ATP World Tour Finals Day 1 Preview: Novak Djokovic to begin title defence against Kei Nishikori - UBITENNIS
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ATP World Tour Finals Day 1 Preview: Novak Djokovic to begin title defence against Kei Nishikori

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Kei Nishikori will be given the huge task of upsetting the World No.1 and defending champion on opening day

The ATP World Tour Finals begin Sunday, with the World No. 1 set to begin the defence of his crown. Novak Djokovic is in incredible form, boasting a 22-0 record since his defeat to Roger Federer in Cincinnati, and has dropped just one set in his last three tournaments. The evening match sees Roger Federer take on Tomas Berdych, who is making his sixth appearance in London.

 

Novak Djokovic vs Kei Nishikori (Not Befoe 2:00pm GMT)

The World No.1 will face a man who has had a good year, but has not reached the high levels of performance he produced in 2014. Yet Kei Nishikori will still be no easy task for Djokovic. Ttitles in Memphis, Barcelona, and Washington DC prove that when he has been able to avoid injury this year, he is as tough as anyone. Enjoyed a good debut at the World Tour Finals last year, as he defeated Andy Murray and David Ferrer to qualify second in the group behind Federer.

Flashback: These two met in the semi-finals last year, with Nishikori the only player to actually take a set off Djokovic. However, it still had a lopsided look to it in a 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 win for the eventual champion. Their only meeting this year actually went along a similar path, Djokovic winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

Prediction: Djokovic is a different player to the one that Nishikori took a set from last year, or even earlier this. A lot will be determined by just how fit the Japanese star is (he has assured everyone he is fine). By a lot means if he gets two or three games, or six or seven, I’m going Djokovic 6-2, 7-5.

Roger Federer vs Tomas Berdych (Not Before 8:00pm GMT)

Roger Federer is in good form heading into London. Yes, he lost earlier than he would have liked in Paris to John Isner, but the truth is just about everyone can lose to the 6’10 server if he makes the service count. Well, maybe everyone except Djokovic. Nevertheless, that defeat has garnered Federer what could turn out extra valuable preparation for London, and truth be told, he could not have hoped for much better to start his campaign for a seventh year-end title. In two best-of-three set meetings with Berdych this season, Federer lost just ten games. Across the two matches.

For Tomas Berdych, the key is in the surface. Indoor hard favours his big flat-hitting game. Though this favours Federer too, Berdych cannot afford to contemplate that, but consider what he can bring to the table. A win in Stockholm indoors suggests form, but in reality was a field that offered little top quality, having to beat no top 20 players for the title. You can only beat the players you are drawn against but, in this case, the challenge for Berdych is a daunting one.

Prediction: Close, with a tiebreak possible. But Federer is unrelenting when it comes to indoor matches, and should be winning this opener. Federer 7-6, 6-4.

Stat: Despite that fact that both men have player every World Tour Finals event since 2010, this is the first time they will face each other in this tournament.

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Dayana Yastremska Heads To Australia Despite Doping Violation

Did the 20-year-old break the rules with her trip?

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Tennis Australia says they are ‘investigating’ after it emerged that Dayana Yastremska boarded a plane funded by the governing body despite failing a drugs test.

 

Last week the International Tennis Federation issued a statement confirming that the Ukrainian tennis star has been issued with a provisional suspension after testing positive for the banned substance mesterolone metabolite. An anabolic agent prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency which can be used for the treatment of people with low testosterone. Yastremska was pictured boarding a plane to Australia on Thursday in a post uploaded by two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova which has since been deleted.

Yastremska has denied any wrongdoing and says she has ‘scientific evidence’ that her positive test was a result of contamination. Although she didn’t elaborate any further as to what that evidence is. The world No.29 has the right to appeal her provisional suspension but according to the latest ITF statement she hasn’t done so. One way her ban can be lifted is if the appeals board accepts her contamination argument which would allow her to play right away.

“Only a very low concentration of mesterolone metabolite was detected in my urine,” Yastremska wrote in a statement. “Given that low concentration and my negative test two weeks earlier, I have received scientific advice that the result is consistent with some form of contamination event.”

Despite Yastremska’s plea, it is unclear as to if she or Tennis Australia has broken any rules. As of January 15h the ITF still lists her as a player who is provisionally suspended from the sport. Richard Ings, who is the former chair of the Australian anti-doping agency, points out that suspended players are not allowed to participate in any activity organised by a tournament. Raising questions as to if a Tennis Australia funded plane journey counts as one of these ‘activities.’

Yastremska is currently on the Australian Open entry list and is set to be allowed to train during her 14-day quarantine like other players unless anything changes. Tennis Australia has not made a public statement but news agency AAP has confirmed that an investigation has been launched. Should it turn out that the 20-year-old is ineligible to play, it is unclear if she would be required to pay back the cost of her plane trip.

The Australian Open starts on February 8th.

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No Special Treatment For Andy Murray, Says Australian Government

The three-time Grand Slam champion still wants to travel to Melbourne later this month but will it be possible?

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Andy Murray must provide a negative COVID-19 test and no preferential treatment will be given to him if he attempts to play the Australian Open, according to a government minister.

 

The former world No.1 was set to travel to Australia later this week but is unable to after testing positive for the coronavirus. As a result, Murray is currently self-isolating in his London home and is therefore unable to start the mandatory 14-day quarantine period along with other players. Although he is hopeful to still travel to Melbourne at a later date.

Whether or not he will be allowed to do so in the coming weeks is unclear. In a statement Tennis Australia wished the three-time Grand Slam champion a ‘happy recovery’ but didn’t address the possibility that Murray can travel at a later date than his peers. It is understood that negotiations are currently ongoing with coach tournament director Craig Tiley.

“The Australian Open fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he’s worked for this opportunity,” a statement reads.

Murray is not the only player unable to travel this week as a result of a positive test. Others include Madison Keys, Davidovich Fokina and Dominic Thiem’s coach Nicolas Massu. Tennys Sandgren also tested positive but has been allowed to fly because health officials say he is ‘viral shedding from a previous virus’. Sandgren tested positive for the virus back in November.

Martin Foley, who is the Minister of Health for the Victorian government, says no special treatment will be provided to Murray in his bid to play in the Grand Slam. The Brit was granted entry into the main draw thanks to a wild card. He missed the 2019 tournament due to pelvic bruising and the year before he stunned the sport by saying he may be forced to retire before later undergoing career-saving hip surgery.

In regards to Mr Murray, we’ve been clear from the start that anyone who tests positive is not able to be part of the program coming into Melbourne and Australia,” Foley told reporters on Friday.
“Mr Murray, and the other 1240 people as part of the program, need to demonstrate that if they’re coming to Melbourne they have returned a negative test.
“So should Mr Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else.
“Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused.”

This year’s Australian Open is taking place under strict COVID-19 protocols. During quarantine players will be allowed to train up to five hours each day but not play in any professional tournaments. Those who break the rules could face a fine of AUS$20,000, prosecution and even deportation.

The Melbourne major will start on February 8th.

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Madison Keys latest player to test positive for Coronavirus

Madison Keys ruled out of the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Madison Keys (@SporArena - Twitter)

The American tested positive for the first time and will miss the first grand slam of the year.

Madison Keys has officially tested positive for the coronavirus. She announced the news on social media and says she will, unfortunately, miss the Australian Open.

 

Hi everyone, I just wanted to let you know that I, unfortunately, tested positive for Covid-19 before I was suppose to fly to Australia. I’m very disappointed to not be able to play in the coming weeks after training hard in the off-season and knowing Tennis Australia and the tours did so much to make these events happen.

I am self isolating at home and will continue to follow all the necessary health precautions. I look forward to be back on tour next month.

“Thank you for all your support.

Stay Healthy and safe.

Madison

Keys is the latest player to have tested positive after Andy Murray revealed he had a positive test while Tennys Sandgren had tested positive but was given the green light to travel.

Two players in men’s qualifying in Doha tested positive and were immediatly removed from the draw. Apparently if you test positive for the first time you are not allowed to travel but if you already tested positive and show no symptoms there is a chance you will continue to test positive before the effects go away.

Players are traveling this week to Australia and will be mandated to follow the 14 day quarantine with the exception of training five hours a day. The Australian Open begins on February 8th.

While most players will be quarantining in Melbourne both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have confirmed they will do their quarantine in Adelaide.

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