SIngapore race down to the wire - UBITENNIS
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SIngapore race down to the wire

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Petra Kvitova is still on course to qualify

                                                                      Petra Kvitova is still on course to qualify

The race to be included in the BNP Paribas WTA Finals continues to intrigue this week, as stories regarding top players scheduled to play, or still campaigning to feature in the year-ending event illuminate a fantastic end to the season.

Amongst the latest developments in Maria Sharapova’s withdrawal from Wuhan this week has caused concern about her participation for many further event this year. The Russian former World no.1 has not played a full match since Wimbledon, and has struggled with her team in the last few months, short-lived spell with former Wimbledon champion Jimmy Connors failed to positively impact her game. The early prognosis provides some relief; it is not the same leg injury that plagued her throughout the summer, causing her to miss the US Open. Yet it is an arm injury, the extent of which is not yet known. Sharapova has already committed to playing The Fed Cup, to enable her to play next year’s Olympics event in Rio de Janeiro. Given her injury-plagued season, it is not out of the realm of possibility that she may pull out of the WTA Finals to rest for the Fed Cup.  Sharapova is one of three players already confirmed as having qualified for the event, along with Serena Williams and Simona Halep.

Rules for qualifications differ from the men’s game. Points that go towards qualification must come from all four Grand Slams and the Premier events in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, and China. The best two results from the Premier 5 events, and a total of six other best results from outside these events may also count. An interesting situation for Flavia Pennetta is that her US Open victory does not guarantee her automatic participation. This was a luxury afforded to men’s singles US Open champion 2014, Marin Cilic, who was automatically included despite not being ranked within the top 8. As things stand Pennetta is still on course to qualify, currently sixth in the rankings.

Serena Williams has a record of picking and choosing the events that appeal to her, not playing every event on the tour. Her coach has remarked that “motivation may be low” after her defeat at the US Open. She had been chasing the first complete Slam since Steffi Graf.  The absence of the World number 1 would be a huge blow to the tournament, and could serve to undermine the women’s game. Yet she has played (and won) in each of the last three years, with the last year she did not appear coming in 2011.

Other backstories include the push to qualify. Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova, Angelique Kerber, and Carla Suarez Navarro all hold qualifying positions in the rankings. Kvitova and Safarova are close to qualifying for the event, with just three weeks of events remaining. Emphasising how close the run-in this year is, just forty-two points separate Angelique Kerber in seventh from Garbine Muguruza in eleventh, with surging Belinda Bencic perhaps making a late charge. Agnieszka Radwanska is also very much in the hunt. Many positions could change based on a single round’s play in a major event, such as the Wuhan Open this week

Everything is still very much to play for in this remarkable season. Grand Slam play may be finished for the year, but the tennis is no less dramatic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Naomi Osaka Withdraws From Wimbledon

In a statement issued by Osaka’s team, the tennis star has extended her decision to take a break from the sport amid mental health concerns.

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On the same day of Rafael Nadal’s announcement, Naomi Osaka has become the latest big name to withdraw from the Wimbledon Championships.

 

The four-time Grand Slam champion has decided to miss the Grand Slam so she can take some ‘personal time’ away from the Tour, according to a statement issued by her team. Osaka recently revealed that she has been suffering from depression and social anxiety since 2018. The revelation came after a fallout erupted over her decision to not fulfil her press commitments at the French Open. She later withdrew from the tournament following her first round match due to mental health concerns.

However, Osaka has confirmed that she still intends to play at the Tokyo Olympic Games which will start towards the end of next month. She has been one the key athletes used by organisers to help promote the upcoming games.

“Naomi won’t be playing Wimbledon this year. She is taking some personal time with friends and family. She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans.” A statement reads.

Despite her success in the majors, the 23-year-old is yet to go deep in the draw at Wimbledon. In her three previous appearances, she has reached the third round twice followed by a shock first round loss to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan in 2019. The tournament wasn’t held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week Wimbledon organisers were hopeful that the world No.2 would play after reaching out to her team. Although they had no direct contact with Osaka herself. Tournament director Jamie Baker said he was open to ‘any discussions’ regarding potential issues that could arise.

“I had the conversation with her team,” AFP quoted Baker as saying on Wednesday. “It’s absolutely clear that we’re here, we’re completely open for any discussions when they want to have that. Hopefully it goes without saying that we want the best players competing here no matter what.”

Sportico reports that Osaka made $55M in earnings and endorsements during a 12-month period between 2020-2021. The highest amount ever to be earned by a female athlete during that period.

Osaka is yet to make any public commented following her withdrawal from Wimbledon.

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Rafael Nadal to Skip Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics

“The fact that there has only been 2 weeks between RG and Wimbledon, didn’t make it easier on my body to recuperate”, has written the Spaniard in a statement.

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Current world N.3 and 20-time Slam champion Rafa Nadal has decided not to play in the 2021 Championships nor in the re-scheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In a series of Tweets, the Spaniard has made the news official while elaborating on the reasons behind this choice:

 

In a lengthy thread, he elaborated: “The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at he maximum level of competition. The fact that there has only been 2 weeks between RG and Wimbledon, didn’t make it easier on my body to recuperate after the always demanding clay court season.

“They have been two months of great effort and the decision I take is focused looking at the mid and long term. Sport prevention of any kind of excess in my body is a very important factor at this stage of my career in order to try to keep fighting for the highest level of competition and titles”.

Nadal won in Barcelona and Rome, before bowing out against Novak Djokovic in a four-hours-and-eleven-minutes semifinal, ending an unbeaten run of 33 matches in Paris.

On the Tokyo event, he added: “The Olympic Games always meant a lot and they were always a priority as a Sports person, I found the spirit that every sports person in the world wants to live. I personally had the chance to live 3 of them and had the honor to be the flag bearer for my country.”

Nadal is a two-time Wimbledon champion (2008 and 2010) and has reached the semi-finals in the last two editions. This means that he will lose 360 points, since the Championships are among the tournaments that allow the players to keep 50 percent of their 2019 tallies under the revised ranking system.

He is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist: he won in the singles in Beijing in 2008 and in the doubles in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 partnering Marc Lopez – in Brazil, he also finished fourth in the singles event.

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Frustrated Roger Federer Disappointed With Own Attitude Following Halle Loss

The former world No.1 reacts to his early exit from the Noventi Open.

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Roger Federer says difficulty with his ongoing comeback from injury ‘got to him’ a little bit during his second round match at the Noventi Open in Halle.

 

The 10-time champion was knocked out of the tournament by Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime who prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Making it the first time in Federer’s career he has failed to win back-to-back matches in the tournament. Halle was only the fourth tournament he has played since returning to the Tour following a knee injury which required two surgical procedures last year.

After getting knocked out of the tournament, the world’s media were left waiting for almost three hours before Federer spoke to the press. An unusual approach from a player who has lost. During that period the 39-year-old said he spoke with coach Ivan Ljubičić about his performance.

“I needed time to digest the third set. I was unhappy about how it ended,” he explained. “(It was) Similar to Geneva in some ways where I felt I actually played good in spells. But it was up and down.’
“That match had good and bad moments but I guess that’s part of the comeback.” He added.

Federer admitted that he started to get frustrated with himself after getting broken at the start of the decider where Auger-Aliassime went on to win four games in a row. He believes that mentality affected the outcome of the match but he gives credit to his Canadian opponent who registered only his fourth win over a top 10 player in his career.

“It was not a good attitude from my side. I was disappointed with the way I was feeling on court and the way things were going,” Federer admitted.
“I think the whole difficulty of the comeback got to me a little bit, as well. I realised that it was not going to be my day and there was nothing I could do. I started to get really negative. This is not normally how I am.’
“This is something I’m not happy about but at the same time in like 1500 of or so matches these things can happen. The good thing is that I know it will not happen the next time.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has recorded four wins this season heading into Wimbledon but only two of those were against top 50 players. He defeated Dan Evans (No.28) in Doha and Marin Cilic (No.47) at the French Open.

Federer will be returning back to his native Switzerland prior to travelling to the UK. Alluding to the fact that he doesn’t want to stay inside a bubble any longer than he has to. He will speak to his team about his next steps prior to Wimbledon, where he will be seeking a historic ninth title.

“The good thing coming out of a match like this against a great player is that I know what I need to think about moving forward because clearly I need do a bit better.” He concluded.

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