Czech Republic go into the reverse singles with the advantage after doubles victory over Germany in the Davis Cup - UBITENNIS
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Czech Republic go into the reverse singles with the advantage after doubles victory over Germany in the Davis Cup

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Berdych/Stepanek ensured that the Czech Republic go into the reverse singles on Sunday in the ascendency (Image via Zimbio.com).

For a while on Friday it looked like the Czech Republic’s hopes of winning the Davis Cup in 2016 might fall by the wayside. Philipp Kohlschreiber had defeated Lukas Rosol, and Alexander Zverev was two-sets-to-one up against Tomas Berdych. A recovery from Berdych in that match ensured that the tie was level going into the doubles. Berdych partnered Radek Stepanek, but Philipp Kohlschreiber stepped in to partner former Wimbledon Men’s Doubles winner Philipp Petzschner. The Czechs won the match in straight sets 7-6, 7-5, 6-4, in two hours and forty-three minutes.

 

It was though that Jiri Vesely and Dustin Brown might play some part in the doubles, after particularly gruelling encounters for Berdych and Kohlschreiber in the singles, but both Kohlschreiber and Berdych stepped up to compete in the doubles.

A close first set that featured no breaks of serve saw the German pair edge the tiebreak before each set got progressively easier for Berdych/Stepanek. The second set also proved close, with no break points through the first ten games. That changed in game eleven, when Petzschner/Kohlschreiber offered one chance, and the break was earned. A quick hold and the Czechs led by two sets.

Berdych/Stepanek continued to raise their game, finding another break early in the third. Petzschner/Stepanek had two chances but failed to capitalise. Both teams managed to hold their serves for the rest of the match, completing the straight sets victory for the Czech Republic.

The win for the Czech Republic ensures that they remain the heavy favourites in the tie going into the final reverse singles on Sunday. The doubles result means that for Germany to progress they must, bar injury or other unforeseen circumstances, find a way past world No.7 Berdych. Berdych owns a commanding 8-1 lead in the head-to-head with his likely opponent Philipp Kohlschreiber, and the Czech has won each of their last three encounters in straight sets.

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The Corona Impasse: What Effect Will It Have On The Careers Of Federer, Williams, The Bryans, Nadal, and Djokovic?

We’ve witnessed the retirement of several players over the last two years (Berdych, Ferrer, Almagro, Baghdatis, …). Many thought that the same would have happened in 2020, but that might not be the case any more.

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Roger Federer e Rafa Nadal - Wimbledon 2019 (foto via Twitter, @wimbledon)
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Caveat lector. All those who, after reading the title, are about to accuse me, to accuse us of click-baiting, those are invited to refrain from reading.

 

We are simply trying to discuss themes that we notice to be in the minds of the fans, and we are trying to relieve them from the more or less catastrophic updates they are bombarded with on a daily basis, at a time when actual tennis will be off limits for God knows how long.

I also warn those who are still reading, out of intellectual honesty, that I have no evidence to support the hypotheses I’m going to make in the few lines – however, I’m relying on predictions coming from inside the tennis microcosm. Most of these were made very recently, I might add, up until the cancellation of Indian Wells (feels like a century ago already!), and they appeared extremely reliable. Said predictions obviously don’t apply anymore, but I still think that some friendly and useful debate might spring, starting from a few considerations floating in my brain.

I’d like to begin by reminding the readers that, between 2019 and the dawn of the 2020 season, the unexpected Kim Clijsters comeback was counterpointed by many retirements of noted players, starting with a pair of perennial Top Tenners, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych, joined in tennis Benidorm by Nicolas Almagro, Marcos Baghdatis (all former Top 10 players), but also Victor Estrella Burgos and Max Mirnyi, and that’s just on the men’s side.

As for females, the obvious star is Maria Sharapova, but also Sweet Caroline Wozniacki and Dominika Cibulkova. In 2018, we said goodbye to Tommy Haas, Francesca Schiavone, Roberta Vince, Karin Knapp, Nadia Petrova, Gilles Muller, Florian Mayer, Mikhail Youzhny, and I’m probably forgetting more and more.

But what was going to happen over the rest of the 2020 season and beyond? How many would have ridden off into the sunset this year?

Well, the twin rulers of doubles, Bob and Mike Bryan (119 and 124 titles, respectively) announced that they would stop after the US Open, after spending 438 weeks, as joint leaders of the ATP Rankings (although Mike actually spent 506 weeks at the top), with a streak of 139 consecutive weeks – record on record. Bonus one: they also concluded ten seasons as the world’s best. We know what’s going on in New York, and so the US Open might not take place, even if postponed.

Pedalling backwards, after the 41 years of age of the Bryans (they’ll turn 42 on April 29) we find Venus Ebony Williams, who turns 40 on June 17.

Despite winning 7 Slams out of 16 finals (5 at Wimbledon), Venus reached the N.1 spot on three different occasions but for a meagre total of 11 weeks, a chasm between her and Serena, who’s been on the throne for 319 weeks (nine more than Federer!) and has surely prevented her from doing it herself on more than one occasion.

A year ago, Venus implied to me that her goal was to play in the Olympics once more. Having already bagged four gold medals (like her sister), once in singles and thrice as a pair (with a mixed doubles silver medal on the side), Venus is the only tennis player who can boast a medal at four different Olympics (from Sydney onwards), and if she’d gotten one in Tokyo her record would have probably become even more unbreakable – let’s remember that she and Serena never lost a Slam final in the doubles.

Her spirit wasn’t broken by two defeats she suffered against a girl who might be her daughter (Coco Gauff beat her at the Championships and in Australia), at least not to the point of declaring herself ready to hang her racquet. However, even if the rankings are frozen by the virus, she’s now stuck at the 67th spot, and I’d be extremely surprised if the postponement of the Tokyo Games hasn’t made her call it a career.

Speaking of Tokyo, we know that the Olympics are now delayed till 2021 (even though the Japanese don’t want the 2020 branding to end up in a waste-bin), but we don’t know exactly when they’ll take place. Some think they might happen in June (when the UEFA Euros will also be played); some say March, when the simultaneous progress of the Sunshine Double would effectively behead the tennis event in Japan or spell a second doom for at least one event; some say they will happen in the same dates that were slated this year.

PAGE 2: WILL ROGER FEDERER AND SERENA STILL BE PLAYING IN 2021?

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WTA Chief Sheds Light On Likelihood Of Play Resuming In June

Will the grass-court swing take place in 2020?

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The head of the WTA says he is hopeful but not certain that the WTA Tour will be able to resume in time for this year’s grass-court season.

 

Steve Simon has said the governing body of women’s tennis is continuously looking at relevant data to see when it will be safe to resume the tour. The have been no professional tournaments since the last week of February due to the Covid-19 pandemic causing havoc around the world. Triggering the WTA and ATP to release a joint-statement in which they confirmed the suspension of play and freezing of rankings earlier this month.

Play has been given a scheduled date of June 8th to resume, but there is a strong chance that the suspension could be extended further. The events set to take place during that week are in Nottingham, UK and ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. However, both of those events are in doubt. Britain is currently in a three-week lockdown with the public only allowed to leave their houses for certain reasons. All sporting events have also been halted. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands there has been more than 7000 cases of the coronavirus.

“We’re looking at the data and obviously taking all the information we receive from the medical experts and the local governments with respect to the restrictions that are in place.” Simon said during an interview with The Tennis Channel.
“The WTA and tennis is unique because it is global. Currently we’re hoping to play again during the grass-court season which begins on June 8th. But we are also realistic and looking at the data we also realise that it could be delayed even further.”

Next week a decision will also be made concerning the fate of this year’s Wimbledon, which is also in serious doubt. The decision taken there could be highly influential on when the WTA may try to resume their tour. Although Simon stresses that it is the health of his players which remains his top priority.

“The first and foremost thought in our mind is the safety of our athletes, staff and fans. We want to be playing as soon as possible.” He stated.
“Hopefully it will be June, but if not we are hoping that it will be during the summer hard court season in the states (America).“

When play does eventually get underway again, it is unclear if there will be another joint-statement from the WTA and ATP. Although the head of the WTA has insisted that all relevant bodies are working together.

“It’s very important right now for our sport to be working together. We are in contact on a daily basis with the ATP, as well as the ITF and grand slams. I think the sport is working very well together. There are obviously, when you go through these things, blips in the script.” He concluded.

Whilst not directly naming, one of the blips Simon is referring to is likely linked to the French Tennis Federation. Who recently announced that they will be moving the French Open until a week after the US Open in September. Catching many off guard and subsequently ending the existence of numerous other tournaments once scheduled to take place during that period.

Simon has been the head of the WTA since 2015.

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Pundits Call For Novak Djokovic’s No.1 Status To Be Recognised Throughout Tour Suspension

Should Djokovic’s No.1 status be counted during this period or would that be unfair on his rivals?

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Two leading analysts and coaches from the world of tennis have urged the ATP to honour Novak Djokovic’s No.1 status despite the suspension of play.

 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, both the ATP and WTA Tours have been suspended until June at the very earliest. As a consequence, officials have decided to freeze the ranking system. Meaning player’s will not lose any points that would have dropped off last year. A decision that has benefited some more than others.

Although it is still unclear as to how this affects Djokovic’s reign at the top. It is expected that due to the suspension, his tally of weeks as world No.1 will not be counted during the suspension. He is on the verge of overtaking Pete Sampras’ total of 286 weeks in top spot later this year to become second on the all-time list. Federer holds the record with 310 weeks.

Brad Gilbert recently told ESPN that the 32-year-old should be credited during this period. Djokovic has started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row. He has won titles at the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships.

“He earned the ranking, and he was going to be No.1 for a while even if things went on as normal.” Said Gilbert.
“Going into Indian Wells, Djokovic was going to stay No.1 by the end, unless he lost before the semis and Rafa won the tournament.”

Gilbert is a former professional player himself who peaked at a career ranking high of fourth in the world back in 1990. After retiring, he coached various top players on the men’s tour such as Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Kei Nishikori.

Darren Cahill, who is the coach of Simona Halep, has also echoed a similar view to that of Gilbert. Arguing that Djokovic should be honoured up until the next grand slam. That would have been the French Open, but it has been postponed until September. Meanwhile a meeting will take place next week about if Wimbledon will go ahead or not.

“[Djokovic should get that credit] until the next major, and then I’m a bit unsure of what is the right thing to do,” Cahill said.
“These weeks he would have retained the No. 1. The same goes for [Ashleigh] Barty.”

On the other hand, some argue that it would be unfair that these weeks should be counted as players are unable to play. Especially if the suspension extends beyond the current date of June 6th. Something that is a strong possibility.

Up until March 24th, the ATP said they are yet to make a final decision on the matter. ATP spokesman Simon Higson has assured ESPN that ‘further information will be provided in due course.’ Although it is unclear as to when that will occur.

The frozen rankings explained

The ATP rankings have been frozen from the week commencing March 16th 2020. The current points tally takes into account the following three things :-

  1. FedEx ATP Rankings of 9 March 2020, counting results from the previous 52 weeks, including the 2019 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells
  2. Challenger results including Nur-Sultan and Potchefstroom
  3. ITF World Tennis Tour results from the weeks of 2 March 2020 and 9 March 2020

This policy will be used until play resumed later this year at some point.

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