Five Things To Know About Maria Sharapova’s Comeback - UBITENNIS
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Five Things To Know About Maria Sharapova’s Comeback




The world’s media has congregated in Germany to witness the return of the formidable Maria Sharapova. On the same day her 15-month suspension ends, the former world No.1 will take on Roberta Vinci in Stuttgart. The match promises a lot, but how did we even get here? Here is a guide to Sharapova’s roller coaster return.


The background

During the 2016 Australian Open, Sharapova failed a drugs test. She tested positive for meldonium, a drug which was added to the list of banned substances on January 1st that year. It was revealed that Sharapova had been taking the drug for ten years to treat a magnesium deficiency and a family history of diabetes.

Throughout the incident, the Russian has pleaded her innocence. Sharapova has stated that she was unaware that the drug had become banned and she never consumed it to enhance her performance. Despite admitting negligence, she was slammed with a 24-month ban by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). This sentence was reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for sport (CAS), who concluded that there was ‘no significant fault or negligence.‘ Still, the CAS concluded the 30-year-old should be held accountable for her failure to check the list of banned substances.

There continues to be a war of words between Sharapova and the ITF, who she accuses of ‘trying to make an example of her’. During a recent interview with The Times newspaper, it is alleged that the ITF knew about Sharapova’s meldonium consumption in November 2015.

“Why didn’t someone come up to me and have a private conversation, just an official to an athlete, which would have taken care of the confidentiality problem they talked about later?” Sharapova said about the ITF’s handling of her case.

The ITF have repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing by Sharapova.

Why Stuttgart?

It is no coincidence that Sharapova’s return will be in Stuttgart. Besides the tournament falling in the same week her ban ends, she has deep ties with the event. Between 2012-2014, she was undefeated, winning three consecutive titles. Furthermore, both Sharapova and the tournament is sponsored by Porsche. Porsche was one of the few sponsors to support the multiple grand slam champion throughout her ban.

In January tournament director, Markus Günthardt, pledged his full support for Sharapova after the announcement of her wildcard.

“I’m really happy for Maria that she’s back after a long break. Particularly pleasing for me is that it’s going to be our audience that gets to watch her comeback live,” he said.
“Her return in the Porsche Arena is a fabulous present for our fantastic spectators and is certain to be one of the sporting and emotional highlights of our anniversary tournament.”

Why has there been so much debate?

The return to the tour is a controversial one. Due to Sharapova’s tour absence, she had to be granted a wildcard into the tournament.Victoria Azarenka has described her return as a ‘good thing for tennis’. Meanwhile, Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro had previously said ‘it will be nice to see her back.’

On the other hand, some players are not so thrilled about her wildcard entry. Opponents have argued that it sends out the wrong example to give a pass to a player guilty of violating anti-doping rules. One of those include Roberta Vinci, Sharapova’s first round opponent.

Furthermore, some have expressed disappointment with Sharapova being allowed in the tournament. She was officially banned from the event during the first two days of competition. Sharapova has had to train at the Sportverein Sillenbuch tennis club as she is prohibited from entering the grounds of a WTA event until April 26th.

When will Sharapova play?

Sharapova’s clash against Vinci will be the first of the night matches. It will get underway not before 18:30 local time (17:30 GMT). It will be her fifth appearance in Stuttgart and her first competitive match on the clay since the 2015 French Open. She currently has a 13-1 win-loss record at the tournament.

“As she gets ready for the match, I’m sure she’ll be nervous but incredibly excited. She has evolved a lot as a person in the last 15 months, realised there is more to life than tennis, and that might help her. I think she’s in a really good place.” One unnamed source told The Daily Telegraph about Sharapova’s return to the tour.

Sharapova currently has a 2-0 head-to-head lead over Vinci.

How can I watch it?

With the WTA yet to create their streaming service, there are others ways fans can watch the match. In the UK viewers can watch it on BT Sport 1. Other international broadcasters include Digisport, Fox Sports, RTVE, Bein Sports and Super Tennis. A full list of broadcasters can be viewed at

Alternatively, the match will also be live streamed by selected betting websites. Usually the betting websites require consumers to sign up and deposit a set amount of money into their account before granting access to their streaming service.


REPORT: Madrid Open To Be Axed Amid COVID-19 Concerns In Latest Setback For Tennis

Hopes of Spain holding their top tennis event in 2020 are over.




The world of tennis is set to suffer another severe blow with multiple media sources confirming that organisers of Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament will officially cancel their event on Tuesday. 


The Mutua Madrid Open will be removed from the 2020 calendar following a meeting involving tournament owner Iron Tiriac. Recently doubts have been cast on the event after local health officials called for it to be suspended due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Although the final decision was up to Tiriac and his team. It had been due to take place between September 12 to 20, following the conclusion of the US Open. 

“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September,” tournament director Feliciano Lopez told L’Equipe over the weekend. 

Spain has seen their rate of COVID-19 cases rapidly rise since the country ended its lockdown. According to El Pais, the number of cases recorded within 24 hours is eight times the amount compared to 40 days ago. Rising from 334 (June 20) to 2,789 (between July 29 and 30). On Friday July 31st there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

Held at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open is a key event for both men and women. It is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. Last year each of the singles champions took home €1,202,520 in prize money. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The demise of Madrid this year is another setback for what is becoming a rapidly thinning 2020 tennis calendar. Within the past two weeks China has confirmed that they will not be hosting any tournaments this year, Japan’s scrapped it’s premier women’s event and the Italian Open has been advised to not allow any fans to their event this year. 

As a result of the latest development, only two WTA clay-court events will take place after the US Open leading up to Roland Garros. They are both set to get underway on September 21st in Rome and Strasbourg. As for the men, Rome will be their only point of call. 

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Fate Of Madrid Open To Be Decided This Week

Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament looks to be in serious danger of getting the axe following recent developments.




There will be a final decision regarding this year’s Madrid’s Open within the next couple of days but hopes of the tournament going ahead are low, according to its tournament director.


Feliciano Lopez has spoken out about the current situation in an interview with the L’Equipe newspaper on Saturday. The mixed tournament has been thrown into doubt after the local council said it would be “inadvisable” for the tournament to be played in September because of the “health risks involved for the public, organization, and players.” Spain is currently experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases amid concerns of a second wave. On Friday there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

“We were confident two months ago that the tournament would take place. The situation has worsened in the last two or three weeks in the Madrid region, not just in the city of Madrid, but in the whole region,” Lopez told L’Equipe.
“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September.”

A decision is set to be made within “two or three days” by tournament owner Ion Tiriac and Super Slam Ltd, the tournament’s licence holder. Tiriac is a Romanian billionaire businessman who is also a former tennis player. He won the 1970 French Open doubles title with compatriot Ilie Nastase.

Weighing up its chances, Lopez admits that he ‘isn’t optimistic’ that the Madrid Open will be able to go ahead. The event is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

We are not very optimistic now. We were very positive a few weeks ago. We have a very good protocol, everything is ready, we worked hard to make the event take place, because it is also very important to offer tournaments to the players today.” Said Lopez.
“Last week, we had meetings with the government. Their recommendation is to cancel all events now during the summer. Of course, the decision is ours, it will be Ion’s. We have to work with everyone, the government, the ATP, the WTA and make the best decision for everyone. But we must also listen to the recommendations of the authorities, see how the situation is developing this week.”
He added.

Held on clay at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open has been a combined event for the men and women since 2009. Last year Novak Djokovic and Kiki Bertens won the singles titles with them each taking home €1,202,520 in prize money.

Besides having the responsibility of the Madrid Open, world No.56 Lopez is continuing his career on the Tour at the age of 38. Questioned about the remaining 2020 season, the Spaniard admits there is a lot of uncertainty for all players. Tournament across Asia have already been cancelled due to the virus and recently the Italian Open was told at present they can’t allow fans to their tournament, which takes place the week after Madrid’s slot.

This season is already completely lost. But what will happen next year, when we still don’t have a vaccine? The situation will be exactly the same as now if we don’t have a vaccine! When is it going to end, I don’t know.” Lopez concluded.

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‘Think Of Others For Once’ – Nick Kyrgios Issues Warning To Rivals As He Withdraws From US Open

The world No.40 has once again took a swipe at Novak Djokovic’s ‘money-grabbing’ Adria Tour.




Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has said he is pulling out of the US Open in respect of those in his home country as well as America who has lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The former top-20 player published a video outlining his reason for withdrawing from the event on the social media accounts of athlete empowerment brand Uninterrupted. During the video he once again made a swipe at Novak Djokovic and others over their ‘selfish’ involvement in the controversy-stricken Adria Tour. Which was criticised for a lack of anti-COVID measures before an outbreak of the virus among players and coaching staff occurred. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Vikor Troicki all got infected.

“You can’t be dancing on tables, money-grabbing your way around Europe or trying to make a quick buck, hosting an exhibition. That’s just so selfish. Think of the other people for once. That’s what this virus is about,” he said.
“It doesn’t care about your world ranking or how much money you have. Act responsibly.”

Kyrgios has stated that he isn’t critical of the decision made by the United States Tennis Association to hold the event this year. Which will have on offer 90% of the prize money that was available during the 2019 tournament. Under strict measures, the tournament will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history with players kept in what is being described as a ‘protective bubble.’

“I have got no problem with the USTA putting on the US Open and if players want to go, that’s up to them, so long as everyone acts appropriately and acts safely,” he stated.
“No-one wants people to keep their jobs more than me.’
“I am speaking for the guy who works in the restaurants, the cleaners and the locker room attendants. These are the people who need their jobs back the most and fair play to them.”

The announcement comes shortly after women’s world No.1 Ash Barty announced that she wouldn’t be playing due to coronavirus concerns. Another Australian player, Alexi Popryin, have previously said he would not attend the event. Furthermore, Chinese world No.29 Wang Qiang has pulled out due to ‘travel and safety concerns.’

“To those players who have been observing the rules and acting selflessly, I say good luck to you. Play at your own risk, and I have no problem with that,” said Kyrgios.

The withdrawal ends Kyrgios’ streak of seven consecutive main draw appearance at Flushing Meadows. His best rest was reaching the third round on four separate occasions (2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019). Overall he has won eight out of 15 matches played in New York.

This year’s US Open will get underway on August 31st.

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