Lleyton Hewitt Returns, But All Eyes Are On His Doubles Partner De Minaur In Estoril - UBITENNIS
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Lleyton Hewitt Returns, But All Eyes Are On His Doubles Partner De Minaur In Estoril

The Australian Next Gen star is being tipped by some as the next big thing in tennis after his strong start to 2018.

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Lleyton Hewitt and Alex de Minaur (zimbio.com)

On Tuesday Lleyton Hewitt will play his first competitive match on a clay court since 2015, but the most interesting part about his latest return concerns his doubles partner.

 

Alex de Minaur is 18 years younger than his Australian mentor. At the age of 19 he has already reached back-to-back ATP semifinals and recently reached the final of a Challenger event in Alicante, Spain. Currently ranked 111th in the world, he moved closer towards the top 100 on Monday with a comprehensive first round win at the Estoril Open. Taking on home favourite Gastao Elias, he powered to a 6-1, 6-3, win. Earning his maiden tour-level victory on the clay.

“I played a very high level match against a high level opponent, especially on clay. There were tricky conditions out there. I just tried to weather the storm early, I was able to win a lot of those long points and I stayed solid through that first set. The the last set I was able to play better tennis so I’m very happy with my level,” De Minaur said after the match.

The performance drew praise from his opponent Elias. A 27-year-old Portuguese player that has been ranked as high as 57th in the world. Following his loss, Elias tipped the youngster to be the next big thing in Australian tennis.

The comparisons between de Minaur and Hewitt are inevitable. Hewitt is the youngest player in the Open Era to reach No.1 at the age of 20. A stark contrast to his fellow countryman, whose best performance to date is reaching the final of the Sydney International in January.

Hewitt has played a pivotal role in de Minaur’s development. Providing guidance and advice to the rising star. Earlier this year he selected de Minaur to make his Davis Cup debut against Germany. Which saw him take Alexander Zverev to five sets before losing in a decisive tiebreaker.

“Alex is pretty special, he’s a good kid. I enjoy working with him, giving him some knowledge.” Said Hewitt.

Gunning for his third ATP quarter-final of the season, De Minaur faces Kyle Edmund in the second round. The British world No.23 relishes the clay season and recently reached the final of the Marrakech Open in Morocco.

“I know Kyle and I’ve trained with him a lot. He has a very high quality tennis so my next round will be a very tough match, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to leave it all out there and we’ll see what happens at the end of the day,” De Minaur evaluated about his opponent.

Prior to his second round clash, de Minaur will kick-off his doubles campaign with the former world No.1. The pair will take on second seeds Michael Venus and Ravel Klassen.

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Juan Martin Del Potro Splits From Coach

The tennis star has announced a big change to his team.

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Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro is on the hunt for a new coach after agreeing to end his collaboration with Sebastian Prieto to continue focus on his rehabilitation from injury.

 

Del Potro has been working alongside Prieto since 2017 and achieved a series of career milestones under his guidance. Including winning his maiden Masters 1000 title at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open and reaching a ranking high of third in August that same year. Their decision has been made to allow Prieto to focus all of his attention on Juan Londero. Another Argentine player who is currently ranked 62nd in the world.

“I want to share that I have agreed with Sebastian Prieto to end our partnership, so that he can work with Juan Londero, while I continue my rehab process,” Del Potro said on Twitter.
“I’m very thankful to Piper for all of these years together. He is a great coach and even a better person. All the best!”

45-year-old Prieto is a former ATP player who peaked at a ranking high of 22nd in the doubles. During his career, he won 10 Tour titles with all of those occurring on the clay. He also reached the quarter-finals of the men’s doubles tournament at the 2003 French Open.

It is currently unknown as to who will be taking over as Del Potro’s new coach. The former grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since last June due to a serious knee injury. At the Fever-Tree Championships in London, he fractured his right kneecap and was forced to undergo surgery to repair it. The second time he had to undergo that procedure within as many years after also suffering a similar injury at the 2018 Shanghai Rolex Masters.

Del Potro is currently undergoing rehabilitation and it is unclear as to when he will be able to return to the Tour again. All professional tennis tournaments have been either suspended or cancelled until at least July 31st due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although both the US Open and French Open are hoping to go ahead as planned.

So far in his career, the 31-year-old has won 22 ATP titles and earned almost $26 million in prize money. Earning more money than any other player from his country in the history of the sport.

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Former No.1 Karolina Pliskova Hits Out At Men Worrying About Equal Pay In Tennis

The world No.4 explains why she personally doesn’t want equal pay on the tour, but criticises those who worry that women players might do so in the future.

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Czech tennis star Karolina Pliskova has labelled men who voice opposition against equal pay as ‘super weak’ as she becomes the latest player to throw her backing behind the possibility of a merger of the two premier tennis Tour’s.

 

Pliskova, who is a former US Open finalist, spoke out about the topic when questioned by the PA Press Agency. In recent weeks there has been growing calls for the ATP and WTA to be merged into one. Support for the idea gained momentum when Roger Federer tweeted his support for it. However the heads of the two governing bodies have already been in discussions about working closer together in some capacity since the start of this year.

Although the prospect of a merger remains low due to the complex process that it would involve, both the ATP and WTA have vowed greater collaboration to help enhance the future of the sport. One of the main talking points behind the calls is pay. There is equal prize money at all of the grand slams, however, it does differ behind the men and women on the Tour. Last year six men earned more than $7 million in prize money compared to one on the WTA Tour (Ash Barty).

Weighing in on the topic, Pliskova has interestingly said that she is not interested in campaigning for her to be paid similar to her male counterparts. Arguing that the two genders should not be compared. However, she has voiced her frustration at those who are against the concept of equal pay.

“I don’t think so and I am not the one who wants it. But I don’t like the men who are complaining that we would get the same money. I think it is super weak from them that they complain we have the same money as them,” she said.
“The only time it is true is at grand slams. I understand they play longer, but they are men. They are stronger than us. I don’t see the reason why we should compare each other. I don’t need to have the same prize money as men. But to have the same chance to play on centre court or to have the same chance to be on TV, that should be possible with these changes.”

As of March 20th Pliskova has made $19,997,689 in prize money throughout her career, which is the 19th highest tally in the history of women’s tennis.

Speaking more specifically about a possible merger, the 28-year-old believes it would help enhance the women’s tour. Although she is staying cautious about the prospect of such a thing happening in the future.

“I think for the women’s tour it can only help. I don’t know exactly what they are discussing but if there is any chance to say yes, then I would say yes,” Pliskova said.
“It needs to be positive also for the ATP so they need to find a balance so it is a forward step for both. It might take a couple of years to get going. It will be different, but I don’t think for the players it would change that much. It would be a good step.”

Pliskova is currently ranked third in the WTA rankings and has won 16 WTA titles. She is set to return to action next week at the LiveScore Cup in Prague.

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Marion Bartoli announces pregnancy

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Marion Bartoli has announced on twitter that she is expecting her first child. The former Wimbledon champion and her six years younger husband, the Belgian football player Yahya Boumedine, will become parents for the first time. The French player married Boumedine last year. They now live in Dubai.

 

“It is with immense joy and a lot of emotion that we announce the upcoming arrivar of our first baby. We are eager to be parents and to be three in the Bartoli-Boumedine”, said Bartoli.

 Bartoli won the Wimbledon final in 2013 and reached the final at the All England Club in 2007 and the semifinal at the 2011 French Open. She claimed 8 WTA titles and 3 WTA doubles titles. She retired from tennis in August 2013 one month after her triumph at Wimbledon. After retiring from tennis Bartoli coached Jelena Ostapenko.

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