Saturday night’s women’s final will forever be remembered in the history of the US Open, but for all the wrong reasons.
A dramatic argument between Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos resulted in the former world No.1 ending up with a game penalty. Williams was warned three times for coaching, smashing her racket and verbal abuse towards the official. The fallout from that match was just as dramatic. Ramos has been accused of sexism in what was arguably the most difficult moment of his entire career. Both the WTA and USTA backed Williams before the ITF finally stood up for Ramos. Arguing that he just followed the rules.
In the aftermath of the match is an entire debate about the treatment of women in the sport. Although many don’t believe sexism was a factor in that match. Ramos has a history of being strict with both male and female players. Upon reflection many, including myself, don’t think Ramos made his decision based on gender.
What seems to be extraordinary is the lack of reaction to the conclusion of the women’s doubles final on Sunday. Ashleigh Barty and Coco Vandeweghe battled to an epic 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (8-6) win over second seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic. Earning their first grand slam title as a pair. It was a magical moment for Barty and Vandeweghe, but neither got the award ceremony that dreamt of.
“I’m just bummed we didn’t have any sort of award ceremony,” Vandeweghe told reporters.
“We couldn’t thank anyone. I think that was poor form.
“Maybe we’ll get another moment sometime, we’ll have another Grand Slam at Australia. Maybe they’ll do us right in Australia since the U.S. couldn’t do me right.”
Barty’s and Vandeweghe’s match took place before the men’s final. Lasting more than two-and-a-half hours, there was a chance that it could result in the delay of Novak Djokovic’s clash with Juan Martin del Potro. Officials feared this happening and instead opted to conduct a brief trophy ceremony. Taking away from the two winners the opportunity to speak to the crowd.
“To be honest, I don’t think they would have worried if they were 10 or 15 minutes delayed,” Barty said.
“I think it would have been nice for us to be able to thank our teams and all the people that make it a possibility, and to thank the crowd as well.
“They were a little bit confused as to why we weren’t given the opportunity.”
In fact Barty was told that the pair needed to leave the court soon because ‘the men needed to start.’ One would question it the same would happen if it was the Bryan brothers or a high-profile male doubles final taking place instead.
So why was there no uproar? Williams claimed that she was being penalised by the umpire for being a woman and a massive debate has taken over tennis. Meanwhile the two women’s doubles champions were literally told that they needed to cut short their celebrations to accommodate the men’s final.
I would have to question the double standards of the USTA, who runs the US Open. Their chairman, Katrina Adams, told ESPN ‘there’s no equality. I think there has to be some consistency across the board. These are conversations that will be imposed in the next weeks.” Adams’ calls for consistency is welcome, but a bit hypocritical. How can the USTA urge equality when the women’s doubles champions are being told to leave the court because the men want to start?
In reality action only gets taken on these subjects depending on the calibre of the player involved. Williams is one of the most successful female tennis players in the history of the sport. Meanwhile, Barty and Vandeweghe are nowhere near as on the same level. Not to say that either of them are bad players.
Double standards in the world of tennis is evident. Not just in relation to sexism, but in relation to how players are treated. Williams was a questionable victim of sexism, but two of her fellow players were. Yet there is no debate.
This is the real problem in tennis. Not how Ramos conducted himself in accordance to the rule book.
Grand Slam Matches Among 38 Suspicious Betting Alerts Over Past Three Months
The body is charge of monitoring match-fixing in the sport has issued their latest findings.
The International Tennis Integrity Agency has confirmed they have received ‘match alerts’ concerning a quartet of matches which took place at Grand Slam tournaments during the third quarter of 2021.
Two matches played at Wimbledon and a further two which took place at the US Open were flagged up, according to their quarterly report which was public on Tuesday. The names of the individuals involved in those matches are not made public whilst the ITIA investigate the matter. The alerts are received through their confidential Memoranda of Understanding with the regulated betting industry.
A total of 38 betting alerts were issued to the ITIA during the third quarter with the most coming from matches played on the Challenger Tour (13). There were also nine suspicious matches from ITF $25,000 tournaments on the men’s Tour and another seven linked to $15,000 events. To put that into context the women’s ITF Tour reported a total of three overall.
“It is important to note that an alert on its own is not evidence of match fixing,” the ITIA stated in their report.
“Unusual betting patterns can occur for many reasons other than match fixing – for example incorrect odds-setting; well-informed betting; player fitness, fatigue or form; playing conditions and personal circumstances.”
Five players have been sanctioned within the past three months for match-fixing offences with the most high-profile being Temur Ismailov from Uzbekistan. Ismailov, who reached a ranking high of 397th in 2016, was issued with a life ban after being found guilty of offences in addition to another suspension he was already serving.
The ITIA has also provisionally suspended six Moroccans and one Pervian player in connection with possible violations of anti-corruption rules.
The ITIA was created by the international governing bodies to investigate allegations against players and hand out sanctions. It is currently in the process of merging with the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP) and will oversee the global administration of the TADP from January 1st if it receives Board approval.
Number of alerts (third quarter of 2021 only)
- Wimbledon: 2
- US Open: 2
- ATP Challenger: 13
- ATP World Tour: 250 1
- Davis Cup: 1
- M25 Men’s – World Tennis Tour: 9
- M15 Men’s – World Tennis Tour: 7
- W15 Women’s – World Tennis Tour: 2
- W80 Women’s – World Tennis Tour: 1
Numbers: On The Unpredictability Of Women’s Grand Slam Tournaments
Over the past four years, every major tournament has been a hunting ground for new players, a sign of discontinuity at the top.
54 – the number of WTA players who’ve reached the quarterfinals at least once in the past 12 Slam tournaments.
Tennis experts and fans have often pointed out that men’s tennis hasn’t had much of a change of the guard in terms of big tournament winners, generally providing the same face-offs between players in the final rounds. At the same time, the last seasons of the WTA Tour have repeatedly been criticized for not providing any champions the public could become used to due to the steady turnover of winners and players competing in the last rounds of the most prestigious tournaments. To better understand if these assumptions are actually justified, we analysed the Slam draws from the past three years (starting with the 2018 US Open) and listed all the players (male and female) who reached a Major quarterfinal at least once, in an attempt to understand the differences between what’s going on the ATP and WTA tours.
41 male players have reached the quarterfinals of a Slam, while on the WTA circuit the 96 available slots have been occupied by no fewer than 54 different tennis players. We can also see this same discrepancy by looking at some other stats on the number of players to make it through only once to a Major quarterfinal: on the male tour, in the timeframe considered (the last twelve Slams played), there were 17 players, while in the female one the number rose to 21. The women whose only accomplishment was to reach one semi-final are over twice as many as the men who did the same: some of the male players are Pouille, Karatsev and Hurkacz, while the women’s list includes Sevastova, Anisimova, Strycova, Podoroska, Zidansek and Kerber.
The greatest difference between the two tours, however, can be found in the number of players who get past the semi-finals. There have only been four major tournament winners among ATP players in the past three calendar years: Djokovic (the Serbian won 7 times), Nadal (2), Thiem, and Medvedev. Among WTA players, on the other hand, there have been as many as eight different Slam tournament champions: Osaka (a four-time winner), Barty (2), Halep, Andreescu, Kenin, Swiatek, Krejcikova, and Raducanu.
Del Potro, Zverev, Federer, Berrettini and Tsistipas were the only male players to get to the finals, but there were no fewer than nine female players achieving the same result: Serena Williams (three times), Kvitova, Vondrousova, Muguruza, Azarenka, Brady, Pavlyuchenkova, Pliskova, and Fernandez. “One-time-winners” aren’t easy to find among male players, since all four major tournament-winners (Djokovic, Nadal, Thiem and Medvedev) have done well in several other Slams, which isn’t the case amongst the female players. In the eleven Slams that we’re analysing, two players (Andreescu and Raducanu) didn’t get any other important results other than their wins; in their case, if truth be told, the explanation to this probably lies in their very young age, and in the injuries they sustained, making their “isolated” wins more than understandable.
This fact should, however, be considered together with the cases of three other female players (Krejicikova, Swiatek and Kenin) who, in addition to their finals victory, only reached the quarterfinals once. The absence of continuity in today’s strongest female circuit-players can be inferred from an additional statistic: among male players in the past three years, Djokovic (10 times), Nadal (9), Federer (5), Thiem (5), Zverev (6), and Medvedev (5) got through to Major tournament quarterfinals at least five times, but amongst the female players only Serena Williams (6) and Barty (6) did the same.
Further confirmation of what we uncovered can be found by looking into the players in the top positions of the ATP and WTA rankings. Among the men, after the 2018 US Open, the only players who reached the first position are Djokovic and Nadal; meanwhile, Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Rublev have reached the Top 5 for the first time in the past three years. And let’s not forget Berrettini, Schwartzman, Bautista Agut, Shapovalov, and Ruud, who also made their debut in the Top 10.
In the WTA rankings, on the other hand, these past 36 months have seen Halep, Osaka and current number 1 Barty pass the queen’s crown around; compared to the men’s circuit, even more players have ascended to the Top 5 for the first time: Sabalenka, Andreescu, Bencic, Kenin. There are “only” two players, Swiatek and Krejcikova, who’ve gotten through to the first ten positions of the ranking in the time frame we’ve been looking at.
In conclusion, the tennis élite has a very different profile in the two tours. It’s a difference that is bound to be reduced as the likes of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic get older: but will the advent of new rivalries at the top be able to preserve the sport’s popularity?
Article by Ferruccio Roberti; translated by Giulia Bosatra; edited by Tommaso Villa
REPORT: Australian Open To Hold Qualifying In The Middle East During Build Up To Christmas
Provisional plans of how the first Grand Slam tournament of 2022 will take place has emerged.
It is understood that the Australian Open will hold their qualifying tournaments outside of the country for a second year in a row, according to information obtained by The Daily Mail and The Times newspapers.
Players hoping to secure their spot in the main draw of the Grand Slam are likely to be forced to miss out on the chance of celebrating Christmas on December 25th. According to the provisional plan, the event will likely conclude on December 24th and then players will have to travel to Australia afterwards via charter flights.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are set to be the venues which will hold the men’s and women’s competitions. Both of those cities also held the qualifying event for this year’s Australian Open but in January. However, in 2022 the start date of the Grand Slam will revert back to its original time shot and therefore qualifying will have to take place earlier.
It is also understood that the players who already have secured a spot in the main draw of the Grand Slam will also have their Christmas plans affected. Health officials in Melbourne want those participating in warm-up events in the country prior to the Grand Slam to first spend time in a ‘control bubble’ where they will be allowed to practice and train.
Criag Tiley, who is the tournament director of the Australian Open, has previously suggested that players who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 could have less restrictions placed upon them.
“There will be different conditions for vaccinated versus unvaccinated,’ Tiley told The Controllables podcast in August. ‘If the conditions are vastly different it’s probably better to be vaccinated then you don’t have those different conditions.’
The plans are part of Tennis Australia’s COVID-19 protocol. The country currently has one of the world’s longest border closures related to the pandemic and is closed for most arrivals. Those who are allowed in are required to enter a 14-day quarantine or something similar which has been authorised by health authorities.
Recently the coach of world No.1 Ash Barty has said she may miss the season-ending WTA Finals with one of the reasons being due to Australia’s travel policy. Craig Tyzzer told reporters that Barty is wary that arriving late back in her home country and having to undergo quarantine will have a knock on effect on her off-season training.
The Australian Open main draw will start on January 17th.
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