Sloane Stephens and Elena Vesnina To Face-Off In The Charleston Final - UBITENNIS
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Sloane Stephens and Elena Vesnina To Face-Off In The Charleston Final

The final of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, South Carolina will be played by the 7th seeded American, Sloane Stephens, and the Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina.

Jakub Bobro

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Sloane Stephens advanced to the final by retirement. The much anticipated match between Angelique Kerber and Sloane Stephens was decimated by Kerber’s viral illness, which caused her not to play her best tennis, and eventually to retire from the match at 6-1 3-0 ret.

 

“I just thought I’m going out to play a match,” Stephens said. “I just thought it was going to be a battle. And unfortunately she wasn’t feeling well. But I mean it’s understandable, it happens. I wish her well. I hope she gets better soon because I know they have Fed Cup coming up next week. That’s all you can really do in that sort of situation.”

Kerber seemed to be in a really good form, winning her last two matches 6-2 6-3 against first Kucova, and then Begu. Things got really unlucky for Kerber, the viral illness taking her out of Charleston will cause her drop to No. 3 in the rankings, and putting her Fed Cup appearance in jeopardy.

“When I was warming up this morning, I felt a little bit like something is wrong,” she said. “But I was thinking that when I’m going on court, the energy will come back and I will feeling okay. And it starts in the first few games in the first set that I was feeling that, yeah, something is not good.”

Stephens’ opponent will be the World No. 85, Elena Vesnina. The Russian is having a dream run in Charleston as a qualifier, gunning for her 3rd WTA Singles title. The live rankings monitor Vesnina as No. 51 right now, meaning that she will raise by 34 places in the rankings. If Vesnina manages to win the tournament, Vesnina will be at No. 39. In the semifinals, she pulled off the upset over the 5th seed Sara Errani 6-4 4-6 6-2 in 2 hours and 21 minutes. Vesnina won 8 out of 11 close games, which was definitely a factor in defeating Errani. Vesnina’s highest ranking is No. 21, but the shoulder injury which she suffered at the 2014 US Open was a major setback to her career, but now she seems to be getting back to her past heights.

“It took a while for me to recover after that,” said Vesnina, who is from Russia. “I was struggling with confidence, I was losing some points, I was dropping in the ranking, I was not winning matches. And it was really difficult to come up. I’m really happy that I actually doing well now, and I’m not actually looking at my ranking that much. I’m just looking at my game. That’s, I think, the most important thing.”

The head-to-head is in favor of the lower-ranked Russian, winning the only meeting so far between them in Hobart 2013. Vesnina seems to be in incredible form, losing only 1 set in her 7 matches here. All that said, Stephens is still the odds-on favorite, and will be less fatigued than Vesnina, having to play only 10 games, compared to a three set drama.

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Great Britain Bounce Back To Reach Last Eight At Davis Cup Finals

A potential clash with Novak Djokovic’s Serbia awaits the British camp after they topped their group.

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INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - NOVEMBER 28: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2021 at OlimpiaWorld on November 28, 2021 in Innsbruck, Austria. (Photo by Pedro Salado / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

Great Britain has continued their unbeaten run at the Davis Cup Finals with a roller-coaster 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic on Sunday.

 

Britain, who last won the title in 2015, was given a stern test against an upcoming Czech team whose two singles players in tie were aged under 21. The showdown was a crucial encounter for the Brits who also defeated France 24 hours earlier. Their latest win cements their place at the top of Group C and guarantees them automatic qualification for the quarter-finals of the tournament later this week.

“It’s great. Today was tough, I said that yesterday. You look at the rankings and a lot of people think it is going to be straightforward after you beat a French team but it is never like that. We’ve seen it time and time again in the Davis Cup,” Captain Leon Smith commented.
“The Czech team played really well today. Really good young team.“ He added.

The tie began with a shock triumph for the underdogs as Dan Evans fell 6-2, 7-5, to world No.143 Tomas Machac. A 21-year-old who has only played in a Grand Slam main draw twice in his career and has only ever recorded one win. However, the Czech produced an emphatic display of tennis which was at a substantially higher level than his current ranking suggests he is playing at. During one stage of the match, Evans’ frustration got the better of him as he smashed his racket on the ground out of anger. His mood deteriorated further in the second set when he lost four games in a row whilst boasting a 5-3 lead.

“It was a difficult match. He played well. I didn’t play so well,” said Evans.
I got myself in a winning position in the second set and didn’t take it. (I was) A bit indecisive really.’
“But the Czech Republic is always very tough in the Davis Cup. They’ve always got a lot of passion, always play well. I knew they were going to be good. I think they had a good win the other day.’
“Machac has been playing some good tennis. He outplayed me in the first set. Second set, I can’t say I should get through it, but I had my chances.”

Tasked with reviving his country’s winning hopes, British No.1 Cameron Norrie was also tested but managed to prevail 6-1, 2-6, 6-1, over Jiri Lehecka to level the tie. Norrie, who won his maiden Masters title and cracked the world’s top 20 for the first time this year, recovered from a lacklustre second set where he produced 14 out of his 20 unforced errors in the match.

“I was feeling good this morning and came out firing, and had a clean first set,” the world No.12 commented during his on-court interview.
“At the start of the second set, he (Lehecka) was playing more aggressive, I went down a break and was a little down on myself but the gang were incredible and got me back up.’
“I played a similar level in the third set again but it’s never easy being favourite and never easy in this situation but I really enjoyed the match and was aggressive with my forehand throughout.
“All credit to him but I managed to come back for a must-win match.”

With a place in the last eight at stake, Britain managed to pull away from their rivals thanks to a dominant victory in the doubles. The experienced duo of Joe Salisbury and Neild Skupski eased their ways to a 6-4, 6-2, win over Machac and Jiri Vesely. A somewhat expected outcome with the British pair currently ranked in the world’s top 20 for doubles.

“Playing for your country, being here (in Austria) and getting the win with Neil is really special. I’m really happy,” said Skupski.
“We just wanted to start very early in the match today. A lot of energy, a lot of positivity. Just tried to play freely and it definitely worked in the end. We had a great end to the first set and the second was very good.” Salisbury later added.

It is the sixth time Britain has reached the quarter-finals of the competition under the reign of Smith. They will next play the winners of Group C which will be either Serbia or Germany. Germany will top their group if they beat Austria on Sunday evening but if they lose Serbia will be at the top.

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Novak Djokovic Unlikely To Play Australian Open Under Current Conditions, Says Father

Srdjan Djokovic made the revelation during a TV show which was broadcasted in Serbia on Sunday morning.

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INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2021 at OlimpiaWorld on November 27, 2021 in Innsbruck, Austria. (Photo by Pedro Salado / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

The speculation over Novak Djokovic’s participation in next year’s Australian Open has taken another turn after his father claimed that the world No.1 is likely to skip the event due to what he describes as ‘blackmail.’

 

Srdjan Djokovic says his son has a right to keep his vaccination status out of the public eye despite him being asked multiple times if he has been vaccinated against COVID-19. Recently Tennis Australia confirmed that the Melbourne Major will only be open to players who have been fully vaccinated against the virus in line with a government health mandate which has been implemented in the region.

Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open a record nine times, has refused to shed light on if he will be travelling to Australia to defend his title or not. When questioned by reporters about his plans during the ATP Finals in Turin, the Serbian replied ‘we’ll see.’

During a Sunday morning programme broadcasted on TV Prva, Srdjan said everybody has a right to address their own health when questioned about the vaccination. Although he refused to reveal the current status of his son.

“As far as vaccines and non-vaccines are concerned, it is the personal right of each of us whether we will be vaccinated or not. No one has the right to enter that intimacy, it is guaranteed by the constitution,” B92 quoted Srdjan as saying.
“Everyone has the right to decide on their health. Vaccinated, that is his (Djokovic’s) exclusive right. Will he publish it, I don’t think so. I don’t know that decision either, and if I did, I wouldn’t share it with you. He has the right to decide as he wants.” He added.

When asked directly about Djokovic’s participation in the Australian Open, Srdjan cast doubt on the chances due to what he labelled as ‘blackmail’ by officials. Taking aim at those who have criticised the 20-time Grand Slam champion in recent weeks over the subject.

“It was embarrassing because of the announcement of those rulers in the provinces of Australia, who gave themselves the right to call out the nine-time champion of Australia?” he asked.
“Whether he will appear there (at the Australian Open) depends on how they will position themselves. He would want it (to play) with all his heart because he is an athlete, and we would love that too. ‘
“Under these blackmails and conditions, he probably won’t (play). I wouldn’t do that. And he’s my son, so you decide for yourself. “

Should Djokovic skip the Australian Open he would miss out on the opportunity to surpass rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to become the most decorated male player in Grand Slam history. He hasn’t missed the tournament since making his debut back in 2005.

Djokovic is currently playing at the ATP Finals in Austria. He is yet to react react to his father’s comments.

NOTE: Quotes translated from Serbian to English via Google

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WTA Confident Peng Shuai’s Email Responses Were Written Under The Influence Of Others

The governing body says it is ‘clear’ that the tennis player didn’t write them independently amid fears she has been censored by authorities.

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The Women ‘s Tennis Association (WTA) says they remain deeply concerned that former world No.1 doubles player Peng Shuai is being censored by Chinese authorities.

 

In a statement sent to the Associated Press on Saturday, the WTA has dismissed the authenticity of two emails which the two-time Grand Slam champion has sent to them. Saying they have suspicions that it was written under the influence of others. Both of those emails have been leaked on social media by either state-control Chinese media or by a person who claims to be a ‘long-time friend’ of hers.

Concerns over Shuai’s safety and whereabouts started on November 2nd after a post uploaded to her Weibo account accused former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual abuse. The post was removed within an hour of it going live and her account has since been restricted. In the couple weeks that followed Shuai wasn’t seen in public which prompted fears she had been detained by officials. In a bid to quash those concerns videos and photos of the tennis star was posted online by either journalists or media outlets which are under the control of the country’s communist party.

“Steve Simon has reached out to Peng Shuai via various communication channels,” the WTA told AP.
“He has sent her two emails, to which it was clear her responses were influenced by others. He remains deeply concerned that Peng is not free from censorship or coercion and decided not to re-engage via email until he was satisfied her responses were her own, and not those of her censors. The WTA remains concerned about her ability to communicate freely, openly, and directly.”

The only international sporting body to have spoken with Shuai since the allegations came to light have been the International Olympic Committee who held a video call with her a week ago. However, some have criticised the IOC over their approach to the matter and their subsequent statement which made no referenced to her accusations of sexual assault.

Tomas Bach, who is the president of the IOC, recently said that he was confident that the tennis star was safe and well because she gave a ‘relaxed impression’ during their video call.

“We also offered a meeting when we come in January and this video call and this 30-minutes’ conversation gave a relaxed impression we can all conclude that she is safe and well,” Bach said during an online interview with the AIPS Young Reporters group. ”But we will keep in contact and this is why we proposed to have a meeting there in January when we come to Beijing. She was telling us that she was with her family and friends and wants to be involved in her beloved sport of tennis.”

Also in attendance during the video call was Li Lingwei who is a former athlete that has since worked in various governing roles within China. This includes being a Representative of the Chinese People’s Congress (1998-2003, 2013-) and a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Congress (2013-2018).

The WTA has threatened to pull their tournaments out of China should their concerns about Shuai’s welfare not be addressed to their satisfaction.

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