Elina Svitolina And Daria Kasatkina Battle On At The French Open - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

Elina Svitolina And Daria Kasatkina Battle On At The French Open




Elina Svitolina (zimbio.com)

Rome champion and fifth seed Elina Svitolina came back from a set down to defeat last year’s French Open quarter-finalist, Tsvetana Pironkova, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, while Charleston winner Daria Kasatkina battled past Czech lefty Marketa Vondrusova 7-6, 6-4 to reach the third round at Roland Garros.


Considered by many to be a favourite and a dark horse for this year’s French Open title, Elina Svitolina and Daria Kasatkina had to fight hard to get past some tough opposition early in their second round encounters.

Svitolina, who currently holds the number one spot in the Porsche Race to Singapore and owns titles this year in Dubai and Rome, got off to a slow start, getting broken in the seventh game of the match to go down 4-3 before some powerful tennis from Pironkova led the Bulgarian to a 5-3 lead. Serving to stay in the opening set, the Ukrainian was once again broken at 30, gifting her unseeded opponent the first set 6-3.

The second set was far different from the first, as the initial five games of the ensuing set were marked by breaks before Svitolina eventually broke the trend to go up 4-2. The four-time WTA tournament champion this year would not relinquish that lead, taking care of her serve before eventually breaking at 5-3 on her second set point to seal the set 6-3 and level the match at a set all.

The third was one-way traffic for the fifth seed as Svitolina broke in the second game of the set for 2-0 before recovering the break lead after a wobbly service game, later on, to go up 4-2 in the deciding set. Just like in the second set, the Ukrainian would not let that lead slip, breaking Pironkova once again at her second time of asking to take her place in the third round 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 and march on in Paris.

“I was just waiting for my chance to get back, because I didn’t play that bad in the first set, but I think she was playing, really amazing from start.” Pliskova said about her opponent.

Kasatkina progresses

As for 26th seed and Charleston champion Daria Kasatkina, the Russian had a popcorn second round match on her hands against Biel-Bienne winner and qualifier Marketa Vondrusova. The big-hitting Czech lefty blasted her way through qualifying and her first round, losing no more than four games in a set in each of her matches on the Terre battue.

Kasatkina began the match under immediate pressure, getting broken in her opening service game of the match to fall down 2-0 before seizing the break back later for 2-all. From there on, the two were dominant on serve, not giving an inch as the set climaxed in a tiebreak. Vondrusova began feeling pain in her upper left arm in the tiebreak. playing a woeful breaker, only holding serve once as she lost it 7-1 to drop the opening set 7-6.

With a set in the bag and Vondrusova clearly struggling with an arm injury, Kasatkina went up a break 4-2 courtesy of three breaks on the Czech’s serve despite dropping two games of her own. The pair split service holds before Vondrusova battled back from deuce to hold for 5-4, forcing her Russian opponent to serve for the match. Kasatkina made no mistake, serving the match out easily on her second time of asking to win a hard-fought match 7-6, 6-4 and move into the third round at Roland Garros.

Svitolina will next play Magda Linette of Poland in the third round after Linette beat 29th seed Ana Konjuh 6-0, 7-5, while Kasatkina will face the winner of  German Tatjana Maria or third seed and women’s title favorite Simona Halep on Saturday.

Grand Slam

Tennis Australia Suffers Major Financial Loss Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

Millions has been lost over a 15-month period, according to an official document.




Tennis Australia’s staging of the 2021 COVID-19-affected Australian Open came at a huge financial cost, according figures published in their annual report.


The governing body has revealed that between June 30, 2020 and September 30, 2021 they suffered a total loss of AUS$100.02 million which equates to roughly $71M in US dollars. Part of the heavy loss is linked to the hosting of this year’s Australian Open in accordance to rules related to the pandemic. Charter flights were provided to players for them to fly into the country. Then they all have to go through quarantine at designated hotels. To add to the financial burden, during the Grand Slam fans were banned from attending for a five-day period after Melbourne went into a snap lockdown. On the days the event was opened up to the public it was for a limited capacity crowd.

It was also confirmed that Tennis Australia used all of their AUS$80M cash reserves and subsequently had to borrow an additional AUS$40M loan in order to help them with their staging of next year’s Australian Open.

It is hoped that the organisers will be able to regain some of their financial loss in January where the country will host a series of ATP and WTA tournaments prior to the Melbourne major. As it currently stands, the Australian Open will be operating with full capacity crowds which maximises their earning potential from the visiting fans. There is also no mandatory quarantine required for players arriving in the country. Instead, they will have to take a COVID-19 test both before and upon arrival. Furthermore, they must also be double vaccinated in order to play.

Officials are hoping to stage the 2022 Australian Open in more normal circumstances despite the threat of the recently discovered Omicron variant which scientists are still looking into. The first case of community transmission of the variant in Australia was discovered on Friday in New South Wales.

“We’re still waiting. I’ve been talking to the government … there’s still a lot of unanswered questions around this (new COVID-19 variant),” tournament director Craig Tiley told the Nine Network earlier this week.
“I think in the next 14 days we will have some clarity, but at this point, the plans are going ahead as they are.”

The Australian Open is set to get underway on January 17th.

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Grand Slam

Nick Kyrgios Backs Australian Open Ban On Unvaccinated Players But Opposes Mandatory Vaccinations

The world No.90 landed himself in some hot water after making some comments on the No Boundaries podcast.




Tennis star Nick Kyrgios says recent comments made by him on a podcast were taken out of context after he was accused of calling for next year’s Australian Open to be cancelled.


The former top 20 player spoke about the upcoming event and other issues on the No Boundaries podcast which he is a co-founder of. During one part of the discussion, Kyrgios said that he doesn’t think that the Australian Open should go ahead due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The country has had one of the strictest rules in the world regarding the pandemic with many cities being placed into a lockdown for almost a year and heavy restrictions being placed on international travel.

I don’t think the Aus Open should go ahead, just for the people in Melbourne – you’ve got to send a message,’ Kyrgios said on the podcast.
‘How long did (Melbourne) do in lockdown? 275 days or something?’

However, the 26-year-old later clarified his comment and said his point was more about the people living in Melbourne and not that the tournament should be cancelled. Kyrgios reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open back in 2015 and has made eight consecutive appearances in the main draw. This year he reached the third round before losing to Dominic Thiem in five sets.

“To say that I’d want the Australian Open cancelled, I think that was the sentence that got taken out of context,” he said in a video on his Instagram account. “It’s more so for the people of Melbourne who have gone through hell and back. I think it’s been … nearly 300 days of lockdown and your freedom has been, you know, taken away from you.”

Next year’s Melbourne major is still yet to publicly confirm their entry requirements amid growing speculation that players will only be allowed to play in the tournament if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is due to a health mandate being implemented in Victoria which requires all essential workers, including elite athletes, to be vaccinated. Premier Daniel Andrews has previously told journalists that he would not be making any exceptions to the rules for players.

Weighing in on the topic of vaccinations, Kyrgios said the idea of having a policy on Tour which requires all players to be vaccinated is ‘morally wrong.’ Novak Djokovic is among a group of players who have not revealed their vaccination status. Prompting speculation over if he will travel to Australia next January or not.

“(NBA player) Kyrie (Irving), Novak (Djokovic), these guys have given so much, sacrificed so much,” Kyrgios commented. “They’re global athletes who millions of people look up to and I just feel like it’s so morally wrong to force someone to get vaxxed. There’s other solutions around it.”

However, Kyrgios has also said that he thinks it is ‘morally wrong’ for unvaccinated players to be allowed in Melbourne.

I don’t think it’s morally right to accept players from overseas that aren’t vaccinated to come into our country.” He stated.

Although Tennis Australia is yet to confirm their policy, media sources are reporting on Tuesday that unvaccinated players will be banned from the tournament. According to ABC Australia, Victorian Sports minister Martin Pakula told reporters that unvaccinated players would be banned from the Australian Open along with unvaccinated fans and staff.

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Roger Federer Unlikely To Play Australian Open Next Year

One of Federer’s coaches has issued an update concerning his recovery from injury.




Roger Federer Wimbledon 2021
Roger Federer (SUI) playing against Adrian Mannarino (FRA) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

It appears that Roger Federer’s return to professional tennis will not occur in Australia after one of his coaches described the chances of him playing in the first Grand Slam of 2022 as ‘very few.’


Ivan Ljubicic has issued an update on the 20-time Grand Slam champion who has not played since his quarter-final loss to Herbert Hurkacz at Wimbledon. Shortly after that defeat, Federer underwent a third operation of his knee following a consultation with his medical team. He has already undergone two minor surgeries on his knee during the first half of 2020, as well as a separate procedure back in 2016.

Speaking in Zurich during a sponsor event for Mercedes-Benz back in September Federer said ‘the worst is behind him’ but he is taking his recovery slowly. Speaking about his progress earlier this week, coach Ljubicic said the Swiss maestro is unable to recover ‘as quickly as he used to’ due to his age. Admitting that the prospect of Federer returning to action at Melbourne Park is unlikely.

“I think there are very few chances, he is still recovering and knowing him, he wants to be sure he can play to win the tournament and be at 100%,” Ljubicic told Stats Perform.
“So I think the Australian Open is not a real possibility right now. But he will go step by step because he is 40 years old now and he needs to be patient. He cannot recover as quickly as he used to.”

Federer has won six out of his 20 major titles at the Australian Open with the most recent occurring back in 2018. He also missed the tournament this year due to his knee. Prior to this, he had made 21 consecutive appearances at Maelbourne Park (2000-2020).

However, Ljubicic is optimistic that Federer will return to competition and retirement talk is currently not on the cards despite his age. According to the ATP, only six players older than Federer have an official ranking but none of those are currently ranked in the top 200. Although Feliciano Lopez is the same age as him but is a couple months younger.

We have spoken and I can guarantee he wants to return to playing tennis. When he decides to stop he will retire, but I don’t think it’s going to happen all of a sudden.” Ljubicic stated.

During his career, Federer has won 103 ATP titles and has earned more than $130M in prize money.

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