A Year To Forget: Five Times Tennis Shocked The World In 2016 - UBITENNIS
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A Year To Forget: Five Times Tennis Shocked The World In 2016

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It isn’t very often that the ending of a tennis season is celebrated with sighs of relief. Then again, 2016 has been anything but ordinary. From the fiasco surrounding Maria Sharapova’s failed drugs test to the dark world of match-fixing, never before has the sport been caught up in so many scandals within a single season.

The match-fixing revelations

On the eve of the Australian Open, an earthquake erupted in the sport when a joint investigation by the BBC and Buzzfeed News alleged widespread match-fixing. The damning report alleged that the Tennis Integrity Unit was warned seven years ago about a group of 16 players that has been implicit in match-fixing, half of which played at the Australian Open.

 

The allegations made in the report

  • Winners of singles and doubles titles at Grand Slam tournaments are among the core group of 16 players who have repeatedly been reported for losing games when highly suspicious bets have been placed against them.
  • One top-50 player competing in the Australian Open is suspected of repeatedly fixing his first set.
  • Players are being targeted in hotel rooms at major tournaments and offered $50,000 or more per fix by corrupt gamblers.
  • Gambling syndicates in Russia and Italy have made hundreds of thousands of pounds placing highly suspicious bets on scores of matches – including at Wimbledon and the French Open.
  • The names of more than 70 players appear on nine leaked lists of suspected fixers who have been flagged up to the tennis authorities over the past decade without being sanctioned.

The names of those players were never revealed and no action was ever taken against them (as far as it is publicly known). Nevertheless, the report caused turmoil and resulted the creation of an independent body in February. The Independent Review Panel was set up to evaluate the integrity in the sport. The heads of the governing bodies (ATP, WTA and ITF) have all pledged to abide by the recommendations of the panel when they are published in 2017.

Besides the highly publicized report, match-fixing investigations has also occurred in numerous countries. In July Italian player Marco Cecchinato received a 18-month ban for match-fixing from the Italian Tennis Federation (his ban was reduced to 12 months following a successful appeal). Meanwhile, in Spain, an undercover investigation by sports website Marca identified widespread corruption in lower level tournaments. On December 1st Spanish authorities arrested 34 people (including six players) in connection with a suspected match-fixing ring in both Spain and Portugal.

The BBC report into match-fixing (January 2016)

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Daniil Medvedev Praises Tiebreak Record After Reaching Cincinnati Semis

Daniil Medvedev’s bid for momentum heading into the US Open has continued in Cincinnati.

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Daniil Medvedev (@WeeseSports - Twitter)

Daniil Medvedev is into the semi-finals of a Masters 1000 event for the first time this year after a 7-6(1) 6-3 victory over Taylor Fritz.

 

The world number one was too resilient for the impressive American as he reached the last four at a Masters 1000 event for the first time this year.

Medvedev had to survive a wall of aggression from Fritz and was forced to save all six points faced before the world number one proved why he is the best player in the world.

After the match Medvedev admitted it was a tricky match but was pleased to reach the last four in Cincinnati, “Cincinnati fast courts and fast balls and I have always liked it. But always tricky matches, especially between two great servers,” Medvedev admitted to the ATP website.

“I feel like me and Taylor served good, even if we aren’t John [Isner] maybe! I knew that it was going to be a tight match. The first set he was on top of me a little bit. He had many more chances than I did on my serve, but I managed to stay in.

“There were some set points where I could have missed and no one would have talked about it, it would have been normal. But I managed to stay in the set and that helped me win the match.”

Medvedev is now 14-4 at the hard court event and clearly enjoys playing in Cincinnati having won the title in 2019 as well as reaching the semi-finals last season.

Another record that Medvedev can boast is that he is 20-6 in tiebreaks at Masters 1000 level this season and that is something he is very proud of, “That is great because tie-breaks are a fine thing,” Medvedev said.

“We call it a lottery and I do think it is this way a little bit. I remember when I had the crazy run in 2019. I think someone told me once that I won a lot of tie-breaks in a row.

“I don’t know if it was eight or 12, so I was like, ‘That is cool.’ I just try to do my best and win every point. You win some and lose some. But 20-6 is a good record, so I am happy about it.”

Medvedev will aim to continue his US Open preparations on Saturday when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas or John Isner in the semi-finals.

Should the Russian win he will reach his fifth final of the season after finals at the Australian Open, S-Hertogenbosch, Halle and Los Cabos.

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Will Rafael Nadal Keep The Grand Slam Winning Feeling Going In New York?

Rafael Nadal has injury doubts heading into his search for a 23rd grand slam title in New York.

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Rafael Nadal (@usopen - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal will look to repeat successes from Melbourne and Paris by answering his doubters with triumph in New York.

 

The Spaniard enters the last grand slam with injury doubts having only just come back from an abdominal injury suffered in his Wimbledon quarter-final against Taylor Fritz.

It was injury that saw his calendar grand slam dream come to an end and ever since then has been recovering in the hopes of finishing the grand slam year strong in New York.

However in his first match back Nadal was defeated in three sets to Borna Coric in New York which has put doubts on whether the Spaniard can be a threat in the US.

Nadal will likely not have to worry about Novak Djokovic but a victory in New York could see him be world number one with current number one Daniil Medvedev defending the title.

The likes of Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas will be standing in Nadal’s way and if the Spaniard isn’t match-fit then he could face an early exit.

However as tennis pundit Barbara Schett pointed out, ruling out Nadal at this stage would be foolish and the Spaniard always raises his level at the grand slams, “The match is always different from practice,” Schett told Eurosport.

“And whoever had an abdominal injury and a tear on the abdominal muscles knows how it feels. You have to be extremely cautious. You’re worried that you’re going to reinjure it again.

“And I think that’s what we’ve seen on Wednesday. When he played against Coric, he was a little bit uncertain how the body was going to hold up. And for sure he’s going to feel better and better.

“If there’s no damage to the abdominal muscle, then he still has a week and a half to improve his health, to improve the trust also that he can extend and he can’t bend on the serve because that’s the trickiest shot, the serve and the smash.

“When that is the case, Rafa Nadal certainly can be dangerous again at the US Open. I mean, he’s so fired up at every single Grand Slam. We’ve seen this year playing the best tennis of his life. You can never, ever write him off.”

Nadal is currently undefeated at grand slams and if fit, the Spaniard will certainly fancy himself to win another seven matches at the US Open this year.

Whatever it should be interesting to see if Nadal improves before the US Open with the tournament starting on the 29th of August.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Quarterfinals Featuring Medvedev/Fritz and Alcaraz/Norrie

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Daniil Medvedev this week in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

Friday’s ATP singles quarterfinals feature six of the top 13 players in the world.  By contrast, in the WTA singles draw, the top five seeds have all been eliminated, and only two seeds remain.

 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Taylor Fritz (11) – Not Before 1:00pm on Center Court

Medvedev has earned both his wins this week in straight sets, while Fritz came back from a set down on Thursday to defeat Daniil’s close friend Andrey Rublev.  The 24-year-old American is having the best year of his career, with a record of 35-13.  Taylor is on the verge of breaking into the top 10, and would be even closer to doing so had he received points for his run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals.  He earned his first Masters 1000 title at another North American hard court event earlier this year in Indian Wells.  In their first career meeting, Fritz has the firepower to pull off the upset, especially with a partisan crowd behind him.  But on a hard court, Medvedev remains the favorite to reach his third semifinal in Cincinnati.


Cameron Norrie (9) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Last on Center Court

This will be their fourth meeting within the past year, and thus far, all three have gone to Alcaraz.  That includes straight sets wins at the US Open and Indian Wells, and a three-set victory in Madrid on clay.  As impressive as Norrie has been across the past 18 months, no one has skyrocketed to new heights this past year like Alcaraz.  The 19-year-old is now 44-8 in 2022.  However, the sheer amount of tennis the youngster has played this year is concerning, despite his high level of fitness.  And many of those matches have been grueling, dramatic affairs.  Given his recent history with Norrie, Carlitos should be favored, though an upset by the British No.1 would not be a shocking result.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Madison Keys vs. Elena Rybakina – Keys upset world No.1 Iga Swiatek on Thursday.  Both Keys and Rybakina are yet to drop a set this week.  When they played at this year’s Roland Garros, Madison prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.

Ajla Tomljanovic (Q) vs. Petra Kvitova – Tomljanovic has survived four consecutive three-setters, going back to the last round of qualifying on Sunday.  Kvitova took out Ons Jabeur on Thursday. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. John Isner – Tsitsipas lead their head-to-head 4-2, and has taken their last four meetings.  Stefanos is vying for his third consecutive semifinal at this event.  Isner was a finalist here in 2013.

Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Caroline Garcia – Pegula is now No.3 in the year-to-date rankings, with a record of 30-15.  However, Garcia has slightly bested that record, as she’s now 32-15 this season.  Jess is 2-1 against Caroline, though the Frenchwoman claimed their only meeting in 2022.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (7) vs. Borna Coric (Q) – Auger-Aliassime saved two match points on Thursday night in a comeback victory over Jannik Sinner.  Coric followed up his upset of Rafael Nadal by defeating another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut.  Felix and Borna split two encounters back in 2019. 


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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