The Australian Open: Birthplace Of One Of The Greatest Sibling Rivalries In Sport - UBITENNIS
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The Australian Open: Birthplace Of One Of The Greatest Sibling Rivalries In Sport

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In 1998 a second round match between two teenagers was the start of something special, even those witnessing the match experienced goosebumps. 17-year-old Venus Williams faced a showdown with 16-year-old sister Serena. It ended with a standard straight set victory for Venus, but it was only the start of something bigger brewing.

 

“’I always knew that Serena would be my main nemesis one day.” A young Venus told media ahead of her second round showdown in 1998.

Venus wasn’t wrong. Since her 7-6(4), 6-1, triumph in 98, she has battled against her sister on the tour for almost 20 years. Between 2001-2009, they faced each other eight times in grand slam finals with Serena winning six of those. Overall, they have played each other 27 times on the tour with the younger sister (Serena) coming out on top more frequently with 16 wins.

“When I’m playing on the court with her, I think I’m playing the best competitor in the game. I don’t think I’m chump change either. I can compete against any odds. No matter what, I get out there and I compete.” Venus recently said about playing her sister.

The significance of the rivalry is also one that has impacted on the popularity of the women’s game in America. Their clash in the final of the 2001 US Open was hailed as a ratings success, attracting twice as many viewers than the Notre Dame-Nebraska college football game broadcasted at the same time. Their rivalry has also inspired other players, who became future grand slam champions themselves.

“When I was 4 or 5, I turned on the TV, and they (the Williams sisters) were playing,” French Open champion Muguruza told the New York Times in 2015.
“Today, I turn the TV on, and they are still playing.
“So I am saying, how is this possible?”

In recent years the disparity between the sisters grew on the tour. As Serena thrived at the top by clinching numerous grand slam trophies, Venus found it much harder on the tour. A diagnosis of Sjögrens Syndrome in 2011 raised apprehensions about her future in tennis. Nevertheless, the determination of the 36-year-old enabled her to overcome the adversity. It is for this reason why their latest clash in Saturday’s Australian Open final is the pinnacle of their infamous encounters.

“This is probably the moment of our careers so far,” Serena told reporters on Thursday. “For me, I can definitely say for me.
“I never lost hope for us being able to play each other in a (grand slam) final, although it was hard because we’re usually on the same side of the draw.”

The Williams sisters are a rare breed in the world of sport. Together they have 14 won major doubles titles and apart they have been making headlines with a rivalry spanning over three decades.

Serena and Venus continue to defy the odds of age on the tour, which is why meeting No.29 in Melbourne will be one for tennis fans to savour.

The Williams sisters: Previous matches

  1. 1998 Australian Open Round of 64: Venus def. Serena 7-6(4), 6-1
  2. 1998 Rome Masters Quarterfinals: Venus def. Serena 6-4, 6-2
  3. 1999 Miami Masters Final: Venus def. Serena 6-1, 4-6, 6-4
  4. 1999 Grand Slam Cup Final: Serena def. Venus 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
  5. 2000 Wimbledon Semifinals: Venus def. Serena 6-2, 7-6
  6. 2001 Indian Wells Semifinals: Serena def. Venus via walkover
  7. 2001 US Open Final: Venus def. Serena 6-2, 6-4
  8. 2002 Miami Masters Semifinals: Serena def. Venus 6-2, 6-2
  9. 2002 French Open Final: Serena def. Venus 7-5, 6-3
  10. 2002 Wimbledon Final: Serena def. Venus 7-6(4), 6-3
  11. 2002 US Open Final: Serena def. Venus 6-4, 6-3
  12. 2003 Australian Open Final: Serena def. Venus 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-4
  13. 2003 Wimbledon Final: Serena def. Venus 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
  14. 2005 Miami Masters Quarterfinals: Venus def. Serena 6-1, 7-6(8)
  15. 2005 US Open Round of 16: Venus def. Serena 7-6(5), 6-2
  16. 2008 Bangalore Open Semifinals: Serena def. Venus 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4)
  17. 2008 Wimbledon Final: Venus def. Serena 7-5, 6-4
  18. 2008 US Open Quarterfinals: Serena def. Venus 7-6(6), 7-6(7)
  19. 2008 WTA Championships Round Robin: Serena def. Venus 5-7, 6-1, 6-0
  20. 2009 Dubai Semifinals: Venus def. Serena 6-1, 2-6, 7-6(3)
  21. 2009 Miami Masters Semifinals: Serena def. Venus 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
  22. 2009 Wimbledon Final: Serena def. Venus 7-6(3), 6-2
  23. 2009 WTA Championships Round Robin: Venus def. Serena 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(4)
  24. 2009 WTA Championships Final: Serena def. Venus 6-2, 7-6(4)
  25. 2013 Charleston Semifinals: Serena def. Venus 6-1, 6-2
  26. 2014 Canadian Masters Semifinals: Venus def. Serena 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-3
  27. 2015 Wimbledon Round of 16: Serena def. Venus 6-4, 6-3
  28. 2015 US Open Quarterfinals: Serena def. Venus 6-2, 1-6, 6-3
  29. 2017 Australian Open final: ??????

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Iga Swiatek Demands Talks With ITF And WTA After Withdrawing From Billie Jean King Cup

Iga Swiatek is not happy with the ITF and WTA after withdrawing from the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

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Iga Swiatek (@IgaSwi_France - Twitter)

The world number one has announced that she will not compete at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November after criticising tennis’ governing bodies for not looking after player welfare.

 

The event is set to take place the week after the WTA Finals in Glasgow which causes a huge problem and obstacle for many players.

This is definitely the case for Swiatek who has qualified for the WTA Finals which takes place in Texas on the 31st of October.

A huge dilemma which now means Swiatek will not compete for her country at the Billie Jean King Cup.

Speaking on Instagram the Pole criticised the decision from the ITF and WTA and wants to speak to them about player welfare to prevent future decisions from happening, “I was thinking it through a lot and discussing it with my team all over again, but I will not be able to play at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow,” Swiatek said in her Instagram story.

“And it makes me sad. I’m very sorry because I play for Poland whenever it’s possible and I always give it my best. Playing in Poland this year was an honour and I hoped to do this again at the end of the season.

“I’m disappointed that tennis governing bodies didn’t come to an agreement on something as basic as the calendar of tournaments, giving us only one day to travel through the globe and changing the time zone. This situation is not safe for our health and could cause injury.

“I’m going to talk to the WTA and ITF in order to change something. This situation is difficult not only for the players like me, but mainly for the tennis fans that support our fans.”

It’s clear Swiatek wants change in terms of player welfare and communication between governing bodies on how to facilitate the schedule.

However Swiatek now turns her attention to preparing for the WTA Finals and first up for the Pole is Ostrava this week.

In her opening match Swiatek will face either Ajla Tomljanovic or Shuai Zhang.

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Cameron Norrie Withdraws From Tokyo After COVID Positive Test

Cameron Norrie will miss the rest of the Asian swing due to COVID.

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Cameron Norrie (@the_LTA - Twitter)

After withdrawing from his quarter-final in Seoul, Cameron Norrie has now withdrawn from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo.

 

The Brit’s absence from the latter stages of the ATP 250 event in South Korea, raised eyebrows with Norrie suffering from illness.

However Norrie then withdraw from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo where he was due to play Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Now his absence has been explained as Norrie confirmed on social media that he tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement originally posted on Instagram, Norrie explained he had no symptoms but has to quarantine in his hotel room in Seoul, “Unfortunately I had a positive COVID test in Korea and wasn’t able to compete in the rest of my matches,” Norrie said.

“I have no symptoms and I am feeling 100%. It’s been a complicated situation and I appreciate the Republic of Korea trying their best to be amicable in a very tough situation.

“I was really hoping to go to Tokyo but because of the quarantine period I will not be able to play there. Looking forward to getting back to Europe for the indoors. See you guys soon!”

This is the second time Norrie has tested positive for COVID with the first time being before the start of the season.

Norrie’s scheduled next tournament will be in Stockholm which will take place on the 17th of October.

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Carlos Alcaraz Faces Rune Test In Astana

Carlos Alcaraz leads a stacked field in Astana next week.

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Carlos Alcaraz (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Carlos Alcaraz returns to the ATP tour next week in Astana next week where he faces Danish talent Holger Rune.

 

The world number one plays his first ATP tournament since winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open and becoming the youngest world number one in history.

Having qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, Alcaraz will now look to build momentum over the coming weeks for the event in Turin.

First up for Alcaraz is the ATP 500 event in Astana next week where the Spaniard faces a tough opening round in the form of Danish talent Holger Rune.

The Dane reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros earlier this year but had struggled for form since then.

However Rune has reached the semi-finals in Sofia this week and is hitting form at the right time so this will be a big test for Alcaraz.

Should Alcaraz get through that test than a potential second round meeting with Stan Wawrinka could be on the cards with the Swiss wildcard facing Adrian Mannarino in his opening match.

Andrey Rublev is the player that could face Alcaraz in the last eight with the eighth seed facing a qualifier in his opening round match.

Rublev is one of a number of players who are chasing the remaining spots at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Also in the top half of the draw is Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz with Tsitsipas facing Mikhail Kukushkin.

While Hurkacz faces Francisco Cerundolo and a potential second round match against home favourite Alexander Bublik could await in round two.

In the bottom half of the draw, Novak Djokovic will continue his search for a surge up the rankings against Cristian Garin.

Djokovic’s potential quarter-final is Jannik Sinner who begins against tricky serve and volleyer Oscar Otte.

Daniil Medvedev is also taking part in a stacked field in Astana as he faces Albert Ramos-Vinolas in his opening round match.

In the bottom quarter there is also an intriguing opening round match between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Here is the full draw with play starting on Monday:

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