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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Further 23 Players In Hard Quarantine After More Positive Tests On Charter Flight

More players head into hard quarantine ahead of the first grand slam of the year.

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A further 23 players have been told that they are being placed into hard quarantine after another positive COVID-19 test on a charter flight from Abu Dhabi.

 

Players were notified this evening in Australia that there was a positive test on the Abu Dhabi charter flight. Although it looks it wasn’t a player who tested positive it now means 23 more players will now go into hard quarantine.

This follows the news of 24 players going into hard quarantine after two positive tests from a charter flight from Los Angeles.

It is understood from several journalists that among those who are now being placed into hard quarantine from the Abu Dhabi flight are Belinda Bencic, Maria Sakkari, Bianca Andreescu, Angelique Kerber, Marta Kostyuk, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ons Jabeur.

Although there are only 47 players in hard quarantine so far, there is a fear that this number could rise with more COVID test results still waiting to come back.

Before the charter flights, Andy Murray, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Madison Keys and Amanda Anisimova were denied entry into Australia via the chartered flights due to positive COVID results.

The first set of tournaments in Australia are set to begin on the 31st of January with the Australian Open due to begin on the 8th of February.

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24 Players In Isolation After Positive COVID-19 Tests On Australian Open Charter Flight

It is understood that Kei Nishikori and Victoria Azarenka are among those to be affected by the latest development.

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Tennis Australia has been dealt a new blow to their preparations for the Melbourne Grand Slam after it was confirmed two people tested positive for COVID-19 on one of their flights.

 

A member of the flight crew and one passenger who was on Flight QR793 from Los Angeles Airport have tested positive for the virus. It has been reported by journalist Pablo Amalfitano that the coach of Lauren Davis, Edward Elliot, is the passenger who has tested positive. Although he reportedly claims that the result is a false positive.

A total of 79 people were on the flight with 24 of those being players such as Kei Nishikori, Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Alison Riske, Vaskek Pospisil and Tennys Sandgren. Sandgren did test positive prior to the fight but was given the all clear to travel after it was deemed that he was ‘viral shedding.’

Due to their possible exposure to COVID-19 Australian health officials have instructed all players to isolate for 14 days and they will not be allowed to leave their room to train in what will be a big setback to their preparations.

“The Chief Health Officer has reviewed the flight and has determined that everyone on board needs to isolate and will be confined to their rooms for the 14-day quarantine,” a leaked email sent to players read. “We know this is not how you imagined your preparations for the AO would start but our entire team is here to support you and do everything that we can to get you through this.”

News of the positive tests was first reported online by the players themselves after they uploaded a leaked email detailing what had happened before Tennis Australia had a chance to publish a statement.

“We are communicating with everyone on this flight, and particularly the playing group whose conditions have now changed, to ensure their needs are being catered to as much as possible, and that they are fully appraised of the situation,” Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley commented.
“Our thoughts are with the two people who tested positive on the flight and we wish them well for their recovery.”


Doubles specialist Artem Sitak, who was on board the plane, commented on the situation by giving an update to his followers on Instagram. The Russian-born New Zealand player is currently ranked 78th in the world and has won five ATP titles so far in his career.

“We’re all deemed close contact. I asked for a bike, so hopefully I’ll get one and stay in shape,” Sitak said. “We’ll probably be out on the 29th of January and head straight into the ATP 250 a few days after.
“Obviously not great, but that’s the risk we were all taking. They kind of warned us this was going to be at the discretion of the Australian government, Australian health authorities if something like this happened. It’s just unlucky that two of them contracted the virus.”

In a later update the 34-year-old confirmed that he has had a bike delivered to his room. |

Meanwhile, Japanese media have confirmed that all of Nishikori’s team has tested negative for the virus but the former US Open finalist will be training alone in his room.

The first series of tournaments are set to take place in Melbourne a week before the Australian Open on January 31st.

List of affected players

  • Victoria Azarenka
  • Sloane Stephens
  • Kei Nishikori
  • Tennys Sandgren
  • Nicholas Monroe
  • Santiago Gonzalez
  • Artem Sitak
  • Guido Pella
  • Alison Riske
  • Marcos Giron
  • Vasek Pospisil

Note – list is incomplete and compiled via news agencies

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Dayana Yastremska Heads To Australia Despite Doping Violation

Did the 20-year-old break the rules with her trip?

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Tennis Australia says they are ‘investigating’ after it emerged that Dayana Yastremska boarded a plane funded by the governing body despite failing a drugs test.

 

Last week the International Tennis Federation issued a statement confirming that the Ukrainian tennis star has been issued with a provisional suspension after testing positive for the banned substance mesterolone metabolite. An anabolic agent prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency which can be used for the treatment of people with low testosterone. Yastremska was pictured boarding a plane to Australia on Thursday in a post uploaded by two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova which has since been deleted.

Yastremska has denied any wrongdoing and says she has ‘scientific evidence’ that her positive test was a result of contamination. Although she didn’t elaborate any further as to what that evidence is. The world No.29 has the right to appeal her provisional suspension but according to the latest ITF statement she hasn’t done so. One way her ban can be lifted is if the appeals board accepts her contamination argument which would allow her to play right away.

“Only a very low concentration of mesterolone metabolite was detected in my urine,” Yastremska wrote in a statement. “Given that low concentration and my negative test two weeks earlier, I have received scientific advice that the result is consistent with some form of contamination event.”

Despite Yastremska’s plea, it is unclear as to if she or Tennis Australia has broken any rules. As of January 15h the ITF still lists her as a player who is provisionally suspended from the sport. Richard Ings, who is the former chair of the Australian anti-doping agency, points out that suspended players are not allowed to participate in any activity organised by a tournament. Raising questions as to if a Tennis Australia funded plane journey counts as one of these ‘activities.’

Yastremska is currently on the Australian Open entry list and is set to be allowed to train during her 14-day quarantine like other players unless anything changes. Tennis Australia has not made a public statement but news agency AAP has confirmed that an investigation has been launched. Should it turn out that the 20-year-old is ineligible to play, it is unclear if she would be required to pay back the cost of her plane trip.

The Australian Open starts on February 8th.

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