Ilie Nastase Threatens To Quit Tennis If Punished By The ITF - UBITENNIS
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Fed Cup

Ilie Nastase Threatens To Quit Tennis If Punished By The ITF

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Ilie Nastase (zimbio.com)

Controversy-stricken Ilie Nastase has pledged to walk away from tennis if he is punished by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for his behaviour in the Fed Cup.

 

The 70-year-old Romanian Fed Cup captain has been given a provision suspension following his antics last week. During Great Britain’s clash with Romania, he was removed from the court. During a heated confrontation with British captain Anne Keothavong and Jo Konta, Nastase called them “F******* bitches” numerous times. The incident occurred a day after he made a controversial remark regarding Serena Williams’ unborn baby, speculating the child will be ‘dark chocolate with white.’

“The last few days have been difficult for me. My words during the Fed Cup have rightfully caused controversy and upset the audience, the press and, most painfully for me, the tennis world. I will not attempt to defend my words, but I can assure you they only stemmed from my genuine desire to defend the Romanian team and Romanian tennis.” Nastase said in a Statement on Friday.

Despite the apology, the former world No.1 remains defiant. Last Sunday he returned to the venue to have lunch with friends a day after having his credentials removed. He eventually left the premises following a media frenzy.

In a telephone interview with the BBC, he has threatened to quit tennis if the ITF formally punishes him for his behaviour. Shortly after the incident, the Romanian tennis federation sent a ‘memorandum’ to the ITF in Nastase’s defence.

“If I am not allowed to go and sit in that chair, I’m not going to go. I’ve got other things,” Nastase told the BBC.
“I’ve a lot of businesses. I just said the same to the [Romanian] federation because the girls, they want me in the chair.
“I’m 71 years old. I was number one in the world – I want to see how many number ones go to watch a girls’ match. I want to see that person. I don’t get money, I don’t get anything.
“How many players would do that? And they want to suspend me.”

During his career Nastase has won over 100 ATP titles, including two grand slams. He was introduced into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991.

Fed Cup

Double Blow For Spain As Top Players Skip Billie Jean King Cup To Play WTA Finals

The close proximity of the two events has caused a headache for Spanish team who hasn’t won the team competition for more than 20 years.

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Garbine Muguruza (ESP) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

The Spanish squad for the upcoming Billie Jean King Cup Finals suffered a setback on Monday after their two highest ranked singles players announced that they will not be playing.

 

Garbine Muguruza and Paula Badosa have both pulled out of the 12-team event which will take place next week in Prague, Czech Republic. The duo are the only Spanish players currently ranked inside the top 30 on the WTA Tour. Two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza is currently fifth in the standings and Indian Wells winner Badosa is 13th.

In a statement posted on her social media account, Muguruza said her recovery from an ankle injury is taking longer than expected and instead wants to focus on getting ready for the WTA Finals which will take place the week after in Mexico. The 28-year-old has represented her country in the competition, which was formerly known as the Fed Cup, six times in her career.

“Unfortunately, I will not be able to play in the BJK Cup this year. The last months have obviously been very demanding with the Olympics, Chicago and the new date of Indian Wells,” Muguruza said.
“I have not been home since July. The recovery in my ankle is taking a little longer than expected and I will spend the next weeks trying to get ready for Guadalajara (Mexico). I wish the team all the best and cheering for you to do very well.”

Badosa’s reason for skipping the event is also because she wants to focus on the prestigious WTA Finals which has a prize money pool of $5 million. She hasn’t played a match on the Tour since winning the biggest title of her career in Indian Wells where she defeated three top players in a row. In the final she ousted Victoria Azarenka in three sets.

“I am sorry to announce that I will not be with the Spanish team in Prague. It hurts me to make the decision because of the calendar,” said Badosa.
“ I have all the illusion to be in the future in the team and to live great moments together with everyone. This time I will have to cheer from a distance.”

The duo will be replaced in the team by Rebeka Masárová and Aliona Bolsova. Sara Sorribes Tormo, Nuria Párrizas Diaz and Carla Suárez Navarro have already been nominated to play.

Spain has been drawn in Group C for the Billie Jean King Cup finals along with America and Slovakia. The tournament will get underway on November 1st.

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Fed Cup

Leylah Fernandez wins Billie Jean King Heart Award

The Canadian was recognized by the fans for her part in Canada beating Serbia in the play-off tie last month.

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Leylah Fernandez has been named the winner of the Billie Jean King Heart award voted on by the fans of the game. She played an integral part in Canada beating Serbia 4-0 in the playoff tie last month.

 

18-year-old Fernandez was involved in a poll with Elina Svitolina, Katie Boulter and Magdalena French. The award comes with $3000 which she donated to her favourite charity Table de Concertation en Securite Alimentaire de Villeray in Montreal.

” I was surprised, there were so many great players who were nominated and showed a lot of heart during the competition so I didn’t expect much from my part but I’m happy the fans voted and that I was given this opportunity to show what we are made of so I am excited,” said Fernandez.

ITF president David Haggerty commented on her award saying “Congratulations to Leylah Fernandez for her great performance at the Billie Jean King playoff in April and for being voted the recipient of the Bille Jean King Heart Award. It’s extra special to be voted by the fans and recognized for showing great courage and commitment to your team”.

Heidi El Tabakh the Billie Jean King Cup captain for Canada also reacted to Fernandez winning the award.

” I am so happy and extremely proud of Leylah (Fernandez) for winning the Billie Jean King Heart Award. It was well deserved following a spectacular performance in Serbia which she worked so hard for,” she said.
“Leylah is a fighter on the court, she always represents Canada with pride and is an incredible teammate for her fellow teammates. She is very worthy of this award”.

This is the 12th year the award has been given and it recognizes players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on the court, and demonstrated outstanding commitment to the team during the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas.

So far the the award winners have donated over $200,000 to charities across the world.

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Davis Cup

Tennis Stars Voice Concerns Over Staging Tokyo Olympics

After being delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, top players such as Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori still have reservations.

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The area around the Olympic Rings and Olympic Stadium - (image via olympics.com)

Japan’s top male tennis player Kei Nishikori has questioned how much preparation the IOC and local officials in his home country has prepared for a ‘worst-case’ scenario of hosting the Olympics. 

 

The four-year event has already been postponed by 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and some have called for the sporting extravaganza to be scrapped. Recently governors of nine Japanese prefectures said there should be an option to suspend or even cancel the Olympics altogether if cases in the region can’t be kept under control. Three of those governors are in charge of cities set to stage Olympic events. 

Weighing in on the debate, former US Open finalist Nishikori raises doubts over how organisers plan to hold a safe event given the high number of athletes that will be present, which is an estimated 11,000. Japan has already said that overseas fans are banned and international athletes will not be able to bring relatives with them to minimise the risk.

“I don’t know what they are thinking, and I don’t know how much they are thinking about how they are going to make a bubble, because this is not 100 people like these tournaments,” Nishikori said after his first-round match at the Italian Open on Monday.
“It’s 10,000 people in the village. So I don’t think it’s easy, especially what’s happening right now in Japan. It’s not doing good. Well, not even (just) Japan. You have to think all over the world right now.”

The world No.45 expresses a view similar to the of four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka who said earlier this week that she was ‘not sure’ if the event should go ahead due to the current case numbers.  

“I’m an athlete, and of course my immediate thought is that I want to play in the Olympics,” she said.
“But as a human, I would say we’re in a pandemic, and if people aren’t healthy, and if they’re not feeling safe, then it’s definitely a really big cause for concern.”

In the latest figures published by health officials, Tokyo reported 925 news cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday which is an increase of almost 400 compared to the previous day. Although Monday figures are usually low due to the closure of testing centres over the weekend. Tuesday’s number is higher compared to this time last week (609 cases) and two weeks ago (828 cases).

Besides the COVID-19 concerns, the prospect of having to go to the Games without a member of family could result in the absence of four-time gold medallist Serena Williams. The former world No.1 says she is undecided on playing the event and hasn’t been separated from her three-year-old daughter for more than 24 hours before.

“I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself,” said Williams.
“I haven’t really thought much about Tokyo, because it was supposed to be last year and now it’s this year, and then there is this pandemic and there is so much to think about.
“Then there are the Grand Slams. It’s just a lot. So I have really been taking it one day at a time to a fault, and I definitely need to figure out my next moves.”

Besides athlete concerns, Olympic organisers are also facing falling public support. A recent poll conducted by newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun found that nearly 60% of respondents wanted the Games to be cancelled. Furthermore TBS news reported 65% of people surveyed in another poll wanted the event either cancelled or suspended again, with 37% supporting the cancellation and 28% in favour of suspension.

The Olympic tennis event is set to start on July 24th. 

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