When Tradition Clashes With Reality At Wimbledon - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

When Tradition Clashes With Reality At Wimbledon

What will happen in the future at The All England Club?

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How different would the men’s final have been if Novak Djokovic finished his match on Friday and Kevin Anderson didn’t play for more than six-and-a-half hours?

 

The answer to that question is one nobody will know. Not to say that the outcome would have been any different at The All England Club. One of the most unique things about the tournament is their proud traditions. Including making players wear white based on the Victorian era when the public believed white clothing was the best way to hide sweat marks. But what happens when the traditions draws criticism?

Going into the later stages of the men’s tournament, many questioned the current structure of the matches. In the fifth set, there is no tiebreak. Consequently resulting in a rare occurrence at The All England club with two marathon semi-final matches. Kevin Anderson outlasted John Isner 26-24 after more than six hours on the court. Meanwhile, Djokovic needed more than five hours to see off Rafael Nadal.

“I just hope the slams can also at least look at it and have an open conversation about it.” Anderson said following the men’s final.
“I think it’s at least a conversation worth having both just protecting players’ health when you have these very long matches. But, I honestly don’t know where it exactly will go from that.
“I guess my hope is just to have a conversation about it.”

Eight years ago the same debate erupted. That was triggered by John Isner’s gut-busting three-day win over Nicolas Mahut, which he prevailed 70-68 in the decider. Making it the longest match of all time. Interestingly, the debate surrounding the use of a decisive tiebreaker wasn’t so intense. In fact, when Isner was asked if he supported the motion, he replied ‘No, I think you should play it out.’

Isner’s response back in 2010 was a sharp contrast to Friday. Where he openly endorsed the motion.

“I personally think a sensible option would be 12-all,” he said. “If one person can’t finish the other off before 12-all, then do a tiebreaker there. I think it’s long overdue.”

The two comments seemed like nothing to begin with, until you look at it in detail. Tennis players are some of the fittest athletes in the world, but they are also human. It is inevitable that the older they get, the quicker they would want matches to end. Roger Federer has previously admitted that it takes him longer to recover from matches.

This is why one of Wimbledon’s best-known traditions needs to be looked at. It doesn’t take into the reality of the tour. In the modern game, more players are playing later into their career. Highlighted by the fact there are 37 players in the top 100 over the age of 30.

“I think if I asked most players, they wouldn’t be opposed to incorporating a fifth-set breaker.” States Anderson, who is a member of the ATP player council.
“ I’m sure there’s a few people that embrace the history, that you do play long sets. It is a unique point. I definitely agree with that.
“But I think just as tennis continues to evolve and just sports in general, I think the incredibly long matches maybe has had its place and time.”

There has been few discussions about if the latest series of marathon matches will have any impact on a future rule change. The current position of The All England Club goes along the line of ‘it will be discussed’ during one of their meetings. Quoting member Tim Henman, who spoke about the subject whilst commentating for the BBC.

Trying to find the right balance in a tournament built on history and tradition is never easy. Wimbledon chief Richard Lewis recently said that it was ‘likely’ that shot clocks will be implemented in the future. A sign the tournament is reluctantly trying to keep up with the times whilst trying to please traditionalists.

There may be uproar about how fifth sets are played at SW19, but this doesn’t mean that the rules will be changed anytime soon. After all, a 665-minute match had little impact back in 2010. The only change will be if more players speak out. Until then, expect five-set marathons to stay.

Grand Slam

Garbine Muguruza Maintains Strong Start To Season At The Australian Open

Garbine Muguruza advanced to the third round of the Australian Open with a hard-fought three-set win over Alja Tomljanovic.

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Garbine Muguruza (@TheFirstServeAU)

Garbine Muguruza beat Alja Tomljanovic 6-3 3-6 6-3 in a fascinating duel to earn a place in the third round of the 2020 Australian Open.

 

It is a result that enables the Spaniard, 26, to maintain her encouraging start to the new season. She won three matches in Shenzhen and two in Hobart. Then she beat Shelby Rogers in three sets in the first round at Melbourne Park.

All these wins are significant for Muguruza because of her struggles in 2019. Between the end of the French Open in June and the end of her season in September, the two-time Grand Slam champion only won one match.

During that three-month dry spell, the Spaniard parted with long-time coach Sam Sumyk and did some work with Spanish Fed Cup captain Anabel Medina Garrigues.

However, that arrangement did not last long. Muguruza announced in November that Conchita Martinez would become her coach again in 2020. Martinez famously guided the younger Spaniard to Wimbledon glory in 2017.

So far, the Muguruza-Martinez partnership is paying off. The Spaniard has re-discovered her assurance on court and she looks much calmer than she did for most of 2019.

Muguruza deals well with Tomljanovic

In the match against Tomljanovic, the former World No.1 had the right approach. She played a solid first set while the Australian was a little wayward and won it 6-3.

Then Muguruza’s form dipped and she lost the second set. But, crucially, she did not seem to be too bothered by this setback.

Instead, the Spaniard simply focused on the decider and produced her best tennis of the match to overcome an undeniably talented opponent who also played a good set.

“It was a tough battle,” Muguruza said in her on-court interview. “I think Alja played very well so I had to level up my game and stay in the fight until the last moment.”

The Spaniard continued, “I’m very excited to work with Conchita again. I’ve known her since I was 14 so we understand each other very well.”

Muguruza will take on either Elina Svitolina or Lauren Davis in the last 32.

Bencic passes Ostapenko test

Players often say that they struggle to find any kind of rhythm against Jelena Ostapenko because she tries to hit virtually every ball for a winner.

Given this, it will come as no great surprise to anyone that the Latvian employed that exact approach against Belinda Bencic in their second-round match.

While Ostapenko was going for everything, the Swiss player at the other end did everything she could to stay in contention at all times. If the Latvian pulled ahead, Bencic tried to make her play extra shots. If the World No.6 faced break points, she tried to hit aces so that her opponent had no chance of hitting a winner.

On this occasion, Bencic did not play particularly well, and she did not execute a particularly high percentage of the shots she attempted. However, she did enough to win a rollercoaster first set that included seven breaks 7-5. Then she recovered well from 2-5 in the second set to win it by the same score as the first.

It is a very useful skill to be able to win without playing at your best. Bencic has now done that in both of her matches so far. She will now play either Annet Kontaveit or Sara Sorribes Tormo in the third round.

Elsewhere in Melbourne, Donna Vekic continued her impressive progress at this year’s Australian Open. She hit 38 winners during a comfortable 6-4 6-2 win over Alize Cornet.

 

 

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Grand Slam

Julia Goerges Knocks Out 13th Seed Petra Martic At Australian Open 2020

Petra Martic became only the second WTA top 20 player to be knocked out of the 2020 Australian Open when she lost a tough three-set match to Julia Goerges.

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If Petra Martic looked at the 2020 Australian Open draw and felt a sense of dread when she saw that she would probably face Julia Goerges in the second round, that would be entirely understandable.

 

The German, 31, is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous unseeded players at Melbourne Park this year. She possesses a huge serve and a brutal forehand. She has won seven WTA titles, appeared in ten other finals, and was once ranked World No.9. And she was seeded the last two times she participated in the first Grand Slam of the year.

To make matters worse for Martic, Goerges beat her in straight sets just seven months ago when then played at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham.

When you add all these ingredients together, you get the perfect recipe for an early exit from the 13th seed.

Ultimately, that is exactly what happened. But you would not have guessed it was going to during the first set, as Goerges made way too many unforced errors against a player as consistent as Martic.

Consequently, the German lost it 6-4. There was only one break of serve, but it came at a crucial time – the ninth game – and the Croatian then held easily to clinch the set.

Goerges keeps the faith

Despite this setback, Goerges never lost faith in her approach. She continued to attack – as she always does – but she also managed to cut down on the number of errors she made.

Unsurprisingly, this improvement yielded positive results for the 2018 Wimbledon semi-finalist. She hit eight winners (and made just five unforced errors) as she opened a 5-2 lead.

However, Goerges almost wasted her hard work. She made two unforced errors when she was serving for the set at 5-3 and suddenly found herself facing three break points. Fortunately for the German, she produced one winner and Martic made two errors to bring the score back to deuce. Then Goerges won the next two points to seal the set.

The third set was a strange affair. The German looked in control when she broke early and established a 4-2 lead.

However, she played an awful service game to allow the Croatian to break back and level the score at 4-4. Then she failed to convert two break points in the next game and Martic capitalised to move ahead.

To her great credit, Goerges remained resolute. She battled to a hold. Then she hit some sparkling winners and outlasted the 13th seed in a few long rallies to get the decisive break in game eleven. Finally, she hit three superb winners as she held to love to complete a hard-fought triumph.

Osaka glides into round three

Naomi Osaka continued her serene progress through the draw with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Zheng Saisai in the Margaret Court Arena.

Although she will be happy with the win, the defending champion will be keen to serve better in the next round. She was broken three times by the Chinese player and only won 57% of all the points played on her serve.

Osaka could face Coco Gauff in the last 32 for the second Grand Slam in a row. The American sensation takes on Sorana Cirstea in the second round later today.

Elsewhere in Melbourne, Sofia Kenin became the first player to make it through to the third round. She completed a 6-1 6-3 thrashing of American youngster Ann Li in just 57 minutes.

The 14th seed will now line up against Zhang Shuai in the third round. The experienced Chinese player beat American qualifier Catherine McNally 6-2 6-4.

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Grand Slam

Belinda Bencic overcomes first hurdle while Keys breezes through at Australian Open

Belinda Bencic won a tricky encounter against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova while Madison Keys hammered Daria Kasatkina.

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Belinda Bencic (@sport3laguna on Twitter)

Belinda Bencic secured safe passage through to the second round of the 2020 Australian Open with a hard-fought 6-3 7-5 victory over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

 

The Swiss, 22, enjoyed an excellent 2019. She reached her first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open, won two WTA Premier titles and returned to the top ten after a three-year absence caused by a series of injuries.

Now the pressure is on for Bencic as she seeks to consolidate her ranking, so she was understandably relieved to negotiate the first hurdle at the first major of the year.

“I think every first round is very difficult,” the Swiss said in her on-court interview. “It’s really tough to find rhythm so I think it’s all about fighting and I’m really happy I got through.”

The first set was a bit of a scrappy affair. Bencic capitalised on a poor start from Schmiedlova to move 4-0 up. Then the Slovakian benefitted from some sloppy tennis from the Swiss as she dragged herself back into the set at 4-3.

Games eight and nine could have gone to either player. However, Bencic made fewer errors than her opponent and that proved crucial as she won both to take the set 6-3.

Bencic recovers after slow start

Although she won the opening set, the World No.6 looked very frustrated as she walked to her chair. And that annoyance came through in her tennis for the next three and a half games as she struggled to find the court.

When Bencic did get the ball in, she frequently landed it short. And Schmiedlova punished her with a series of excellent winners.

Then, just as the set seemed to be running away from the Swiss player at 3-0 with the Slovakian serving, she re-discovered her rhythm.

Bencic hit a couple of winners and outlasted Schmiedlova in a couple of long rallies to prolong the game and force two break points. Then she benefitted from an error by the World No.202 which gave her the break she needed.

For the next two games, the World No.6 looked in total control. She bossed the points and quickly levelled the set at 3-3.

The Slovakian responded superbly. She cracked three big winners to break her opponent for the second time in the set.

This time, however, Bencic refused to let her get away. She broke back immediately and then held her serve to love to move 5-4 ahead.

Schmiedlova held comfortably in game ten. Then the Swiss player battled through a very difficult service game. She let out a roar of ‘come on!’ when her opponent’s last ball travelled beyond the baseline.

Buoyed by this, Bencic attacked the Slovakian’s serve. She extracted two errors from the World No.202’s racket and cracked a forehand winner to make it 0-40. Then she seized the third of her match points with a deep backhand that Schmiedlova could not get back over the net.

Keys powers past Kasatkina

Madison Keys started her 2020 Australian Open campaign in style as she thumped Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-1 in just 57 minutes.

The American began in blistering style as she hit seven winners in the first five games to move 4-1 up. Then she gathered herself after a brief blip to close out the set 6-3.

The second set was even more one-sided. Keys crunched 19 winners and broke Kasatkina three times to take it 6-1 in 26 minutes. She will now face either Magda Linette or Arantxa Rus in round two.

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