Six Things We Have Learnt From Maria Sharapova’s Press Conference - UBITENNIS
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Six Things We Have Learnt From Maria Sharapova’s Press Conference

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Maria Sharapova (zimbio.com)

It is a dream comeback to the tour for Maria Sharapova after her 15-month ban. The former world No.1 illustrated her potential to return to the top with a straight sets win over Roberta Vinci at the Stuttgart Open. Sharapova’s return attracted an incredible group of roughly 200 journalists from around the world. Inevitably, her post-match press conference promised a lot and to an extent, it delivered. Below are six things we have learnt from the five-time grand slam champion.

 

What does she take instead of Meldonium?

Until it was officially banned on January 1st, 2016, Sharapova used Meldonium for a ten-year period. She was originally prescribed the heart drug after a series of the flu and colds ‘started to harm her body.’ Furthermore, she consumed the substance due to a magnesium deficiency and a family history of diabetes.

So what has replaced the drug? On Wednesday Sharapova remained coy and refrained from talking about the subject.

“The information is between myself, the WTA and the orthopaedic doctor that I’m working with now.” She said.

She is prepared to play grand slam qualifying

With the French Open just over a month away, speculation had mounted about whether officials will grant the former world No.1 a wildcard into the main draw. One source has told The Times newspaper that Sharapova might instead be given a pass into the qualifying rounds, a prospect she is ready for.

“I think I be prepared to play in the juniors if I had to.” She replied when asked about participating in qualifying. “I think everybody in this room (the media room) knows what a competitor I am and I don’t take anything for granted.”
“If I get the opportunity to be in a draw, then I will take it.” She added.

Has played down the significance of her wildcards

The debate surrounding Sharapova’s passes into the tournament has divided the sport. Some have welcomed her return, but some have spoken against her entry. Critics have argued that it sends out the wrong message giving wildcards to players convicted of doping offences. Furthermore, this week the Russian was still banned from the tour during the first two days of the Stuttgart tournament.

“I don’t think that’s right,” Eugenie Bouchard recently said of the Russian’s return. “She’s a cheater and so, to me, I don’t think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again. Unfair to all these players who do it the right way and are true.”

Despite the numerous criticisms, 30-year-old Sharapova is remaining resilient on the topic. Addressing the subject diplomatically, she refused to speak about specific player comments.

“I’m being offered wildcards from tournament directors and I’m accepting them to be able to compete in the draw.” A calm Sharapova argued. “I’m coming (to Stuttgart) with no ranking and I’m not getting a wildcard to receive a trophy or a golden platter.”
“I have to get through the matches and I still have to win them. That’s my job.”

Refuses to condemn her agent

Max Eisenbud, a man once in charge of monitoring the list of banned substances for Sharapova, recently hit out at Agnieszka Radwanska. The Wimbledon runner-up weighed-in on the wildcard debate, arguing against giving one to Sharapova for grand slam tournaments. Eisenbud hit back by describing both Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki as ‘journeymen.’

The comments obviously attracted media attention, but Sharapova is refusing to criticise her agent.

“I don’t control my manager’s words and I’m sure he’s been watching everybody comments in the last 15 months. He’s entitled to his own opinion. I don’t control his opinion.” She said.

She isn’t bitter

15 months away from the tour and a continuation of a war of words with the International Tennis Federation have failed to derail Sharapova’s mentality. She could easily continue to be enraged by the incident, but instead she has decided to take the high road.

“I’m not an individual that’s angry or bitter.” She said. “I let things go pretty quickly and move onto the next page. Over the past many months I’ve been very present in everything that I have done. There’s a lot of things I did that I probably would have never done in my twenties.”
“As a woman, as a 29-year-old it was very liberating.”

She doesn’t care what people think

‘I can’t control what people think’ was the response from a defiant Sharapova. Described by some other players on the tour as ‘unfriendly’, the Russian is a firm believer of professionalism in sports. Some players might be affected by the negativity in the locker-room, but Sharapova isn’t one of them. Well, that is what she has us all to believe at least.

“It’s not my job to think what a person thinks or not. That’s not what matters. Words and quotes and articles is not that matters in life. I’ve learnt that very well in the past year.” She explained.
“At the end of the day what matters is that I’m on the court. I do my job and my job consists of practising.”

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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