Thomaz Bellucci Confirms Failed Drugs Test - UBITENNIS
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Thomaz Bellucci Confirms Failed Drugs Test

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Brazilian player Thomaz Bellucci has confirmed that he is currently serving a five-month ban after testing positive for a prohibited substance.

The 30-year-old hasn’t played on the tour since losing in the first round of the US Open. In a statement on Thursday, Bellucci confirmed that he tested positive for the banned substance Hydrochlorothiazide during the Bastad Open in Sweden last July. Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic drug banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. It is not a performance enhancing drug in itself, but can be used as a masking agent.

Bellucci has said that he digested the substance accidentally after buying a multivitamin drug that was contaminated from a pharmacy. According to Brazilian website Globo Esporte, the current world No.112 intends to sue the pharmacy for negligence.

“I have proved that it was not my fault. I never took any kind of supplement or any other substance that would favour me or that would violate the fair play rules of the sport.” Bellucci said in a statement.
“You could never imagine that a multivitamin made by a drug store could suffer cross-contamination in minimal doses. I have always been careful and respected the rules of the sport.
“It (the consumption of the drug) was precisely at a time when I was recovering from injuries and making a major transition in my career, moving to Florida, setting up a training base there to reach my maximum potential on the circuit in the next few years.”

The International Tennis Federation published their report into Bellucci’s violation hours after his announcement. The reason why he receive the five-month suspension, which is the most lenient available, was because the ITF accepted his explanation of cross-contamination and his previous track record. Although they ruled the Bellucci should have checked to make sure the pharmacy was regulated and the origin of the multivitamin.

“Mr. Bellucci’s account of how the hydrochlorothiazide got into his system was accepted and that he bears No Significant Fault or Negligence for the violation.” The ITF concluded in their report.
“The Programme provides for the start date of the period of ineligibility of five months to be backdated due to the prompt admission and for delays not attributable to Mr. Bellucci. Therefore, the start of the ban is back-dated by two and a half months pursuant to Programme Article 10.10.3(b) and by a further six weeks pursuant to Programme Article 10.10.3(c). As a result, the ban is deemed to have started on 1 September 2017, and so will expire at midnight on 31 January 2018.”

A silent ban?

The revelation from Bellucci comes less than a month before his ban from the sport ends. He had previously said that an Achilles tendon had ruled him out of action. It could be argued that the Brazilian served a silent ban. Although the ITF told Ubitennis last year that there was no such thing as a silent ban.

“The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme announces provisional suspensions, but otherwise there is no announcement until the end of a hearing process. There is no such thing as a silent ban.” A representative told Ubitennis.net.

Bellucci has been ranked as high as 21st in the world back in 2010 and has played in 35 grand slam main draws. He has also won four ATP titles with the most recent occurring at the 2015 Geneva Open.

Bellucci is eligible to return to competition next month in time for the South American swing of the tour. His ban ends on January 31st.

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World No.32 Davidovich Fokina Replaces Long-Time Coach With Verdasco

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Fernando Verdasco was spotted earlier this week briefly watching Ons Jabeur play at the French Open but his focus this year is on another player.

The former top 10 player has landed a new coaching job after being hired by compatriot Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Somebody who he once played a Tour-level doubles match alongside back in 2020. Fokina has opted to stop working with Jorge Aguirre, who has been his mentor since he was a child.

The change comes after what has been a mixed start to the season for Fokina who has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of 11 tournaments played before the start of Roland Garros. His sole win over a top 20 player occurred at the start of 2024 when he beat Hubert Hurkacz at the United Cup.  

“I will be very brief. I have left it with Jorge (Aguirre) and I start with Verdasco, with whom I have had a good relationship for years. He has not officially retired, but I knew that he was training other players and it was time,” Fokina told reporters after beating Valentin Vacherot in the first round of the French Open.
“It was time to close a stage and start a new one. With his experience, Verdasco can help me a lot to face the games, to assume that pressure and tension of the competition.”

Verdasco has won seven ATP titles during his career and reached the semi-finals of the 2009 Australian Open. At this year’s Madrid Open, he briefly helped Jabeur whose main coach Issam Jellali was unable to attend the tournament. 

Fokina will next play Casper Ruud in Roland Garros.

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Grand Slam Quarter-Finalist Van De Zandschulp Pondering Retirement After French Open Exit

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image via https://x.com/Boticvdz/

Botic van de Zandschulp has revealed he is losing his passion for tennis and is considering retiring from the sport following his exit from the French Open on Monday.

The 29-year-old was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Fabio Fognini, who eased his way to a 6-1, 6-1, 7-5, victory. It is the second Grand Slam in a row where he has fallen at the first hurdle with the 2022 Wimbledon championships being the last major event where he won back-to-back matches.   

“I don’t look forward to competitions at all anymore,” Zandschulp told Dutch media.
“I have been asking myself more and more lately whether I want to continue.
“You have to do work that you enjoy. Everyone has a bad day every now and then. But if there are too many, then you have to ask yourself whether you want to continue.” 

Zandschulp has been the top-ranked player in his country with his most notable achievement being a run to the quarter-finals of the 2021 US Open. The former world No.22 is a two-time runner-up at the Munich Open but is yet to win an ATP Tour title. He has registered a total of six wins over top 10 players, including Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev. 

However, recent difficulties on the Tour have left the Dutchman questioning if he wants to continue playing.  

“I like the training. Those are great days. But when I get up in the morning, I no longer look forward to the matches at all.” He commented.

Zandschulp’s remarks could be a reaction to his frustrating loss to Fognini. However, he confirmed that he has been considering retiring for a long time. 

“It was the worst match I have played in my life,” he said. 
“Of course, it is now fresh after the match. That plays a role in my mind, but the thoughts of quitting have been there for a long time. It is not an easy life as a tennis player. You really live your life, play thirty weeks a year and travel from pillar to post.
“If you don’t play, someone else will pass you by (in the rankings). That’s why I now play extra tournaments instead of charging myself at home.”

Zandschulp is currently ranked 102nd in the world and is scheduled to play in the French Open doubles event on Tuesday.

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“It’s Purely Psychological” – Maria Sakkari Berates ‘Unacceptable’ French Open Defeat

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Maria Sakkari - Roma 2023 (foto Francesca Micheli, Ubitennis)

Greece’s Maria Sakkari said she felt ‘intense anxiety’ before her first round match at the French Open after crashing out of the draw on Monday.  

The sixth seed suffered a shock 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, loss to Varvara Gracheva who is currently ranked 88th in the world. Sakkari produced a costly 39 unforced errors and dropped serve five times in her latest match. It is the first time she has lost her opening match at a tournament since February.  

Heading into Paris, the 28-year-old had produced encouraging results on the Tour after reaching the semi-finals in Charleston before making fourth round appearances at WTA 1000 events in Madrid and Rome. 

 “It’s the first time I don’t know what to say…” Sakkari told SDNA
“I’ve been very well these days. It was very sudden for me too, I started feeling intense anxiety before the match. I would really like to give the right answers, but all I have to say is that I have been very well these days. No matter what set I played, no matter what practice I did, everyone could see that I was fine. It’s definitely psychological, purely. It’s nothing else.” 

Since appearing in two Grand Slam semi-finals in 2021, Sakkari has struggled to make an impact at the major events. Her defeat to Gracheva makes it the fourth time she has lost in the first round of a Grand Slam since the start of last year. Overall, she has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of her nine most recent appearances at these tournaments. 

 “I won the first set and I kept getting nervous. My pulse was very high throughout the match, especially until the middle of the third set,” she said of her latest performance.
“I was feeling a panic, it’s not like I won the first set and relaxed. Maybe if I had broken the first game of the second set things would have been different. But what can we say now?’  
“It’s purely psychological, I’m not hiding. I will not look for excuses. I put too much pressure on myself, not to lose another game in the first or second round of a Grand Slam. Everyone around me tries to tell me that it happened in New York too, but then I recovered. However, it is not the same. I’ve recovered and I’m playing well in the other tournaments, but it’s proven that I’m not playing well in the Grand Slams. I feel it’s one thing, another thing.” 

Whilst praising her opponent, Sakkari describes her defeat as ‘unacceptable’ and hopes it will serve as a wake-up call for her.  

She now heads to the grass season with a win-loss record of 19-10 so far this year.

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