The Threat Of Terrorism And The Everyday Reality For Tennis Players - UBITENNIS
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The Threat Of Terrorism And The Everyday Reality For Tennis Players

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As Belgium recovers from the latest terrorist catastrophe to hit Europe, an all too familiar scenario is facing  tennis players around the world.

 

On Tuesday morning  a series of bombings struck Zaventem airport and the Maalbeek metro station, leaving at least 34 people dead and over 270 injured. The attack, claimed by the so-called Islamic State, comes four months after the November’s Paris attacks, where 130 people were killed.

The terror threat has deterred many from traveling, however, for tennis players they have no choice in the matter. Djordje Djokovic, the brother of Novak, was on his way to Zaventem airport before his plane was diverted due to the explosions.

The latest incident has reminded the world that an attack could take place anywhere, even at the heart of Europe. This worrying, but true statement in one which was also recently said by world No.1 Serena Williams.

“It’s just a really dangerous time in the world right now,” Williams said during questions with the media in Miami.
“You can be anywhere in the world and something can happen. We should all have to be kind of on alert. No city is safe at this point. You have to be alert.”

Terrorist threats at tennis tournaments is nothing new facing the sport. In 2001 the USA Fed Cup team withdrew from their final against Spain following the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. More recently, in the lead-up to the 2015 Davis Cup final, Brussels raised their terror threat to its highest level following intelligence reports of an attack. Fortunately the final went on without incident. This year the Slovenian Fed Cup team have withdrawn from an upcoming Fed Cup tournament in Egypt due to security fears.

Richard Gasquet and Ana Ivanovic were two players caught up in the 2015 Paris Attacks. They were both in the Stade de France watching a football match as they heard the explosions outside the stadium. Gasquet spoke about his experience during an interview with L’equipe.

“The match had started. We heard two explosions. I had even before heard some unbelievable sounds in les Parcs au Princes but this was obviously something else. It was not a sound, it was really a blast.” He said in November 2015.

Regardless of the terror fears, many people have refused to give in to fear. Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber was another to speak about the terrorism threat this week. The German have dismissed her own fears about being caught up in an attack.

“Sometimes you are thinking you travel every week,” Kerber said.
“Sometimes it seems hard. But at the end, you have no choice.”

For tennis players, whether they are world No.1 or No.100, traveling the world to tennis tournament is a necessity for them to make money. They have no option but to keep on with their everyday life. The fight against Islamic extremism is ongoing, but life can’t grind to a halt. A viewpoint which is shared by Carla Suarez Navarro.

“It’s sad to hear about the events in Brussels. You never know what is going to happen,” she said.
“We have to enjoy life because you never know what’s going to come.”

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Daniil Medvedev Is Relishing Fatherhood As He Aims For A Better Season In 2023 

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Daniil Medvedev - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Former US Open champion Daniil Medvedev says he has ‘only good emotions’ following the birth of his first child last month.

 

Medvedev’s wife Darya gave birth to a baby girl on October 14th and world No.7 has described his experience of fatherhood so far as ‘amazing.’ The new addition occurred during a year when the Russian topped the world rankings for the first time in his career, holding the position for 16 weeks over two separate periods. Although it is hard to compare his on-court achievements to recent events in his personal life. 

“I’m a really happy person in life right now, it’s only good emotions,“ Medvedev said during a recent interview for the Diriyah Tennis Cup exhibition. “The experience is amazing, many many people told me that I can only understand this when I have a baby and now I can completely understand. It’s a lot of fun. I’m so happy about it and so grateful to my wife.“

The 26-year-old joins a growing group of fathers on the men’s Tour. Last month Rafael Nadal and Gael Monfils also became parents for the first time. In the year-end top 10, four players are fathers – Nadal, Medvedev, Taylor Fritz and Novak Djokovic. 

After what has been a roller-coaster season for Medvedev, he is aiming to regain some momentum in his form during the off-season. He has won two titles this year in Los Cabos and Vienna, as well as reaching the final of the Australian Open where he had a two-set lead before losing. However, he is currently on an eight-match losing streak against top-10 players. Overall, he has won 45 out of 64 matches played. 

One of the off-season events Medvedev is hoping to generate a confidence boost from is the extravagant Diriyah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia which is offering $1M in prize money for the champion of the singles event. 

“The only thing I want of myself and for the fans to see is the best version of me. I want to play good tennis, this season there were some moments where I was not myself on the court, there were some things not working, not clicking.” Medvedev said of his hopes for the new year.
“This is normal in everybody’s careers and everybody’s seasons, some moments are better than others but I want to try and be better next year and show my best level every time.“

The Diriyah Tennis Cup will begin on December 8th. Also participating is Stan Wawrinka, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Fritz, Cameron Norrie, Nick Kyrgios and Dominic Thiem. 

Medvedev is expected to start his 2023 season in Adelaide. He is unable to play in the inaugural United Cup due to Russia’s current suspension from team events. 

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EXCLUSIVE: Kosmos Aims To Lure Journalists From Outside Europe To Davis Cup With ‘Global Ambassadors’

The head of Kosmos Tennis also spoke with Ubitennis about the format of the competition. 

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MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 05: Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2021 at Madrid Arena on December 05, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

The CEO of Kosmos Tennis says they are committed to promoting the reach of the Davis Cup competition beyond Europe. 

 

This year’s finals are taking place in the Spanish city of Malaga and the finale has been held in Europe ever since Kosmos’ 25-year investment into the competition received the green light three years ago. Organizers say it is important for the event to be held close to the ATP Finals which are currently being staged in Turin, Italy. 

As for those covering the Davis Cup, there was a notable absence of American journalists in attendance despite the country being one of the eight teams to participate in the week-long event. The USA lost 2-1 to Italy in the quarter-finals. Overall, three separate continents are being represented in the finals – Europe (five teams), North America (two teams) and Oceania (one team). 

“We have in our plans to do different things with that,” Rojas told Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta when asked about the attendance of journalists from outside of Europe. “We also want to have big ambassadors for the Davis Cup across the world. For them to speak about us and get the journalists used to the format. This is in our plans.”

The format of the competition sees 16 countries who have reached the finals group stage play one of four round-robin events. Each event has four teams and the top two of each group progressing to the knockout stages which takes place in November. However, there are some exceptions. Canada lost to the Netherlands earlier this year but advanced to the group stages as a ‘lucky loser’ following the removal of Russia from the competition. 

Each tie features three matches but in two ties played this week in Malaga only two matches were played because if a team wins both of their singles matches, the doubles are irrelevant. Nevertheless, Rojas believes the current structure is the most effective for men’s tennis. 

“It’s difficult. It’s going to be difficult but I think this format works and it is going to stay as it is now,” he said. 
“I can not be happier than I am. We are really happy about how everything is going – the players, teams, partners…everybody is extremely happy. I can only be proud of the job that has been done.” Rojas added. 

In another development for the competition, the possibility of ranking points being awarded in the future is still unlikely. Speaking during a press conference on Sunday morning, the president of the International Tennis Federation, David Haggerty, confirmed that a discussion can be held at any time if needed. This comes after KOSMOS, ITF and the ATP formed a strategic alliance for the first time in history. 

“With our existing agreement with the ATP, there is the possibility of ranking points. So yes, that is there. That’s in discussion.” Haggerty told reporters in Spain. 
“What we have seen is that really in the past, when you play for your nation, you’re not looking for the ranking points. It really doesn’t matter to many of the players whether they have points or not. But it is, with our relationship with the ATP, we can have that conversation at any time, but I think jointly we believe that it’s not necessary.”

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Rafael Nadal Weighs In On Debate Over Human Rights Issues At World Cup 

The world No.2 says sport is a place for people to express themselves.

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Rafael Nadal - Parigi-Bercy 2022 (Twitter @RolexPMasters)

Rafael Nadal says everybody has the right to express themselves as long as they don’t cause any harm to others amid the ongoing argument surrounding players’ ability to demonstrate their support for human rights causes at the World Cup. 

 

This year’s football event is taking place in Qatar which has been criticized for its treatment of migrant workers and the LGBT community. Homosexuality is a criminal offence in the country and those convicted could be jailed for up to seven years. A group of seven European nations wanted to wear a OneLove armband at the event which features a multi-coloured heart to send an anti-discriminatory message. However, FIFA threatened to punish those who wore it as it was not within regulation which eventually pressured those federations into scrapping the idea. Ironically players can still wear armbands but only the ones which has been approved by FIFA. 

The biggest argument has been surrounding rainbow items, which is a symbol commonly associated with the LGBT community, being allowed at games. FIFA had in the past said such items would be allowed at the event, however, there have been multiple examples of this not being the case. The Welsh FA launched a camplaint after some of their fans had their rainbow hats taken away by security. In other incidents, An American journalist was briefly detained for wearing a rainbow t-shirt, one cameraman was briefly denied access into a stadium because he had a rainbow-theme apple watch and even a Brazilian journalist was approached when police mistook his region’s flag of Pernambuco as a rainbow. 

Questioned about the debate during his South American Tour earlier this week, Nadal told reporters in Chile that he understands the importance of sport in promoting global rights. 

“It is clear that we live in a global world where people have more rights, and I understand that sport is a place of great media exposure to show these kinds of things and in that sense I understand that everyone has to have the freedom to express things and the feelings they have, without harming others.” He said

Qatar says that everybody is welcome in their country as long as they respect their culture. However, others argue that the country agreed to hold a FIFA event on their home territory and therefore they have to respect all cultures, including the LGBT community. 

Whoever is right, 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal says the principal focus should always be on sport.  

“The decisions taken or not taken by FIFA may seem better or worse to me, but in the end they are the rules or attitudes that they want to take. People deserve their space to be able to express themselves and show their disagreement and that is what is happening,” Nadal adds.
“Sport is a place to express yourself because it has global exposure, but beyond that for me it’s important that you end up playing football or tennis, and that everything else is a platform to improve the world, but the main thing is sport.”

Since speaking with reporters in Chile, Nadal has been in Brazil where he beat Casper Ruud 7-6(4), 7-5, in an exhibition match on Saturday evening. Although he didn’t appear to be too tired by the showdown with the Spaniard playing a spot of football at 2am whilst waiting for his next flight.

Nadal will next travel to Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico before his South American Tour comes to an end. 

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