TENNIS US OPEN 2014 – 27th of August 2014. M. Sharapova d. A. Dulgheru 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. An interview with Maria Sharapova
Q. It was not an easy one today, especially the first two sets. What was the main issue?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think it was a combination of everything. She played really well. Although I started off really good in the first couple of games, didn’t take the opportunity to go up 3-0. After that she started getting a little bit of a rhythm. It was difficult. Obviously the conditions were tough. You start in the sun; you finish under the lights. It was a very long match. Overall I felt like in the end I was in much better shape than she was and I could have played another few sets. Mentally that helped me a lot.
Q. Does your routine that you have behind the baseline, is that a way to get you focused? You developed that over the years.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I’ve had that routine for a long time. Everything is very quick. You go from point to point. You’re playing in front of thousands of people. Sometimes it’s nice to have a little bit of a quiet moment with yourself. That’s the reason I started doing it. Whether you’re having a good run with a few games and you want to keep that going and keep that going and keep yourself motivated or you need a little pick-me-up, regain focus if you’re down.
Q. Can you tell us something about your cooperation with Sven Groenefeld.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s been a great partnership so far. We met this time last year. At the time I was still going through injuries so I didn’t quite know when I would be back. But I was very interested in working with him because of his experience. He’s been on the tour for many, many years. He’s coached against me. A lot of good things. Positive attitude that he brought to practice, to the environment. He’s a leader but listens to everyone in the team, which is very important. At this stage in my career, I’m quite happy with the team that I formed.
Q. He’s quite energetic in the box. Do you like that?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think he was like that before. I think I just make everybody energetic (smiling). I don’t think they have a choice.
Q. Do you come away from a match like today focusing more on what maybe didn’t go right at the beginning or being pleased with how you finished?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think you always expect yourself, no matter who you’re playing, the conditions, you always want to play well, win the match easy. Sometimes it’s good to kind of look back and think in these types of situations, conditions, all of that. It’s really good to get through, put yourself in a really tough position, but then you’re able to find a way to get back and finish really strong.
Q. Big-picture question. You’ve had all these years on the tour competing. One challenge after another. Successful in the business world. What is the best part of being Maria Sharapova these days?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the best part this day is that I’m healthy enough to compete at this level. That’s the most important thing for me, looking back at this time last year. You seem to forget that I was in New York, I was in a hotel room, I was going to a few different doctors, I was getting a few different opinions, different machines, different MRIs, and different treatments. It’s so easy to forget that you get yourself back in such a great position in your career where you win a Grand Slam, you’re playing the US Open, which you missed last year. So a lot of positives. Yet I get to do other great things in my career and set up my life for when I’m finished with tennis.
Q. Michael Jordan was here yesterday to see Roger Federer play. Roger said he was a huge inspiration for him as a child. When you were growing up, who were you looking up to in the same way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, actually I met Michael Jordan a few years ago randomly, unexpectedly, at an airport. Usually I don’t get very star struck, but he’s such a powerful person and athlete. I think he has that aura about him. It’s very special. He’s like, Hey, you’re that tennis player. I’m like, Oh, my goodness, Michael Jordan knows who I am. So, yeah, that was unique (smiling).
Q. Do you think you’re in your best shape at the moment or do you think there’s still room for improvement and recovery?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think physically I’m in a very good position. I think that’s shown a lot in my three-set statistics this year. I think I played more at this point in the year than I have in all of my career. The numbers are quite high, and I’ve been able to recover quite well. I don’t think that’s something that I would have been able to do and recover from as quickly as I’m able to today. But I think that takes a lot of work and obviously commitment. Whatever it is, hours on the court, hours in the gym, it’s just finding that combination to get yourself in that good shape.
Q. Mentally, it struck me you had a long wait after the second set, and then you had a long wait while she had a medical timeout. You seemed to handle it very well. Is that an improvement? Did that used to bother you more?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think it’s always a matter of just, you know, moving, not stopping and sitting around for five, six, seven minutes. It’s always just kind of getting your body going, resting a couple minutes sitting down. Whether it’s hitting a few serves, doing a few movements or motions, just to make sure that your body and your mind is still active. It’s very easy to have a little bit of a letdown if you’re just sitting around for that amount of time.
Maria Sakkari Powers Past Swiatek, Badosa Stuns Sabalenka At WTA Finals
There was a lot of emotion displayed during the second day of the season-ending event.
Maria Sakkari registered her first win at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico by beating the Pole Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-4 in one hour and 26 minutes.
Sakkari, who is the first player from her country to participate in the event, fired 15 winners while the world number nine hit 29 unforced errors in the loss during their latest clash. It is the third time this season the 26-year-old has beaten Swiatek in straight sets after the French Open and Ostrava.
“I think it was a very solid match from my side,” wtatennis.com quoted Sakkari as saying during her press conference. “Obviously my serve really helped my game. I felt quite good with the altitude. I could control my shots pretty well. I think every day I’ll feel even better.
“I actually have a good game to play against [Swiatek]. All three times I played her, I played one of the best matches of the season. Like even today, I think I was very solid in these conditions.”
The first set stayed on serve for the first two games and then it was the world number six who started to put the pressure and managed to get the first break of serve to take an early 2-1 lead. The set continued on serve with the Greek able to consolidate the break and at 4-2 managed to go up a double break and that was enough for her to serve it out.
During the second frame the match stayed on serve until 3-3 when again it was the Athens native who had two chances to break. On the the second time of asking she managed once again to get the crucial break and serve out the match. Towards the end a frustrated Swiatek started to cry on court.
“I’m very proud that I can be the first woman, Greek woman, to actually represent my country into the Top 10 and of course in this tournament. It feels amazing to be able to travel around the world playing these tournaments, being one of the best players, and being from my country. I’m very, very proud of that.” Sakkari commented.
Badosa Smokes Sabalenka
In the other group match of the day, Spain’s Paula Badosa pulled off a shock win by upsetting top seed two Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 6-0 in one hour and 16 minutes. She was initially down 2-4 in the first set before going on to win 10 straight games to claim the victory.
“I think I played pretty good,” Badosa said. “The conditions are tough here to play, but I think I played an amazing match. She’s an amazing player. I knew I had to play like this. I’m really happy with my match.”
The world number 10 hit 14 winners and served five aces in the win while Belorussian looked rusty hitting 31 unforced errors in the loss.
Badosa now goes to the top her group as she has lost the fewest games so far in the tournament. As for Sabalenka, she admits that a breakdown in her mental game hampered her latest performance.
“After I lost the serve, I was really disappointed in myself and emotionally I was, like, really crazy,” Sabalenka said after the match. “I couldn’t just stop myself and kind of put myself back in the match.”
Badosa will next play Sakkari in the round-robin competition with the winner likely to secure their place in the last four of the tournament. It will be the first Tour meeting between the two players.
“I think she played a very good match today,” Badosa said. “I think the conditions were OK for her, as well. She felt quite good on court. I expect a tough match.”
Sabalenka will next play Swiatek.
“We Hope to Convince Federer to Play”: the Presentation of the 2022 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters
Director Zeljko Franulovic talked about next year’s tournament, scheduled from April 9-17
The 2022 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters will take place from April 9-17, so it’s difficult to guess what the pandemic situation will be in six months. At the moment, however, the prevalent hypothesis is that all spectators will need a Covid Pass or to bring proof of a negative test before being allowed in the Montecarlo Country Club at Roquebrune, France. If some players will refuse the vaccine, then they will need to be tested regularly in accordance to the rules devised by the French government.
Other than that, there will be no surprises when it comes to the event’s logistics, since the Country Club has already added a new players lounge and a new press room in the past few years. In 2020 the tournament was cancelled, while in 2021 it took place behind closed doors (while still being televised in 113 countries); the last edition staged with a crowd, in 2019, sold 130,000 tickets, constituting 30% of the total revenue – another 30% came from the sponsors, 30% from media rights (a number that tournament director Zeljko Franulovic hopes to see increase) and 10% from merchandising.
While it’s early days to know whether the tournament will operate at full capacity, Franulovic has made it clear that the organisers are already planning to provide a better covering for the No.2 Court, whose roof has not been at all effective in the past in the event of rain.
The tournament’s tickets can be bought on the official website of the event, but Franulovic has already vowed to reimburse immediately every ticket “if the government and the health authorities should decide to reduce the tournament’s capacity.”
Ticket prices have increased by 2 to 3 percent as compared to 2019, ranging from £25-50 for the qualifiers weekend, £32-75 for the opening rounds, £…-130 for the quarterfinals and semifinals, £65-150 for the final, £360-1250 for a nine-day tickets. Franulovic claims that the prices are in line with those of the other Masters 1000 tournaments.
Finally, Franulovic supports Andrea Gaudenzi’s decision to create a fixed prize money for the next decade. While tournaments like Madrid and Rome are trying to increase their duration from 8 to 12 days, the Monte-Carlo director has claimed that he prefers to remain a week-long event, especially because his is not a combined tournament. As for the players who will feature, Franulovic hopes to convince Roger Federer to participate: “I’m certain that he will give everything he has to be able to stage another comeback on the tour, ma no one knows where he’ll play. However, I think that on the clay he should opt for best-of-three events like Monte-Carlo and Rome rather than the French Open.”
For this and more information, you can watch the video above.
EXCLUSIVE: How The ATP Plans To Make The Tour More Welcoming For LGBT Players
The governing body of men’s tennis has received praise for taking a proactive approach to the topic with the help of a leading LGBTQ+ organisation and a top research university.
During the first week of the US Open, there was an abundance of rainbow-theme flags and wristbands worn by both players and fans to mark the tournament’s first-ever Open Pride Day.
The event was part of the USTA’s Diversity and Inclusion strategic platform which aims to make tennis more inclusive. Unlike the women’s game, there are no openly LGBTQ+ players on the men’s Tour and there have been few historically, even though various players have spoken of their support for anybody on the Tour who decides to come out. Including Stefanos Tsitsipas and newly crowned US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who were questioned about the topic following their second round matches. Meanwhile, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime revealed that there is an ongoing survey related to LGBTQ+ issues being conducted by the ATP.
“Recently I’ve started doing a survey inside the ATP about the LGBTQ+ community,” he said. “It’s important these days to be aware of that and to be open-minded and the ATP needs to do that, in today’s time it’s needed.
“The reason we don’t have openly gay players on the ATP Tour, I’m not sure of the reason, but I feel me, as a player, it would be very open, very welcome. Statistically, there should be some, but for now there’s not.”
In response to Auger-Aliassime’s comment, UbiTennis looked into the work currently being done by the ATP alongside two other parties. Their decision to venture into LGBTQ+ representation on the Tour is part of their recent commitment to support the mental health and wellbeing of their players and staff. Last year, in May, they formed partnerships with Headspace and Sporting Chance.
The survey currently being conducted by the ATP started after the governing body of men’s tennis reached out to Lou Englefield, the director of Pride Sports, a UK organisation that focuses on LGBTQ+phobia in sport and aims to improve access to sport for all LGBTQ+ people. Through their connection, they contacted Eric Denison, a behavioural science researcher at Monash University’s School of Social Sciences. Denison was the lead author of the Out on the Fields study, the first international study on homophobia in sport and the largest conducted to date.
“I have been personally impressed with the initiative of the ATP and their desire to find ways to mitigate the broad impact of homophobic behaviour (in particular), not only on gay people, but on all players.” He told UbiTennis during an email exchange.
“We know of no other sporting governing body in the world that has been proactive on LGBTQ+ issues, and has taken a strong focus on engaging with both the LGBTQ+ community and scientists to find solutions.”
Denison says the norm has been for sports bodies to address this issue after they have been either pressured to do so or if the LGBTQ+ community got the ball rolling themselves. Incredibly, research conducted as part of the Out On The Fields initiative documented 30 separate studies which found sports organisations ignored discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people in sport.
Monash University has supplied the ATP with a series of scientifically validated questions, which they are using to ‘look under the hood’ at the factors which supports a culture where gay or bisexual players feel they are not welcome. The methodology is similar to a study Denison conducted in 2020 that focused specifically on the team sports rugby union and ice hockey.
“We suspect that tennis isn’t inherently more homophobic than other sports, or traditionally male settings. Instead, there is a disconnect between people’s attitudes towards gay people (e.g. the recent pro-gay comments by top players) and their behaviour, specifically their use of homophobic banter and jokes,” said Denison.
“This behaviour, which is largely habitual, creates a hostile climate for young gay/bi people who drop out or hide their sexuality. This means gay/bi players are invisible in youth tennis and leads to the downstream problem of no professionals. The banter/jokes continue because people think it is harmless.”
The hope is that players will also agree to be interviewed by the researchers for them to get a better understanding. All of the results will then be used by Pride Sports and Monash University to recommend evidence-based solutions. It is unclear as to how long the study will take or when the findings will be ready.
Former top 100 player Brian Vahaly is one of the few players to have been both openly gay and played at the highest level of the men’s game. However, he didn’t fully come to terms with his sexuality until after retiring from the sport at age 27. Speaking to UbiTennis earlier this year, Vahaly shed light on the potential barriers for gay players.
“There were a lot of homophobic jokes made on Tour. It’s a very masculine and competitive environment,” he said. “You don’t see a lot of gay representation, except for the women’s Tour. With me not having the personality of an outspoken advocate (for LGBTQ+ issues), certainly not in my twenties, I needed some time to understand myself. To me, in tennis I didn’t feel like there was anybody to talk to or anybody that was going through anything similar.”
The ATP has spoken with Vahaly about their initiative and he has become ‘quite involved.’ Through their discussions, he got acquainted with Denison for the first time. As a professional, Vahaly peaked at a ranking high of 64th in the world and won five Challenger titles. After retiring from the Tour, he has served on the USTA’s board of directors since 2013.
“I am happy to hear that the ATP is finally taking action to address this issue. I’m impressed they are taking a thoughtful, data-driven approach to make a meaningful difference here,” he told UbiTennis.
The ATP aims to make the men’s Tour more welcoming to potential LGTBQ+ athletes playing either now or in the future. For those who question if such an initiative is important in 2021, you only have to look at the younger demographic.
Sportsnet quoted CDC data from 2019 which showed that 26% of American LGBTQ+ teenagers aged 16 or 17 has contemplated suicide, five times more than those who identify as straight (5%). Among those teenagers who heard homophobic terms, 33% self-harmed and an additional 40% considered doing so.
More than 2000 players around the world currently have an ATP ranking.
IOC Plays Down Reported Use Of Translator During Video Call With Peng Shuai
Former Australian Davis Cup Players Slam Organisers Over Reported Move To Abu Dhabi
Croatia beats Italy to book semifinal spot in the Davis Cup
The Russian Tennis Federation scores come-back win over Spain to secure quarter final spot in the Davis Cup
Emma Raducanu Sheds Light On Work With ‘Infectious’ Coach Beltz
Novak Djokovic Says ‘Media Propaganda’ Won’t Stop Him From Speaking Out
Roger Federer Hopes To End Career On His Own Terms But Wimbledon 2022 In Serious Doubt
‘Leader Of The Next Generation’ – Novak Djokovic Hails Medvedev After Paris Clash
Rafael Nadal To Play Australian Open Warm-Up Event In Abu Dhabi
REPORT: China Censors Naomi Osaka’s Weibo Account Over Peng Shuai Support
US Open, Steve Flink: “Djokovic’s loss had more to do with fatigue than pressure”
US Open, Steve Flink on the Murray-Tsitsipas Controversy
(VIDEO) Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin Del Potro Gathering Momentum In Comeback Bids
Steve Flink On Wimbledon: “Bautista Agut would be a tough semifinal test for Djokovic”
Wimbledon, Flink: “Djokovic Will Beat Zverev in the Final”
Hot Topics2 days ago
Novak Djokovic Unlikely To Play Australian Open Under Current Conditions, Says Father
Latest news2 days ago
Kazakhstan Knocks Out Canada To advance At Davis Cup Finals
Hot Topics2 days ago
WTA Confident Peng Shuai’s Email Responses Were Written Under The Influence Of Others
Latest news3 days ago
Great Britain beats France 2-1 in opening Davis Cup match in Innsbruck
Latest news3 days ago
Jannik Sinner secures Davis Cup quarter final for Italy in Turin
Hot Topics2 days ago
Great Britain Bounce Back To Reach Last Eight At Davis Cup Finals
Latest news3 days ago
Australia fights back from first match defeat to beat Hungary 2-1
Hot Topics1 day ago
New Covid-19 Variant, New Headache For Tennis Australia’s 2022 Masterplan