lost control of the match, completely, because he reacted with emotions. And he’s not supposed to — he’s a chair umpire, he’s not a player,” Mouratoglou said. Ironically, had Ramos lashed out emotionally instead of abiding the rules, the repercussions would have been far serious for Williams for name-calling him and for continuously challenging his authority.

Mouratoglou’s comments are revealing of how the program does not consider the ramifications of that fracas for Ramos.

Since the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) rules do not permit Ramos from speaking to the media – including to ESPN for this program – the 48-year-old has been short-changed as he cannot present his point-of-view countering the acclaimed coach. Also, in the year that has almost gone by, the veteran official’s on-court calls have been scrutinised and compared with his umpiring of that match. Moreover, Ramos will not be umpiring any of Williams’ matches at Flushing Meadows in 2019. All of these are indicative of how Ramos’ professionalism has been denigrated.

Players have the right to request to not have certain umpires officiate their matches and many have done so for reasons of their own. The avoidance of the tension between such a player and umpire is undeniably a positive to come out of the move. Yet, what does it leave the umpire with, since, irrespective of how a player behaves with the official, the latter does not have the same means to put forth his officiating preference.

Speaking of preferences, proffering his concluding thoughts on the match, Mouratoglou opined, “It was horrible for us. It was horrible for Serena. It’s fantastic for tennis. It was unbelievable, that was the best moment in tennis of the past 10 years. Tennis was everywhere. You don’t have any drama in tennis. We have drama in all the other sports, but not tennis. People should be allowed to be herself and show emotion. You want passion, that’s why people watch sport. They want things to happen. They want to feel emotion, they want to root for someone, they want to be shocked, they want to be happy, they want to be sad. That’s what they want and everybody felt something that day.”

Indeed, the match prompted reactions from everybody who watched it. Nonetheless, its proceedings overshadowed the game of tennis so much so that the bigger picture was not that of the sport but that of egoism.

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Janko Tipsarevic retires from tennis

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Janko Tipsarevic has announced that he will retire from professional tennis at the age of 35 next November. The Belgrade native enjoyed his best seasons in 2011, when he qualified for the ATP Finals, and in 2012, when he reached the quarter final at the US Open for the second consecutive year. In 2012 he reached the quarter final or better in 14 tournaments, including the semifinal at Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Toronto.

 

He reached his best ranking of world number 8 in April 2012 after qualifying for the quarter final in Miami. He won four titles in his career and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Australian Open.

He returned to action at the Australian Open last January after a long absence of 16 months following two harmstring surgeries. The Serbian player lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round at the Australian Open. Later this year he reached the quarter final in Houston.

Tipsarevic is planning after the Davis Cup finals in Madrid next November.

“It has been a great 16 years. After a lot of sour searching and thinking what is important to me in this stage of my life and what does make make me happy, I have decided to retire from professional tennis. My last competition will be the Davis Cup in Madrid. In the following years my focus will be my family, franchising our Tennis Academy and International coaching for several weeks per year. Thank you for your ongoing support”, announced Tipsarevic via social media.

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Cincinnati Open Final Preview: Will Kuznetsova And Medvedev Achieve Double Glory For Russia?

It’s Championship Sunday in Cincy, with two unlikely yet intriguing singles finals.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova – Western & Southern Open (foto via Twitter @CincyTennis)

Both world No.1’s were upset on Saturday by Russian opposition, opening up a golden opportunity for today’s singles finalists.  For three of the four, it’s a chance to win the biggest titles of their careers to date. And for the fourth, it’s a chance to win their biggest title in a decade.

 

Madison Keys (16) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (WC)

15 years ago, Kuznetsova was a teenage who shocked the tennis world by winning the US Open.  Five years and three Major finals later, she’d win a second Grand Slam title at Roland Garros.  But recent times haven’t been as kind to Svetlana, who has struggled with injuries, coaching changes, and visa issues.  As per the WTA’s Courtney Nguyen, Sveta missed the beginning of the US hard court swing due to those visa issues, and contemplated retirement with her ranking at risk of dropping outside the top 200 due to her inability to travel.  But just a few weeks later, she’s into her biggest final in over two years, thanks to four victories this week over players ranked 11th or higher.  But in today’s final, she faces a competitor she’s never beaten.  Keys owns a 3-0 record in their head-to-head, with all three of those matches played on hard courts.  Madison is yet to drop a set to Svetlana. And just like Kuznetsova, Keys has looked really strong this week.  She’s been just clubbing the ball, and taking the match completely out of her opponents’ hands. But as a player who has choked in big matches before, can Madison maintain her form in this final?  Based on how well she’s fought this week and made slight adjustments when needed, and with a boisterous American crowd behind her, I think Keys will be ready for this moment.

Daniil Medvedev (9) v. David Goffin (16)

After a set-and-a-half against Novak Djokovic yesterday, it appeared the world No.1 would be cruising to a straight set victory.  Novak had been dominating opponents all week, and Daniil was receiving treatment on his right arm, which looked quite painful. But it seemed the 23-year-old Russian decided if he was going down, he was going down swinging.  Medvedev started going for his second serves, striking some just as hard if not harder than his first serves. He’d hit a total of 16 aces in the match. That, combined with his strong ground game which suddenly wouldn’t miss, infuriated Djokovic to the point where it seemed the world No.1 just wanted off the court before the final game had even been decided.  Danill is now into his third final in as many weeks, but lost in the final of his last two tournaments. His opponent today capitalized on an extremely open half of the draw. But the tennis gods definitely owe Goffin some luck after the bizarre injuries that have recently sidetracked his career. He injured his eye when a ball glanced off his racket, and injured his ankle when he slipped on the tarp at the back of the court at the French Open.  These two have met twice before, with both matches occurring earlier this year. Medvedev prevailed in straight sets at the Australian Open, while Goffin outlasted Daniil 7-5 in the fifth at Wimbledon. This will be Medvedev’s 16th singles match within the past 20 days, which is a ton of tennis no matter your age or your level of fitness.  And coming back less than 24 hours after a thrilling victory over the world No.1 is never easy. But against an opponent that hasn’t been playing with much confidence, and who is also vying for the biggest title of their career, I suspect Daniil will power his way to the winner’s circle again today.

Other notable matches on Sunday:

In the men’s doubles final, Wimbledon champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (1) vs. Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek, who were Wimbledon semifinalists.

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