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What has this US Open taught us?

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TENNIS US OPEN – Our Giulio Gasparin analyses the results of the just-finished Us Open to find new angles for the reading of a surprising edition.

 

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

For the second time this year, we have witnessed a new male grand slam champion, Serena Williams has joined Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova at 18 slams, the Bryan brothers have taken their 100th title and Martina Hingis has played her first doubles’ final in 12 years.

It has definitely been a surprising Open, with countless upsets and many unexpected results, but looking backwards it seems it all started even before the tournament started, when Rafael Nadal and Li Na announced their withdrawal from the event due to injuries.

But let’s put some order first and consider each of the events, starting from the biggest surprises, the men’s event.

Stan Wawrinka by Art Seitz

Stan Wawrinka by Art Seitz

The post-Wawrinka case

It has been said over and over by both journalists and players, but the victory of the “second” Swiss in Australia has completely changed the way players consider their chances at majors.

It is nothing new to the world of tennis and it resembles a lot what happened in the WTA tour in the past years, but one knows the substantial differences between the two tours and, before January 2014, it seemed unreal to consider any new slam champion, let alone two!

Wawrinka, in that, did a lot more than win a slam and upset two of the main favourites en-route. He was the St George and killed the dragon: so by doing that, he revealed the myth of the unbeatability of the top names at slams.

All players said that, his win gave a new attitude to all the players fighting from behind the “big four.” Beating them and dreaming of a slam were no more an unforgivable sin, it was possible, it was real.

Truth is that for two more slams this has not occurred. In Paris and London, the same old faces played the last act of both tournaments, but this did not mean all the others would forget what had happened in January.

It all resulted in what we all know: the first final without any of the big four involved since 2005.

On top of that, this result gives us another point of discussion and it is the indirect benefit for Cilic that the doping ban was.

This is no place to discuss the reasons of the suspension, even though I believe it was a case of negligence rather than malice, but after his first slam success, it almost seems a bless in disguise.

The time away from the tour allowed the Croat to concentrate on his flaws, on working to fix them and improving both physically and mentally.

Working on technique is very hard and it is even harder to squeeze it on a very short off-season, that is one of the reasons why changes on top are hardly ever as sudden. Cilic had a long break to exploit and do all the tweaks he needed to be successful, that and the “death of the dragon” came about nicely and it all came about right on time to rise the most important trophy of his career.

Shall we expect more upsets and new slam champions from now on?

Hard to tell, the class of the top names is undeniably great, but this 2014 proved that they are still human, the dragon can be killed, and now every player is aware of it.

Srena Williams by Ray Giubilo

Srena Williams by Ray Giubilo

Serena roars again, but not alone

In a way, Cilic’s success is a bit overshadowed by the great result of Serena Williams, who turned around an horrific season in slam tournaments by conquering her first of the year, the 18th of her career. It was a significant one because she beat Roger Federer on time and, in all time terms, she joined Navratilova and Evert.

Williams, we can say, overcame the women’s version of the Wawrinka-effect, for which she had been upset early in the previous three slams, so that she had never won fewer matches in slams when playing a full season in more than ten years.

The expectations on her to do well in her home slam were great, but she finally found her best form and game to win her third consecutive title in New York, this time without dropping a single set and never losing more than six games in a match.

Sadly, it will not be a final that will be remembered because of its quality, as Williams looked nervous and a little tentative, but, on the other side of the net, her close friend Caroline Wozniacki was probably even more.

The win of the America put an end to the perfectly-scripted story of the broken hearted girl that finds success after being dumped by her fiancé a few months away from the wedding.

But, as Williams whispered to the Dane at the net “you will win one too one day”, the former world number one has proved to be a contender if she can keep up this focus and intensity.

Wozniacki has lost four matches on hard courts this summer and, apart from a blip against Camila Giorgi in New Haven, all the other three losses were close matches against the current world number one.

The Dane has given a statement by beating Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber before the Open and then by taking down a very positive Maria Sharapova in one of the best quality matches of the New York slam this year.

But beyond the two obvious storylines of the women’s draw, there have been many others: the first quarter-final of Belinda Bencic (the youngest since Martina Hingis to reach this stage in New York), the surprise runs of Lucic, Krunic and most of all Peng’s, ended by an horrific heat stroke.

As usual, the WTA does not lack unpredictability and the future looks pretty certain to remain alike, starting from the last battles to qualify for the Master of Singapore.

Bob and Mike Bryan by Art Seitz

Bob and Mike Bryan by Art Seitz

Bryan’s 100th

Bob and Mike Bryan lifted their 100th trophy, the 16th slam, the fifth US Open title. There is little to add to these number, they are the first team to ever reach three digits and it was simply amazing for them and the American crowd that all happened at the home slam, in front of their compatriots.

Martina Hingis by Art Seitz

Martina Hingis by Art Seitz

Hingis in another slam final

Many fans and experts were sceptical when the rumours of Martina Hingis’s comeback were confirmed, but after finally finding in Flavia Pennetta a doubles’ partner that fit her traits, the Swiss champion has reached her first slam final since 2002, when she was the double’s title with Anna Kournikova and lost in singles to Jennifer Capriati.

The experienced due crumbled from a set up in the decisive act against Makarova-Vesnina, but this looks to be a team that can improve a lot from here on.

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Alexander Zverev Ditches Federer’s TEAM8 Management Firm To Return To His ‘Roots’

Zverev speaks out about his ‘short and long term strategies going forward.’

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German tennis star Alexander Zverev has confirmed his departure from TEAM8 as he set out his coaching plans for the season ahead.

 

The world No.7 posted a statement on Instagram saying that he no longer wants to be represented by the management firm, which was co-founded by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick. Zverev says part of his decision was because he wanted his family to take a greater role once again. Instead, he will be managed by his brother Misha, who is the captain of the German ATP Cup team, as well as Sergei Bubka.

“I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management,” Zverev wrote.
“I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”

Zverev’s announcement comes less than two weeks after it was confirmed he will no longer be working with David Ferrer. A former world No.3 player who joined his camp last year. Ferrer confirmed that the ending of their partnership was on mutual terms and there was no conflict between the two. The Spaniard said his role as tournament director of the Barcelona Open and family commitments contributed towards his decision.

Last year the 23-year-old broke new territory in his career by reaching the final of the US Open which he lost in five sets to Dominic Thiem. Zverev also won two ATP titles in Cologne. However, his on-court success was overshadowed by events in his personal life. He has been accused of mental and physical abuse by his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova, which Zverev has denied. Meanwhile, it was revealed that another former partner of his is pregnant with his child.

Heading into the Australian Open, Zverev is likely to face more scrutiny over the domestic abuse allegations after it was confirmed that a new account from Sharypova will be published in the coming weeks. New York Times journalist and freelance writer Ben Rothenberg confirmed that a second interview will be released before the start of the Melbourne major. It is unknown as to what the interview will entail but there has been a prior reference to one ‘incident’ in China.

Zverev’s Instagram statement in full

“What a year 2020 has been, for the whole world and for myself. I reached my first Grand Slam final without my parents and brother being court-side due to them contracting COVID-19. An almost 2 year long legal dispute with my former agent finally came to a successful resolution, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about my short and long term strategies going forward. For this reason and because of the ongoing worldwide restrictions, I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management. I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”

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No Special Treatment For Andy Murray, Says Australian Government

The three-time Grand Slam champion still wants to travel to Melbourne later this month but will it be possible?

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Andy Murray must provide a negative COVID-19 test and no preferential treatment will be given to him if he attempts to play the Australian Open, according to a government minister.

 

The former world No.1 was set to travel to Australia later this week but is unable to after testing positive for the coronavirus. As a result, Murray is currently self-isolating in his London home and is therefore unable to start the mandatory 14-day quarantine period along with other players. Although he is hopeful to still travel to Melbourne at a later date.

Whether or not he will be allowed to do so in the coming weeks is unclear. In a statement Tennis Australia wished the three-time Grand Slam champion a ‘happy recovery’ but didn’t address the possibility that Murray can travel at a later date than his peers. It is understood that negotiations are currently ongoing with coach tournament director Craig Tiley.

“The Australian Open fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he’s worked for this opportunity,” a statement reads.

Murray is not the only player unable to travel this week as a result of a positive test. Others include Madison Keys, Davidovich Fokina and Dominic Thiem’s coach Nicolas Massu. Tennys Sandgren also tested positive but has been allowed to fly because health officials say he is ‘viral shedding from a previous virus’. Sandgren tested positive for the virus back in November.

Martin Foley, who is the Minister of Health for the Victorian government, says no special treatment will be provided to Murray in his bid to play in the Grand Slam. The Brit was granted entry into the main draw thanks to a wild card. He missed the 2019 tournament due to pelvic bruising and the year before he stunned the sport by saying he may be forced to retire before later undergoing career-saving hip surgery.

In regards to Mr Murray, we’ve been clear from the start that anyone who tests positive is not able to be part of the program coming into Melbourne and Australia,” Foley told reporters on Friday.
“Mr Murray, and the other 1240 people as part of the program, need to demonstrate that if they’re coming to Melbourne they have returned a negative test.
“So should Mr Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else.
“Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused.”

This year’s Australian Open is taking place under strict COVID-19 protocols. During quarantine players will be allowed to train up to five hours each day but not play in any professional tournaments. Those who break the rules could face a fine of AUS$20,000, prosecution and even deportation.

The Melbourne major will start on February 8th.

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Andy Murry Tests Positive For COVID-19, Australian Open Hopes In Doubt

A representative for the former world No.1 has confirmed that he is currently in isolation.

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Andy Murray faces a race against time to make the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.

 

Multiple British media sources have confirmed that the three-time Grand Slam champion has been in self-isolation since testing positive and it is believed that he is in good health. The Daily Mail has reported that Murray is experiencing only ‘minor symptoms’ of the virus. He undertook the test as part of the requirement by Tennis Australia under their COVID-19 protocols which requires all arrivals to test negative. However, Tennys Sandgren has been given the all clear to travel despite testing positive.

Murray and his team are now hoping that they will still be able to make it in time for the Australian Open which begins on February 8th. Nicolas Massu, who is the coach of Dominic Thiem, finds himself in the same situation as Murray. Besides being required to test negative, players must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Australia before they are allowed to play in any tournaments. Although they are allowed to train during this period for up to five hours a day. Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Murray and if they will allow him to join their ‘bio-secure bubble’ at a later date.

There is no proof of where Murray caught the virus but growing speculation surrounds the National Tennis Center in Roehampton where it has previously been reported that a minor outbreak occurred. The Brit had been training at the facility and it is understood that fellow player Paul Jubb have also contracted COVID-19.

The 33-year-old is eager to return to the Australian Open two years after admitting at the tournament that he may be forced to retire from the sport due to a serious hip injury. In 2018 he stunned reporters by saying ‘I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months’ before going on to say that the Australian Open may be his last tournament. Following his first round loss, the Brit even had a video tribute played to him at the event. However, since then he had managed to continue his career with the help of hip resurfacing surgery. It was another injury (pelvic bruising) that also forced him to skip the Melbourne major last year.

Murray is a five-time finalist at the Australian Open.

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