Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 28th of July 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 28th of July 2014

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TENNIS BITS & PIECES – The Times chief tennis correspondent admits plagiarism. The IPTL is in trouble. Tomljanovic to represent Australia and who is playing where this week. Joshua Bosco

 

Neil Harman exposed

“The Times” chief tennis correspondent Neil Harman has been suspended by the newspaper after the journalist admitted to plagiarism earlier last week.

Harman, who has worked at The Times for 12 years and started his career 40 years ago, confessed he had used rival journalists’ articles to compile three different issues of the Official Wimbledon Annual. The plagiarism is widespread, as noted by Slate journalist Ben Rothenberg: he reports 52 large passages copied without attribution in the last three Annuals alone.

Harman has now resigned from the International Tennis Writers’ Association (ITWA) and was fired from the All England Club.

IPTL in doubt

The future of the IPTL is now more than ever in doubt after PVP Ventures, the financial backers of the Mumbai franchise, pulled out of the tournament citing a lack of clarity over the financial side of the league.

In addition to PVP Ventures bowing out the league is still missing an official broadcaster and an owner for the Bangkok team. And on top of all, a $3 million pool which was promised to each franchise trough sponsors is yet to be guaranteed.

Tomljanovic becomes Australian

World No.55 Ajla Tomljanovic is planning to become an Australian citizen and will represent her new country at the upcoming US Open, starting on 25th August in Flushing Meadows.

Croatian-born Tomljanovic has been training in the US since she was a teenager and her decision to switch nationality comes just eight months after she started a collaboration with Australian coach David Taylor, who used to work with Sam Stosur.

She will now be able to represent Australia in Grand Slams and other ITF competitions, but she’ll have to wait until she becomes a full Aussie citizen to play for Australia in WTA tournaments.

Who’s playing where

Tennis players begin their shift to the US for the summer hard-court season as three of the four main tournaments this week are played on American soil. Both men and women will be flying to Washington, with some WTA players also heading to Stanford for the Bank of the West Classic while many clay-court specialists will remain in Europe for one more week and will play the ATP 250 in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

The ATP World Tour 500 in Washington will see some of the big names on the tour battle it out for the trophy. The tournament, which will see a different winner from last year as defending champion Juan Martin del Potro is still recovering from his most recent wrist injury, features top names like Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Nishikori, John Isner, Richard Gasquet, Kevin Anderson and Ivo Karlovic.

The WTA International tournament plays host to Lucie Safarova, Alize Cornet, Sloane Stephens, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Madison Keys and its two-time defending champion Magdalena Rybarikova who faces a tough first round match against No.2 seed Ekaterina Makarova.

The prestigious Bank of the West Classic in Stanford sees two-times winner Serena Williams head a stellar line-up which includes Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka, Ana Ivanovic, Carla Suarez Navarro, Andrea Petkovic and defending champion Dominika Cibulkova. 2000 and 2002 winner Venus Williams received a wildcard for the tournament, while Sara Errani and Petra Kvitova withdrew before the start.

Some men are staying in Europe for the last main clay-court tournament of the season in Kitzbuhel, Austria, where defending champion Marcel Granollers will face some tough competition from Philipp Kohlschreiber, Lukas Rosol, Andreas Seppi, Robin Haase and rising star Dominic Thiem in order to retain his 2013 title.

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Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?

Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?

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Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.

 

In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.

Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.

“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.

These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.

“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.

Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.

This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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