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.

 

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Fate Of Madrid Open To Be Decided This Week

Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament looks to be in serious danger of getting the axe following recent developments.

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There will be a final decision regarding this year’s Madrid’s Open within the next couple of days but hopes of the tournament going ahead are low, according to its tournament director.

 

Feliciano Lopez has spoken out about the current situation in an interview with the L’Equipe newspaper on Saturday. The mixed tournament has been thrown into doubt after the local council said it would be “inadvisable” for the tournament to be played in September because of the “health risks involved for the public, organization, and players.” Spain is currently experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases amid concerns of a second wave. On Friday there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

“We were confident two months ago that the tournament would take place. The situation has worsened in the last two or three weeks in the Madrid region, not just in the city of Madrid, but in the whole region,” Lopez told L’Equipe.
“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September.”

A decision is set to be made within “two or three days” by tournament owner Ion Tiriac and Super Slam Ltd, the tournament’s licence holder. Tiriac is a Romanian billionaire businessman who is also a former tennis player. He won the 1970 French Open doubles title with compatriot Ilie Nastase.

Weighing up its chances, Lopez admits that he ‘isn’t optimistic’ that the Madrid Open will be able to go ahead. The event is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

We are not very optimistic now. We were very positive a few weeks ago. We have a very good protocol, everything is ready, we worked hard to make the event take place, because it is also very important to offer tournaments to the players today.” Said Lopez.
“Last week, we had meetings with the government. Their recommendation is to cancel all events now during the summer. Of course, the decision is ours, it will be Ion’s. We have to work with everyone, the government, the ATP, the WTA and make the best decision for everyone. But we must also listen to the recommendations of the authorities, see how the situation is developing this week.”
He added.

Held on clay at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open has been a combined event for the men and women since 2009. Last year Novak Djokovic and Kiki Bertens won the singles titles with them each taking home €1,202,520 in prize money.

Besides having the responsibility of the Madrid Open, world No.56 Lopez is continuing his career on the Tour at the age of 38. Questioned about the remaining 2020 season, the Spaniard admits there is a lot of uncertainty for all players. Tournament across Asia have already been cancelled due to the virus and recently the Italian Open was told at present they can’t allow fans to their tournament, which takes place the week after Madrid’s slot.

This season is already completely lost. But what will happen next year, when we still don’t have a vaccine? The situation will be exactly the same as now if we don’t have a vaccine! When is it going to end, I don’t know.” Lopez concluded.

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‘Think Of Others For Once’ – Nick Kyrgios Issues Warning To Rivals As He Withdraws From US Open

The world No.40 has once again took a swipe at Novak Djokovic’s ‘money-grabbing’ Adria Tour.

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Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has said he is pulling out of the US Open in respect of those in his home country as well as America who has lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The former top-20 player published a video outlining his reason for withdrawing from the event on the social media accounts of athlete empowerment brand Uninterrupted. During the video he once again made a swipe at Novak Djokovic and others over their ‘selfish’ involvement in the controversy-stricken Adria Tour. Which was criticised for a lack of anti-COVID measures before an outbreak of the virus among players and coaching staff occurred. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Vikor Troicki all got infected.

“You can’t be dancing on tables, money-grabbing your way around Europe or trying to make a quick buck, hosting an exhibition. That’s just so selfish. Think of the other people for once. That’s what this virus is about,” he said.
“It doesn’t care about your world ranking or how much money you have. Act responsibly.”

Kyrgios has stated that he isn’t critical of the decision made by the United States Tennis Association to hold the event this year. Which will have on offer 90% of the prize money that was available during the 2019 tournament. Under strict measures, the tournament will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history with players kept in what is being described as a ‘protective bubble.’

“I have got no problem with the USTA putting on the US Open and if players want to go, that’s up to them, so long as everyone acts appropriately and acts safely,” he stated.
“No-one wants people to keep their jobs more than me.’
“I am speaking for the guy who works in the restaurants, the cleaners and the locker room attendants. These are the people who need their jobs back the most and fair play to them.”

The announcement comes shortly after women’s world No.1 Ash Barty announced that she wouldn’t be playing due to coronavirus concerns. Another Australian player, Alexi Popryin, have previously said he would not attend the event. Furthermore, Chinese world No.29 Wang Qiang has pulled out due to ‘travel and safety concerns.’

“To those players who have been observing the rules and acting selflessly, I say good luck to you. Play at your own risk, and I have no problem with that,” said Kyrgios.

The withdrawal ends Kyrgios’ streak of seven consecutive main draw appearance at Flushing Meadows. His best rest was reaching the third round on four separate occasions (2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019). Overall he has won eight out of 15 matches played in New York.

This year’s US Open will get underway on August 31st.

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Serena Williams leads a high-quality line-up in Lexington

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Twenty-three time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will be the top seed at the inaugural edition of the Lexington Open from 10th August 2020 on the same week as the Prague Open. The Lexington Open will be the first US tournament of the US hard court season, which will continue with the Western and Southern Open and the US Open, which will be held in the same venue at Flushing Meadows in New York. 

 

Serena was very close to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, but lost four times in a Major final after giving birth to her daughter Olympia. 

The US legend will play her first match since she hepled the US team beat Latvia in the Fed Cup last March in Everett. There Serena beat Jelena Ostapenko but she was defeated by Anastasija Sevastova. 

Williams will lead a star-studded line-up, which features this year’s Australian Open finalist and former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, Aryna Sabalenka, Sloane Stephens, Johanna Konta, Amanda Anisimova and Yulia Putintseva, Ons Jabeur, Victoria Azarenka, Heather Watson and US rising star Cori Gauff. 

Sabalenka won two consecutive editions of the Wuhan tournament in 2018 and 2019, in Shenzhen in 2019, the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and the Doha final in 2020. 

Stephens won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2017 and reached the final at 2018 Roland Garros. She finished runner-up to Elina Svitolina at the 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore. The US player lost to Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez in Monterrey in her last WTA Tour match before the pandemic. 

Amanda Anisimova won her maiden WTA title in Bogotà in 2019 in her first professional tour tournament on clay. Last year the young US player beat Simona Halep en route to becoming the youngest semifinalist at the French Open since 2006. This year Amanda lost to Serena Williams in the semifinal in Auckland last January. 

Johanna Konta reached the French Open semifinal and the Rome Final in 2019. The British player enjoyed her best year in 2017, when she won the Miami title and reached the Wimbledon semifinal rising to her best ranking at world number 4. 

The Top seed Open will be the first WTA tournament to be played in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the United States. The Kentucky tournament will feature a 32-player singles draw and a 16-player doubles field. 

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