Ladies Semifinals Preview: Serena And Venus Williams Targets A Wimbledon Double - UBITENNIS
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Ladies Semifinals Preview: Serena And Venus Williams Targets A Wimbledon Double

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Once again a duo of American sisters is dominating headlines at the Wimbledon Championships. Serena and Venus Williams are both just one win away from playing each other in the final of the tournament for the fifth time in their careers. Standing in the way of the Williams sisters is Russian underdog Elena Vesnina and Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.

(1) Serena Williams Vs Elena Vesnina

The first match that will get underway on centre court will feature world No.1 Serena against Vesnina. Closing in on Steffi Graf’s record of 22 grand slam titles, the defending champion will play Vesnina in a major tournament for the first time since the 2008 US Open.

Serena’s route to her 10th Wimbledon semifinal saw the top seed at both her best and worst. Dropping only one set in the tournament during the second round against Christina McHale, Serena has developed a trend of a sluggish start followed by a superb finish. Besides her tough test against McHale, the top seed has produced straight-sets wins over Amra Sadikovic, Annika Beck, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Vesnina’s surprise run to her maiden major semifinal has also followed a similar route to her nemesis. In the fourth round she required almost three hours to get past Ekaterina Makarova 5-7, 6-1, 9-7. Then in the last eight, she crushed a tired Dominika Cibulkova, who was suffering from the after-effects of her last-16 clash with Agnieszka Radwanska. Earlier in the tournament, the world No.50 cruised past Tamira Paszek, Andrea Petkovic and Julia Boserup.

Serena’s record against Vesnina is a dominating one. She has won all four of their previous matches without dropping a set. The world No.1 is confident that she knows the game of her upcoming rival, despite not playing her for almost three years.

“I think she has a really good grass court game.  She has a really good serve.  I notice that she always works on things and she is always improving her game.” Williams said of Vesnina.
“She’s also very aggressive.  She comes to the net.  I know her game really, really well.  It’s good to play someone’s game that you know.”

The power and the odds are firmly on Serena’s side. She has suffered shocks at this stage before, most noticeably against Roberta Vinci at the 2015 US Open, but a loss to Vesnina remains unlikely. Vesnina is a tough player, but her Wimbledon fairy-tale is destined to be ended by Williams if the world No.1 is at the top of her game.

(4) Angelique Kerber Vs (8) Venus Williams

Angelique Kerber’s clash against tour veteran Venus promises to be a mouth-watering encounter. On one end of the spectrum, there is current Australian Open champion Kerber, a player that is yet to drop a set in the tournament. Then on the other is seven-time grand slam champion Venus, who at the age of 36 has become the oldest player to reach the last four in the tournament since Martina Navratilova in 1994.

Kerber’s route to her second Wimbledon semifinal has only one consisted of one match against a seeded player (fourth seed Simona Halep in the previous round). Cruising into the second week of the tournament, the world No.4 has dashed the hopes of Laura Robson, Varvara Lepchenko, Carina Witthoeft and Misaki Doi. Facing Halep in her biggest test of the tournament, the German dropped her serve six times, but still managed to close the match out 7-5, 7-6(2).

Venus’ Wimbledon run almost ended almost a week ago when she faced a match point against Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in the third round. During a two-hour-and-47-minute epic that was troubled by the British weather, the former world No.1 edged past the Russian 10-8 in the decider. Kasatkina wasn’t the only troublesome player in Venus’ 2016 Wimbledon journey. She was also taken to three sets in her second round match by Greece’s Maria Sakkari. It hasn’t always been marathon matches for the 36-year-old. In her two most recent matches, Venus defeated Carla Suarez Navarro and Yaroslava Shvedova in straight sets. The roller coaster Wimbledon experience  has certainly been a test of Venus’ mental and physical fitness.

The two women have played each other on five previous occasions with Kerber leading the head-to-head 3-2. The German finds herself in the rare position of having a winning head-to-head record against Venus and a grand slam final win over Serena. Facing a Williams sister is a daunting prospect for many players, but it is one that Kerber is relishing.

“She’s always dangerous on grass, especially here in Wimbledon. She has a lot of confidence right now. She played great matches.” Kerber said about Venus.
“I’m looking forward to play against her.  It’s the next challenge here.  It’s the semis.  I will just try to play like my last matches by being aggressive in my game.”

Kerber is the biggest threat to both William sisters’ journey to the title. She has already ruined Serena’s dream in Melbourne at the start of the year and she has the ability to cause more heartbreak against what must be a very tired Venus.

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Government Minister Sheds Light On Australian Open Schedule

A member of the Victorian Government has given a new update concerning the first Grand Slam of 2021.

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It is likely that the Australian Open will not be getting underway on its planned date of January 18th following recent comments by a government minister.

 

Negotiations between Tennis Australia and local officials are ongoing amid uncertainty over when the Grand Slam event will start. Last week plans for next year suffered a heavy blow after it was confirmed that players will not be allowed to enter the country in December as previously hoped. Instead they can enter from January 1st but will then have to go through a 14-day quarantine where they will not be allowed to play any competitive tennis.

In the wake of the ruling, speculation is mounting that the Australian Open will be delayed. If not, players will only have a four-day period between finishing their quarantine and playing their first tournament of the new year.

Martin Pakula, who is the sports minister for the Victorian Government, said on Wednesday that it was likely there would be a slight delay to the start of the competition due to what he describes as ‘very complex negotiations.’

“I still think it’s much more likely that it will be a shorter rather than longer delay. I don’t want to unduly repeat myself but these are very complex negotiations,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Pakula as saying.
“I’m still confident we’ll have an Australian Open, and we’ll have one in the early part of the year.”

It is also still unclear as to what will be happening to other tournaments that were set to be held in the country such as the ATP Cup, Brisbane International and others. Tennis Australia had previously said they intend to relocate some of their events to Melbourne in order to minimise travel. However, due to the delay in players arriving those plans are in doubt. If they were held after the Australian Open, it would have a significant impact on both the ATP and WTA Tour calendars.

“There’s a number of potential dates on the table. I’ve seen reports that suggest that it’s likely to be delayed by a week or two. I think that’s still most likely,” said Pakula. “But it’s not the only option. As you know, the French Open was delayed by many months and Wimbledon didn’t occur at all.
“I still think it’s much more likely that it will be a shorter [delay] rather than a longer one.”

Pakula has also confirmed that the conditions of the ‘biosecure bubble’ which players will be kept in are yet to be finalized. Although he says there will be a rigorous testing system in place.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said over the weekend that a date for the Australian Open should be confirmed within 14 days.

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Rafael Nadal Urges Calm Over Australian Open As Officials Search For Solution

The world No.2 has confirmed his intentions to play at the Grand Slam but there are fresh doubts over when it will be getting underway.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has urged his peers to remain patient amid growing uncertainty over what the start of the 2021 season in Australia will look like.

 

Earlier this week it was confirmed that the government of Victoria refused a plan for 550 players to travel to the region next month in a move that could force a delay to the start of the Australian Open. Instead players will not be allowed to arrive until January 1st and then they will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine process. As it stands during that time they are reportedly allowed to train but not play in tournaments.

The ATP has already acknowledged that ‘new challenges’ have arisen in an internal letter issued to their players. Should the Australian Open dates remain unchanged, there will only be a four-day break between quarantine ending and the Grand Slam starting.

Questioned about the situation following his exit from the ATP Finals on Saturday, Nadal said he and others just need to ‘accept the situation’ by respecting any decision taken by the government.

“I don’t know what’s the situation going to be yet,” he said. “We need to wait about what the (state) government there in Victoria says.
“We can’t do much from ATP position or just wait. We have nobody to say what they feel is better for his country.
“We just need to be patient and accept the situation that we are facing. That is difficult for everyone. We need to be flexible to understand the situation and to find a way to play as many tournaments as possible next year.”

The head of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, has tried to allay concerns in a statement released on Sunday. Providing an update on the current situation, he says a plan taking into account the ‘needs of the players, fans, partners and staff’ is currently being drawn up alongside the Victorian Government. Although it is unclear as to when it will be finalised or what the final decision will be.

“We are continuing our urgent talks with local health authorities regarding quarantining and bio-security requirements and are confident we will have decisions soon,” said Tiley.
“Tennis Australia is acutely aware of the need for certainty, but also conscious of reaching a solution with the State Government that ensures the safety of the entire community.”

The Australian Open isn’t the only issue, it is what will happen with other events such as the ATP Cup. Originally it was hoped that various tournaments which usually take place around the country would be moved to Melbourne in order to minimise travelling. Now due to the later than planned arrival dates and quarantine, it is possible some of these events could be axed. So far the only event confirmed to have the chop is the Australian Open junior tournament, which will take place later in the year.

Amid the uncertainty, Nadal says he is hopeful that the Tour would return to a degree of normality in the future.

“Hopefully with the vaccine, that ends soon and we can come back at least to close to normal in a couple of months, but now is a difficult situation,” Nadal concluded.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this week’s ATP Finals is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in its history.

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Bombshell Puts Australian Tennis Events In Doubt

It is looking increasingly likely that players will not be allowed to play any tournament leading up to the first Grand Slam of 2021.

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The start of the 2021 tennis season has been dealt a massive blow as it has emerged that players hoping to travel to Australia next month will not be allowed to.

 

It is being reported that initial plans by Tennis Australia to allow roughly 550 players to enter their ‘bubble’ within the coming weeks have been blocked by the government in a move which may force the cancellation of any tournament set to take place prior to the Australian Open. A plan had been set out for players to arrive in December so they can enter into a mandatory 14-day quarantine. However, it now appears that the proposal has been denied due to COVID-19 protocols.

Unless there is a change of heart, players will not be allowed into the country until January 1st and then they will have to go through quarantine. Then under the current schedule the Australian Open will start just four days after. Players are not allowed to play any tournaments whilst in quarantine. The ATP, which is the governing body of men’s tennis, has issued an internal statement acknowledging that there are ‘new challenges’ concerning arrival times.

“In discussions with Tennis Australia over the past 24 hours, we have been informed there are some new challenges around the previously planned arrival dates for players and team members,” the ATP told its members.
“We continue to work with Tennis Australia on confirming plans for January, and we will provide an update as soon as more information is available in the coming days.
“We understand there is uncertainty about the start of the 2021 season, and we are working as hard as possible to deliver the best possible calendar of events to players, maximising points, jobs and prize money opportunities.”

Less than a week before the bombshell, Tennis Australia confirmed their desire to relocate various tournaments to Melbourne due to travel restrictions. The idea was for events usually held in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart to be moved to the area. However, it is now unclear as to what if any will go ahead now.

There have been rumours of the Australian summer potentially being extended into February which will allow for more events outside of the Australian Open to take place in the region. However, this has not been confirmed and there is no indication yet that the date of the Grand Slam will be moved back.

“Whether (players) need to be here in December… I don’t know that that necessarily means there isn’t an Australian Open,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Wednesday.
“Whether there are lead-in tournaments, that’s to be worked through.”
“It has to be done safely, it has to be done properly. We are working very, very closely with Tennis Australia. They are working (with) all of their partners and we’re confident that we’ll finish up with an Australian Open.” He later added.

There is yet to be any public comment from Tennis Australia regarding the latest development. Although the CEO of the organisation, Craig Tiley, has confirmed to The Tennis Channel that the tune-up events for the Australian Open are now in jeopardy.

The Australian Open is scheduled to start on January 18th.

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