UPDATE: Flavia Pennetta secures her spot for Singapore but retires from Moscow - UBITENNIS
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UPDATE: Flavia Pennetta secures her spot for Singapore but retires from Moscow

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US Open champion Flavia Pennetta has secured her eighth place in the WTA Race to Singapore and qualified for the WTA Finals in Singapore thanks to her 6-2 6-4 win over 21-year-old Daria Gavrilova from Australia in one hour and 31 minutes at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. After the match the Italian has decided to retire from the quarter finals in Moscow to focus on Singapore. Reaching the WTA Finals is the best way to end her great career

“Qualifying for the WTA Finals is a dream come true and the perfect way to end an amazing season. It will be a wonderful way to say goodbye to tennis. It’s a spectacular stage to bow out on. Having won the WTA doubles title I can’t wait to make my debut in singles”, said Pennetta

Pennetta converted on her fourth break point in the 14-point first game of the first set. Gavrilova brought up a break point in the fourth game but Pennetta saved it to take a 3-1 lead. Pennetta went up a double break in the fifth game to pull away to 4-1. Gavrilova, who beat Maria Sharapova in Miami, broke serve on her sixth break point chance in the next game. Pennetta broke again immediately in the seventh game before closing out the set for 6-2

After calling a medical time-out to treat a bladder on her foot at 1-2 Pennetta broke to love in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead after Gavrilova made three double faults. Gavrilova broke back for 3-3 as Pennetta sent her forehand wide. Pennetta got another break in the seventh game for 4-3. In the 10th game Pennetta committed two double faults and was had to save four break points with her serve and two forehands before closing out on her first match point as Gavrilova hit her smash into the net.

Thanks to this win Pennetta is very close to securing her berth for Singapore. She would become the fifth Italian player to qualify for the “Masters” or ATP/WTA Tournament at men’s or women’s level after Adriano Panatta in 1975, Corrado Barazzutti in 1978, Raffaella Reggi in 1986, 1987 and 1989, Silvia Farina in 2001 and 2002, Francesca Schiavone in 2010 and Sara Errani in 2012 and 2013.

Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova, winner in Linz last Sunday, edged past 2015 Roland Garros finalist and second seeded player Lucie Safarova in three sets with 6-1 6-7 (2-7) 6-3.

Safarova just played her second match in the last 50 days after being hospitalized with an infectious disease which forced her to miss the post US Open season. She made her come-back to the court last week in Linz where she lost against Romanian Andrea Mitu. In the first set she was brushed aside by Pavlyuchenkova who dropped just one game in the first set.

In the second set Safarova missed three break points in the second game before before dropping her serve in the sixth game to trail 2-4. Safarova was on the verge of defeat when she went down 2-5 but she bounced back reeling off three games. Pavlyuchenkova took the 6-5 lead after saving a break point. Safarova faced a match point in the next game but was able to save it with an ace forcing the match to the tie-break. Pavlyuchenkova made two double faults and another error with her her drop-shot. Safarova won the set on the ninth point.

In the third set Safarova fended off three break points but Pavlyuchenkova got the crucial break in the fifth game at 2-2. The Russian player got a double break in the ninth game to seal the win. In the quarter finals Pavlyuchenkova will face Margarita Gasparyan

After the defeat of Safarova Angelique Kerber has secured her spot in the WTA Finals in Singapore. The German has reached the WTA Finals for the third time after qualifying 2012 and 2013. Kerber won four titles in Charleston, Stuttgart, Birmingham and Stanford.

Lucie Safarova currently holds the number eight spot but, after her defeat in the first round of the Kremlin Cup, she can be overtaken by Carla Suarez Navarro if the Spanish player reaches the final in Moscow

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Dominic Thiem Won’t Return To Top Level Until 2023, Says Former Coach Muster

The former world No.1 fears his compatriot could be in for a tough time next year.

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Dominic Thiem at the 2020 ATP Finals in London (Photo Twitter @atptour)

Dominic Thiem’s lengthy absence from the Tour will be ‘extremely difficult’ for him when he returns to competitive tennis at the start of next year, according to Thomas Muster.

 

The world No.9 hasn’t played a match since the Mallorca Open in June. It was at the tournament where the Austrian suffered a serious right wrist injury. A medical examination later revealed that he had suffered a ‘detachment of the posterior sheath of the ulnar side of the right wrist.’ Thiem had originally hoped to return to the Tour earlier this year but was prevented from doing so after suffering a fresh setback in his recovery process. Instead, his goal is to be fully fit in time for the 2022 season.

As to what can be expected from Thiem when he returns, Muster believes it will take the tennis star some time for him to find his footing once again. The 54-year-old briefly formed a ‘working relationship’ with Thiem as his coach but their collaboration was unsuccessful and only lasted a couple weeks in 2020.

I believe that he will be back again in 2023. Next year it will be extremely difficult. You just have to look at the ranking, if the Covid points are gone, he will be around number 60 in the world. If he can’t defend the round of 16 at the Australian Open, and it gets difficult at the beginning, he’ll be around 100,” Muster said of Thiem during an interview with Kurir newspaper.
“And from there he won’t even make it into all of the main competitions. He has to get used to everything again, as a result of this injury. Daily training or match practice, everything has to come back first.“

Muster’s warning is based on his own experience as a player. In 1989 at the Lipton International Players Championships (now known as the Miami Open) he was seriously injured after a drunk driver struck him shortly after his semi-final match. Muster suffered ligament damage to his left knee and didn’t play another match for five months.

“This (recovery) cannot be done overnight. After my injury it took me longer, I played with enormous pain for the rest of the year, and it took longer to get back up there.” He said.

Coincidentally Thiem was the last player Muster played against on the ATP Tour at the 2011 Vienna Open. In 2020 he became the first Austrian man to win the US Open but since then he has been unable to win another tournament. The 28-year-old has openly admitted that he had struggled for motivation after achieving one of his childhood dreams. Something Muster can relate to.

“He sacrificed everything for the big goal that would happen at the US Open and not, as one could expect, at the French Open, which probably came as a surprise to him too. Suddenly he has achieved a career goal. On top of that, the expectations of the fans have increased enormously. That creates pressure.” He commented.

Thiem is currently continuing his rehabilitation in Austria. He is yet to reveal any details surrounding which tournament he will make his comeback at. However, news portal laola1.at has reported that he is hoping to play at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in December.

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‘It Will Happen’ – Andy Murray Confident Of Tour Breakthrough

The Brit believes he is on the right path to return back to the top.

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Andy Murray (GBR) (Erste Bank Open 2021 in der Wiener Stadthalle); Copyright: e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Christian Hofer, 25.10.2021

Former world No.1 Andy Murray believes it is only a matter of time before he once again starts reaching the later stages of tournaments following his latest performance at the Vienna Open.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion fell in straight sets to Carlos Alcaraz in the second round of the tournament on Wednesday. 18-year-old Alcaraz reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year and played Murray for the first time in Indian Wells. The defeat occurred just a day after the Brit recorded his first top 10 win of the season over Hubert Hurkacz.

Despite losing his two-hour match against the teenager, Murray is confident that he is on the verge of staging a breakthrough on the Tour once again. He is currently ranked 156th in the world and hasn’t been in the top 100 since having hip resurfacing surgery.

“I’m not going to keep losing in the second and third round of tournaments. I will get better and I will improve and I will break through in one week, or two weeks, or a few months,” atptour.com quoted Murray as saying. “It will happen. I obviously would like it to be happening quicker than what it is.
“But he did play extremely well and he’s a top young player and if you’re hitting single-digit unforced errors playing that way and with the power that he has it’s going to be tough… If I continue on that path and build up a little bit more consistency, be that little bit more clinical and a bit more ruthless I will start winning more and have some deep runs, but it’s tough.”

Murray, who is the only British man in history to top the ATP rankings, has achieved a win-loss record of 13-12 so far this season with his best result occurring in Metz where he reached the quarter-finals. He also reached the third round at Wimbledon.

However, nine of Murray’s 13 losses this year have been to players ranked inside the top 20, including Stefanos Tsitsipas at the US Open, Alexander Zverev in Indian Wells and Hurkacz twice.

“I won two days ago against a guy who’s Top 10 in the world, made the semis at Wimbledon this year, won an ATP Masters 1000 this year,” Murray said of Hurkacz. “Alcaraz had a great run at the US Open and I had a good win against him.
“I had some good matches against some top players who’ve had great runs at these events, so I’m not really sure why I should think that I couldn’t do that again. I sort of look at those matches and think if Hurkacz can make semis at Wimbledon why is that not possible?”

If the 34-year-old wants to have a breakthrough before the season ends, he only has two tournaments to do so. He will play in the Stockholm Open next week and is hoping to then travel to France for the Paris Masters. However, he admits that it is unlikely that he will play in the Davis Cup because he wants to have a full off-season.

Murray is the only player to have at least seven wins over each member of the Big Three.

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Senior Political Officials Clash Over Prospect Of Allowing Unvaccinated Players At Australian Open

The Prime Minister says yes, but the Premier says no. So who will have the final say?

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There is fresh confusion surrounding the upcoming Australian Open after two of the country’s top political figures issued contrasting views on the potential decision to allow players who have not been vaccinated to attend.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison appeared to confirm on Wednesday that unvaccinated players will be allowed entry into the country but must go through a quarantine upon arrival. His comments follow a recent leaked email sent by the WTA Players Council on Sunday which says those who are not double jabbed will have to go into a 14-day quarantine. The email said the proposals are based on conversations they (the WTA Players Council) have had with Tennis Australia but it is possible they could be changed.

“The same rules have to apply to everyone,” Morrison told Channel 7’s Sunrise. “If I wasn’t double vaccinated when I got home from Glasgow, I’d be doing two weeks of quarantine in Sydney.
The same rules apply to everyone, whether you’re a grand slam winner, a Prime Minister, a business traveller, a student, or whoever — same rules.
“There are many people who still come to Australia at the moment under particular arrangements, but if you are not vaccinated you will have to quarantine in Victoria.”

In a separate interview on the same day with Channel 9 Australia, Morrison said he wanted to start major events in the country again because ‘jobs depend on it.’ Pointing out the country’s low fatality rate related to COVID-19 following strict measures which have been implemented.

However, Daniel Andrews has issued a sharp rebuke to Morrison’s comments. Andrews is the Premier of Victoria which is the state where the Australian Open is held. Speaking to reporters on the same day, he said the region will not be applying for any special exemptions to be made for unvaccinated players. Recently the state implemented a health mandate requiring essential workers, including professional athletes, to have a vaccination.

“What I want to make very clear is that the state of Victoria will not be applying for any exemptions for unvaccinated players,” he said.
“I’m not applying for any exemptions for any unvaccinated players. So we don’t apply for an exemption, then no exemption will be granted. And then the whole issue is basically resolved.“I’m not going to actually require people sitting in the grandstand people working at the event to be vaccinated while players aren’t, so we’re not going to be applying for an exemption.”

Under Australian law, Andrews is in charge of affairs which takes place in his region and Morrison oversees the country as a whole.

Some players such as Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev have stated that they do want to publicly disclose their vaccine status. According to a report by Simon Cambers for Tennis Majors, the ATP estimates that 65% of their players are currently fully vaccinated. It is unclear as to what percentage of the WTA Tour is fully vaccinated.

It is expected that the rules regarding playing the Australian Open will be finalised at some stage next month.

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