Jozef Kovalik the highest casualty as the third seed in Australian Open qualifying crashes out - UBITENNIS
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Jozef Kovalik the highest casualty as the third seed in Australian Open qualifying crashes out

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Frances Tiafoe of the United States avoided an upset by progressing into the second round of qualifying with a three-set win over Marco Cecchinato, though a number of other seeds did not share his fortune (Image via Zimbio.com)

In a day where a number of seeds fell in early exits, it was Jozef Kovalik (3) who suffered the ignominy of being the highest ranked player knocked out on day one of Australian Open Qualifying.

 

The third seed fell in straight sets to the unseeded Argentinian Marco Trungelliti. Trungelliti enjoyed a sensational run at the tournament last year, qualifying and making it through to the third round. The rest of his year did not meet early high standards and the rest of his 2016 was disappointing. He has got off to a great start in Melbourne once again though.

Other high seeds struggled, with Radek Stepanek (1) and Frances Tiafoe (2) both dropping the second sets in their respective wins over Sekou Bangoura and Marco Cecchinato. Tim Smyczek (25) who is in Tiafoe’s section, progressed easily after defeating Jordi Samper-Montana in straight sets, whilst Stepanek’s draw is now devoid of other seeds after Norbert Gombos’ (27) loss to Kenny de Schepper.

Go Soeda (29) escaped a tight first set where Ruben Bemelmans had served for the set, by breaking back and then taking the tie-break ten-eight before running away with the second set. There was more good news for the American contingent as Bjorn Fratangelo (6) and Ernesto Escobedo (21) both negotiated tough first round matches against Grega Zemlja and Maximilian Marterer in straight sets. There was disappointment though for Stefan Kozlov (7) who was blown away by the in-form Yuki Bhambri. Joao Souza (9) also fell losing to Brazilian compatriot Andre Ghem in three close sets.

Early play saw the loss of seven seeded players.

Results:

(1) Radek Stepanek defeats Sekou Bangoura 63 67 62

Blaz Kavcic defeats Matteo Donati 62 33 ret.

John-Patrick Smith defeats Agustin Velotti 76 63

Kenny de Schepper defeats (27) Norbert Gombos 64 57 97

(2) Frances Tiafoe defeats Marco Cecchinato 63 57 75

Yannik Reuter defeats Steven Diez 63 26 64

Mohammed Safwat defeats Pedro Sousa 76 64

(25) Tim Smyczek defeats Jordi Samper-Montana 63 63

Marco Trungelliti defeats (3) Jozef Kovalik 63 63

Peter Gojowczyk defeats Saketh Myneni 60 62

Adrian Menendez Maceiras defeats Daniel Brands 36 76 64

(29) Go Soeda defeats Ruben Bemelmans 76 63

(22) Peter Polansky defeats Tristan Lamasine 62 64

(6) Bjorn Fratangelo defeats Grega Zemlja 64 76

Stefanos Tsitsipas defeats Gavin van Peperzeel 62 61

Hiroki Moriya defeats Harry Bourchier 62 63

Uladzimir Ignatik defeats (19) Vasek Pospisil 36 63 64

Yuki Bhambri defeats (7) Stefan Kozlov 61 64

Pedja Krstin defeats Zdenek Kolar 36 61 75

Tatsuma Ito defeats Daniel Masur 64 76

(21) Ernesto Escobedo defeats Maximilian Marterer 76 75

Miljan Zekic defeats (8) Benjamin Becker 64 57 108

Di Wu defeats Maverick Banes 61 61

Ivan Dodig defeats Amir Weintraub 62 62

Laslo Djere defeats (24) Andrej Martin 60 62

Andre Ghem defeats (9) Joao Souza 62 57 86

Yuya Kibi defeats Brian Baker 63 76

Akira Santillan defeats Elias Ymer 63 76

(31) Thomas Fabbiano defeats Bradley Klahn 64 67 63

(10) Lukas Lacko defeats Jeremy Jahn 62 63

Maximo Gonzalez defeats Enrique Lopez-Perez 76 76

Darian King defeats Jose Hernandez Fernandez 62 62

(18) Denis Kudla defeats Luke Saville 64 75

(11) Evgeny Donskoy defeats Dmitry Popko 36 61 97

Matthew Ebden defeats Andrey Golubev 61 62

Noah Rubin defeats Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 57 64 64

Marcelo Arevalo defeats Scott Jones 62 62

Alexander Sarkissian defeats (23) Henri Laaksonen 64 61

(13) Taro Daniel defeats Aldin Setkic 75 64

  • Some late matches to be updated.

 

Grand Slam

US Open To Allow Full Capacity Crowds A Year After Being Held Behind Closed Doors

The announcement is the latest step in a gradual return to normality in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The US Open will become the first Grand Slam to take place without any restrictions on the number of spectators attending since the COVID-19 crises turned into a worldwide pandemic.

 

The Associated Press has confirmed that the USTA, who are in charge of the tournament, will allow 100% fan capacity throughout the entire two weeks. Something that hasn’t happened at a major event in tennis since the 2020 Australian Open. The announcement is a dramatic contrast to last year when Flushing Meadows was held behind closed doors amid a surge of cases in the region.

Earlier this week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state had reached their target of issuing 70% of the population at least one COVID-19 vaccination. He has now lifted ‘state-mandated’ restrictions across both commercial and social settings with immediate effect. However, masks will still need to be worn at large venues for the time being. According to the latest COVID-19 figures, New York reported 450 new cases last week which was the lowest-level since the pandemic began.

The development is a major boost for the USTA who suffered big financial losses last season. According to information provided in September, US Open revenue fell by an estimated 50% and the USTA expected their net operating profit to decline by roughly 80%. To put this into perspective the 2018 event generated $300M in revenue.

In 2019 a total of 737,872 fans attended the US Open over a two-week period and a further 115,355 attended during the fan week. Making it the first time the tournament has welcomed more than 850,000 people to the event.

Tickets for the 2021 tournament are set to go on sale next month with all court tickets and ground passes being available. No information on the pricing of those tickets have been released yet.

There has been a steady rise of fans allowed to attend major tournaments in the sport. At the French Open 5000 spectators were allowed to attend daily to begin with before the number increased to 13,000 later in the tournament. Meanwhile, Wimbledon will start at 50% capacity and rise to 100% for the finals.

The US Open takes place from Aug. 30 to Sept. 12 in Flushing Meadows, New York.

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Wimbledon Award Wild Cards To Former Champions Andy Murray, Venus Williams

Here is a list of which players have received passes into this year’s tournament.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray will make his 13th appearance in the main draw at Wimbledon after being awarded a wild card on Wednesday by The All England Club.

 

Murray, who won the men’s title in 2013 and 2016, is currently on the comeback from a groin injury which forced him to miss three months of the Tour this season. The latest setback for the Brit who has also undergone two hip surgeries in recent years in order to prolong his career. Murray is currently participating at the Cinch Championships in Queen’s where he beat Benoit Paire in his first round match on Tuesday.

“Look, I love playing tennis,” an emotional Murray said following his win over Paire.
“Obviously, competing is why you put in all the hard work.
“The last few years, I’ve not go to do that as much as I would have liked so, yeah [it’s] just great that I’m out here and able to compete again.”

Another player to receive one of the initial wild cards is Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz who is currently ranked 78th in the world. The 18-year-old recently reached the third round of the French Open as a qualifier and won a Challenger title on clay. Last month he broke into the ATP top 100 for the first time to become the youngest player to do so since Borna Coric in 2014.

As for the women, Venus Williams has been given entry into the main draw. At the age of 40, Williams is one of the oldest players on the WTA Tour and she has only won three out of 18 matches played since the start of 2020. She is a five-time champion at Wimbledon with her most recent triumph taking place back in 2018. It will be her 23rd main draw appearance at Wimbledon.

Regarding the British players, Jay Clarke, Liam Broady, Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart have all been awarded wild cards. So has youngster Jack Draper, who stunned Jannik Sinner at Queen’s earlier this week.

Full list of wild cards

GENTLEMEN’S SINGLES

  1. Carlos ALCARAZ (ESP)
  2. Liam BROADY (GBR)
  3. Jay CLARKE (GBR)
  4. Jack DRAPER (GBR)
  5. Andy MURRAY (GBR)
  6. To be announced
  7. To be announced
  8. To be announced

LADIES’ SINGLES

  1. Katie BOULTER (GBR)
  2. Jodie BURRAGE (GBR)
  3. Harriet DART (GBR)
  4. Francesca JONES (GBR)
  5. Samantha MURRAY SHARAN (GBR)
  6. Venus WILLIAMS (USA)
  7. Not used – Next direct acceptance
  8. Not used – Next direct acceptance

GENTLEMEN’S DOUBLES

  1. Liam BROADY (GBR) and Ryan PENISTON (GBR)
  2. Jay CLARKE (GBR) and Marius COPIL (ROU)
  3. Lloyd GLASSPOOL (GBR) and Harri HELIOVAARA (FIN)
  4. Alastair GRAY (GBR) and Aidan MCHUGH (GBR)
  5. Stuart PARKER (GBR) and James WARD (GBR)
  6. To be announced
  7. To be announced

LADIES’ DOUBLES

  1. Naiktha BAINS (GBR) and Samantha MURRAY SHARAN (GBR)
  2. Harriet DART (GBR) and Heather WATSON (GBR)
  3. Sarah Beth GREY (GBR) and Emily WEBLEY-SMITH (GBR)
  4. Tara MOORE (GBR) and Eden SILVA (GBR)
  5. To be announced
  6. To be announced
  7. To be announced

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Wimbledon Finals To Be Played In Front Of Full Capacity Crowd In UK first Since Lockdown

The grass-court Grand Slam has been granted a special exemption from the government which will allow them to welcome thousands to the tournament over a two-week period.

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The Wimbledon Championships received a major boost after being listed as a pilot event by the British Government which allows them to welcome more spectators than the current restrictions.

 

Under the agreement, The All England Club will start the tournament welcoming 50% of it’s ground capacity to the venue which is more than double what was estimated a few weeks ago. The limit will gradually increase as the tournament progresses until finals weekend when both the women’s and men’s title matches will be played in front of 15,000 fans. Making it the first outdoor sporting event in the country that will take place in front of a full capacity crowd since the country went into it’s first lockdown last year.

The announcement coincides with the British government announcing a four-week extension to their plans of ending all restrictions currently in place due to the pandemic. The delay has been triggered due to concerns related to the Indian variant and its transmission rate. However, Wimbledon has been added to the Events Research Program which is a series of pilot events being used to monitor the spead of COVID-19 at sporting and entertainment events.

“We are continuing to work closely with the Government to finalise the details including the requirements for Covid-status certification for spectators,” the All England Club said in a statement.
“We are pleased to have worked closely with the government, public health bodies, and our local authority in Merton, to confirm that, as part of this next phase of pilot events, the Championships 2021 will begin on Monday 28 June with 50% capacity across the grounds, building to full capacity crowds of 15,000 on Centre Court for the finals weekend.
“This will enable us to fulfil our aspiration of staging the best Wimbledon possible within the current circumstances, with the health and safety of all those who make Wimbledon happen – our guests, competitors, members, staff, media, officials, local residents, and partners – remaining our highest priority.”

Last year Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time in the Open Era and was the only major not to take place. However, the grass-court major had the luxury of having pandemic insurance which substantially helped cover their costs. The tournament does not have such a policy this year however.

The Wimbledon Championships will start on June 28th. Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep are the defending champions.

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