Maria Sharapova: The main focus is my health and not who I play in Singapore - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova: The main focus is my health and not who I play in Singapore

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Maria Sharapova in action at the 2015 Brisbane International (image via celebmafia.com)

Maria Sharapova will be bidding to end her season on a high note at the WTA Finals after a turbulent 2015 where she has spent a lengthy period away from the tour due to injury.

 

The world No.3 hasn’t played a full match since Wimbledon after sustaining a shoulder injury followed by a forearm injury during her opening match at the Wuhan Open in September. Despite the recent injury troubles, Sharapova recently confirmed that she is fully healthy for her eighth WTA end of the year finals tournament. After these troubles, the Russian admitted that she is more focused on being healthy than who she plays in her final WTA tournament of the season.

“If I can stay healthy and work my way through the matches no matter who I’m playing, in this particular situation, I have to worry about myself a little bit more than who I’m playing against”. She said.

Sharapova has been drawn in the Red Group along with Simona Halep, Flavia Pennetta and Agnieszka Radwanska. She currently has a winning head-to-head against Radwanska and top seed Halep, however, she trails US Open champion Pennetta 2-3. Statistically Sharapova is expected to qualify for the semifinal stage, however there is uncertainty regarding her match fitness after playing in one match since July. Acknowledging this factor, the 28-year-old described her presence in this year’s WTA Finals as ‘a big step’ for her  this season.

“It’s a big step for me to be here and feel that I am healthy.  It will be a bigger step that I’ll be able to compete in those three matches and finish them off healthy.  That’s my goal.  Everything else I just have to take the positives out of because I feel I’ve committed myself to being here and done everything possible”.

Refusing to set a date as to when she will hang up her racket, Sharapova said that she ‘has more to produce’. The five-time Grand Slam champion confirmed that her main focus remains on tennis as she isn’t ready to start thinking about getting married or having children.

It has been 11 years since Sharapova won her first and only WTA Finals title in Los Angeles. Despite playing on the tour for over ten years, the Russian still feels that she has many years left in her tour as long as her body holds up. She cites her passion for tennis as that reason why she keeps playing.

“I really love playing tennis.  There’s nothing else that really gives me that feeling and that competitiveness and the thrill, the emotion that I get on the court.  As long as I will experience that, I will always believe that I have the motivation to become better”. She told the press conference in Singapore.

Sharapova will play her first match in the tournament on Sunday against Radwanska. The encounter will be her 15th match against Radwanska on the tour. The World No.3 lead the head-to-head 14-2, the last time Sharapova lost to Radwanska was in 2012 at the WTA Miami Open.

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ATP and WTA removes rankings points from Wimbledon

Players playing Wimbledon have no ranking points to play for.

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(@FOS - Twitter)

The ATP responded in regards to the ban on Russian and Belorussian players that was made by the tournament.

 

The ATP has officially responded to Wimbledon banning all Russian and Belorussian in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine which has wreaked havoc on the world of sports.

Russian and Belorussian players up to this point have been playing under their name and not their country.

The ATP released a statement in regards to the decision that was made.

The move essentially makes Wimbledon an exhibition event meaning players who decide to play won’t be able to move up in the world rankings and points won’t have to be defended.

Wimbledon made the announcement in April that they would placing the ban as the All England Club stated the possibility of the Russian government using players success as propaganda for the reason behind the move.

The ATP responded by saying the ban violated their agreement and discriminating against players since they compete as individuals. Removing points seemed like the only feasable move to make.

Russian and Belorussian players are allowed to play at the French Open which begins this Sunday in Paris. Danil Medvedev who is currently the 2nd ranked player in the world was asked about the move.

I’m not in ATP taking the decisions, I’m not in Wimbledon taking the decisions. Maybe it’s government pushing them, maybe it’s their decision. There a lot of mistakes behind this. So if I can play I’m going to be happy to play. I love Wimbledon as a tournament.”

He also added that if he couldn’t play there this year he would try to play next year and play good.

The WTA has also followed suit but this time has also penalized some of the warm-up tournaments.

Wimbledon is currently scheduled to start on June 27th and will culminate with the final on Sunday July 10th.

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Rafael Nadal Dismisses Favourite Status And Talks About Foot Pain Ahead Of Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal begins against Jordan Thompson on Monday.

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Rafael Nadal (@RolandGarros - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal has dismissed that he is the favourite for Roland Garros after admitting that his foot pain is still present.

 

Nadal searches for his 14th Roland Garros title over the next two weeks but enters with doubts.

This is after the Spaniard went out at the quarter-final stage in Madrid to eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz.

That was followed by a third round exit in Rome where he, literally, limped out to Denis Shapovalov.

Now Nadal approaches the tournament in a situation where it is unknown whether he can claim a 22nd grand slam title in the French capital.

Speaking in his pre-tournament press conference Nadal dismissed his chances and claimed his foot pain is still present, “I mean, for sure not, because the results says that I am not, but is something that never worried much to me, no?,” Nadal said when asked if he was the favourite to win the title.

“Of course one of the candidates. I considered myself during all my tennis career one of the candidates here, because I achieve tournaments before here, and now on Friday, before the tournament start, I don’t think I am the
favourite at all. But you never know what can happen.

“It’s not about gonna disappear now. It’s about if the pain is high and strong enough to allow me to play with real chances or not. But in my case, is something that I live every day with that, so is nothing new for me and is not a big surprise.

“So I am here just to play tennis and to try to make the best result possible here in Roland Garros, no? And if I don’t believe that this thing can happen, probably I will not be here.

“So I am just working as much as I can, and practicing as good as possible. My real goal is just put me in a position that I am healthy and playing enough good tennis to give myself good chances.”

Time will tell whether Nadal has healed in time to be a contender for Roland Garros and claim his second grand slam of the season.

One thing we do know though is that the Spaniard has a tricky draw with Novak Djokovic looming in the last eight and Carlos Alcaraz awaiting in the semi-finals.

Despite the tough draw Nadal admitted he doesn’t really think about the draw until he faces the players he has to play, “I mean, mentally for me it doesn’t matter,” Nadal said.

“In terms of tennis, of course the top of the draw you see the names, of course is a very tough one. But we are in a Grand Slam, and you never know what can happen, no? You know, remain a lot of things to happen, to probably arrive to the matches that you are thinking, you know.

“I mean, the only thing that I can say is of course I know everything. For me never have been a problem that. I am probably humble enough in that case to just be focused on my first match. Doesn’t matter if I know where I am exactly and what, you know, possible opponents I can have.

“Only thing that I would like is be the player that, one of the players that you think can face these other great players.”

Before Nadal can think about Djokovic or Alcaraz, the 21-time grand slam champion will have to overcome his first obstacle in Jordan Thompson on Monday.

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Carlos Alcaraz Has The Ability To Win French Open, Says Coach Ferrero

The Spaniard’s team says their objective in Paris is to ‘try to win it.’

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CARLOS ALCARAZ OF SPAIN - PHOTO: DIEGO SOUTO / MMO

Despite his Grand Slam inexperience Carlos Alcaraz has the potential to triumph at this year’s French Open, according to his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.

 

The 19-year-old Spaniard has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the sport over the past few months which has seen him set various milestones. In February he became the youngest player to win an ATP 500 title in Rio before becoming the youngest Miami Masters champion in history. On the clay Alcaraz continued his surge by scoring back-to-back wins over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic en route to the Madrid Open title.

Heading into Roland Garros, the rising star has achieved a win-loss record of 28-3 and remains the only player in 2022 to have won a quartet of titles on the ATP Tour. Starting the year outside the top 30, he is currently at a ranking high of sixth in the world. To put that into context, the last player younger than him to be in the world’s top 10 was Nadal back in 2005.

Pundits are now backing Alcaraz to be one of the title favourites at Roland Garros, even though it will only be his sixth appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. As for the views of those within his own team, coach Ferrero also believes he has the potential to achieve Grand Slam glory.

“We have the objective of going there and try to win it,” the 42-year-old said during an interview with The Evening Standard. “This will be really hard but we think we’re ready for it. I really think he has possibilities although he is not the main favourite.”

Ferrero first got acquainted with Alcaraz by watching him train at the JC Ferrero-Equelite Sports Academy when he was younger. He went to watch him play a Futures tournament at the age of 14 where he claimed his first ATP point. From then on, a bond began to form between the two.

It goes without saying that the world No.6 is one of the most promising players the men’s Tour has seen in recent years. However, his mentor believes there is still plenty of room for improvement.

“There’s good work to do and space for improvement yet,” Ferrero commented. “But he is a 360 complete player. He has so many good things, so many resources. That’s his best facet. This makes it hard for his rivals to compete against him.”

Alcaraz is seeded sixth in this year’s French Open draw. He will begin his campaign against either a qualifier or lucky loser. During the first week it is possible that he could play Sebastian Korda, who defeated him in Monte Carlo, in round three and then Cameron Norrie.

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