BBC Sports Personality Of the Year: Can Murray Make it Two? - UBITENNIS
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BBC Sports Personality Of the Year: Can Murray Make it Two?

Joshua Mason

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Andy Murray presenta il suo nuovo outfit Under Armour per Wimbledon

 

On the 20th December in Belfast, there will be yet another chance for Andy Murray to hold up a trophy, and to show everyone that he is the greatest British tennis player of all time. He might even remember to thank his mum this time!

The BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Award (SPOTY) is the UK’s premier sports award, and could be the Scotsman’s early Christmas present of the year. The award, which is voted for by the public, has already been won by Murray in 2013 after his historic win at Wimbledon, and this year he will be looking to join an illustrious group of only three other sportsmen to have won it twice (Damon Hill, Sir Henry Cooper and Nigel Mansell).

The shortlist is decided by a special panel, and is determined by two factors: firstly, the athletes must have a UK sporting achievement on the national or international stage, and secondly, said achievement has to have had a major impact on their sport or beyond it. Murray certainly ticks both boxes this year and betting tips experts and bookmakers have him at 5/2 to take the award after his David Cup victory.

Murray’s Magic On the Belgian Court

Another major title and another 70+ year drought broken, Murray, along with his Team GB teammates, won the Davis Cup for the first time in 79 years. He claimed it was the most emotional win of his career, surpassing that of even his Wimbledon success (which he described as more of a relief than anything else).

Watching him celebration with teammates after superbly lobbing David Goffin, just went to show his passion and what this win meant to him and Britain. Murray buried his head in the clay, with tears streaming down his face, and was jumped on by teammates. He was involved in two singles matches against Belgium in the final, as well as winning a doubles match with his brother Jamie.

Despite it being a team event, the emergence of a world class player in Murray is perhaps the main reason for these milestones being achieved. Murray is seemingly single-handedly reviving British tennis year by year.

The Magic Off the Court

Murray’s appeal has increased outside of tennis alongside his success. He earned himself a place in the nation’s hearts with the emotional interview he gave with Sue Barker, after his loss in the 2012 Wimbledon final to Roger Federer. His boy-like personality and unbridled emotions makes him popular with the masses.

Alongside this, his personal life has attracted much attention. His marriage to Kim Sears in April was a huge celebrity event and covered in all national newspapers. This popularity will most likely get converted into SPOTY votes, meaning Murray will be a hard man to beat on the night.

Will It Be Game Set And Match In Belfast?

The timing of the Davis Cup in the year’s calendar has further helped Murray’s cause in the SPOTY Awards, due to it being so fresh in the nation’s mind. It should not be forgotten, though, that there have been many other fantastic achievements throughout the year.

Jessica Ennis-Hill is another popular figure in the public eye. She managed an incredible achievement in winning the World Championship Heptathlon after giving birth to her first child. Lewis Hamilton also won the F1 Championship again this season, and although he struggled towards the end, F1 drivers have always been especially popular in the SPOTY.

If you asked me a week ago, newly-crowned Heavyweight Champion of the World, Tyson Fury, would definitely have been in the running, but the self-proclaimed ‘Gypsy King’ appears to have thrown in the towel in. This week there has been a massive public backlash to homophobic comments made before the victory against Wladimir Klitschko. Even Fury himself said his outspoken personality will mean he has no chance anyway.

Despite a plethora of athletes who have achieved great things in their sport, no one can match Murray’s broad appeal and record shattering achievements this year. With plenty of years left in the tank and future success in his sights, could he make history again and become the first person to ever collect three SPOTY’s?

Full Shortlist: Lizzie Armstead, Lucy Bronze, Chris Froome, Adam Peaty, Greg Rutherford, Max Whitlock, Kevin Sinfeld, Tyson Fury, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Lewis Hamilton, Andy Murray and Mo Farah.

 

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Svetlana Kuznetsova Wins First Title Since Return From Surgery In Washington

The two-time grand slam champion has returned back to the winners circle following her six-month absence due to injury.

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Former world No.2 Svetlana Kuznetsova saved four match points to defeat Donna Vekic 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2, in the final of the Citi Open in Washington.

 

Kuznetsova, 33, fought back against the aggressive play of her opponent. Saving seven out of the 10 break points she faced in the match. Eventually, it was the experience of the Russian that guided her to the finish line as she hit 34 winners to 36 unforced errors to win her first title on the tour since the 2016 Moscow Open.

“It was a difficult week,” Kuznetsova reflected afterwards. “Tennis is always mental, if you lose or if you win, you always gotta stay focused.”

With both players contesting their first final of the season, it was Vekic who battled through what was a roller-coaster and tense opening set. At first, the seventh seed appeared on course to clinch the opener with ease after breaking Kuznetsova in the fourth game as she raced out to a 4-1 lead. Only to be pegged by the 2014 champion. Serving for the set at 5-3, a forehand error rewarded Kuznetsova the chance to break back. Prior to the following point, the Russian complained about the movement of the crowd just as Vekic was about to serve. Then the Croat hit a double fault with the two players exchanging words at the changeover.

Despite feeling hard done by, Vekic soon restored order in the match. As Kuznetsova served for a chance to level 5-5, she pounced one again as the former world No.2 faltered. Recovering from a 15-40 deficit to seal the opening set with the help of a Kuznetsova double fault on set point.

Vekic continued to fight with the help of her of some rapid shock-making. Fending off a break point to nudge ahead 4-3 in the second set. Although Kuznetsova refused to go away. Saving two match points, it was in the tiebreaker where the Russian managed to turn her fortunes around. Vekic missed out on another two chances to win the match, allowing Kuznetsova to nudge ahead 8-7. She was then able to force proceedings into a decider after a Vekic forehand slammed into the net.

Kuznetsova’s resilience eventually wore her opponent down, who was close to tears after the match. Vekic admitted afterwards that she was dealing with leg pain and took a medical time out just before the start of the final set.

A double break in Kuznetsova’s favor in the decider guided her to a 5-0 lead. Enough of a cushion to enable her to close out the match after two-and-a-half hours of play to win her second Washington title.

“I know I’ve been a little bit lucky today,” she said.
“There’s something going on with Washington. I never lose here. I played two times and I won both.”

The victory comes after what has been a testing first half of the year for Kuznetsova. Left wrist surgery forced her to miss six months of the tour. Meaning that she didn’t start the 2018 season until March. Prior to the Citi Open, she had only won four matches in 10 tournaments played. Making her latest triumph even more special.

“Those times I had after the surgery, I had difficulties everywhere — personal, working different things. I switched coaches. I had lots of issues,” Kuznetsova explained. “But still, I rise again, and it’s really good for me.”

As a result of her latest win, Kuznetsova has risen 41 places in 87th in the world. Meanwhile, Vekic has jumped seven places to 37th.

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Davis Cup Reforms Face Late Opposition As Vote Looms

The proposed Davis Cup reforms have received strong criticism from Tennis Australia and Tennis Europe ahead of this month’s vote.

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David Haggerty (zimbio.com)

The upcoming Davis Cup reform vote has received some strong opposition and criticism from Tennis Australia and Tennis Europe. 

 

The vote is set to take place on the 16th of August, where federations will vote to change the 118 year old format to a one week season finale at the end of the year. The proposed move by Kosmos, has received fierce criticism and will need a two-thirds majority in order for it to be approved.

However with the vote just two weeks away Tennis Australia has been among the federations to oppose these reforms and have pushed this even further as they have wrote a letter expressing their discontent at the idea. The letter has been signed by the likes of John Newcombe, current Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt and Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.

The letter raises the following concerns, “We have written and spoken to the ITF President for several months now requesting clarity on the proposal from Kosmos, but this has not been forthcoming,” explained the letter, which is even signed by former ITF president Brian Tobin.

“Very large numbers are being referenced, but there is not enough detail to give us confidence this proposal will genuinely deliver enough additional value to players and the nations to offset the loss of home and away camaraderie and all the local marketing, facility investment and player development benefit that comes with those ties. In the absence of such important information, we have no choice other than to vote against the proposed amendments.”

However Tennis Australia isn’t the only federation to be against this move as Tennis Europe, who represent more than 50 member nations have also expressed their concern at the idea, “I am particularly concerned that there is hardly any information received from the ITF regarding bank guarantees for the proposed US$120 million per year which would be the $3 billion deal over 25 years, according to the original proposal,” President Vladimir Dimitriev explained in a separate letter.

“I have not yet seen a final and feasible explanation on how the business model or the governance structure will be either.”

The ITF do have the backing of Germany and France ahead of the move though with the AGM meeting set to take place in Orlando, Florida between the 13th and 16th of August.

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Serena Williams Withdraws From Montreal Due To Personal Reasons

Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Coupe Rogers in Montreal next week due to personal reasons.

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Serena Williams (zimbio.com)

Former world number one Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Coupe Rogers in Montreal next week as she deals with some personal issues. 

 

The American suffered the worst defeat of her career last week when she lost 6-1 6-0 to Johanna Konta in San Jose. The 23 grand slam champion clearly wasn’t at her best and it now turns out that she had personal problems to deal with as this is the reason for her withdrawal in Montreal next week.

The recent Wimbledon finalist also felt that she could not play Montreal and Cincinnati in back to back weeks as she continues her comeback from pregnancy. The tournament director, Eugene Lapierre, admits that he is disappointed but still recognises the high quality field that is left, “Of course, we are disappointed that Serena will not be joining us, Fans were very much looking forward to seeing her in action,” explained Eugene.

“But beyond the disappointment, the tournament, as a whole, remains a high-level competition. The entire Top 10 is here, along with 22 of the Top 25. There are exciting matches in store from the outset.”

The American was set to play in Canada for the first time since 2015 before withdrawing today. The 23 time grand slam champion has played five events since returning from pregnancy and the results have been mixed as you can see below:

Indian Wells – Third Round

Miami – First Round

Roland Garros – Fourth Round

Wimbledon – Final

San Jose – First Round

Tatjana Maria will now replace Serena Williams in the main draw and the German faces Alize Cornet in the first round.

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