The Not So Unfamiliar World Of Doping In Tennis - UBITENNIS
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The Not So Unfamiliar World Of Doping In Tennis



Maria Sharapova’s failed drug test is without a doubt a major blow to the world of tennis, who is still trying to recover from a damning report from the BBC and Buzzfeed news into match-fixing. The news of a leading tennis player failing a drug test is a shock, however, she isn’t the first and will most likely will not be the last.

The phrase ‘tennis star fails a drug test’ isn’t one that can just be applied to Sharapova. In fact, in recent years, many other players have also been embroiled in doping controversies. These include former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, doubles world No.1 Martina Hingis, 2004 French Open runner-up Guillermo Coria and many more.

Marin Cilic

In 2013 Marin Cilic was suspended from the sport after testing positive for Nikethamide. The substance was detected in a urine sample tested by anti-doping controls in Munich. The Croat maintained his innocence after arguing that a member of his team brought some Coramine glucose tablets at a local pharmacy, which contained the banned substance.

Cilic lodged an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and successfully had his suspension reduced from nine months to four. The CAS argued that the initial sanction was too severe and Cilic didn’t intend to use the substance to enhance his performance.

“The panel determined that the degree of fault committed by the athlete was inferior to that established in the [tribunal] decision,” CAS said in a statement.
“The panel also determined that the sanction imposed was too severe in view of the degree of fault and concluded that it should be reduced to four months.”

Viktor Troicki

Troicki received an initial 18-month ban for refusing to give a blood sample during the 2013 Monte Carlo Masters. Troicki said that he asked to miss the tests due to feeling unwell and his fear of needles. The Serbian also said that Dr. Elena Gorodilova told him that he could skip the test without any consequences, an accusation which Gorodilova denies.

After lodging an appeal to the CAS, Troicki’s ban was reduced to 12 months. The CAS maintained that the Serbian did commit an anti-doping violation, however, there was a degree of misunderstanding between the two parties.

Following the Incident, Troicki is still extremely critical of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and their anti-doping approach.

ITF wants to justify its existence and to show that it is getting the job done – that is why they will try to use every tiny detail against you. What terrifies me is the fact that they are determined to ruin the career of every single player they have a conflict with. Their ultimate goal is to destroy their careers by imposing the harshest punishments possible”.  He told in December 2014.

Martina Hingis

In 2007 the Swiss tennis star shocked that world when she tested positive for cocaine at the Wimbledon Championships and was suspended from the sport for two years.  Hingis maintained her innocence throughout the controversy, despite her B sample also testing positive for the substance.

In her appeal, Hingis provided a hair test that proved negative for cocaine. The test can show whether or not somebody has taken cocaine. She argued that she tested positive for the substance due to contamination, however, the CAS disagreed as she was banned for two years.

“The tribunal rejected the suggestion made on behalf of Ms Hingis that there were doubts about the identity and/or integrity of the sample attributed to her.
“The tribunal also rejected Ms Hingis’s plea of no (or no significant) fault or negligence, on the basis that no mitigation was possible as it had not been shown how the cocaine entered her system.”

Richard Gasquet

An unfortunate romantic encounter landed the Frenchman in hot water back in 2009 after he tested positive for cocaine. Traces of the substance were found in a urine sample taken during the Miami Masters. Gasquet protested his innocence by saying the substance entered his body after kissing a girl in a nightclub. He missed two months and 15 days of the tour due to the positive test, but was later reinstated following a report published by the CAS.

“while he was at fault in exposing himself to the risk of such contamination, that fault was not significant”. The panel concluded.
“It further ruled that, in the exceptional and ‘probably unique’ circumstances of the case, it would be unjust and disproportionate to impose a 12-month sanction on Mr Gasquet.”

The amount of cocaine detected was another factor. The report concluded that the amount of cocaine detected was ‘very small’.

Guillermo Coria

The former top-10 player tested positive for Nandrolone following a match at the Barcelona Open. The Argentine argued that he was only taking a multivitamin substantial at the time. He later discovered that the multivitamin was contaminated with steroids after his family paid for a private lab test. He was handed a seven-month ban and fined £65,000.

Coria, who reached the final at the 2004 French Open, later sued the New Jersey supplements company for $10 million and received an undisclosed settlement.

Other Noticeable Cases

Greg Rusedski – Nandrolone in 2004 (cleared by the CAS)
Mats Wilander – Cocaine (tested positive at 1995 French Open. suspended for three months after withdrawing appeal).
Karel Nováček – Cocaine (tested positive at 1995 French Open. suspended for three months after withdrawing appeal).
Andre Agassi – admitted using crystal methamphetamine  in 1997 (revelled in his biography that he lied about his drug use to the ATP).
Nuria Llagostera Vives – Methamphetamine (received a two-year ban in 2013).

Players currently banned for doping by the ITF

Player Name Nation Start Date Eligible From
Alves Pereira Valle, Marcela BRA 24 December 2014 24 December 2016
Basarab, Laurențiu1 ROU 12 March 2015
Gakhov, Ivan RUS 1 July 2015 1 July 2016
Garcia del Moral, Dr Luis1 ESP 10 July 2012
Janahi, Hamad Abbas UAE 27 May 2015 27 May 2017
Newport, Ryan2 USA 16 November 2005
Odesnik, Wayne USA 30 January 2015 30 January 2030
Roman Gomez, Jose-Manuel ESP 3 September 2015 3 September 2019

1 life ban
2 eligibility date to be established

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Alexander Zverev beats Alejandro Tabilo to reach the third final of his career in Rome



Akexander Zverev came back from one set down to beat Alejandro Tabilo 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 reaching the third final of his career at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome and his first Masters 1000 final since 2022. 

Zverev reached his 11th career Masters 1000 final, equalling his compatriot Boris Becker for most Masters 1000 final appearances by a German man since the series started in 1990.

Tabilo earned a double break point with a forehand drop shot winner. The Chilean player forced an error with a topspin forehand into the corner to earn his first break in the fourth game for 3-1 after just 13 minutes. Tabilo saved two break points to consolidate the break for 4-1. Tabilo held three break points and hit a forehand return winner to break at love for 5-1. The Toronto-born Chilean player closed out the first set with drop-shot winners. He won 10 of the last 12 points of the first set. 

Zverev won his first service game of the second set to stop his losing streak. The German player held serve in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. 

Zverev double fault to face a break point. He saved it with a big serve and held serve for 4-3 in the seventh game. This year’s Auckland champion Tabilo held serve at love to force the second set to the tie-break. 

Tabilo earned the mini-break after Zverev made his fifth double fault at the start of the tie-break. Zverev pulled back on serve on the third point as Tabilo netted a backhand. Zverev went up a mini-break to take a 4-3 lead after one of the longest rallies of the match. Zverev converted his second set point to force the match the third set. 

Zverev earned three break points in the third game of the decider with a crosscourt backhand. Tabilo saved the first two break points, but Zverev converted his third break point to take a 2-1 lead, as Tabilo made a double fault. 

Zverev backed up the break with an ace to open up a 3-1 lead. Zverev earned a second break in the fifth game to take a 4-1 lead and closed out the win with his 10th ace of the match after 2 hours and 17 minutes. 

Zverev will face either Tommy Paul or Nicholas Jarry in the final. The Olympic champion will rise to world number 4 if he wins the Rome Masters 1000 title. 

Tabilo upset Novak Djokovic 6-2 6-3 last Sunday and backed up this win with a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (12-10) win over Karen Khachanov in the fourth round. 

“I did not play well, but he was the reason why I did not play well. He came out hitting the ball extremely hard. A lot of dropshots. He was playing extremely aggressive. He did not let me play. I have to give credit to him for not allowing me to play my game”, said Zverev. 

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Taylor Fritz overcomes Grigor Dimitrov to reach the quarter finals in Rome



Taylor Fritz overcame a tough battle to beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-2 6-7 (11-13) 6-1 reaching the quarter final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

Fritz has become the first US player to reach quarter finals at three different clay court tournaments in Monte-Carlo in 2022 and 2023, Madrid 2024 and Rome 2024. 

Fritz broke serve in the third game and saved two break points to hold serve for 3-1. The US player fended off five break points before breaking serve in the seventh game to close out the first set 6-2. 

Dimitrov earned a set point at 5-4 on Fritz’s serve, but the US player fended it off. 

Fritz hit a smash to save a second break point. The Delray Beach champion and Munich finalist fought all 11 break points he faced in the match. 

Dimitrov hit a forehand down the line to earn an early mini-break in the tie-break and took a 2-0 lead. Fritz pulled the mini-break back for 2-3, when Dimitrov missed a forehand. Dimitrov earned a second mini-break with a drop-volley winner to take a 4-2 lead. Dimitrov went up a 6-3 lead to earn three set points. Fritz fired a wide serve to save a third set point. Fritz fended off a fourth set point with a drop-shot. Fritz saved the fifth set point to draw level to 6-6, as Dimitrov made a double fault. Dimitrov hit another drop volley to earn his seventh set point, but Fritz saved it. Dimitrov saved a match point at 8-7 on a second serve. 

Dimitrov earned a seventh set point, but he hit a forehand pass wide to drop to 9-9. Fritz faced an eighth set point at 10-9 with his first double fault, but he saved it to draw level to 10-10, as Dimitrov hit his slice into the net. Fritz saved a ninth set point with a backhand down the line to draw level to 11-11. Dimitrov converted his 10th set point with a forehand down the line to close out the 19-minute tie-break. Dimitrov forced the match to the decider after 2 hours and nine minutes. Fritz dropped his first set at this tournament. 

After a four-minute bathroom break Fritz converted his fourth break point to open up a 2-0 lead in the third set. Fritz won 12 of the 13 break points on his serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Dimitrov faced a two break points in the sixth game. Fritz broke for the second time in the sixth game with a forehand to race out to a 5-1 lead. Fritz sealed the win with his 13th ace on his first match point. 

After losing in the first round at the Miami Open, Fritz reached the final in Munich and the semifinal in Madrid, where he avenged a 2023 Roland Garros loss against Francisco Cerundolo in the quarter final. 

“I feel like normally in those situations. I would be a lot more uptight and nervy, but honestly I felt pretty calm. I think it was tough because the sun was moving the whole match, and right in the tie-break is the first time it was bad for me on that side, so I threw in the double fault. I had a really good opportunity on a second serve return, and he hit it into my body and a bit slower than the other ones. I just caught it a bit early trying to get out the way of it. It’s easy to go back and dwell on that the whole third set, but I did a really good job at just putting it behind me and not thinking about that second serve return”, said Fritz. 

Fritz set up a quarter final match against Alexander Zverev, who beat Nuno Borges 6-2 7-5. Zverev has reached at least the fourth round at all Masters 1000 tournaments this year. 

Zverev earned an early break, but Borges broke back to draw level to 2-2. Zverev won four consecutive games to close out the first set 6-2. Zverev earned the decisive break in the 11th game to seal the win in 86 minutes. Zverev hit 25 winners to Borges’ eight and his 82% of points on his first serve. Zverev has improved his seasonal record to 25 wins to 9 defeats. The German player reached three semifinals at Los Angeles, Miami and Los Cabos.  

Zverev leads 4-3 in his seven head-to head matches against Fritz, but the US player won two of their last three matches. Zverev and Fritz have never faced off on clay. 

“We were lined up potentially last week to play in the quarter finals, but it will be fun. We will see what happens. We have played each other a good amount and known each other a long time, said Fritz.

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Danil Medvedev battles past Hamad Medjedovic to reach the fourth round in Rome



Defending champion Danil Medvedev battled past 2023 Next Gen Finals champion Hamad Medjedovic 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 7-5 after 2 hours and 50 minutes on Centre Court to reach the Round of 16 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

Medvedev is the highest ranked player left in the men’s draw since Novak Djokovic lost against Alejandro Tabilo on Sunday. Medjedovic beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina without dropping a set to reach the third round of a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in his career. He faced a top 10 player for the first time in his career. 

Medvedev broke serve in the first game and held on his serve to take a 4-2 lead in the opening set. Medjedovic broke serve at 15 in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Medvedev converted his fourth break point in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. Medjedovic broke straight back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5 en route to the tie-break. Medvedev went up a mini-break three times, but Medjedovic pulled back on serve each time. Medvedev sealed the tie-break with a fourth mini-break. 

Medjedovic broke twice in the third and seventh games to win the second set 6-2. 

Medvedev broke in the fourth game of the third set to open up a 4-1 lead. Medjedovic broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Medvedev broke for the second time in the 12th game to close out the third set 7-5. 

Medvedev won his first title on clay in Rome last year. He is seeking to defend a tour-level title for the first time in his career. 

Medvedev has now reached the Round of 16 at all five Masters 1000 tournaments this season. 

“I felt like I started the match well and then in a way it was going downhill. My serve was not there, my shots were not aggressive enough when I needed to. Because many times I would like to play the rhythm I played, but I would like from time to time to surprise my opponent with some good shots. Today I was not able to do it. At one moment in the match I thought what I was doing would not be enough to win the match, so I am happy that even by playing not my best I could win. Tomorrow I am going to try to find my best tennis”, said Medvedev. 

Medvedev set up a fourth round match against Tommy Paul, who beat Dominik Koepfer 6-4 6-4. 

Sebastian Baez came back from one set down to beat Holger Rune 2-6 6-2 6-3. Baez has reached the fourth round of a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in his career. 

The Argentine player has scored his third top 10 win after beating Cristian Garin in Cordoba and Andrey Rublev in Bastad in 2022. 

Baez set up a Fourth round match against Hubert Hurkacz, who beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry 7-6 (8-6) 6-2. 

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