The ITF Verdict Is Out: Maria Sharapova Is Banned For 2 Years! - UBITENNIS
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The ITF Verdict Is Out: Maria Sharapova Is Banned For 2 Years!

The Former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova won’t play on the WTA tour or any WTA or ITF sanctioned events until 2018! So reads the verdict issued by the ITF this afternoon. The question now is, what is next for the Russian star?

Jakub Bobro

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First off, for those who have trouble recalling, Sharapova was caught using a banned substance, Meldonium, which has been banned since the start of the year. There has been a ton of discussion about what the ruling will be from the ITF, and it is now confirmed that she will be banned for 2 years. However, the Russian is appealing to Court of Arbitration for Sport, to reduce the sentence given to her by the ITF. They have already given reduced sentences to tennis players in the past, for example in Marin Cilic’s case, his sentence got reduced from 9 months to only 4.

 

Many people, and maybe even Sharapova herself are asking, what will be next? Many people on Twitter globally have weighed in on this issue. For example, Brad Gilbert raised the issue of how Sharapova’s sponsors will react to the ban. Will they cancel their contract and renew it when she comes back? And that’s another question. Will Maria Sharapova in 2018, age 31 at the time, even attempt a comeback to the top, or is this the final blow to her career as a tennis player?

”While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension,” Sharapova said in a statement. ”The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

If the report by the ITF is looked closely at, as it has been by many journalists on Twitter, interesting facts come up, such as the fact, that even before Meldonium was a banned substance, Sharapova actively concealed the use of it and never disclosed it.

There have been only a handful of reactions from the tennis public, but no one has been outright bashing Sharapova. Billie Jean King supported the Russian, saying that by admitting the use of Meldonium early, she showed her true character. Ben Rothenberg is defending Sharapova, and claiming that her argument against the ban is legitimate, and that ITF should have notified or let her know about the change in a better way, instead of just banning her. Svetlana Kuznetsova, so far the only WTA star that tweeted about the issue is complaining about the press bothering her, asking for comments.

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Alex De Minaur is getting ready to restart the season

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Alex De Minaur spent the last four months at home in Alicante (Spain) in the country of origin of his mother Ester. The Australian player or Spanish origin is training to make his return to the court next August after the abdominal tear, that sidelined him from Adelaide and the Australian Open. He missed six weeks before Acapulco, where he lost to Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round. De Minaur started the 2020 season with two wins against Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov before losing to Daniel Evans and Rafael Nadal in tight matches at the inaugural edition of the ATP Cup in Australia.

 

De Minaur was not able to leave his house and spend time on the tennis court due to the covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s honestly been one of the toughest moments of my career. We got hit with this pandemic and all of sudden, everything changed in my life. We are used to travelling all over the place, not spending more more than one or two. Three weeks maximum in one place. All of a sudden you are stuck in the same place. You are not allowed to leave, not allowed to hit, train, compete. It was really a big blow”, said De Minaur.

De Minaur is looking to repeat his breakthrough 2019 season, where he won three titles in his hometown Sydney, Atlanta and Zhuhai and finished runner-up to Roger Federer in Basel and to Jannik Sinner at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. In 2018 he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Next Gen ATP Finals title match in Milan and reached the semifinal in Sydney and the final in Brisbane.

“Every day counts. You don’t realize that at such a young age, but as soon as you start maturing a bit and you have a couple more years of experience, you understand that if you want to be at the top and you want to play against these top guys, you have just got to improve all the time. You can’t be satisfied with your level; you have always got to want to push for more and strive for higher rankings, higher-level matches and hopefully beat higher-ranked opponents. There are always ups and downs in the journey but you just have to keep pushing through. It’s not always going to go your way. Still, if you have the right mentality and you positively look at things, sort of putting yourself in the right direction, that’s the most important thing”, said De Minaur.

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John McEnroe believes that it will be unlikely for Rafael Nadal to play bot the US Open and Roland Garros

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John McEnroe believes that Novak Djokovic is likely to compete at both the US Open and at Roland Garros, provided that he is healthy, but he thinks that Rafael Nadal could skip the US Open.

 

The 2020 ATP season is set to restart next August after a five-month break due to the covid-19 pandemic. The US Open will start on 31st August and end on 13th September. The French Open has been rescheduled from 27th September to 11th October.

“I believe and this is just my feeling, the top players  are going to play both. They have been sitting there and I am assuming most of the top players and some of the younger ones are chomping at the bit to get back out on the court, to compete and see what they have got. You are talking about two of the three majors that remain, that is a huge deal for the players. It has been done before and it won’t affect more than a couple of players. Obviously we presume and hope Novak will be fine and able to compete if he chooses to do so at the US Open”, said McEnroe.  

Rafael Nadal will face the tough challenge to defend both Grand Slam titles at the US Open and Roland Garros and the Masters 1000 trophy in Rome in one month. The Spaniard beat Dominic Thiem in the Roland Garros final becoming the first men’s or women’s player to win a Grand Slam event 12 times (Margaret Court won the Australian Open 11 times). Nadal beat Danil Medvedev in five sets to win his fourth US Open title in New York. According to McEnroe the 19-time Grand Slam champion may take a difficult decision to skip the US Open to focus on his attempt to win the 13th Grand Slam title of his career.

“Rafa is the one you would think that might be a bit tricky for him from hard to clay. That’s not something he likes to do or has done very often. It will be interesting to see if some European players decide not to come over to the USA because of some concerns over renewed outbreaks and it seems as though New York is doing much better. Who knows what is going to happen in the next months. I think it can be done and it sounds as tough they have set it up in a way that is extremely safe and the few people that will be allowed in. I would be surprised if the top players certainly, they have the right not to play, but I would be surprised if they don’t play”, continued McEnroe.

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Australian Open Chief Confident Event Will Take Place In January Amid COVID-19 Jump In Region

Craig Tiley has addressed concerns about the Grand Slam following a new outbreak in Victoria.

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The tournament director of the Australian Open has insisted that plans for next year’s tournament are on track despite a spike in COVID-19 cases around Melbourne.

 

Craig Tiley has stated that the Grand Slam will only take place in the city and there are no backup plans to potentially relocate the event in a worst case scenario. The Australian Open is held annually at Melbourne Park and this year attracted a record attendance of 812,174 people. Although there are concerns about the threat posed by COVID-19 with the Victoria State Government reporting another 66 cases of the virus on Friday. Making it the 17th day the daily infection rate has been in double digits. It is possible that the number could be higher with health minister Jenny Mikakos confirming around 10,000 people have refused to be tested with some claiming the virus to be a ‘conspiracy theory.’

According to ABC News Tiley and his team are planning for six scenarios concerning the Australian Open taking place, including the possibility of holding it behind closed doors. Although he is optimistic that the event and others also set to take place next January will go ahead as planned.

“Nothing has changed for us in terms of our planning,” Tiley told AAP.
“The environment around us has changed, and will continue to change, as we’ve seen with the current spike in Victoria.
“We’re optimistic the additional measures currently in place will be successful — and restrictions will continue to be eased over the coming months.”

The Tournament director has also confirmed that there will be little flexibility concerning the staging of next year’s event. Saying it will only take place in Melbourne and during January if it goes ahead. Although he is keeping a close eye on the two Grand Slams that are set to take place later this season.

“The US Open and the French Open are exploring mandatory testing, varying levels of quarantine and limiting entourages,” he said.
“Of course we are looking at all these options, and more, as part of our scenario planning.
“It’s difficult to predict exactly what will need to be in place as guidelines and protocols are changing week by week, and sometimes even day by day.”

This year’s US Open is set to get underway on August 31st, but will be held behind closed doors for the first time. Meanwhile the French Open, which starts only weeks after the New York major, plans to allow up to 20,000 fans to attend daily. Working out to be roughly 60% of its maximum capacity.

The last time the Australian Open didn’t take place was in 1986 due to a change in its hosting date from December to January. Founded in 1905, it is the youngest out of the four grand slam tournaments.

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