Britain's Johanna Konta Overcomes Caroline Garcia Challenge To Reach The Quarterfinals At Wimbledon - UBITENNIS
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Britain’s Johanna Konta Overcomes Caroline Garcia Challenge To Reach The Quarterfinals At Wimbledon

Joshua Coase

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Johanna Konta

Johanna Konta kept British hopes of a first Women’s Singles Champion at Wimbledon since 1977 alive after she came through a tough three set battle with 21st seed Caroline Garcia 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals.

 

The British number one has become the first British woman to reach the last eight at SW19 since Jo Durie in 1984 but was severely tested against the talented Frenchwoman on ‘Manic Monday’ at the All England Club. The sixth seed squandered a break late in the first set but regrouped to take in a tiebreak but was completely outclassed for the majority of the second set. In the decider one break in the final game of the match proved to be decisive to secure a historic win for Konta.

Next up for the Brit in the quarterfinals is the second seed Simona Halep after she recovered from an early break down to defeat Victoria Azarenka 7-6(3), 6-2 and move just one win away from becoming world number one for the first time in her career.

Competing in the second week at Wimbledon for the first time in her career and with the home expectations on her shoulders Konta showed no signs of nerves early on. The British number won the toss of the coin and elected to receive as she often does and it paid dividend as she brought up three break points at 0-40. Garcia had barely had a chance to settle and could only save one before the sixth seed forced her opponent to go long with her forehand.

With the break in hand Konta was full of confidence and held serve well before facing pressure for the first time in the sixth game. The Brit was was pushed to deuce and forced to face a break point after a sprayed forehand went wide. The world number seven played the big points well as she has done so throughout the Championships, finding a big serve down the tee to stave off the danger and hold to restore her two game lead.

Serving for the set, the British number one came under severe pressure down two break points as her second serve came under serious fire, with Garcia hammering the return of serves deep onto Konta’s baseline. The sixth seed had been exceptional under pressure throughout the first week saving the majority of the break points against her and did so again as she found her first serve at the crucial moments. A set point then came and went before the Brit found herself having to face a third break point. In a contentious decision Garcia hit a ball during the rally which appeared as though it had gone long. Konta put her arm up to challenge the call just after she struck her backhand and the raising of her arm was quickly followed by a call of out by a line judge. Hawk-Eye showed the ball to be in by just a couple of millimetres after the Frenchwoman challenged and the umpire deemed that the call did not impact Konta’s shot which went long and awarded Garcia the game and the break back.

The British number one contested the decision but to no avail and had to regroup quickly after the 21st seed held to love to force Konta to serve to stay in the opening set. The sixth seed stepped up and also held to love and made a strong start to the tiebreak after a double fault and passing shot winner gave Konta two mini breaks up 4-1. Being the higher ranked and more experienced player, Konta raised her level and played the bigger points far better than her opponent, sealing the first set with an ace to win the tiebreak by seven points to three. The Brit made just five unforced errors and struck 12 winners to take the one set lead in the match after 55 minutes of play.

The second set was a complete turnaround, that was despite Konta holding her opening service to maintain her momentum. In Garcia’s opening service game a 40-0 lead slipped back to deuce, but the Frenchwoman held under pressure to level at one game all. That was the first of five games in a row for the 21st seed as she began to overpower and outmanoeuvre her opponent, breaking serve twice to take a very commanding 5-1 lead.

Konta was not finished in this set yet and pulled one of the breaks back with a backhand winner which landed just inside of their baseline and the Brit asked the question to test Garcia’s nerve as 5-1 quickly became 5-4. The Frenchwoman was more than up to the task of closing out the set this time around, holding to love, forcing a decider with an overhead smash winner.

The final set was a nervy affair as both players were bidding to reach the quarterfinals for the first time. Contrary to the second set, both players were strong on serve as neither wanted to give an inch or allow their opponent the chance to close in on a last eight berth. Konta had the advantage of serving first as she did against Donna Vekic in her second round clash which she came through 10-8 in the third and deciding set. This allowed the sixth seed to apply pressure on her opponent every time she stepped to the line to serve as the British number one kept herself ahead in the scoreline. Garcia hung tough and resisted but Konta sensed her chance at 30-30 in the 10th game. With it all on the line the Brit came through and collapsed to the floor in sheer disbelief and delight at making the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, her home Grand Slam.

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Players Face Sanctions If They Make Pro-Putin Statements At French Open, Warns Mauresmo

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The tournament director of the French Open admits there is ‘no fair decision’ regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian players in the Grand Slam.

 

Amelie Mauresmo, who is a former WTA No.1 player herself, confirmed that players from those countries will be allowed to play during an interview with French radio. Although they will only be allowed to play under a neutral status in line with the rules which have been adopted by other governing bodies of the sport. The action has been taken in response to Russia’s military assault on the Ukraine which began on February 24th. Belarus is suspected of supporting Russia in the conflict which has already killed thousands of people.

The stance of officials in Paris is a stark contrast to that of Wimbledon who has controversially implemented a ban on those players, as well as the LTA. Making it the first time The All England Club has excluded players due to their nationality since the World War Two Era when German and Japanese players weren’t allowed to participate. The ATP Tour is reportedly considering removing the allocation of points to the event in response to the ban.

Speaking about the issue, Mauresmo confirmed that action could be taken against any player who decides to make pro-Putin statements during the tournament. Although she didn’t elaborate on what penalties could be used if such a situation occurs.

“We have thought a lot, and I have the impression that there is no fair decision, one way or the other,” said Mauresmo. “We are in line with what European sports ministers have decided, we do not welcome teams but individual athletes. Obviously if an athlete speaks in the press for example and supports Vladimir Putin, sanctions will be taken. “

Providing an update on the upcoming tournament, Mauresmo says she is confident that this year’s tournament will have an almost full attendance. Confirming that “tickets are sold at more than 90-95%” of its capacity in what she hails as a ‘real success’ for the tournament. Last year’s edition took place with a restricted capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s French Open will begin on May 22nd. Novak Djokovic and Barbora Krejcikova are the defending champions.

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French Open Prize Money Pool Up By Nearly 7% From 2019 But Singles Champions Will Win Less

More then 40 million euros will be up for grabs during this year’s tournament.

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The prize money pool for this year’s French Open will be increased by around 6.8% compared to 2019 which was the last time the event was held before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

A total of 43.6 million euros (about $46 million) will be distributed by the French Tennis Federation (FFT) throughout the tournament with the most noticeable increase concerning first round matches. Those participating in the first round will receive 62,000 euros which is a 35% increase compared to 2019 and a 3% increase on what was offered last year. 

Another substantial rise concerns the qualifying tournaments with the money pot being 66% higher than 2019 and 30% more than 2021. The amounts on offer in the three-round qualifying tournament are €14,000,  €20,000 and  €31,000.

“The increase in prize money for the first round of the singles main draws and the qualifying competitions is designed to help the players who have suffered the most as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the FFT outlined in a statement.

This year’s singles champions will each take home €2.2M which is just slightly down on the tally of €2.3M that was offered back in 2019. On the other hand it is an increase of €700,000 compared to last year when the tournament was operating under various restrictions due to the pandemic. 

This year’s French Open main draw will get underway on May 22nd. Novak Djokovic and Barbora Krejčíková are the defending champions. 

2022 French Open Prize money breakdown

ROUNDPRIZE MONEY (€)
Champion2.2M
Runner-up1.1M
Semi-finals600,000
Quarter-finals380,000
Round 4220,000
Round 3125,800
Round 286,000
Round 162,000
Qualifying – R331,000
Qualifying – R220,000
Qualifying – R114,000

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Decision By Wimbledon And LTA To Ban Players Over Ukraine War Backed By Nordic Federations

Britain’s controversial move has split opinion in the sport but a group of four countries have endorsed the ban due to ‘the hostility of the Russian and Belarusian states.’

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Aerial view across the grounds as spectators watch the big screen on the outside of No.1 Court in the sunshine at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 7 Monday 05/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Joe Toth

After recent days of criticism towards British officials over their decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from tournaments this year, the first tennis federations have publicly expressed their support.

 

During their spring press conference on Wednesday, Wimbledon chiefs said they have ‘no viable option’ but to issue the ban in order to prevent the possibility of “being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime”. Russia launched a military attack on Ukraine on February 24th and it is highly suspected that Belarus is supporting them. According to the UN at least 2,729 civilians have been killed and another 3111 injured but the figures are feared to be higher.

The move has split opinion in the sport with both the ATP and WTA both criticizing the decision. Earlier this year the sport’s seven governing bodies issued a statement saying that players from the two countries will still be allowed to participate in tournaments but only as neutral players. Steve Simon, who is the head of the WTA, has hinted that there will be a ‘strong reaction’ from his organization. It is understood that both the ATP and WTA will meet in the coming days during the Madrid Open. In the most extreme scenario, they could decide to revoke their licenses to LTA events or remove their ability to award ranking points.

“We recognize that whatever decision we took, we’ll be setting a precedent,” said Wimbledon CEO Sally Bolton. “We made our judgment in the context of the scale of the response to an international war, the consequences of which reach far wider than the sport of tennis. We appreciate that this is an immensely difficult decision on which people have different views, which we respect and we understand, and we are deeply regretful of the impact that this will have on every single player who is affected.”

Ian Hewitt, who is chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, says the ban was influenced by guidance given by the British government on the matter.

“We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible in the circumstances and that, within the framework of the government’s position, there is no viable alternative to the decision we have taken in this truly exceptional and tragic situation.” He said.

It remains to be seen if other countries will take similar actions in the future. It is understood that the Italian government is currently considering whether to allow Russian and Belarusian players to participate at the upcoming Internazionali BNL d’Italia. A Masters 1000 event for the men and WTA 1000 for the women.

Meanwhile, the tennis federations of four nordic countries have issued a joint-statement in support of the ban by Wimbledon and the LTA. Officials from Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Norway have backed the move. The only country from the region not to co-sign is Denmark but it is unclear as to why.

We, the undersigned federations, support the position the LTA and AELTC have taken regarding Russian and Belarusian players competing in events in Great Britain. In these exceptional times, tennis must do all it can to stand with the people of Ukraine against the hostility of the Russian and Belarusian states.” The statement reads.

Besides the statement issued from the four countries, no other tennis federations are yet to formally comment on the matter. Furthermore, there has been no statement issued by the International Tennis Federation.

The ban applies to all ATP and WTA events set to take place in Britain this year, as well as Wimbledon.

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