Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 7th of July 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 7th of July 2014

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TENNIS BITS & PIECES – Victoria Duval has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Li Na splits with her coach. The Bryan brothers are stuck at 98. Miami Open changes sponsor. Nole is now qualified for the ATP Finals and who is playing where this week. Joshua Bosco

 

Victoria Duval

Victoria Duval, 18 year old American who makes her debut in the Top 100 today after reaching the second round of Wimbledon as a qualifier, released a statement through her management company on Friday saying she had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The player revealed she received the news after her first round of qualifying at the grass-court Slam but decided against withdrawing. She went on to qualify for the first time at Wimbledon and also win a first round match against Sorana Cirstea, before losing to Swiss rising star Belinda Bencic in straight sets.

Fortunately it looks like the cancer was caught in its early stages and the prognosis is for a full recovery within a couple of months, according to IMG. The American youngster is the third player to have been diagnosed with the disease in the last four years, after Alisa Kleybanova in 2011 and Ross Hutchins in 2013. Both players then made a successful return to the courts, so we hope for a safe and speedy recovery for Duval.

Li Na splits with coach

On Thursday it was announced that World No. 2 Li Na and coach Carlos Rodriguez had parted ways after nearly two years of collaboration.

The official reason behind the split is that Rodriguez is no longer able to travel around the world with the player as he needs to spend more time at his Beijing-based tennis academy.

Li Na will now try and regain her form and confidence in time for the US Open, which starts on August 25th, after two shocking defeats at Roland Garros (1st round) and Wimbledon (3rd round).

Bryans stuck at 98

The Bryan brothers were denied a 16th Grand Slam title and 99th overall title together on Saturday when they were defeated by unseeded Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock, who were playing together for the first time in their career.

The American doubles legends, who are now 3-4 in Wimbledon finals, will have to win at the US Open in order to keep alive their nine year streak of winning at least one Grand Slam tournament per season.

Sony leaves Miami Open

According to reports, electronics giant Sony has decided against the renewal of its agreement as main sponsors for the Miami Masters. Even though the tech firm is considering staying connected with the Masters and Mandatory Premier event in other ways, the tournament will go by the name Miami Open until it finds a new title sponsor.

It also looks like clothing line Fila opted out of its sponsorship because the tournament is asking $900,000, three times more than their previous agreement.

Djokovic qualifies for ATP World Tour Finals

After reaching the final at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic has become the second player to qualify for the World Tour Finals which will take place at the O2 Arena in London in November. Djokovic joins Nadal who qualified after winning his ninth Roland Garros title last month.

After reaching his ninth final at Wimbledon Roger Federer is 1230 points shy of automatic qualification, while Stan Wawrinka is safely in fourth position and Berdych in fifth. It remains to be seen who will take the last three spots with less than 600 points separating sixth placed Grigor Dimitrov and eleventh placed Milos Raonic with Murray, Nishikori, Ferrer and Gulbis sitting in the middle.

Who’s playing where

While many top players are resting after Wimbledon, some of them are eager to get back on court and will divide themselves between ATP tournaments in Bastad, Newport and Stuttgart.

Carlos Berlocq will travel to Bastad to try and defend his 2013 title at the Swedish Open, but will face tough competition from the likes of David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo, Fernando Verdasco, Jerzy Janowicz and Jeremy Chardy.

Defending champion Nicolas Mahut will play at the 2014 Hall of Fame Tennis Championship in Newport and the Frenchman will be joined by John Isner, Ivo Karlovic, Lleyton Hewitt, Donald Young and Wimbledon doubles champion Jack Sock. Marcos Baghdatis and Sam Querrey have withdrawn before the start of the tournament.

Fabio Fognini will be both defending champion and top seed at the 2014 MercedesCup in Stuttgart, where he will play alongside Mikhail Youzhny, Roberto Bautista Agut, Feliciano Lopez, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Santiago Giraldo. Marcel Granollers and Denis Istomin have withdrawn before the start.

The majority of top women will also take a break before the difficult American swing, but some of them are willing to play a couple of clay-court tournaments in Europe before flying over to the US.

In Bad Gastein, Austria, we will see defending champion Yvonne Meusburger take on seven other Top 50 players: Sara Errani, Carla Suarez Navarro, Andrea Petkovic, Elina Svitolina, Camila Giorgi, Karolina Pliskova and Flavia Pennetta, the top seed, who received a wildcard for the tournament. Wimbledon semifinalist Lucie Safarova withdrew before the start of the International event.

Today sees the start of the first edition of the BRD Bucharest Open, an International tournament which replaces the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest. Local girl Simona Halep is the top seed but she’ll have to battle past some difficult players like Roberta Vinci, Klara Koukalova, Karin Knapp, Annika Beck and Anna Schmiedlova to become the first champion of this Romanian tournament. Vania King and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova are among the players who withdrew before the start.

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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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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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