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The Kooyong Classic gets underway

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A clear indicator that the season’s first Gland Slam is just around the corner is the fact that the Kooyong Classic is underway. This event, which first took place in 1988 when the Australian Open moved from the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club to Melbourne Park, serves as the perfect preparation for the inaugural Slam as all players are assured three top-quality encounters.

 

Past champions include Michael Chang, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and, more recently, Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt and defending champion, Fernando Verdasco. The 28th edition got underway today, with a mix of rising stars and established veterans taking part.

The first match on court was an absolute belter between Feliciano Lopez and Gilles Simon. The Spaniard  came out on top an incident-filled battle 6-7, 6-4, 11-9. The Spaniard was figthing jet-lag after arriving just in time from Doha, where he picked up the doubles crown alongside Marc Lopez, and the Frenchman was hampered by an abdominal injury which resulted in medical attention. According to Simon’s camp this injury is the consequence of a shoulder injury from back in September which has forced him to alter his service action and therefore strain his abdominal muscles.

“Besides this problem I’m fine. I hope to get this better and play at the Australian Open”, said Simon. With his victory Lopez advances to the next round, whereas Simon goes on to a play-off with the other first round losers. “I have big jet lag in my body right now. I’m looking forward to playing better on Friday in my second match. I’ve always said this is the best preparation for the Open. The courts and conditions are the same, even the wind is there”, stated Feliciano Lopez following his win.

Next on court was a battle of two players who have seen better days. Nicolas Almagro, still struggling to rediscover his finest form which took him into the top ten before a foot injury, squared off with the talented Paul-Henri Mathieu, who is also in the final straight of his career. The Spaniard, who was surprised by Ante Pavic in the first round of Chennai, got a confidence-boosting 7-5, 6-3 win. More importantly for Almagro’s morale, he rallied back from a 3-5 deficit in the opening set to clinch it.

“I played well, I feel good about my tennis. I’m ready to play in my 11th Australian Open. I’m ready to fight, I’m healthy and I’m over the last two tough years”, claimed an upbeat Almagro.

The last clash pitted together two of the game’s rising starts: Omar Jasika and Hyeon Chung. Jasika, just 18, is part of a new wave of exciting Australian players and will try to make the most of a wildcard at his home Slam next week. Unfortunately for the Melbourne player he was no match for a player who seems like he is no longer a promise but a reality. Chung, already ranked 51 at the tender age of 19, put the Aussie to the sword with a 6-4, 6-3 win and got sweet revenge over Jasika: “I lost to him six months ago so it was good to avenge him this time”.

Jasika will get another chance to pit his tennis against a first class opponent tomorrow when he faces Kei Nishikori. The other three matches will also be a good chance to see some rising stars and gauge the form of more established players as Alex Zverev faces Kyle Edmund, Marcos Baghdatis takes on Pablo Carreño, who took a set off Nadal in Doha, and finally Hopman Cup hero Nick Kyrgios will try to keep up his hot form when he takes on Davis Cup finalist David Goffin.

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Richard Gasquet upsets Danil Medvedev in Geneva

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Richard Gasquet upset Danil Medvedev 6-2 7-6 (7-5) with three breaks of serve in 90 minutes to reach the second round at the Gonet Geneva Open. 

 

Gasquet scored his first win over an opponent ranked in the top 2 since he beat world number 1 Roger Federer at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 2005. 

Medvedev had beaten Gasquet in their only previous head-to-head match at the 2021 US Open en route to his first Grand Slam title. 

Medvedev was playing his first match since Miami in March after undegoing hernia surgery.

Gasquet won six consecutive games from 2-2 in the first set and built up a 6-2 2-0 lead.  

Medveved dropped his serve after three double faults with three double faults. The Russian player broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3 and held serve at love with an ace. 

Medvedev recovered from a mini-break down in the tie-break. Gasquet earned his third mini-break to win the tie-break 7-5. 

The Frenchman will face Kamil Majchrzak, who cruised past Marco Cecchinato 6-2 6-3.

Thanasi Kokkinakis earned his first win on clay in seven years with a 6-4 6-3 win over Fabio Fognini in 1 hour and 28 minutes. 

Kokkinakis went up a break to take a 4-1 lead. Fognini broke back in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4.  Kokkinakis broke serve at love in the tenth game to claim the first set 6-4. 

Fognini made two double faults and missed three game points before dropping serve in the second game of the second set. Kokkinakis did not face any break points in his remaining four service games. 

Christopher O’Connell edged past Albert Ramos Vinolas 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to set up a second round match against Reilly Opelka. 

Paulo Sousa cruised past 2021 semifinalist Pablo Andujar 6-1 6-4. Sousa will face Nikoloz Basilashvili, who was leading 6-4 before Facundo Bagnis retired from the match.

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Former Finalist Marketa Vondrousova To Miss French Open Following Surgery

The Olympic silver medallist will miss a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Czech world No.35 Marketa Vondrousova has pulled out of next week’s French Open after undergoing what she describes as a ‘small surgery.’

 

Vondrousova, who reached the final at Roland Garros back in 2019, underwent a procedure on her left wrist after experiencing recurring pain. She decided to do so following a medical consultation and will be soon going through rehab. It will be the first Grand Slam event she has missed since the 2019 US Open which she also withdrew from due to a wrist injury.

“The last few weeks were not easy, I have been experiencing recurring pain in my wrist,” Vondrousova wrote in an Instagram post published on Monday. “After seeing a couple of doctors I decided to get this small surgery done to be able to play pain-free.”
“Staying positive through the recovery and can’t wait to be back on the court soon,”
she added.

The 22-year-old last played on Tour at the Stuttgart Open where she lost in the first round to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur. So far this season she has achieved a win-loss record of 13-5 with her best run being to the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships as a qualifier. Vondrousova also reached the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and defeated Emma Raducanu in the Billie Jean Cup.

A former junior world No.1, Vondrousova has been ranked as high as 14th in the world. So far in her career, she has won just one WTA title which was back in 2017 at the Lugano Open in Switzerland. However, she has reached the final at another four events with the last being at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She has scored a total of six wins over top 10 players.

Another player in doubt for the French Open is defending champion Barbora Krejcikova who hasn’t played a match on the Tour since February. The world No.2 has been sidelined from action due to an elbow injury but remains on the entry list for the Grand Slam which will begin on Sunday.

The French Open draw will take place on Thursday.

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Roger Federer’s Team8 Considering Bid To Buy Cincinnati Masters Rights From USTA

The potential move has gained support from one former world No.1 player who says ‘it is nice to see responsible names’ in the mix to buy the prestigious event.

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Roger Federer Wimbledon 2021
Roger Federer (SUI) playing against Adrian Mannarino (FRA) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

It is understood that sports and entertainment company Team8 which was co-founded by Roger Federer is looking into potentially submitting an application for ownership of the Cincinnati Masters, according to two sources.

 

Sports business publication Sportico and Steve Weissman from The Tennis Channel have both reported that the business is among a number of interested parties who want to buy the event that is best known as the Western and Southern Open. In February this year it was confirmed that the USTA is selling their 93.8% stake in the tournament for a ‘nine-figure sum.’ It is understood that the organization doesn’t want the event to be relocated from Cincinnati in part of any deal.

“The USTA’s Board of Directors believes now is the right time to explore potential strategic options and alternatives in order to optimize the long-term growth of the tournament and take the tournament to the next level,” the USTA said in a statement published by tennis.com.

The USTA brought the rights to the men’s event back in 2009 for $12.5M and has since spent an additional $65M. Whilst Cincinnati is a combined tournament, the ongoing negotiations only apply to the men’s section. The women’s tournament is overseen by Octagon management.

Neither Federer or a member of Team8 have commented on the reported plans. The company was founded by the 20-time Grand Slam champion and his agent Tony Godsick back in 2013. Since then they have been involved in the creation of the Laver Cup, became a ‘major investor’ in the Universal Tennis system and are a ‘strategic investor and partner’ to On Running.

Should Team8 become the new owners, questions may arise about conflicts of interest with Federer still being an active player on Tour. The 40-year-old is currently sidelined from action due to a knee injury but is aiming to stage a comeback at the Swiss Open later this year. However, former world No.1 Andy Roddick has given his full backing to the possible takeover.

“In the world of tennis, where conflicts of interest know no bounds at all, Roger can do this. He has, obviously, been a great steward for the game and has created an incredible relationship with the fans in the city of Cincinnati. You’d like to see it stay in the tennis family with someone who actually knows and loves our sport.” Roddick told The Tennis Channel.

Federer has won the Cincinnati Masters a record seven times in his career.

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