Simona Halep Relishing Confidence Boost Following Win Over Kasatkina - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Relishing Confidence Boost Following Win Over Kasatkina

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Simona Halep (zimbio.com)

Simona Halep booked her place in the second week at the French Open with a strong 6-0, 7-5 victory over 26th seed Daria Kasatkina. Following the match, the Romanian fourth seed was confident about her form going into the second week as she chases after her first Grand Slam titles.

 

Considered by many to be the leading favorite for the title in Paris, fourth seed and 2014 finalist Simona Halep looked in brilliant form, moving past 26th-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-0. 7-5 to book her spot in the second week at Roland Garros. Halep, who came into this year’s French Open with questions about a torn ligament in hear ankle, has emphatically dismissed any question marks surrounding her play, as the Madrid champion is yet to drop a set through the first week in Paris.

In the opening set, Halep sent an immediate message to her younger Russian opponent, breaking immediately before following that up with three consecutive games to lead a double break 4-0. The former finalist continued her assault of the Kasatkina serve, breaking the Charleston champion at love before sealing the first set on her own serve 6-0 to put away the dominant bagel set in under 30 minutes.

The second set was a far tougher affair as the pair exchanged breaks of serve in the third and sixth games of the set for 3-all. The 20-year-old began to find her best tennis later in the set as she broke the Romanian for 5-3, giving herself the chance to serve to level the match at a set apiece. Halep was ruthless though, saving a set point at 5-3 before breaking the Russian to get back on serve, and saving three more set points on her own serve at 5-4 to eventually take care of business and level the set at 5-all.

Discouraged by four set points brought up and gone, Kasatkina immediately dropped serve to love to hand Halep the break at 6-5, this time awarding the fourth seed the chance to serve out the match. The former finalist made no mistake with her opportunity, holding easily to finish off a brilliant performance and book herself a spot in the second week in Paris.

Following the match, Halep was in good spirits, feeling confident about the way she’s playing so far at Roland Garros. “It was a good match. I think I played really well the whole match, even if she has the 5-3 in the second set. I felt that I was pushing her back, and also I was rolling the ball pretty well,” commented Halep.

“I think it was a very high standard of tennis today. Also, she played really well. I mean, she’s a very tough opponent when I play her always. It’s difficult even if I won the first set 6-0, I knew it’s gonna be tougher, the second one. I’m really happy with the way I played today. I’m happy. I’m really happy,” The jubilant fourth seed added.

For Halep, there’s much reason to be happy regarding her play against Kasatkina, a skilled clay court player and a former Junior French Open champion just like herself. The Romanian served beautifully, hitting two aces to zero double faults as well as commanding her service games with 70% of her first serves in and winning a solid 60% of points off her first delivery. The former finalist was even better on second serve, winning 65% of points, leading to her only being broken twice throughout the match. Halep also was solid off the ground, hitting 25 winners to 13 unforced errors, a good ratio for success for the fourth seed.

Asked to describe how she would evaluate her first week heading into the round of 16, Halep said, “ Very nice feeling to be again in the second week. I had good matches. Not easy at all. I played well, and the most important thing is that I’m playing better match by match. Gives me confidence for the next week, and also nerves, but better nerves this time,” said a confident Romanian.

Halep will next play 21st seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain on Monday in the fourth round in Paris.

Grand Slam

US Open To Allow Full Capacity Crowds A Year After Being Held Behind Closed Doors

The announcement is the latest step in a gradual return to normality in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The US Open will become the first Grand Slam to take place without any restrictions on the number of spectators attending since the COVID-19 crises turned into a worldwide pandemic.

 

The Associated Press has confirmed that the USTA, who are in charge of the tournament, will allow 100% fan capacity throughout the entire two weeks. Something that hasn’t happened at a major event in tennis since the 2020 Australian Open. The announcement is a dramatic contrast to last year when Flushing Meadows was held behind closed doors amid a surge of cases in the region.

Earlier this week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state had reached their target of issuing 70% of the population at least one COVID-19 vaccination. He has now lifted ‘state-mandated’ restrictions across both commercial and social settings with immediate effect. However, masks will still need to be worn at large venues for the time being. According to the latest COVID-19 figures, New York reported 450 new cases last week which was the lowest-level since the pandemic began.

The development is a major boost for the USTA who suffered big financial losses last season. According to information provided in September, US Open revenue fell by an estimated 50% and the USTA expected their net operating profit to decline by roughly 80%. To put this into perspective the 2018 event generated $300M in revenue.

In 2019 a total of 737,872 fans attended the US Open over a two-week period and a further 115,355 attended during the fan week. Making it the first time the tournament has welcomed more than 850,000 people to the event.

Tickets for the 2021 tournament are set to go on sale next month with all court tickets and ground passes being available. No information on the pricing of those tickets have been released yet.

There has been a steady rise of fans allowed to attend major tournaments in the sport. At the French Open 5000 spectators were allowed to attend daily to begin with before the number increased to 13,000 later in the tournament. Meanwhile, Wimbledon will start at 50% capacity and rise to 100% for the finals.

The US Open takes place from Aug. 30 to Sept. 12 in Flushing Meadows, New York.

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Wimbledon Award Wild Cards To Former Champions Andy Murray, Venus Williams

Here is a list of which players have received passes into this year’s tournament.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray will make his 13th appearance in the main draw at Wimbledon after being awarded a wild card on Wednesday by The All England Club.

 

Murray, who won the men’s title in 2013 and 2016, is currently on the comeback from a groin injury which forced him to miss three months of the Tour this season. The latest setback for the Brit who has also undergone two hip surgeries in recent years in order to prolong his career. Murray is currently participating at the Cinch Championships in Queen’s where he beat Benoit Paire in his first round match on Tuesday.

“Look, I love playing tennis,” an emotional Murray said following his win over Paire.
“Obviously, competing is why you put in all the hard work.
“The last few years, I’ve not go to do that as much as I would have liked so, yeah [it’s] just great that I’m out here and able to compete again.”

Another player to receive one of the initial wild cards is Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz who is currently ranked 78th in the world. The 18-year-old recently reached the third round of the French Open as a qualifier and won a Challenger title on clay. Last month he broke into the ATP top 100 for the first time to become the youngest player to do so since Borna Coric in 2014.

As for the women, Venus Williams has been given entry into the main draw. At the age of 40, Williams is one of the oldest players on the WTA Tour and she has only won three out of 18 matches played since the start of 2020. She is a five-time champion at Wimbledon with her most recent triumph taking place back in 2018. It will be her 23rd main draw appearance at Wimbledon.

Regarding the British players, Jay Clarke, Liam Broady, Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart have all been awarded wild cards. So has youngster Jack Draper, who stunned Jannik Sinner at Queen’s earlier this week.

Full list of wild cards

GENTLEMEN’S SINGLES

  1. Carlos ALCARAZ (ESP)
  2. Liam BROADY (GBR)
  3. Jay CLARKE (GBR)
  4. Jack DRAPER (GBR)
  5. Andy MURRAY (GBR)
  6. To be announced
  7. To be announced
  8. To be announced

LADIES’ SINGLES

  1. Katie BOULTER (GBR)
  2. Jodie BURRAGE (GBR)
  3. Harriet DART (GBR)
  4. Francesca JONES (GBR)
  5. Samantha MURRAY SHARAN (GBR)
  6. Venus WILLIAMS (USA)
  7. Not used – Next direct acceptance
  8. Not used – Next direct acceptance

GENTLEMEN’S DOUBLES

  1. Liam BROADY (GBR) and Ryan PENISTON (GBR)
  2. Jay CLARKE (GBR) and Marius COPIL (ROU)
  3. Lloyd GLASSPOOL (GBR) and Harri HELIOVAARA (FIN)
  4. Alastair GRAY (GBR) and Aidan MCHUGH (GBR)
  5. Stuart PARKER (GBR) and James WARD (GBR)
  6. To be announced
  7. To be announced

LADIES’ DOUBLES

  1. Naiktha BAINS (GBR) and Samantha MURRAY SHARAN (GBR)
  2. Harriet DART (GBR) and Heather WATSON (GBR)
  3. Sarah Beth GREY (GBR) and Emily WEBLEY-SMITH (GBR)
  4. Tara MOORE (GBR) and Eden SILVA (GBR)
  5. To be announced
  6. To be announced
  7. To be announced

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Grand Slam

Wimbledon Finals To Be Played In Front Of Full Capacity Crowd In UK first Since Lockdown

The grass-court Grand Slam has been granted a special exemption from the government which will allow them to welcome thousands to the tournament over a two-week period.

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The Wimbledon Championships received a major boost after being listed as a pilot event by the British Government which allows them to welcome more spectators than the current restrictions.

 

Under the agreement, The All England Club will start the tournament welcoming 50% of it’s ground capacity to the venue which is more than double what was estimated a few weeks ago. The limit will gradually increase as the tournament progresses until finals weekend when both the women’s and men’s title matches will be played in front of 15,000 fans. Making it the first outdoor sporting event in the country that will take place in front of a full capacity crowd since the country went into it’s first lockdown last year.

The announcement coincides with the British government announcing a four-week extension to their plans of ending all restrictions currently in place due to the pandemic. The delay has been triggered due to concerns related to the Indian variant and its transmission rate. However, Wimbledon has been added to the Events Research Program which is a series of pilot events being used to monitor the spead of COVID-19 at sporting and entertainment events.

“We are continuing to work closely with the Government to finalise the details including the requirements for Covid-status certification for spectators,” the All England Club said in a statement.
“We are pleased to have worked closely with the government, public health bodies, and our local authority in Merton, to confirm that, as part of this next phase of pilot events, the Championships 2021 will begin on Monday 28 June with 50% capacity across the grounds, building to full capacity crowds of 15,000 on Centre Court for the finals weekend.
“This will enable us to fulfil our aspiration of staging the best Wimbledon possible within the current circumstances, with the health and safety of all those who make Wimbledon happen – our guests, competitors, members, staff, media, officials, local residents, and partners – remaining our highest priority.”

Last year Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time in the Open Era and was the only major not to take place. However, the grass-court major had the luxury of having pandemic insurance which substantially helped cover their costs. The tournament does not have such a policy this year however.

The Wimbledon Championships will start on June 28th. Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep are the defending champions.

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