Tough wins for Azarenka and Errani early on Day 4 - UBITENNIS
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Tough wins for Azarenka and Errani early on Day 4

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US Open – Two-time US Open finalist (2012-2013) Victoria Azarenka (20) and 2012 semifinalist Sara Errani (16) both had to dig deep to get passed their 2nd round opponents as they were both facing upsets. Azarenka was able to get the job done in straight sets 7-5 6-4 against Yanina Wickmayer and Errani battled hard to escape the clutches of qualifier Jelena Ostapenko 0-6 6-4 6-3.

 

Azarenka was under pressure from the beginning of the match as Wickmayer jumped out to a 2-0 lead. She would sustain this lead until the 8th game when Azarenka broke back for 4-4. Wickmayer broke back for 5-4 and serve for the set but again was unable to hold the lead as Azarenka got back the break and broke her again in the 12th game for the set as Wickmayer was serving to stay in it, 7-5. In the 2nd set, Azarenka was able to be in control of the points better but could not serve out the match when she was up 5-3. Wickmayer on the other hand again could not hold serve when it counted the most. Serving to stay in the match down 4-5, the Belgian could not come up with the goods and so was bounced from the tournament 5-7 4-6. This has to be a tough loss for Wickmayer who has yet to equal her 2009 result when she made the semifinals. Since then, she has only gone past the 2nd round once. Azarenka moves through to the 3rd round where she will play Angelique Kerber (11) who beat Karin Knapp 7-5 6-2.

Errani looked well out of sorts at the beginning of her match. She lost the opening set 0-6 to Ostapenko who was simply on top of every shot. Errani had a medical time out and got some treatment which seemed have helped as the Italian raced out to a 4-0 lead in the 2nd set. Ostapenko was able to get back the double breaks for 3-4. However, Errani remained relentless as she broke back for 5-3 and despite being unable to serve out the set in the 9th game, she broke Ostapenko again to take it 6-4. The 3rd set saw 6 successive breaks of serves for 3-3. However, Errani allowed her experience to shine through as she held serve for 4-3 and broke Ostapenko for the 4th time in the set for 5-3. Errani then fought through the pain and serve it out 0-6 6-4 6-3 in 2 hours.

Errani is set to play Sam Stosur (22), 2011 champion here, who virtually stormed through to the 3rd round with a 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Evgeniya Rodina in just 51 minutes. The Australian had 8 aces added to her total of 29 winners. Rodina only had 1 ace and 7 winners altogether for the match. “I’m very happy with the way I played. I thought I played great from start to finish. [N]ice to get on and off very quickly, especially when it’s hot and I’ve got doubles later today. [M]y first two matches have been really good,” Stosur said after the match.

American Varvara Lepchenko took out Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko who earlier in the tournament upset Lucie Safarova (6). Lepchenko won 7-6 6-2 in just over an hour an a half. Andrea Petkovic (18) was also able to take out her opponent in straight sets. The German got by Elena Vesnina 6-3 7-6. Vesnina was able to gain a 5-3 lead in the 2nd set but was unable to serve it out at 5-4 and could not get much traction in the breaker.

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Andre Agassi’s Failed Doping Tests Covered Up By ATP, Claims Former Rival

A former world No.1 has made a bold claim about the American tennis legend.

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Andre Agassi attending Roland Garros in 2017 (photo by Roberto Dell Olivo)

Marcelo Rios has launched an attack on the ATP during an interview with Chilean publication La Tercera when talking about anti-doping measures in the sport.

 

Rios, who reached a ranking high of No.1 back in 1998, has claimed that he was only tested three times by anti-doping officials throughout his entire career. However, he states that he never consumed any banned substances. He said measures during his playing days were poor and difficult for many players to understand. Rios won 18 ATP titles between 1995-2001 and reached the final of the 1998 Australian Open.

“They give you a sheet that I didn’t understand anything it said. The ATP does it wrong in that area. They give you a list where there are millions of things you never saw in your life. They got too drastic. One thing is personal life and another thing is to dope to take advantage.” He said.
“I never doped in my tennis time. I drank alcohol, yes, but weed or another strong drug no, because of doping and because I was not interested in getting into things like that. I had three anti-doping tests done throughout my career.”

During the 1990s and early 2000s Andre Agassi was one of the stars of the men’s tour. He was the fifth man in history to complete a career grand slam and spent a total of 101 weeks at the top of the ATP rankings. In his autobiography he admitted to taking crystal meth back in 1997 and failing a drugs test which he escaped punishment for after saying he inadvertently consumed the illegal substance. The revelation prompted numerous condemnation on the tour and placed the ATP under scrutiny by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Agassi received no punishment following his admission.

However, a blunt speaking Rios has alleged that the governing body of men’s tennis was deliberately involved in hiding Agassi’s failed drugs test. Doping controls are managed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), but in the past it was the responsibility of each tour, the ATP and WTA.

“They caught him four times and the ATP covered him because he was Agassi and the tennis was going to shit. I found the biggest shit that exists at the ATP.“ Rios said.

During their careers, Rios played his American rival three times on the tour. He defeated Agassi in the finals of the Grand Slam Cup and Miami Masters during 1998.

The 44-year-old has also spoken out about the provisional suspension of one of his compatriots, Nicolas Jarry. Jarry tested positive for ligandrol and stanozolol during the Davis Cup Finals last November, but insists that he has never intentionally took any illegal drugs.

“When I competed, they analysed only urine samples. Now it’s also with blood samples, so trying to hide something is very difficult and nowadays you get caught whatever you want to do.” Rios commented on the matter.
“Nico was very fed up and I told him: “You will continue to be Nico Jarry if you are suspended for four years or whatever. I love you as a friend, I love you as a player and if I never play again, you will continue to be my friend.’”

Rios is set to play an exhibition match with former player Alex Corretja at the Gran Arena Monticello in Santiago on June 26th.

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16-Year-Old Tennis Prodigy Who Compares His Tennis To Federer Shines At Rio Open

Becoming the first player born in 2003 to win an ATP Match, Carlos Alcaraz is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal.

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The opening day of the Rio Open in Brazil was dominated by a marathon night-time classic involving the youngest player currently ranked inside the top 500 on the ATP Tour.

 

Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz made his ATP main draw debut in the Brazilian capital on Monday at the age of 16. Taking on veteran player and seventh seed Albert Ramos Viñolas, who is 15 years older than him, the teenager battled to an epic 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(2) victory. The roller coaster match lasted more than three-and-a-half hours and didn’t finish until 3am. The showdown was a stern test of Alcaraz’s mentality as he trailed 0-3 in the decider and then failed to convert two match points when leading 5-3 before prevailing in the tiebreaker.

“I will remember Rio forever,” atptour.com quoted Alcaraz as saying. “I am very happy to win my first ATP Tour match. This has been the longest and most intense match I’ve played so far. There were quite difficult conditions, but if you have the right attitude, the conditions don’t matter. You can achieve anything.”

Coached on the tour by former world No.1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, Alcaraz started to turn heads on the tour last year. At the Murcia Challenger, which was only his fourth senior tournament, he scored a win over the then ranked No.140 Pedro Martínez. Becoming the first Spanish male player to defeat a top 200 player since Rafael Nadal back in 2002.

“I always have positive thoughts. I always think I can win, no matter who the opponent is,” he said. “If you don’t think you can win, you shouldn’t go on the court.”

The belief that he has what it takes to one day rise to the top of the sport is there for the Spaniard. In an interview with Trans World Sport earlier this year (see video below), he said his goal was ‘to become world No.1 and win as many grand slams as possible.’

Hailing from the same homeland as tennis legend Rafael Nadal, the teenager is obviously inspired by him. However, Alcaraz believes his tennis is more similar to that of another member of the Big Three – Roger Federer.

”I like to play very aggressively, with a lot of winners. My style is more or less like Roger Federer’s, aggressively coming to the net and playing a lot of drop shots,” the Spaniard explained.
”When I spend time with tennis greats like Rafa or Ferrero or any other player, I don’t say anything. I listen to everything they say because it is very valuable to me,” he later added.
“In each tournament I go to, I try to do my best. If that happens, then I will gradually go up.”

Prior to Rio, the rising star has already enjoyed success on the ITF tour this year. In Manacor he won back-to-back $15,000 tournaments last month by dropping only two sets in total. Following that, he was also runner-up at another $15,000 event in Turkey to Zsombor Piros. Piros is currently the only player to defeat him in 2020.

Alcaraz is the first player born in 2003 to win an ATP Tour match. He will play Argentine qualifier Federico Coria in the second round.

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Kim Clijsters Exits Dubai With Confidence Boost And Extra Motivation

The multiple grand slam winner speaks out about her comeback match and the support she has received from her family.

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Kim Clijsters (Twitter, @WTA_insider)

Former world No.1 Kim Clijsters has said she needs to remain patient with her tennis after losing in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Monday.

 

The four-time grand slam champion was in impressive form on the court despite falling in straight sets to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.Who reached the final of the Australian Open last month. The encounter was Clijsters’ first competitive match on the tour since the 2012 US Open, where Muguruza coincidentally made her grand slam debut.

Whilst it wasn’t a fairy-tale return to the tour for the 36-year-old, she insisted that she had a ‘good feeling’ whilst playing on the court. Hitting 15 winners to 23 unforced errors and winning a total of 67 points against Muguruza.

“I had a good feeling out there, I felt a pace I can handle. I felt like I was able to go toe-to-toe with her from the baseline,” Clijsters told reporters.
“I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t have that belief somehow. It might take 10 matches to get the way I played in the second set, might take me 10 matches to get that from start to finish.
“I have patience. I’m going to work my way into it and fight. We’ll see what happens.”

The return of the 36-year-old has earned her praise from many stars of the sport on social media. Serena Williams, who has played her on the tour nine times in the past, said she was ‘inspired’ by her rival. Meanwhile Conchita Martinez, who is the coach of Muguruza, said Clijsters were already playing at an ‘amazing level.’

It was the support of her family that aided Clijsters’ decision to return to the tour after almost eight years away. She is married to Brian Lynch, who himself is a former professional basketball player and coach. Together they have three children called Jada, Jack and Blake.

“Jada is like, mum, do it. If you feel like doing it, just do it.She commented on her family’s support.
“Jack, our middle child, he was like, mum, I hope you lose your first match, then you can come home quicker.’
“It’s just different feelings. My youngest is really too young to understand, but the support is there. They see me practice and they play some tennis at the academy as well.”

For the foreseeable future, the Belgian doesn’t have any goals when it comes to results in tournaments or trying to win a title yet. However, that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t set a high standard for herself to follow. Following their match, Muguruza was asked about Clijsters’ level. The Spaniard replied ‘a player who has played incredible can play incredible again.’

“I have expectations. They’re not result related or ranking related. They’re more individually for myself.” Clijsters recently stated.
“It’s getting a feeling of how I want to play out there. That’s the expectation or the goal I’m trying to get to.”

The next tournament for Clijsters will be the Monterrey Open in Mexico, which will get underway on March 2nd.

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