John McEnroe sets up a final against Sergi Bruguera in the ATP Champions Tour in Italy - UBITENNIS
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John McEnroe sets up a final against Sergi Bruguera in the ATP Champions Tour in Italy

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John McEnroe will face Sergi Bruguera in the final of the “Grande Sfida” tomorrow in Modena, the Italian leg of the ATP Champions Tour.

 

Verona hosted the two semifinals on Friday evening. Bruguera, two-time Roland Garros champion in 1993 and 1994, beat Henri Leconte 6-3 7-6 (7-2) in the first semifinal. McEnroe, seven-time Grand Slam champion, beat Mats Wilander 6-2 6-4 in a clash between two seven-time Majors champions.

The first day of the “Grande Sfida”, was a mix of great tennis and entertainment for the 3000 enthusiastic fans who attended the two semifinals in an enjoyable atmosphere in Verona.

Bruguera beat Leconte again as on the ATP Tour where the Spanish player prevailed in all their four head-to-head matches in the 1990s. Leconte, who reached the French Open singles final in 1988, offered a great show entertaining the crowd.

The second semifinal between McEnroe and Wilander was a re-match of an epic Davis Cup clash in 1982 which lasted six hours and 22 minutes (the second longest Davis Cup singles match in history) where the US legend won 9-7 6-2 15-17 3-6 8-6.

In the Verona semifinal Mcenroe went up a set and a break in the second set. Wilander had two break point chances at 2-3 in the second set but McEnroe saved the first opportunity with a cross-court passing shot and the second with a service winner. Mcenroe entertained the crowd with a spectacular down-the-line backhand passing shot.

McEnroe will bid to win the Italian leg of the ATP Champions Tour after losing in the semifinal in last year’s edition in Milan.

“It doesn’t matter how old John is. He still plays so well. It is a pleasure to play against him and at the same time a pain in the butt. I can’t play any better than I did tonight. I feel like I don’t have a chance to win a set when he plays like that”, said Wilander, who won the first of his three Roland Garros titles in 1982 at the age of 18.

On Friday the four big stars had the chance to visit the Ferrari museum (where the pre-event press conference took place) and Enzo Ferrari’s workshop ahead of the Grande Sfida.

 

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Dayana Yastremska Out Of Australian Open After ITF Upholds Provisional Ban

The attempt by the 20-year-old to play in the first grand slam of 2021 has failed amid speculation of another appeal to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

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It’s official Dayana Yastremska will not be competing at the Australian Open this year after an appeal to a provisional doping ban was rejected.

The world No.29 has travelled to Melbourne hoping she would be able to play the first grand slam of the year but now is out of the tournament. She had earlier tested positive for a banned substance Metabolite Mesterlone but was given a chance to appeal a provisional suspension. Explaining why she was able to board a flight organised by Tennis Australia in spite of ITF rules. The rulebook states that players serving a provisional ban are not allowed to participate in activities organised by a tournament.

 

An application by Dayana Yastremska to lift the provisional suspension imposed on her on 7 January 2021 under Article 8.3.1(c) of the 2020 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme has been denied by the Chair of the Independent Tribunal convened to hear her case,” the ITF said in a statement.
“This decision is subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport by Ms. Yastremska, WADA and the National Anti-Doping Center of Ukraine.”

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.

Only a very low concentration of mesterolone metabolite was detected in my urine,” she 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.”

The 20-year-old is among 72 players who have been placed into strict isolation in Melbourne following a series of positive COVID-19 cases detected on flights en route to the country. She is not allowed to leave her room for 14 days and even then she will be prohibited from entering Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open, following to the latest ruling.

The announcement is a major blow to the beginning of Yastremska’s season. She will have to wait to see what happens next and if she is able to make another appeal before the next event after the first grand slam of the year.

There have been no official statement from Yastremska or her team following the ITF’s decision.

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Corrado Barazzutti believes that Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner can win a Grand Slam title in the future

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Italian Davis Cup captain Corrado Barazzutti told in an interview to Italian Sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport that Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner have the chance to win a Grand Slam title in the future. 

 

“Matteo has made a step forward in his career by joining the top 10. It’s important that he could train for the 2021 season without injuries. He needs to play many matches to find a good rhythm and the confidence. I hope that the calendar can help him. He is a relative newcomer and he has still room for improvement. Don’t rule Fabio Fognini out. He underwent two surgeries and it was not easy to recover from that and return to his best shape. As he was trying to find a good rhythm by playing some matches on the Tour, he was tested positive for the Covid-19. When he was training with me until October, he could not fully train, because the pain had not disappeared. First he has to return to his best shape. The first months will be difficult, but I am sure that he will return to his best level during the clay season. Jannik Sinner will have the opportunity to train with Rafael Nadal in Australia and this experience will make him grow. He will have to deal with the pressure. Everyone expects great results soon and will have ups and downs. I think that Matteo and Jannik can win a Grand Slam title in the future. Berrettini has already played a Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open. Sinner reached the quarter final at Roland Garros. In a Grand Slam tournament what matters most is to be competitive for two weeks. Players need to be lucky with the draw. The Big Three will not be at the top for a long time and our players will take advantage and fight for the big titles. There are good players like Salvatore Caruso, Gianluca Mager and Stefano Travaglia. If I can bet 1 euro, I would focus on Marco Cecchinato. He has reurned to his best shape and will be again one of the most competitive players on clay. A semifinal at Roland Garros can not be forgotten in three years”, said Barazzutti. 

Italy could host some round robin of the revamped Davis Cup Finals in Turin in 2021. A 10-week bidding process opened this week for European cities interested to join Madrid in hosting the next edition of the Davis Cup, which will be held over 11 days across three host cities. 

“Davis Cup organisers contacted me to ask for an opinion on the the new format. I told them that hosting the Davis Cup in three days would help this event return to its old tradition, hoping that the crowd will be able to attend our matches soon. It will be very emotional, but at the same time a big responsibility. It will not be enough just to take part in this event”. 

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Dominic Thiem dreams to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros

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Last year’s US Open champion Dominic Thiem lost two consecutive finals to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros in 2018 and 2019. The Austrian player faced the Spanish legend four times in his favourite Grand Slam tournament and won just one set in the final in 2019. Nadal beat Thiem 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 in three hours to lift his 12th Roland Garros title. 

 

Last October Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2020 French Open in three sets, while Thiem lost an epic quarter final clash against Diego Schwartzman after five hours. 

Thiem reached the Roland Garros Junior final in 2011. He made his debut in the senior tournament in 2014 and lost to Nadal in straight sets. In 2016 Thiem reached the French Open semifinal and lost to Djokovic in straight sets. 

Thiem was the only player who beat Nadal on clay in 2017 and 2018. 

Thiem ended Nadal’s 19-match winning streak on clay to reach the Rome Masters 1000 semifinal before losing to Djokovic in straight sets. The Austrian star did not drop a set and beat Djokovic 7-6 6-3 6-0 en route to his second straight Roland Garros semifinal, but he lost to Nadal 6-3 6-4 6-0. 

Thiem beat Alexander Zverev to advance to his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros, but he lost to Nadal in the final. He became the second Grand Slam finalist from Austria, joining 1995 Roland Garros champion Thomas Muster. Thiem beat Nadal en route to his second consecutive Masters 1000 final in Madrid ending the Spaniard’s 50-set clay winning streak.

Thiem won an ATP 500 title on clay in Barcelona (beating Nadal and Danil Medvedev) and beat Nadal on this surface for this surface for the fourth consecutive season becoming the second player to earn four wins or more over Nadal on clay. 

In a recent interview to the German website Sportschau.de Thiem talked about the biggest goal of his career.

“My biggest goal is to win the French Open. I like the tournament the most, and the conditions suit my game. I played the junior final in 2011, and I have wanted to win it ever since. Rafael Nadal is in a league of his own at Roland Garros. I am confident against him at other tournaments, but it becomes extra tough on Court Phillippe Chatrier. He lost twice in 16 years in Paris; that’s insane. Rafael should be the favourite in Paris for another year or two. Nadal is in a class of his own, and I don’t know if I trust myself to do it I have never managed to beat him there. Beating him on this center court is probably one of the hardest things there has ever been in sport, but it’s still my goal and I will try again in 2021.. ”, said Thiem. 

Thiem is one of the biggest favourites at the upcoming Australian Open. He finished runner-up in the Australian Open final last year losing to Novak Djokovic and hopes to avenge this defeat next February at Melbourne Park and win the second Grand Slam title of his career. The Austrian player claimed his first US Open title in his fourth Grand Slam final after beating Alexander Zverev in five sets after 4 hours and 2 minutes. After winning his first Grand Slam title, Thiem believes that he can win more Major tournaments. 

“I definitely want to win the Australian Open. I go to every and want to win it, perhaps with the exception of Wimbledon. In a match I have not loosened up now because I have won a Grand Slam. I am just as nervous as before. That won’t change until the end of my career. I also know that when I play well and I am well prepared, my chances are good to get far. My preparation in the off season went very well. I worked a lot on my physical preparation. It was very nice to spend the Christmas holidays at home in Austria with my family”. 

Thiem led Djokovic by two sets to one in last year’s Australian Open final and admitted that it took time to get over this defeat. 

“Over time, I have learnt to deal with defeats better. Of course there are defeats that really hurt. Last year’s defeat in Australia was one of those, and I must have gnawed at it for tow, three or four months”. 

Thiem is spending 14 days of quarantine in Adelaide with five other players and their training partners. He thinks that the 72 players, who are forced to stay in their room for 24 hours in hard lockdown in Melbourne, will pay the price after 14 days of lockdown. 

 “It’s clear there is a complete inequality of opportunity. All players are fresh out of their pre-season. They are in really good shape and have top fitness. If you can’t leave your room for 14 days, it does not matter how much fitness you do in the room, a lot of it just goes away, but that’s the risk we all took. It’s very bitter and unfortunate. For all the players in Melbourne, I think it’s OK. They can train as it was planned. Fortunately, those who are in hard quarantine, will have nine days before the start of the Australian Open”. 

Thiem has been used to quarantine, as he spent 14 days in New York last summer before winning the first Grand Slam tournament of his career. “I am now used to quarantine and I know what to expect. The bubble was a big change in New York, but I have experienced that in Paris, Vienna and London. The situation is not worse in Australia. It is not easy to play a tournament behind closed doors. We expect a bug cheers from the fans after a great rally, but we do not hear anything from the crowd. In these circumstances we feel alne on the court”.

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