Serena tested by fellow American Mattek-Sands - UBITENNIS
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Serena tested by fellow American Mattek-Sands

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US Open – Few predicted the high drama that unfolded on Arthur Ashe in the Serena Williams (1) v fellow American wildcard entrant Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Mattek-Sands came out on court in what could only be described as “on fire” as she seized control of the match and near looked ready to upset history in the making. However, the Serena legacy is nothing without the epic comeback matches. This match on the night, might not be the best one of the many Serena has played but it might be the most important one. Serena took the last 8 games of the match to win it 3-6 7-5 6-0 and move into the Round of 16 on Sunday.  [S]he’s a great closer. She always has been. I think she gains momentum and gets pumped up, pumps herself up, and I think that’s why she’s able to close matches out really well,” said Mattek-Sands after the match.

 

Mattek-Sands raced out to a 3-0 lead. Serena was missing by a country-mile as errors poured off her racquets. She held serve and broke to get back on serve at 2-3 but Mattek-Sands was relentless. She remained focused and error-free as she broke again for a 4-2 lead and consolidated the break for 5-2. What was most surprising in this opening set was the number of break point chances Serena missed. She had break point chances in nearly all of Mattek-Sands games including the pivotal 8th game when Mattek-Sands was serving for the set. Mattek-Sands did not so much win these crucial points as opposed to Serena gave them away. She was rushing on her shots, hitting wide of the mark and taking up poor court positions in light of the shots she was going for. She was 1/7 on break points in the set whereas Mattek-Sands converted on the two chances that she had. Thus in just 37 minutes, Mattek-Sands was up a set and Serena was a set away from losing. Mattek-Sands had a single unforced error in the set compared to 14 from Serena.

Serena down a set was not usually reason to panic but the problem was that Serena’s game was not improving. She again squandered 5 more break points. Mattek-Sands looked poised for the upset and then in the 8th game, the unseeded American blinked. Serena broke for 5-3 and served for the set. However, it seemed that the pressure of the moment got too much for Serena as she too took this moment to blink and was broken. Mattek-Sands leveled the set at 5-5 and it looked like this was going to be an upset of the 21-time major champion. The crowd was aghast of this possibility. The tension both inside and outside the stadium.

Serena sensing the urgency of the matter responded in her classic manner. She raised her level to “unplayable”. “I knew that I could play better, so with that in the back of my mind — because I made a lot of errors, but I knew, like, this wasn’t the best game, my best game,” Serena said after the match. Mattek-Sands could not keep pace with her compatriot and soon it became clear that the danger of Serena losing was not about to happen on the day. Serena held serve for 6-5 and broke her opponent to take the set 7-5. In the 3rd set, Mattek-Sands became a mere spectator in the match winning only 9 of the 34 points played. Serena bageled her compatriot to take the match 3-6 7-5 6-0 in an hour and 49 minutes. After the match, Mattek-Sands said this of Serena, “[W]hen she’s really confident in her shots. Obviously she starts ripping the ball really hard and timing it well and taking balls on the rise. I think you can feel the pressure.”

 

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Amelie Mauresmo Appointed Tournament Director In Historic First For French Open

The former world No.1 says she has ‘clear ambitions’ for her new role.

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Amelie Maureasmo has been named as the new tournament director of the French Open, becoming the first woman in history to hold the role.

 

Mauresmo, who won two Grand Slam titles during 2006, takes over from Guy Forget who officially resigned from the position earlier this month after citing communication issues with the head of the French Tennis Federation (FFT). Forget was the tournament director since 2016. The appointment follows a report by newspaper L’Equipe saying that the former player was the preferred choice of FFT chief Gilles Moretton and talk of her potentially taking the role first emerged during the end of October.

“I am very proud to join the Roland-Garros team,” Mauresmo said in a statement. “I have the position of tournament director with clear ambitions. I will carry them out with the same high standards, freedom and passion that has always driven me.”

Mauresmo won 25 WTA titles during her career, including the Australian Open and Wimbledon during 2006. She also held the world No.1 ranking for 39 weeks and is the only player from her country to have held that position since the system was introduced back in the 1970s. After retiring from the sport, she worked as a coach for players such as Andy Murray and Lucas Pouille. She was also offered the role of Davis Cup captain but later declined in order to work with Pouille.

“Amélie is a woman of character, who likes to challenge and likes to be challenged. I am happy and proud that the federation can rely on these talented people,” said Moretton.

In 2018 Mauresmo criticised Forget’s management of the French Open scheduling after the women’s semi-final matches were removed from the showpiece court where the men’s took place. Due to bad weather during the tournament, matches were delayed which caused a backlog.

What message are we sending by taking the decision to put the two women’s semi-finals at 11 a.m. on the second and third courts?” she wrote on Twitter at the time.
“No match on the centre court?”
“It’s simple to open Lenglen and Chatrier and have the two women’s matches at 1 p.m. followed by the two men’s.”

The 2022 French Open is set to begin on May 16th.

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No Medical Exceptions Granted To Australian Open Players So Far But Officials Want A Stricter Process

After recent scrutiny in the media over the passes, it has emerged that Tennis Australia is looking into implementing a more rigorous system.

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Tennis Australia has said no player has applied for a medical exemption to play at the Australian Open amid reports that Novak Djokovic is opting to go through the process in order to play.

 

Tournament director Criag Tiley told ABC on Thursday that all players who want to play at the grand slam must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in line with a health mandate which has been implemented in the region. However, in some circumstances players could participate in the event if they are not fully jabbed as long as they have been given a special medical exemption. According to the documentation sent to players, those who suffer from an acute medical condition or have suffered from inflammatory cardiac illness over the past six months would qualify for such a pass.

“To be clear upfront, no one can play the Australian Open unless they are vaccinated,” Tiley told the ABC.
“The only condition at which, outside of being vaccinated, that you could compete is if you receive a medically approved exemption from Australian authorities …
“I’ve seen reports this morning. There’s been no medical exemptions that have been granted at this point.”

The scrutiny on medical exemptions has been elevated in recent days following a report first published by News Corporation Australia that world No.1 Djokovic is opting to use the system in order to play in the country. Although there has been no official confirmation about this. The Serbian has not disclosed whether he is vaccinated after previously saying he wants to keep his medical history private. It had also been claimed that Tennis Australia has backed Djokovic in his bid but they have denied this allegation.

Should the 20-time Grand Slam champion or any other player opt to go through the process they are likely to face even more scrutiny after the premier of Victoria, which is the state where the Australian Open is held, called for extra checks to be implemented. Daniel Andrews said he has been briefed by Tennis Australia that they are looking into the process of using a review panel regarding the awarding of any potential medical exemption in the future.

“I’m briefed that Tennis Australia are looking very, very closely [at] whether they might put in place a review mechanism with for instance a panel of medical experts to review any exemptions that were granted. And I fully support that.” He said.
“If Tennis Australia go down the review process to check that all exemptions – and I won’t comment on any individual – that any exemptions were appropriate, then I think that would be a very good step.”

At present, when a player applies for a medical exemption a panel of medical specialists looks at a blind copy of their medical records and then makes a decision.

The next deadline for players to commit to the Australian Open will be December 28th which will most likely be a clearer picture of who is playing at the Melbourne major. The entry list was revealed earlier this week but it is only provisional. Serena Williams, Bianca Andreescu, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka will all miss the event.

The Australian Open will start on January 17th.

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Tennis Australia Denies Seeking Loopholes For Unvaccinated Players To Play

It has been reported by News Corp Australia that officials has backed Novak Djokovic’s application for a medical exemption.

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INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2021 at OlimpiaWorld on November 27, 2021 in Innsbruck, Austria. (Photo by Pedro Salado / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

Tennis Australia has said allegations that the governing body is using loopholes to allow players who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the country is ‘simply untrue.’

 

In line with the rules set out by a health mandate in the state of Victoria, all tennis players must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to play in the Australian Open. However, there are a few exemptions which allow players who are not double jabbed to participate as long as they meet the criteria. Examples include players who are suffering from an acute medical condition or have suffered from inflammatory cardiac illness over the past six months.

Some news outlets have quoted unnamed sources suggesting that world No.1 Novak Djokovic could try to apply for an exemption on medical grounds and has received the support of Tennis Australia. It is understood that if the 20-time Grand Slam champion applies for an exception he could avoid two weeks of quarantine upon arrival in Australia assuming he has not been vaccinated. Djokovic has refused to publicly speak out about his status but is on the entry list for both the ATP Cup and Australian Open.

However, Tennis Australia has denied using loopholes in order for players to participate in their tournaments without making any reference to Djokovic. In a statement issued on Wednesday to the Australian Associated Press, the organization insisted that “all players, participants and staff at the Australian Open have to be vaccinated”.

“Any suggestion that Tennis Australia is seeking ‘loopholes’ within this process is simply untrue. Adjudicating on medical exemptions is the domain of independent medical experts. We are not in a position to influence this process and nor would we,” the Tennis Australia statement said.
“Any application for a medical exemption must follow strict government guidelines based on Atagi (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) clinical advice. This is the same process that applies to any person wanting to enter Australia.”

James Merlino, who is the deputy Premier of Victoria, has slammed any suggestion of using loopholes for who he describes as ‘privileged tennis players.’ He later added that it is the decision of the commonwealth as to who should be granted a medical exemption.

Djokovic is currently tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for most Grand Slam titles ever won by a male player at 20 each. He could overtake his rivals should he play at the Australian Open next month. He has already won the men’s title a record nine times.

The Australian Open will begin on January 17th.

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