Serena still on track for Calendar Slam by defeating Venus - UBITENNIS
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Serena still on track for Calendar Slam by defeating Venus

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US Open – There was a time, just over a decade ago when Venus and Serena were fighting for major titles. Now it is Serena alone at the top and Venus seemingly struggling to find that major form. Yet here they are again in another battle on one of the grandest stage in tennis with the entire world watching. However, in the end, Serena remains on quest for the calendar slam as she defeated Venus for the 16th time 6-2 1-6 6-3.

 

Despite the fact that this was their 27th meeting on the professional tour level, Venus and Serena Williams matches have always drawn much spectacle, speculations as well as something special in tennis. How could it be that not only one tennis legend but two come out of the same household to transform and transcend the sport of women’s tennis has always fascinated tennis fans and the general public at large. This US Open encounter for a place in the semifinal between the two was no different. Serena is on the cusp of history and Venus possibly on the cusp of retirement. Some liken this matchup to the Billie Jean-King v Bobby Riggs hype and energy but Venus quickly stated,I’m not sure anything can top Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.”

The match was everything one can hope for as it was very competitive despite a casual look at the scoreline. Serena got the early break in the 5th game to go up 3-2 when Venus’s forehand went into the net. Serena broke again in the 7th game for 5-2 and quickly served it out 6-2 in just 33 minutes. In the 2nd set, Venus got charge in the 4th game, breaking Serena to go up 3-1. The elder sister would break again in the 6th game to serve it out 6-1 and level the match just over an hour into the match.

Serena is no stranger to comebacks and she had shown in all her major wins this year, she can summon her best tennis when under pressure. In the decisive set, Serena quickly broke Venus in the 2nd game. She quickly consolidated the break for 3-0. Venus did all she could to remain on serve to avoid another break in the set. The lone break point she had on the Serena serve was not converted and so Serena was able to maintain the lead and close out the match with an ace 6-2 1-6 6-3 after 93 minutes. It’s really great to see her do so well. She was at an unbelievable level today. Down to the match point it just was not easy. It’s probably the toughest match I have played in a really, really, really long time where I wasn’t actually beating myself. I was out there facing an incredibly tough opponent,” said Serena.

There was not much to really separate them in the match as they were both playing aggressive from the baseline trying to force the other to scramble from behind it. They both served well winning over 70% of their 1st serve points and near half of the points on their 2nd serves. Serena had 35 winners to 29 errors whereas Venus had 24 winners to 26 errors. Besides this winner to error ratio, the only real discernible difference between the two was that despite Venus many attempts to get into to the net, 20 times, she was far less successful than Serena who was 9/11. Venus only won 9 of those 20 points. The crucial thing in the match was that Serena got off to a great start in the 3rd set and maintained it. “[S]he has of course a wonderful mental game, but she also has ability to come up with a great shot when she needs it. That’s just been the hallmark of her game,” Venus said after the match.

Serena will next play Roberta Vinci in the semifinals for a place in the final. Were Serena to win that, this would be her 5th consecutive US Open finals. Of the matchup, Serena had this to say, “I played her in Canada. She played me really tough, and I didn’t really expect that … I’m not going to underestimate her. She played really well. She’s not in the semifinals of a Grand Slam for no reason. She knows what to do and she knows what to play … I just think it was great that I played her because I kind of know what to expect, and I’ll be more ready for it this time.” 

 

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Benoit Paire – ‘I Was Not Mentally Ready To Play Without Fans’

Ubitennis.net speaks to the world No.28 during a press conference ahead of his campaign at the Astana Open.

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Benoit Paire knows better than anybody about how much of a roller-coaster 2020 has been for players on the Tour.

 

The Frenchman looked to be on course to continue his strong form of 2019 after reaching the final of the ASB Classic in January. Although as the season progressed with the COVID-19 pandemic wrecking havoc Paire have found himself struggling on the Tour not just physically but mentally too. He has failed to win back-to-back matches at 10 consecutive tournaments with his current earnings for this season standing at just over $500,000.

This year was good at the beginning. I made the final in Auckland, felt good on the court and I was happy to play. Last year was a good year too, so I was very happy to start the season like this and then covid-19 arrived with lockdown in France,” Paire told UbiTennis during his press conference on Tuesday.
“We had to stay at home and couldn’t do anything physically.”

Following a five-month break in Tour events due to the pandemic, the hope for Paire that he would be able to get back on track during the North American swing. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way with the world No.28 testing positive for the virus on the eve of the US Open and was subsequently placed into isolation. To add to the drama, a couple weeks later in Germany he tested positive again but was allowed to play under local rules.

Although having COVID-19 wasn’t the only battle, it was adjusting to playing under the new rules concerning limiting spectators, continuous testing and restrictions as to where you can travel to. Like his rivals he embraced the changes but it was not easy.

When we started again I was not ready mentally to play like this without fans on the court. This is not easy for me but I am going to try and do my best in Kazakhstan.”

Paire is the top seed at this week’s Astana Open with him being the only top 30 player taking part. The event was a late addition to the tournament calendar in the wake of the pandemic with others being cancelled. However, the title isn’t the most important thing for the 31-year-old right now as he aims to get his momentum back.

“I have not had the best preparation for this tournament. I haven’t won a lot of matches but you never know. If I win one or two matches maybe I can go for the title,” he said.
“The confidence is not there for the moment but it will be here if I win a couple matches.’
“That is the most important thing for me in the tournament. To try to enjoy playing on the court and have fun. Even if I play bad, just try and fight. This is what I haven’t done since the Tour started again.”

Thriving on playing in front of fans in packed arenas, Paire has a somewhat traditional view of tennis as others debate modernising the game. Novak Djokovic recently suggested that the line judges should be replaced at tournaments by an electronic line calling system similar to what was used during the US Open. Although he won’t be able to count on the support of Paire.

“I don’t like this at all. I want to hear something from the crowd and a real person. The noise (from electronic line calling) I don’t really like honestly. This is not why I play tennis. I play to play in front of people. To have crowds and not fake noise,” he stated.

Paire, who has a bye in the first round, will play his opening match at the Astana Open against either Federico Delbonis or Mikhail Kukushkin.

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Plan Underway To Rename Top Spanish Sports Venue After Rafael Nadal

The world No.2 is said to be ‘delighted’ with the proposal but has set out one condition.

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The Caja Magica (venue of Madrid Open)

Members of Spanish political party VOX has set out a proposal for the venue of Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament to be renamed in honor of world No.2 Rafael Nadal.

 

Madrid councillor Fernando Martínez Vidal is part of the group campaigning for the Caja Magica to be renamed the ‘Caja Magica Rafa Nadal.’ The venue is home to the Madrid Open which is Spain’s most prestigious tournaments in terms of attendance and Tour category. The multi-purpose arena also held the first edition of the revamped Davis Cup finals last year, as well as other events outside of tennis.

“Nadal already has other recognitions from the Community of Madrid (he received the Gold Medal of the Community of Madrid in 2007 and was named adoptive son in 2014), but we believe that this is going one step further,” Marca newspaper quoted Vidal as saying.

Nadal has won the Madrid Open more times than any other player in the history of the tournament with five titles. Originally the tournament was held on hard courts before switching to the clay in 2009. Nadal is one of two players to have won the tournament on both surfaces along with Roger Federer. So far in his career the Spaniard has achieved a win-loss record of 52-12 at the Masters 1000 event and has earned more than $6.4 million in prize money.

Despite being in line for another honour, Nadal has stepped in by saying that should the proposal get the green light he doesn’t wish for the Caja Magica to have its name changed until after he retires from the sport. At the Barcelona Open their premier court has been named after the 20-time Grand Slam champion since 2017.

They are delighted with the proposal, but understand that it is not the right time. He (Nadal) feels comfortable playing in the Caja Mágica, but he does not want his rivals to feel more uncomfortable about playing in a facility that bears his name,” Vidal explained.
“He has asked us, and thus we have accepted, that the name change be done once his stage as a professional ends.”

It is understood that one term in the possible renaming of the venue is the person in question, Nadal, will need to ‘stop playing in professional championships’ first.

The Madrid City Council will debate the motion put forward by VOX at a session on Tuesday.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas On Why He Returned To His Old Ways During 2020

The world No.5 spoke to reporters ahead of his campaign at the Vienna Open.

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As the ATP Tour approaches the end of what has been a turbulent season marred by COVID-19 Stefanos Tsitsipas has a testing time ahead of him.

 

The 22-year-old Greek sensation will return to action this week in Vienna for the first time since his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the French Open. He is one of six top 10 players featuring in this year’s star-studded draw where he will make his debut in the event. At stake is a chance for him to win his sixth ATP title and his first at a 500 event.

“I would like a title and play good tennis. I’m happy when I see myself playing good tennis,” Tsitsipas said of his year-end objectives during a virtual press conference on Monday.

Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, Tsitsipas is hoping to continue what has mainly been a successful year for him where he has won 27 out of 37 matches played on the Tour so far. Although there have also been the inevitable blips with him losing to Borna Coric after having a two-set lead at the US Open followed by a second round loss to Jannik Sinner at the Italian Open.

Speaking out about the brief spell of patchy play, the world No.5 explained that he went through a stage of trial and error where he tried to add new elements to his game. An approach that ended up being short lived.

“It was a period where I was trying and testing new things,” he said. “I just happened to try these new things during the US Open swing and Rome. Then I went back to my old ways and I started feeling more comfortable and confident on the court after that.”

Although to every drawback is a silver lining for Tsitsipas who says he has learned a lot since lifting the biggest title of his career so far last November. At the ATP Finals in London he defeated Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem en route to the trophy. Since then his only other triumph occurred at an ATP 250 event in Marseille, France.

“A lot of things have changed (since the ATP Finals). I think I’ve grown up and faced pain on and off the court. So there were a lot of lessons to be taken and I had a lot of matches since that time but not as many as I hoped to have due to COVID,” he reflected.

Unlike Vienna this week, there are currently no plans to allow fans to the season finale in accordance with local COVID-19 regulations. Although Tsitsipas has insisted that it will have no impact on his performance. Last year the ATP Finals attracted 242,883 fans to The O2 across the eight days of competition.

“It will be sad that we won’t have spectators but that won’t stop me from playing good tennis and wanting to repeat the same thing as last year.”

The immediate focus is on Vienna this week where Tsitsipas will start against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Somebody who he has previously experienced difficulty against with their head-to-head tied at 2-2. Three out of their four meetings have gone the full distance with Tsitsipas winning their most recent clash in Dubai earlier this year.

“Right now, I’m not thinking about the ATP Finals. I’m focusing [on] this week and then next week in Bercy. I feel like these are tournaments that I can do better [at] this year and have a better version of Stefanos on the court, so I’m glad that I’m here,” he said.
“I’m glad that we get to play these tournaments given the current state of the world.”

Tsitsipas is the third seed in Vienna.

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