Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki Comment on Sharapova's Doping Scandal - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Hot Topics

Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki Comment on Sharapova’s Doping Scandal

Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki were amongst the first WTA players to comment on the doping scandal exploded yesterday when Maria Sharapova revealed to have tested positive to Meldonium. What do Serena and Caroline think?

Avatar

Published

on

When Maria Sharapova entered a temporary press conference room in a downtown hotel in Los Angeles, many thought the Russian was ready to announce her retirement from tennis. What followed was far more shocking that the end of a career itself, as the Russian literally shocked the tennis community admitting to having failed a drug test last January at the Australian Open after testing positive to Meldonium, an anti-ischemic she had been taking for 10 years to deal with a magnesium deficiency.

 

Surprisingly, while the majority of the people involved with sports posted immediate reactions on social media, a cloud of silence settled on the WTA tour. A part from Madison Keys, who publicly sustained the Russian and Jennifer Capriati, who instead asked the Russian should have all of her titles ripped off, the rest of the women’s tour didn’t react. Were they all too shocked?

It seems so. After one day, we finally know what both World No.1 Serena Williams and former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki think of the whole shebang.

“As most people I am shocked, but I am happy Maria was upfront and very honest. She showed a lot of courage” commented Serena, who hasn’t lost to Sharapova in more than 10 years.

Following the American’s comments, Caroline Wozniacki – who was with Serena today as showed on the American’s Instagram account – was less understanding of Sharapova’s alleged negligence.

“Any time we do take a any medication, as athletes we triple check because sometimes even things like cough drops or a nasal spry can happen to be on the list” said the former World No.1, who lost to Serena the last Grand Slam final she has played in 2014 at the US Open.

Jennifer Capriati, as we know, was in no forgiving mood when the lashed at the Russian through her Twitter account (Jennifer’s tweets here).

Hot Topics

EXCLUSIVE: Inside The Melbourne Bubble – ‘Players Can’t Act Like Spoilt People’

UbiTennis speaks to a leading WTA coach about the current controversy surrounding the Melbourne tennis bubble which he is currently part of and if he believes players are right to express their frustration.

Avatar

Published

on

Less than a week into the mandatory 14-day quarantine process for players in Australia and there has already been plenty of drama.

 

Approximately 1200 players and their teams have travelled to Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open. Under government rules they are required to stay in their hotel rooms but are allowed to train up to five hours each day unless they have been in close contact with somebody who has tested Positive for COVID-19. Although things haven’t entirely gone to plan. There has been social media complaints about the food, insects in rooms and issues with practice sessions. Roberto Bautista Agut even went as far as describing the situation as a ‘prison’ in a personal video call that was published by an Israeli website without his permission.

The amount of negativity surrounding quarantine is substantial but is it really as bad as what it sounds?

Spanish coach Carlos Martinez is currently one of those living inside the bubble. With a wealth of experience in working with WTA players under his belt, he is currently mentoring former top 10 star Daria Kasatkina. Martinez has clarified some of the controversies surrounding the quarantine, including comments from players that they were misled about the rules upon arrival.

“They (Tennis Australia) made like, I don’t know how many, but hundreds of zoom’s (video conferences). They would inform us about everything, how it is going to be and the quarantine. We were getting messages and emails every single week,” Martinez told Ubitennis.net.
“Tennis Australia was doing a great job in my opinion. The only thing that was a bit unclear was about the quarantine when somebody gets infected on the plane. They were talking like they were going to make sections inside the plane so if they found somebody in a section (who tests positive) they would isolate those people,’
“But in the end the government didn’t want to do this and they preferred to isolate all on the plane because it was safer for everyone.”

So far Martinez has been fortunate not to have gone into strict isolation which at least 72 players have entered. Due to a series of flights having a passenger test positive for the virus, those on board must stay in their room throughout their quarantine. Those affected have been provided with exercise equipment of some sort.

“We know what we came for and how it is going to be. Of course, where you arrive everything seems more difficult than it is. But in my opinion they made a big effort and a super job to make the event. We can’t complain much.”

A frosty atmosphere with teething problems

(Martinez pictured with Kasatkina)

Martinez has a lot of admiration for Tennis Australia’s management in order to enable the first Grand Slam of the season to go ahead but he himself has also experienced some minor setbacks in the bubble. Undergoing daily testing, the Spaniard said he was kept inside his room for three and a half days without proper clarity about what was happening. Eventually he was informed that an issue with the practice schedule resulted in his first session with Kasatkina being cancelled. Fortunately, those issues have been resolved and they have now resumed practice.

“We are keeping to our plan. We are four days in and it is nothing compared to the others in the hotel,” Martinez said of Kasatkina’s preparation.
“She’s feeling good, she’s feeling happy and I’m not feeling anything strange.’
“Daria hasn’t lost any shape. We are coming from Abu Dhabi in what was a good week for us. She lost in the third round but was playing quite well in my opinion.”

While the problems are starting to be resolved Martinez admits that there remains what he describes as a ‘strange and complicated’ atmosphere within the bubble. Frustration, anger and criticism from the public is a bit of a nightmare scenario for anybody preparing for a Grand Slam. On top of that, the two types of quarantine occurring is leading to concerns of an uneven playing ground.

“It is a strange atmosphere because there are 72 players in (stricter) quarantine. We can say that maybe it’s unfair because it’s true that we will not have the same opportunity. For example, we are practising for two hours a day plus fitness. They are in their rooms and can’t move. Of course it is not the same,” he commented.
“It is a bit complicated because I have found many people complaining and some of them talk about some things which are not right. That’s not nice at the moment.”

Amid the tension, the real question is how much of a disparity will there be between the players who are able to train on court during these two weeks and those who can’t? Some have called for the Australian Open to be delayed and for the men’s matches to be reduced from best-of-five to best-of-three sets. Two things which are unlikely to happen at present unless there is a mass rebellion.

Perhaps the media and players are reading too much into it? Martinez believes the impact will not be as significant as some are suggesting. Although he admits those 72 players are unlikely to be ready to play their tournament leading up to the Melbourne major.

“In my opinion, it’s not like they are going to lose all of their shape because most of them have equipment in their room and can make something. Of course it is not the same but I think in one week they can practice a lot and recover their shape,” he said.
“In the end, I think it will not be that bad. Of course it is not the same because they cannot compete in the first tournament and it is important to go into a grand slam with a few matches. But in the end it is going to be better than they think.”

The public is right to be unhappy

Players arriving in Australia

The series of player comments about their conditions in quarantine has prompted some backlash from the Australian public, highlighted best by The Sydney Morning Herald who published a series of letters criticising them. Meanwhile Novak Djokovic’s attempt at changing the quarantine rules by submitting his own letter outlining a series of suggestions were greeted with a flat out ‘No’ from the government. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters earlier this week ‘I think it’s just time people followed the rules, do their quarantine, play Tennis.’

As the public gets bemused by the situation, some are wondering how players will be received by fans during their tournaments in Melbourne Park?

“There are people living out of Australia who cannot come back and that’s why they (the public) can be a little bit unhappy with us,” said Martinez.
“I don’t think they will react badly because the public will be very happy to go to Melbourne Park to watch matches and see the top players in the world doing their job. There will not be any inconvenience for anyone.”

Like others within the tennis community, such as Victoria Azarenka, the Spaniard said it is vital that everyone look at the wider picture concerning the pandemic. On January 16th the worldwide death toll for COVID-19 surpassed 2 million people.

In the end, we have to understand why players can not act like spoiled people. Complaining about the hotel, room and that when there are other people worse off in really tough moments. Many people are losing their jobs and in the end for us we can be very proud with what Tennis Australia is doing. Otherwise, we are home crying that we cannot play tennis.” He concluded.

The Australian Open is set to start on February 8th.

Continue Reading

Hot Topics

What Does The Future Hold For Ekaterina Alexandrova?

The anomalous story of a Russian tennis player who perfected her game in Czechia and now has reached a crucial moment in her career.

Avatar

Published

on

By

Prev1 of 4
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

The WTA season is set to begin in 2021 amidst countless difficulties, with many of the same issues as last year. One of the current peculiarities was on show during the Abu Dhabi tournament: the first round was played midweek and the final was scheduled seven days later, on a Wednesday. Luckily, the tournament scheduling didn’t prevent us from finding some good talking points, because the matches played in the first rounds in the UAE were interesting, like the one between Elina Svitolina and Ekaterina Alexandrova, a hard-fought affair won by the Ukrainian 6-2, 6-7, 7-6 after 2 hours and 35 minutes. During the third-set tiebreak, won by the World No. 5 for 10-8, Alexandrova missed two match points at 6-5 and 7-6.

 

The score illustrates a tough match, and yet, while watching it, I was sure that Svitolina would defeat her opponent, even when the Russian had those match points. I am not saying that to toot my own horn, or because I have special clairvoyant skills, but because we are talking about one of the classic situations in which the performance of one the player rises and falls in relation to the score. In the second part of the match, actually, Alexandrova seemed to have something more than her opponent, both physically and technically, but she couldn’t beat the pressure of the score. When she was lagging behind, the Russian struck the ball very well, finding the court with greater regularity; but when she had to reap the rewards of her supremacy, she was unable to. Ekaterina gave her best at the end of the second set (when she needed to even the score) and at the beginning of the third set, taking the lead with the first break of the decider. At 4-2, she could have pulled ahead for good, but she was unable to take advantage of three more break points. Once she missed the opportunity to land a knockout punch, the match changed: Svitolina broke her serve at 5-4, and then the Russian was defeated in the decisive tie-breaker, after 18 points.

While I was watching the game, I wondered how far Alexandrova could go in the near future. At 26, she’s reached a crucial moment in her career: she has been playing pretty well for a couple of seasons, breaking into the Top 30 and thus being seeded in the Grand Slam tournaments. However, the question needs to be asked as to whether she will be able to enhance the privilege she has conquered by achieving some important results.

It is not easy to answer. It could be said that her uncertain future is the epitome of what Russian women’s tennis has been experiencing in recent seasons – after soaring in the first decade of the 2000s, nowadays it struggles to maintain itself on levels of excellence. Moreover, it is normal wondering who could further the legacy of Sharapova, Kuznetsova, Dementieva & Co. 

Currently, Alexandrova is 33rd in the WTA Ranking and the highest-ranked Russian this week. Hers is a peculiar case, because her progress has mostly happened in another country.

Prev1 of 4
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading

Hot Topics

Novak Djokovic Never Demanded Changes To Quarantine Rules, Says Tennis Australia

Craig Tiley has spoken out publicly about Djokovic’s letter for the first time he seeks to ease tensions among the players.

Avatar

Published

on

A series of proposals laid out by Novak Djokovic in a letter which prompted some backlash has been played down by the chief of Tennis Australia.

 

Over the weekend it was confirmed that the 17-time Grand Slam champion wrote a letter to Craig Tiley asking for a series of changes to be made to the quarantine process. Among the six requests highlighted by Djokovic was the use of more testing in order to reduce the length of ‘hard quarantine’ and moving players to private facilities with tennis courts.

However, Djokovic’s letter was swiftly dismissed by various health officials in Melbourne who stated that no changes will be made to the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Emma Cassar, who is the COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Commissioner, replied ‘it a no from me’ when asked about the letter. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has also shut down those ideas.

There has been no public comment from the world No.1 over his actions but Tiley has jumped to his defence. During an interview with Channel 9 Australia, the Australian Open tournament director said Djokovic never demanded any change to occur.

“Novak wrote a note, these weren’t demands, these were suggestions,” he told Channel 9 on Tuesday.
“But he too is understanding what two weeks of lockdown means.”

At least 72 players are currently in strict quarantine after somebody on their flights to Australia tested positive for COVID-19. A consequence that has a significant impact on their preparation for the first Grand Slam of the season with them not being allowed to leave their rooms. In the wake of this, some have called for men’s matches to be cut from best-of-five to best-of-three sets. Although this is unlikely to occur.

“We’re a grand slam at the end of the day and right now three out of five sets for the men and two out of three sets for the women is the position we plan on sticking to, starting February 8,” Tiley stated.

Djokovic is currently spending his isolation in Adelaide along with the top three ranked players on the men’s and women’s Tour’s. Prompting accusations that the top names could be getting preferential treatment compared to their peers. Tennis Australia has insisted that all players have to follow the same rules.

As for the negative publicity that has blighted tennis is recent days, Tiley insisted that most players are happy with the conditions. There has been social media posts where some players have questioned the quality of their food and have uploaded videos of insects in their room. Meanwhile, Roberto Bautista Agut has gone as far as describing living conditions similar to that of a prison.

“Last night we spent quite a bit of time with the playing group going through a number of different items because they’ve just been here for a few days getting used to this quarantine environment,” Tiley said.
“I have to say on that call there were about 500 players and the vast majority are happy to be here, pleased to be here and really getting ready in the next two weeks to be able to get out and play in the lead-in events and then play the Australian Open.
“I think the reports we’re reading and the things we’re seeing doesn’t represent the entire playing group. For the most part, they’ve been pretty good.”

On Tuesday it was confirmed that two unnamed players have tested positive for COVID-19.

What did Djokovic ask for?

  1. Fitness and training material in all rooms
  2. Decent food, according to the level of the tournament and from an elite athlete
  3. Reduce the days of isolation for the 47* isolated players, carrying out more tests that confirm that all are negative
  4. Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both have passed the PCR
  5. If the previous proposal has the green light, that both the player and his coach are on the same floor of the hotel
  6. Move as many players as possible to private houses with a court to train

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending