Maria Sharapova ends Flavia Pennetta's great career in Singapore - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova ends Flavia Pennetta’s great career in Singapore




Maria Sharapova beat Flavia Pennetta 7-5 6-1 to secure her first place in the Red Group with three wins ahead of Agnieszka Radwanska who beat Simona Halep in straight sets.


Pennetta held a 3-2 lead in her previous head-to-head matches against Sharapova and won their most recent clashes. Earlier this year Pennetta fought back from a set down to beat Sharapova 3-6 6-3 6-2.

Pennetta needed to win a set to qualify for the semifinals. Radwanska, who beat Simona Halep in straight sets in today’s first match, needed Sharapova’s win in straight sets to keep alive her hopes to reach the semifinals.

Pennetta got a break in the first game of the match and held her service game. At 3-1 Pennetta had the chance for the double break but Sharapova saved the break point.

Pennetta held her service games en route to 4-2. In the 8th game Sharapova earned her first break points at 3-4 and converted her chance to draw level to 4-4. The set went on serve until the 12th game when Pennetta made a forehand error at 15-0. Sharapova earned a break point chance which she converted to seal the first set with 7-5.

Sharapova came back from 2-4 down by reeling off five of the next six games with her groundstrokes and her drop-shots to win the first set with 7-5 after 54 minutes. She raised her level as the set went on. In the first set she won 72 percent of her first serve points and hit 12 winners to 15 unforced errors. She converted two of her three break point chances.

Pennetta won 68 percent of her first serve points and hit 11 winners to 10 unforced errors. The Italian converted one of her three break point chances.

Sharapova went up a set and a break for a 2-0 lead in the second set with a drop-shot. It was her second consecutive break and the third in the last four Pennetta’s service games. Sharapova reeled off seven of the last eight points en route to building up a 3-0 lead. Pennetta saved two break points with two consecutive aces to hold serve from 15-40 down for her first game of the second set.

Sharapova hit her seventh ace of the match to hold her serve to 30 to build up a 4-1 lead.

Pennetta made a double fault on break point to drop her serve. Sharapova served out for the match at 5-1 as Pennetta made a backhand error to seal her first place in the Red Group ahead of the other qualifier Agnieszka Radwanska who won the 500th match of her career against Halep.

Sharapova showed great form this week after a long break from tennis due to injury. She came back from a set down to beat Agnieszka Radwanska 4-6 6-3 6-4 in the first round-robin match. She went on to beat Simona Halep 6-4 6-4 in the second match.

After the match Sharapova hugged Pennetta who made he farewell appearance on a tennis court after a brilliant career in which she won 11 WTA titles, including her first Grand Slam triumph in New York last September and became the first Italian player in history to break the top-10 in 2009.

At the end of the 1 hour and 27 minute match Sharapova won 68 percent of her first serve points and hit 30 winners to 19 unforced errors. She hit 7 aces and converted four of her eight break point chances.

Pennetta ended her career with 18 winners to 14 unforced errors, two aces and 4 double faults.

Sharapova paid her tribute to Pennetta’s extrahordinary career in the post-match interview.

“I just heard this was her last match. It’s really sad to see such a great champion go. She has had an incredible career and I was so happy she got the Grand Slam at the US Open. I was smiling for her. I have lost the last couple of times against Flavia. I know what a tough competitor and opponent she is. I just wanted to get a little bit of revenge before she goes out of the game”, said Sharapova

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REPORT: Novak Djokovic Sends Letter To Australian Open Chief Over Quarantine Measures

There is a fresh headache for Craig Tiley with the world No.1 calling for changes to the current system.




Novak Djokovic has issued a letter to the head of the Australian Open calling for new measures to be put in place to enable fairness for all players in quarantine, according to the Spanish website Punto de Break.


It is understood that the 17-time Grand Slam champion has called for Craig Tiley to do more to support those who have had to go into a stricter quarantine after being on board a plane with somebody who tested positive for COVID-19. Under rules set out by the local government, all players in this situation must isolate for 14 days in their room and not leave. At the time of Djokovic’s letter two planes carrying players were affected but since then a third has emerged. French player Alexandre Muller has confirmed that those who were on flight QR7485 from Doha must enter the strict quarantine. It is unclear as to how many players this will affect.

Journalist Fernando Murciego has reported that he has obtained information concerning Djokovic’s letter in which he calls for a series of measurements. Including the use of more PCR testing to help reduce the 14-day period of strict quarantine for players. He has also called for as many players as possible to be moved to private houses with tennis courts. Something that is unlikely to happen given the complexity and number of players.

According to Punto de Break, Djokovic has asked for the following :-

  • Fitness and training material in all rooms
  • Decent food, according to the level of the tournament and from an elite athlete
  • Reduce the days of isolation for the 47* isolated players, carrying out more tests that confirm that all are negative
  • Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both have passed the PCR
  • If the previous proposal has the green light, that both the player and his coach are on the same floor of the hotel
  • Move as many players as possible to private houses with a court to train

*This number has since increased following confirmation of the Doha flight.

Djokovic, who is the former president of the ATP Player Council before resigning to help set up the PTPA, has not commented on the letter and neither has Tiley. Although one government official has already stated that there will be no changes to the length of their quarantine system.

The rules of close contacts haven’t changed, and there’s no other way you can consider this. If you’re on a plane for 16 to 24 hours in air that circulates throughout the plane, you are a close contact.” The Commissioner for COVID-19 Quarantine in Victoria, Emma Cassar, told reporters on Sunday. .
“The program is set up to keep people safe. We will not be modifying the program or watering it down under any circumstances.”

Whilst Tiley has the say when it comes to the running of the Melbourne Grand Slam his power is somewhat limited by his own government and their policy on COVID-19. Tennis Australia says they are currently in discussions with both players and relevant parties regarding the scheduling of future events.

Djokovic is spending his quarantine in Adelaide along with the top three ranked players on both the ATP and WTA Tour’s.

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Quarantine Drama: Players And Support Staff Warned For ‘Challenging Behaviour’ Amid Argument Over Rules

Officials and players are at a disagreement over the rules concerning who is deemed a ‘close contact’ of somebody who test positive for COVID-19.




The Commissioner for COVID-19 Quarantine in Victoria says she will tolerate no rule breaking by those staying in quarantine ahead of the Australian Open after a fourth confirmed test emerged on Sunday.


Emma Cassar said that there have been incidents of ‘challenging behaviour’ from both players and members of their teams in relation to the rules set out. Due to the pandemic, everybody has to go into a 14-day quarantine but the process has turned more complicated following a series of positive tests by those travelling on plans funded by Tennis Australia. The latest case involves a member of the broadcast team flying from Los Angeles.

The Australian government has ruled that everybody on board a plane where somebody has tested positive for the virus must go into a stricter form of quarantine where they must remain in their room and are not allowed to train outside. This has affected more than 40 players on two different flights from Abu Dhabi and another from Los Angeles. As it currently stands 62 people have been deemed close contacts of the four cases, three of which were announced on Saturday, according to Fox Australia.

To add to the drama, Cassar has confirmed that some players and their team members have already been given a warning for what she says is ‘challenging behaviour.’ Branding their actions as ‘dangerous acts that we can’t tolerate.’

“I can give you two examples – a player who opened his door to try and have a conversation with his training mate down the hallway. Again, he’s got a phone, you can pick up the phone and use the telephone as opposed to putting you and others at risk,” she said.
“The other was another gentleman who shouted some UberEats to some other people on the floor and was praising his great efforts and opened his door to do so.
“It is very low level, but they are dangerous acts that we cannot tolerate … they have been formerly warned, and Victoria Police will continue to follow up those who haven’t been spoken to yet.”

Even more extraordinary is the confirmation that extra police have been sent to the hotels where players are quarantined. Repeat offenders have been warned they could be fined or even transferred to a ‘complexed care hotel’ where a police officer stays outside their door.

Did the players know?

In regards to the quarantine process, some have questioned the transparency of the rules which has been set out. Critics have argued that they were never informed that should someone test positive on a plane everybody on board would have to isolate for 14 days.

World No.12 Belinda Bencic has gone as far as saying that the rules have been changed upon arrival in Melbourne. A view that has also been expressed by Alize Cornet, Yulia Putintseva and Sorana Cirstea.

“We made our decision to come here from rules that were sent to us. Then we arrived and received an information/rule book with more/new rules that we did not know about,” Bencic wrote on Twitter.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has addressed those statements by saying that all players were informed that this would be a possible scenario that they would face. Leading up to the quarantine, all players and their teams should have been sent documents detailing their stay.

“The determination of who was and who wasn’t a close contact was going to be entirely up to the health department, and they’re doing what is necessary in order to keep our community safe,” he told Channel 9 TV.
“Obviously what has changed over the last several weeks is the new UK strain, which is more infectious, and there’s obviously a great desire by all of us to make sure that doesn’t come into our community.

Although the motion that the rules have changed in some capacity is disputed by Commissioner Cessar who stated that no adjustments to the policy will be made in the coming days.

“The rules of close contacts haven’t changed, and there’s no other way you can consider this. If you’re on a plane for 16 to 24 hours in air that circulates throughout the plane, you are a close contact,” she said.
“The program is set up to keep people safe. We will not be modifying the program or watering it down under any circumstances.”

Whilst there are ongoing discussions concerning the scheduling of tournaments taking place during the first week of February, Tiley has confirmed that the Australian Open start date of February 8th will remain unchanged.

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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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