Newcombe Medal Winners Ash Barty, Alex De Minaur Reveal Their Goals For 2019 - UBITENNIS
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Newcombe Medal Winners Ash Barty, Alex De Minaur Reveal Their Goals For 2019

The two players have received the biggest award in Australian tennis. Following in the footsteps of Sam Stosur, Lleyton Hewitt and Nick Kyrgios.

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Alex de Minaur and Ash Barty (image via https://twitter.com/TennisAustralia)

Two of Australia’s most promising tennis players are hoping to rise further up the rankings in the new year after receiving their country’s top honor at an annual award ceremony.

 

Ashleigh Barty and Alex de Minaur have been awarded the Newcombe Medal this year. The Newcombe Medal is an annual award given to Australian players in recognition of their performance, achievements and contributions throughout the season. For the first time in its nine-year history, two players share the prize after judges couldn’t decide between Barty and Minaur. Two players who have reached career ranking highs this season.

“To be able to share it with Alex is even more special,” Barty told Tennis Australia.
“I think we’ve both had incredible years and now we’re gearing up to get into another Aussie summer and we’re excited to hopefully go big and play well in front of our home crowd.”

22-year-old Barty has won two WTA titles this season, including the season-ending WTA Elite Trophy, and is currently ranked 15th in the world. She also reached the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time at the US Open. Barty has also enjoyed success on the doubles circuit by claiming four trophies, including the US Open alongside Coco Vandeweghe. It is the second year in a row she has won the Newcombe medal.

On the men’s tour, de Minaur has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the rankings over the past 12 months. Jumping from No.208 to 31st in the world. Becoming the highest ranked male player in his country. De Minaur he finished runner-up three times in 2018 at tournaments in Sydney, Washington and the Next Gen Finals. The 19-year-old has also been named ATP newcomer of the year.

“It’s given me a real hunger for more,” said Minaur.
“The last couple of Slams I’ve been playing great tennis and I’ve been able to make third rounds. Now that’s definitely a goal – to push it a bit further, hopefully be able to beat some of these top guys and definitely try to make second week.
“But then again, just gonna take it day by day, and as long as I’m improving both on court and off the court, I’m a strong believer that the results will show.”

Big honours, big goals

https://twitter.com/ashbar96/status/1067178579903995904

The award ceremony took place just over a month before the Australian summer of tennis gets underway. For Barty, in the new year she will be hoping to close in on a place in the top 10 for the first time. Something that hasn’t been achieved by an Australian woman since Sam Stosur back in May 2013.

“Obviously the elusive top 10 is right there but it’s very simple for me: I really want to stay consistent.” She said.
“I want to prove I’m a top-15 player, possibly top 10.”

A place in the second week of the grand slams will be the main focus of rising star De Minaur. Earlier this season, he reached the third round of both Wimbledon and the US Open. Losing to Rafael Nadal and Marin Cilic respectively.

“That’s one of the goals,” the Australian Associated Press quoted him as saying.
“I played some great tennis this year, especially Wimbledon and the US Open, so I feel like the level’s there.
“I’ve been close against the top guys and now it’s time to learn from the mistakes I did against those guys and hopefully I can get over the line in those big matches going forward.”

De Minaur has also been tipped to rise further up the rankings but John Newcombe. The former player that the medal is named after. Newcombe won seven grand slam titles during the 1960s and 1970s.

“This kid’s something special. He’s just got something,” Newcombe said.
“He’s done a fantastic job this year and the top eight in the world is certainly there [for him] because he’s got a good brain, he’s got a great all-court game and he’s dedicated to improving himself.”

Barty will start the 2019 season at the Hopman Cup. Meanwhile, De Minaur will return to action at the Brisbane International. Both of those tournaments will take place during the first week of January.

https://twitter.com/TennisAustralia/status/1067279181627580416

Focus

Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova lift the titles in Perugia

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova won the Zzz Quill Tennis Tour in Perugia. Sonego followed up his Italian title won the previous week in Todi with a 3-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 win over Croatia’s Viktor Galovic (world number 269 and number 7 seed) in the final of the Perugia tournament.

 

“Galovic started very well. It was difficult to adjust to his game and improve during the match. I maintained the right attitude and I managed to win the title. I enjoyed two fantastic weeks in Todi and Perugia. This confirmed my good work in training in the past two weeks. I gave my best and I am confident for the rest of the season”, said Sonego.

World number 117 Liudmila Samsonova won the women’s title came back from one set down to beat world number 307 Stefania Rubini 4-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6) in the women’s final after saving two match points.

“I won a very tough final with a lot of ups and downs. I am happy that I played many matches. It was one of my goals on the eve of the tournament. I showed that I am able to keep the level of my tennis high, when I play focused”, said Samsonova.   

 

 

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ATP

Next Gen Star Alexei Popyrin Fears He May Be Forced To Play US Open Despite Health Concerns

Like many other lower ranked players on the Tour, the 20-year-old finds himself in a tough situation.

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One of Australia’s rising stars has said he is worried that he may have to play at the US Open against his will or risk losing a chunk of ranking points.

 

Alexei Popryin has raised his concerns about travelling to the New York major in August amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in some areas of the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were 52,228 New Cases of the virus on July 5th compared to 24 hours before. Furthermore, the governor of New York recently announced that people travelling from 16 different states in America are now required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they visit the city. According to USA Today this ruling applies to roughly 48% of the entire American population.

Despite the concerns, the organisers of the US Open have insisted they will be able to hold the tournament in a safe manner and will be implementing various restrictions. Including holding the event without fans for the first time and conducting frequent testing of players. However world No.103 Popryin admits that he still has his concerns about attending.

“There are talks regarding the US Open but I really don’t want to go with the situation in America right now,” Popyrin said at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown over the weekend.
“But we have to see if we would be forced to go because of ranking points.
“If the ranking points won’t be frozen, then most of us would be forced to go play cause our ranking will drop and we wouldn’t have any say in it.
“But if the rankings are frozen, then I am staying here.
“I will stay in Europe where it’s safe with my family.”

Popryin has a considerable amount of points to defend in New York after reaching the third round there last year. Therefore, if he skips the event he faces dropping further down the rankings. Something which will then impact on his chances of entering the bigger tournaments later in the year. Usually the cut off for Grand Slam tournaments is around 105.

It is still to be announced as to what will happen with the ranking points system at the US Open and if there will be any adjustments made due to the pandemic. Although organisers will likely be against any idea to remove them from the event as it is a key factor to attract players to take part.

Another player to voice their concerns about the US Open is France’s Benoit Paire, who has said he would not attend the event if it was taking place today. Speaking to RMC Sport the world No.22 said he would rather not go to the event if he meant that he would be ‘taking a risk’ with his health.

“Going to the United States would be at risk of catching it. I am a great professional and I am one of those who would always like to play tennis, but your health is the most important thing,” he said.
“If going there is taking the risk of catching the disease and staying quarantined when I return, I prefer not to go, really.’
“It looks like if we play the US Open, we will have to sacrifice not to play the Mutua Madrid Open or the Masters 1000 in Rome.”

Meanwhile, world No.3 Dominic Thiem recently told Austrian media that he believes a final decision regarding the Grand Slam will be made within a week. Something that is yet to be confirmed by officials.

Should it go ahead, the US Open will start on August 31st.

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Grand Slam

French Open Chief Hoping To Ease COVID-19 Related Restrictions In Coming Weeks

Former world No.4 Guy Forget says he hopes to learn from the controversy caused by the recently cancelled Adria Tour.

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The man in charge of organising this year’s French Open has said he is optimistic that there will be more flexibility in the restrictions placed upon his event as it nears its launch.

 

Guy Forget has told Reuters News Agency that he believes the clay-court major will be nowhere as strict as the US Open, which will take place a couple weeks prior. The US Open is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and players will be subjected to various measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Including regular temperature checks and being limited to how many members of their team they can bring with them. It comes as parts of America reports a rapid rise in cases of the virus.

However, Forget believes that the COVID-19 restrictions set to be implemented in New York will not apply to his tournament because the current situation in his country is not as bad. According to the BBC, more than 29,000 people have died from COVID-19 in France compared to an estimated 132,000 in America.

“Luckily things are a bit more flexible in Europe and in France, especially,” Forget told Reuters. “Hopefully, what we’re going to announce will probably be even more flexible than what we did.”

Despite Forget’s optimism, there is also a lot of caution given recent events that have happened in the sport. The Adria Tour, which was founded by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, was cancelled after an outbreak of the virus among players. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Viktor Troicki and Borna Coric all tested positive, as well as some coaching staff. The event was criticised for a lack of social distancing with players attending parties, however it all took place in accordance with local government rules. Meanwhile, at the DraftKings All-American Team Cup in Atalanta Frances Tiafoe withdrew due to testing positive for the virus, but the event continued.

“Maybe some people were overconfident there,” Forget commented on the Adria Tour.
“Luckily no one got hurt really bad but even a few cases is too much and we want to avoid that as much as we can.
“We want to reassure everyone that having people getting ill will be terrible for us. Let’s be really careful, really cautious.”

At present, the French Tennis Federation plans to allow up to 20,000 people to attend the French Open daily with 10,000 on the final day. Equating to roughly 60% of its maximum capacity which is a figure based on ‘health-related information and the projected guidelines.’ Those attending will be required to wear masks whilst walking around the venue but not when sitting courtside.

“We all see soccer on television, it’s wonderful but something is missing without the crowds,” Forget said about the importance of a crowd.
“We are working closely with the administration, the government, to make sure we can provide some crowd while still following very strict security measures.”

The French Open is set to get underway on September 27th. Ash Barty and Rafael Nadal are the defending champions.

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