Donald Trumph’s unprecedented win in the U.S election has sent shockwaves around the world. Few believed that a man marred by a series of high-profile controversies could become a political heavyweight. It is unclear as to what a Trump presidency will look like, but one winner could be the tennis community.
Famous for his business activities, TV appearances and questionable actions around women, Trump has been a lifelong tennis fan. In the late 1990’s he made headlines after agreeing to manage teenage tennis prodigy Monique Viele, his first and only experience in managing an athlete. Unfortunately for Trump, Viele failed to breakthrough on the main circuit, peaking at a ranking high of 817th in 2000.
Trump’s unsuccessful venture with Viele failed to deter his passion for the sport. A regular attendee at the US Open (despite the booing from the crowd), another high-profile activity of his in the tennis world was in a promotional campaign with the WTA. In 2012 Trump starred alongside Aretha Franklin and Richard Branson in a video supporting the ‘strong is beautiful’ campaign.
“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know some of the stars of women’s tennis in the last few years and they are not just amazing athletes, but great people. I love the sport and am happy to participate in the campaign,” Trump said.
At the time there was some criticisms surrounding his appearance in the video. Especially by those concerned about his interaction and treatment of women. Nevertheless, like his presidential campaign, Trump dodged the critics and continued doing things on his own terms.
— HILLARY YOU’RE FIRED (@TrueCharLen) 9 July 2016
It isn’t just women’s tennis that has sparked the interest of Trump. Barry Buss is a former tennis professional turned tennis writer. In July, Buss sized upon his chance of talking with Trump about Sam Querrey’s performance at the Wimbledon Championships (prior to his win over Novak Djokovic). When he started to talk about the subject, Buss was greeted with a lengthy (and confusing) rambling from Trump.
“I know Yosemite Sam. Total winner. He’s more Soft Sam. Hell, he loses the coin toss, guy just goes away. Soft Sam. He just looks defeated when he walks on the court, shoulders always slumped over. Shortest tall guy I know, Soft Sam. Going gets tough, Sam gets going. You always know with Sam if you just look at him funny he goes away. Gutless. Gutless Sam. Soft Sam. No fight, all flight. Surprised somebody who loses that much would still be playing to be honest.” Said Trump.
Starting with what appears to be an attack on the world No.31, in true ‘Trump logic’ he ended the conversation by praising the ability of Querrey and even went to the extend of comparing himself to the tennis player.
“I like Sam. Big guy. Nice guy. Shouldn’t have to go on a dating show to get a date though, right? Southern California tennis pro. He should be swatting em away with Babolats. Not sure what the problem is there. Maybe its different for guys who don’t win all the time like me. I wouldn’t know. But nice guy. Little soft. Soft Sam. But he takes his losses well.”
It could be said that Trump’s confusing analysis of Querrey is identical to some of the questionable policies he set out throughout his presidential campaign. The difference is that in this scenario, he can’t be criticised for expressing his own opinion and showing passion for the subject.
The saying ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ is one that can be applied to Trump and the world of tennis. Looking back at the previous presidency, Barack Obama’s interest and love for basketball was something that was invaluable for the NBA. Earlier this year Adam Silver (commissioner of the NBA) admitted that his interest was something that helped expand the appeal of the league beyond the USA.
“No question about it, having the president of the United States be a huge basketball fan has made a huge difference to us,” Silver told cluchpoints.com.
“I think even especially outside of the United States, where the people associate basketball with American culture and it’s iconic, and the fact that people know he watches games and he’s a Chicago Bulls fan has been really impactful.”
He may not be the most popular man in the world, but having the endorsement of the U.S President in the tennis community will never harm their future prospects. Even if it is Donald Trump.
Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?
Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?
In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.
In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.
Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.
“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.
These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.
“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.
Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.
This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.
Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career
Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.
Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.
Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.
Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.
“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.
Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.
“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.
David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati
David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.
Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.
The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.
Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open 2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.
Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.
“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”
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