Top Players Dismiss Calls To Boycott The Margaret Court Arena - UBITENNIS
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Top Players Dismiss Calls To Boycott The Margaret Court Arena

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Margaret and Barry Court look on during the finals presentations on day eight during the 2018 Hopman Cup at Perth Arena on January 6, 2018 in Perth, Australia (zimbio.com)

Some of the biggest names in the world of tennis have stated that they will play where they are told to at the Australian Open amid calls to rename and boycott the Margaret Court Arena.

 

Court, who has won 24 grand slam titles in singles competition during her career, has come under fire over her comments about the LGBT community. Last year, she said that tennis was ‘full of lesbians‘ and has voiced her opposition to the legalisation of same-sex marriage. She also singled out Casey Dellacqua, who is in a same-sex relationship and has a child. In a newspaper article, Court said that it was ‘wrong’ for Dellacqua to deny her child from having a father.

Yesterday WTA founder Billie Jean King weighed in on the topic, calling for the Australian Open to rename the Margaret Court Arena. The stadium has been named after the Australian since 2003 in recognition of her contribution to tennis. King said that she would boycott playing in the stadium if she was still a player.

With the topic dominating media day at Melbourne Park on Saturday, players have opted to take a more diplomatic approach to the debate. Nick Kyrgios, who has expressed his support for same-sex marriage, said that Court’s achievements as a player has earned her the right to receive the honour.

“You got to take it just as how she was as a tennis player. That’s why the court was originally named after her, because of her tennis, what she was really good at.” Said Kyrgios.
“It’s her court because she was a great champion of the game. That’s all it is, I guess.” He added.

ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov was more harsh in his words. Stating that there is ‘no room’ for discrimination in tennis. The Bulgarian, who will be seeded third in the men’s tournament, talked down the potential of players boycotting playing on the court.

“Yeah, I think there’s no room for discrimination in our sport.” Said Dimitrov.
“I’m always appreciative of any court they put me to play on. Simple as that. Anything else, I mean, honestly I don’t know what else to tell you on that. I think there’s no room for that.
“Any court I play, I’m taking it as almost an honour right now.”

2014 champion Stan Wawrinka echoed Dimitrov’s comments when he spoke with the media. The Swiss player is set to return to the tour next week for the first time since undergoing knee surgery.

“At the end of the day, the comments she made was wrong, for sure.” He stressed. “But as a player, you don’t decide which court you’re going to play. It’s not really an option to say, I don’t want to play on one court, because you cannot decide.”

A reluctant discussion

The No.1 players of the women’s and men’s tour refused to get caught up in the politics of the debate. Rafael Nadal avoided the discussion by saying that he has not read ‘the facts’ about Court’s remarks. Meanwhile, Simona Halep argued that people are entitled to their own opinion before moving onto another topic when speaking at Melbourne Park.

“I respect everyone. Everyone does what they want. I’m not going commentating about this. Everyone owns their lives.” Halep explained.
“About playing on court, I will play everywhere I am scheduled on. The tournament decides these things. Has nothing to do with me. But if I would be scheduled on Margaret Court, I will play on Margaret Court.”

Tournament director Craig Tiley, who has previously held talks with Court over her comments, said that there is currently no plans to rename the stadium. Saying that any decision would be up to a ‘broader group’ of people. Referring to the local government and the tennis organisations.

The Australian Open will get underway on Monday.

What other players have said

“Well, it’s obviously not up to me what court I play on. I don’t make the schedule. But I think I respect what Billie Jean said. That’s all there is to it. it’s up to the tournament. It’s not up to me. Whether I say yes or no, it’s still not going to be up to me. Kind of have to deal with the hand you’re dealt.”
Sloane Stephens

“I just love this tournament. I’ll play on any court that they schedule me on. I’m just happy to be here and have had opportunity.”
Caroline Wozniacki

“I don’t agree with what Margaret Court said. However, she’s entitled to her own opinion. But, again, in terms of playing, if I’m scheduled to play on Margaret Court, I will go out there and compete. Again, it’s a tournament decision where they put me.”
Johanna Konta

 

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Barbora Krejcikova reaches the second round in Abu Dhabi

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Former Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova cruised past Romanian qualifier Elena Gabriela Ruse 6-1 6-4 after 1 hour and 14 minutes in the opening round of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open.

 

Krejcikova won 80% of her first service points and converted five of her seven break points. The Czech now leads 2-0 in her two head-to-head matches against Ruse after winning their previous match in Buchrest in three sets. 

Krejcikova reached the fourth round at this year’s Australian Open and won five of her seven matches this year. She claimed her seventh Grand Slam doubles title in Melbourne alongside Katerina Siniakova. 

After a trade of breaks Krejcikova earned two breaks in the fourth and sixth games to win the opening set 6-1. Both players exchanged breaks in the first two games of the second set. They held their next service games before Krejcikova sealed the win with a break in the ninth game to close out the second set 6-4. 

Liudmila Samsonova rallied from one set down to beat Claire Liu 3-6 6-2 6-0. Samsonova won 86% of her first service points. 

Liu earned the first break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Samsonova pulled back on serve to draw level to 3-3. Liu won the final three games with a break in the eighth game to close out the first set 6-3. Samsonova earned five breaks in the second and third sets to seal the win. 

Liu replaced Paula Badosa, who was forced to withdraw from the match due to a respiratory illness. 

Brazil’s world number 14 Beatriz Haddad Maia came back from one set down to beat Marie Bouzkova 4-6 6-3 6-0 in two and a half hours. Haddad Maia will face Yulia Putintseva.

Haddad Maia broke in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Bouzkova pulled back on serve in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Bouzkova closed out the first set with her second break in the 10th game. Haddad Maia broke serve in the third and ninth games to seal the second set 6-3.The Brazilian player broke three times to take a bagel win in the third set. 

Karolina Pliskova cruised past Ysaline Bonaventure 6-1 6-3 after 47 minutes. Bonaventure replaced Garbine Muguruza. Pliskova set up a second round match against this year’s Australian Open finalist Elena Rybakina. Zheng Qinwen beat qualifier Rebecca Marino 6-3 6-3. The Chinese player faced just one break point at 4-2 in the second set and saved with a forehand winner. She will face Jelena Ostapenko for the second time in the past seven months. Zheng beat Ostapenko 6-3 3-6 6-4 in in the first round of the the US Open last year.

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Marc Andrea Huesler overcomes Luca Van Assche in Montpellier

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Marc Andrea Huesler had to dig deep to beat French 18-year-old Next Gen player Luca Van Assche 6-3 3-6 6-3 reaching the second round at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. 

 

Huesler came off a good Davis Cup campaign, where he scored two wins against German players Oscar Otte and Alexander Zverev to help Switzerland qualify for the Davis Cup Group Stage.  

Huesler saved five of the six break points he faced and fired 13 aces. The Swiss 26-year-old player won 86% of his first serve points. 

Huesler saved a total of four break points in in the first and third games. The Swiss player earned break in the sixth game for 4-2 and held his next two service games to close out the first set 6-3. 

Van Assche saved two break points to hold serve after five deuces before breaking serve in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. 

Huesler converted his only break point in the second game to win the third set 6-3. 

Huesler set up a match against last year’s Paris Bercy Masters 1000 champion Holger Rune. Huesler leads 2-0 in his previous two head-to-head matches against Rune, as he scored straight-set wins in Bastad and in the Sofia Open final. 

“It’s always different, every tournament starts from scratch. Today I felt the pressure was a bit more on my side because obviously I want to win. I want to start off the year well indoors as well. I am really happy I got it done”, said Huesler. 

Lorenzo Sonego beat Benjamin Bonzi 6-3 6-4. Sonego won his third ATP Tour title on French Indoor hard court in Metz. 

Sonego fired 5 aces and won 70% of his first service points. The Italian player started the match with an early break. He saved a break point tìin the sixth game before earning a double break to close out the first set 6-3. 

Sonego saved three consecutive break points at the second set. Bonzi went down 0-40 in the sixth game, but he held serve. Sonego sealed the win on his second match point with a passing shot winner. 

“I enjoy playing in Montpellier. I like the atmosphere. I was focused on my game. I played well on serve and on return. I want to enjoy every moment on court”, said Sonego. 

Quentin Halys needed three sets to see off Clement Chidekh 7-5 2-6 7-5. 

Marton Fucsovics overcame Geoffrey Biancaneaux 7-5 5-7 6-0 to set up a second round match against Jannik Sinner. In their recent Australian Open clash Sinner came back from one set down to beat Fucsovics 4-6 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-0.  

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Jelena Ostapenko overcomes Danielle Collins in a thrilling match in Abu Dhabi

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Number 5 seed Jelena Ostapenko battled past Danielle Collins 7-5 1-6 7-5 in 2 hours and 16 minutes in a rollercoaster match to advance to the second round at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open. 

 

Ostapenko has extended her winning streak to six consecutive matches on Emirati soil. The Latvian player clinched her fifth WTA Tour title in Dubai in February 2022. 

The 2017 Roland Garros champion beat Collins for the second time in as many meetings after beating Collins 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 in the 2018 Milami semifinals.

Ostapenko continued her good period of form after reaching the quarter finals at the Australian Open. She will face a second round against either Zheng Quinwen or qualifier Rebecca Marino. 

Collins earned her first break with a return winner to take a 4-3 lead, but she made a double fault, as she was a break point down when she serving for the set. Ostapenko reeled off four consecutive games to seal the first set 7-5. 

Collins bounced back in the second set by earning a double break with three consecutive return winners to seal the second set 6-1 forcing the match to the third set. 

Ostapenko converted her fifth break point in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Collins pulled back on serve in the eighth game after three double faults from Ostapenko to draw level to 4-4. Ostapenko won 12 of the last 15 points to close out the third set 7-5. 

“Danielle is a great player. It’s always a tough match against her because she plays really well and she’s such a fighter. The match is never over until we shake hands. I am really glad that, even I did not play  my best tennis, I was fighting and I managed to win the match. These kind of matches give confidence”, said Ostapenko. 

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