Ubaldo Scanagatta Discusses US Open All-Williams Day With Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times - UBITENNIS
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Ubaldo Scanagatta Discusses US Open All-Williams Day With Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times

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Fiona Ferro Stuns Kontaveit To Win Palermo Open

The unseeded Frenchwoman has become the first player to win a title on the Tour following its five-month suspension due to COVID-19.

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France’s Fiona Ferro will rocket up the world rankings to a career best of 44 on Monday after claiming her second WTA title at the Palermo Open.

 

The 23-year-old unseeded player roared her way to a 6-2, 7-5, win over Estonian fourth seed Anett Kontaveit who is currently ranked 31 places above her on the Tour. Producing a series of blistering shots from both the forehand and backhand side, Ferro was relentless throughout the at times roller-coaster 103-minute encounter. Hitting a total of 51 winners to 24 unforced errors and converting five out of her seven break points.

“It was a very tough match, very close. Anett is a very consistent player and I had to fight for every point,” Ferro said during the trophy ceremony.
“At 3-5 in the second set I just had to keep fighting for every point.”
She added.

Playing in only her second WTA Final and first since July 2019, Ferro got off to the perfect start by breaking Kontaveit in the very first game of the match. Continuing to weather the storm, the Frenchwoman had all the answers to the questions her opponent asked of her during the opener. Breaking once again en route to clinching the opening set after 42 minutes of play.

Ferro didn’t have it all her own way with the second set seeing her being forced to come back from behind twice. At one stage it looked as if proceedings would be heading into a decider as she trailed 3-5, 30-30. Nevertheless, Ferro managed to battle back with the use of some more heavy hitting. Finishing the match off with a four-game winning streak, she triumphed on her first championship point after a Kontaveit return drifted beyond the baseline.

“Congratulations to Anett on a great week and congratulations to your coach as well. I wish you the best of luck in the next tournament and in the future,” the new champion said in tribute to her rival.

Prior to this week Ferro hadn’t won back-to-back matches on the Tour since the US Open last year. However, she has managed to regain her form during the five-month break by participating in a series of exhibitions organised by her federation. Where she won 10 matches in a row. Although it is her latest victory that is the most notable against Kontaveit, who last lost to a player outside of the top 50 at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.

“It’s been so exciting that all of our people came to watch and I’m so thankful. I was really excited to play today,” said Kontaveit.
“I would also like to thank my coach for being with me always and supporting me. Not the result we wanted today but we will make it next time.”

After a mixed start to 2020 that saw Ferro win just four out of nine matches played over four tournaments, she is hoping Palermo will elevate her to more success in the future. She is currently entered to play at the Prague Open, which will start on Monday. In the first round she has been drawn against Spain’s Aliona Bolsova with a potential clash with Dayana Yastremska lurking in the second.

“I don’t want to speak so much about the rankings. My goal is to keep working as hard as I always do and bring home more trophies,” she stated.

Ferro exits Palermo with 280 ranking points and €20,161 in prize money.

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Controversial Waiver Bans Players From Suing US Open If They Get COVID-19

Players must sign the document in order to play in the Grand Slam which also prohibits them from launching legal action in groups.

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The United States Tennis Association has requested players to sign a eye-opening waiver if they wish to participate in the US Open later this month.

 

A copy of the two-page document has leaked on social media with doubles player Wesley Koolhof also posting a copy on his Twitter account. In it, players must agree to take full responsibility for the risks there could be posed at the event in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and not sue officials should anything happen to them. Including serious illness and even death during the event. One of the controversial clauses in the contract is that they want players to take full responsibility for their outcomes even if there was evidence of negligence from the National Tennis Center.

“I voluntarily assume full responsibility for any risks of loss or personal injury, including serious illness, injury or death, that may be sustained by me or others who come into contact with me, as a result of my presence in the facilities, whether caused by the negligence of the NTC (National Tennis Center) or otherwise,” the contract reads.

Further on, it outlines that those who sign the contract ‘waive forever’ discharge and covenant to sue a series of organisations related to the tournament. In a case of death, this clause also states that family members are also not allowed to sue. Stating that it is the players choice to enter the event.

The waiver states that it is ‘valid forever’ unless there is a subsequent legal challenge to the waiver that annuals the entire contract or parts of it. Interestingly, should a player decide to take legal action for whatever reason, it outlines that they must do it in private. Furthermore, it prohibits the possibility of collective action being taken against the tournament.

“I agree that all controversies and claims between me and any of the releases arising out of or relating to this waiver or my presence at the facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic must be pursued on an individual basis only. By signing this waiver, I waive my right to commence, or be a party to, any class actions or collective claims against the Releases,” the waiver outlines.

The waiver comes amid a growing list of players who have pulled out of the event over travel and safety fears due to the pandemic. Former champions Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka will instead stay in Europe. On the women’s Tour Ash Barty, Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina have all withdrawn. There is also still to be confirmation from Simona Halep and Novak Djokovic about their plans for the event.

So far there have been few public comments from the world of tennis regarding the waiver. World No.17 doubles player Koolhof wrote ‘Maybe I should start reading more waivers from now on’ on Twitter. Meanwhile, Sandra Zaniewska, who is the coach of Alize Cornet, commented ‘is the USTA going to do anything about this inappropriate waiver?’

In February 2018 the USTA reached a settlement with Canadian player Eugenie Bouchard after she slipped over and suffered a concussion at the venue three years prior. The jury at the trial concluded that the degree of fault was 75% towards the USTA, who reached a private settlement worth millions. Although the exact figure was never disclosed to the public.

The US Open will get underway on August 31st.

The full waiver

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Serena Williams Backs Use Of Electronic Line Calling Ahead Of Return To Tour

After spending the past few months in what she describes as a ‘Serena bubble,’ the 38-year-old will return to competition next week.

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Former world No.1 Serena Williams believes the use of electronic line calling at upcoming tournaments will be a ‘huge benefit’ to the sport.

 

The 23-time Grand Slam champion is set to return to competitive tennis at the start of next week in Lexington which will host the inaugural Top Seed Open. The first American tournament to take place in the lead-up to the US Open. It will be Williams’ first taste of competitive tennis since competing in the Fed Cup back in February.

Williams is hoping that she will be able to regain momentum ahead of New York, where she will once again be bidding to level Margaret Court’s Grand Slam record. Although this year’s US Open will be like no other. Fans are prohibited from attending due to the COVID-19 pandemic, players will be kept in what is being described as a ‘bubble’ and for the first time electronic line calling will be introduced. Replacing the traditional use of line judges in order to minimise the number of people on the court.

“I think a lot of that will be a huge benefit. I think anything electronic takes away human error which is natural,” Williams commented during a virtual press conference on Saturday.
“The combination of the tours could be exciting for both sides to create one big major best league ever,”
she added.

Set to turn 39 next month, Williams believes the five-month break in tennis due to the pandemic has a silver lining for her. The WTA Tour was suspended at the start of March and didn’t restart until this week’s Palermo Open in Italy. Now her rest is over, the American is rearing to go.

“I definitely feel that there is a level of excitement. Just coming out and trying to see what it’s like,” she stated.
“It (the break) was a necessary evil for my body so my body feels rejuvenated and good.”

Creating her own self-described ‘Serena bubble’ due to COVID-19, Williams faced obstacles in the process. The biggest issue for her was the fact her physios are based in Europe and she had to find alternatives in order to maintain her fitness during lockdown.

Sticking to her own bubble, Williams stopped going to the gyms and instead opted to create her very own state-of-the art facility. As well as a tennis court which has been built with the same surface used at the US Open. A decision she wished she had made earlier in her career.

“We built a tennis court and we built a gym. It’s so cool,” Williams commented. “The gym’s not quite done. The tennis court is so fun. I go there and it’s my own sanctuary. I’m like, ‘why haven’t I done this 20 years ago?’ We had a few players out there. I’m like, ‘this is the US Open surface, so come hit with me. I tried to get people to come.”

Like New York, the Top Seed Open will take place behind closed doors. Many have wondered how a lack of fans will affect the games of top players such as Williams who openly admits she is unsure on what impact it may have on her.

“That is a good question people keep asking me and I still don’t know the answer to that,” she commented.
“I love playing with the crowd and then sometimes I love the silence. Every single practice is without a crowd.”

Williams is currently ranked ninth in the world and will be the top seed in Lexington. She will be bidding to win her first title on American soil since the 2015 Cincinnati Open.

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