As Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Withdraws, Other French Players Struggle Ahead Of Roland Garros - UBITENNIS
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As Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Withdraws, Other French Players Struggle Ahead Of Roland Garros

Things are not going so smoothly for some of France’s best players ahead of their home grand slam tournament.

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (zimbio.com)

It has been far from perfect week for French tennis as a trio of their players continue to cope with their own issues going into the second grand slam of the season.

 

The French Open will get underway a week on Monday. It will be the first time since 2008 where Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be absent from the draw. On Monday the 33-year-old confirmed that he will miss the event as he continues to recover from knee surgery. Tsonga hasn’t played a match on the tour since the Montpellier Open in February.

“Despite all our best efforts to be fit in time I am afraid to say unhappily I’m ruled out of Roland Garros,” the two-time French Open semifinalist wrote on Twitter on Monday.
“I worked really hard to try and be fit in time, but it wasn’t enough.”

Tsonga torn his meniscus earlier this year, which required surgery in April. His absence from the French major means that he is set to drop of of the world’s top 40 for the first time since 2007. It will be only the third time he has missed the French Open since making his grand slam debut back in 2005.

“I’m obviously very disappointed, but I still want to come to (ATP) Lyon as an ambassador and to Roland Garros as a spectator.” He stated.

Concerns for Gasquet, Monfils

As Tsonga watches from the sidelines, some of his Davis Cup team mates are also dealing with their own problems going into the tournament. Richard Gasquet is currently coping with a hip injury. Yesterday he told French website L’Equipe that he was bothered by pain in his hip throughout the first round of the Italian Open. Where he lost 6-4, 6-4, to Benoit Paire.

“Benoît played a great match but the court was slippery and I did not manage to ignore mentally.” He said. “I never had that kind of (hip) pain. I will try to rest.”

Despite the setback, Gasquet is confident that he will still be able to play in the upcoming tournament, which will be his 54th appearance in a grand slam main draw. His best run at the French Open occurred in 2016 when he reached the quarter-finals.

“I do not think there is a big risk for Roland-Garros, because I still have time. It’s not death, it’s not a huge pain, I’ve had a lot more serious, but it may be better for me to finish this tournament (Rome). For Roland, I think that should be fine.” Gasquet evaluated.

Gael Monfils is currently free of any major injury, but admits that his confidence has been hit. Since starting his campaign on the European clay, the 31-year-old has only managed to win one out of four matches on the tour. His latest loss was to Fabio Fognini in Rome, who scored his 300th win on the tour.

“My level of play is not satisfactory. It is not easy. I am not in the ranking that I would like to have, I have not developed the game I would like.” Le Figaro quoted him as saying. “I continue to train to believe in myself. Physically, I’ve recovered, (but) there is still a little stress because I want to do well.”

Monfils will be hoping for a confidence boost next week when he plays at the Lyon Open.

In the history of the French Open, the last Frenchman to win the title was Yannick Noah back in 1983. Henri Leconte was the last men’s finalist back in 1988.

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Janko Tipsarevic retires from tennis

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Janko Tipsarevic has announced that he will retire from professional tennis at the age of 35 next November. The Belgrade native enjoyed his best seasons in 2011, when he qualified for the ATP Finals, and in 2012, when he reached the quarter final at the US Open for the second consecutive year. In 2012 he reached the quarter final or better in 14 tournaments, including the semifinal at Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Toronto.

 

He reached his best ranking of world number 8 in April 2012 after qualifying for the quarter final in Miami. He won four titles in his career and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Australian Open.

He returned to action at the Australian Open last January after a long absence of 16 months following two harmstring surgeries. The Serbian player lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round at the Australian Open. Later this year he reached the quarter final in Houston.

Tipsarevic is planning after the Davis Cup finals in Madrid next November.

“It has been a great 16 years. After a lot of sour searching and thinking what is important to me in this stage of my life and what does make make me happy, I have decided to retire from professional tennis. My last competition will be the Davis Cup in Madrid. In the following years my focus will be my family, franchising our Tennis Academy and International coaching for several weeks per year. Thank you for your ongoing support”, announced Tipsarevic via social media.

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Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?

Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?

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Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.

 

In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.

Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.

“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.

These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.

“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.

Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.

This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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