Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams Honoured With Athlete Of The Year Awards - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams Honoured With Athlete Of The Year Awards

The two players have come out on top of two separate polls that have involved news agencies around the world.

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Tennis heavyweights Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams have capped off 2018 by winning two separate awards that acknowledge their achievements in sport over the past 12 months.

 

World No.1 Djokovic has been named European Sportsperson of the Year by the Polish Press Agency (PAP). The award is given to the athlete that has scored the highest in the voting process, which involves 23 European news agencies. Some of those involve include AFP (France), EFE (Spain) and DPA (Germany).

During 2018 Djokovic became the first player in history to reach No.1 after being ranked outside the top 20 within the same season. After missing six months of the tour last year due to an elbow injury, the Serbian endured a lacklustre start to the season by winning six out of his first 12 matches. Despite the slow start, Djokovic managed to find his footing to dominate the second half of the year. Winning both Wimbledon and the US Open, as well as two Masters 1000 trophies. Overall, he has won 53 out of 65 matches played.

“Overall it was a phenomenal season that I have to be definitely very proud of.” Djokovic said following the conclusion of the ATP Finals in November.

In the poll, the 31-year-old scored 145 points to finish at the top. His nearest challenge came from Croatian footballer Luca Modric, who registered 132 points. Also in the top five this year is F1 driver Lewis Hamilton (114 points), Olympic skier and snowboarder Ester Ledecka (74 points) and biathlete Martin Fourcade (69 points).

Each participating news agency lists their top 10 athletes with 10 points going to the person in first place. Djokovic was included in 21 out of the 23 lists compiled. Coming first three times, second four times and third four times.

Further down the field, Simona Halep finished in 10th place with 39 points. Halep, who is the current women’s world No.1, won her maiden grand slam title at the French Open earlier this year.

It is the third time Djokovic has won the award after also triumphing in 2011 and 2015. Rival Roger Federer holds the all-time record of most wins with five (2004-2007 and 2009).

Serena tops AP poll

In North America 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams was voted female athlete of the year by the Associated Press. Despite not winning a title on the tour this year, Williams came out on top with 93 points ahead of gymnast Simone Biles. The ballot is conducted among American news editors and directors.

Williams returned to the WTA Tour in March after taking time away from the sport to give birth to her first child. During her absence, the 37-year-old experienced a series of health issues. Including a pulmonary embolism (blocked vessel in her lung), the stitching from the c-section opening back up and a hematoma (swelling of clotted blood) in her abdomen.

On the court, Williams won 18 out of 24 matches played in seven tournaments. Her best results occurred in the majors where she reached the final at Wimbledon (losing to Angelique Kerber) and the US Open (losing to Naomi Osaka).

“Honestly, I cannot believe the year I had,” Williams told The National.
“I have to say I always expect the best from myself, but reaching two grand slam finals back to back was beyond my expectations.
“It truly makes me excited for what’s ahead in 2019.”

It is the fifth time Williams has been named AP Female Athlete Of The Year. She was also issued with the honour in 2002, 2009, 2013 and 2015 for her dominance in the sport. Only sporting legend Babe Didrikson Zaharias has won the title most with six to her name. Zaharias won three Olympic medals in athletics before winning 10 LPGA titles in golf between 1932-1954.

Both Djokovic and Williams will return to action later this week to play at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition in the United Arab Emirates.

ITF

Controversial ITF Ranking System To Be Scrapped Following Player Backlash

The ITF’s new initiative that was launched in January is set to be axed after eight months.

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ITF president David Haggerty

After months of anger expressed by numerous players and tennis officials, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has agreed to scrap their controversial transition tour.

 

Implemented in January, the new format saw a two-ranking system be introduced into the sport for the first time. Lower ranked players had to earn ITF points whilst participating in the lower level tournaments and were therefore placed in a separate ranking. Then, once they won enough points, they could progress to either the ATP or WTA Tours. Furthermore, the qualifying draws for those tournaments were cut to only 24 players.

The revamp, which saw hundreds of players lose their rankings, drew outrage from many. Toni Nadal said only, ‘young rich people’ could play the sport under the new rules. Players had previously complained that they travelled to tournaments only to find out that they were unable to participate due to the reduced size of the draw. A change.org petition by Canada’s Maria Patrascu calling for changes to be made attracted more than 15,000 signatures.

After all of the turmoil, the ITF has finally backed down from their position. After discussions with both the ATP and WTA, it has been agreed that the two governing bodies will once again issue points to the $15,000 and $25,000 events. Meaning that players will only have one ranking system. Qualifying draws will also be increased to 48 players.

“The agreement includes the allocation of ATP and WTA ranking points at $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournaments, additional ranking points at men’s $25,000 tournaments, as well as increased playing opportunities with 48-player qualifying singles draws.” The ITF said in a statement.
“Players’ rankings will be updated with the new points allocations on 5 August 2019. These points will be applied retroactively to all tournaments played since August 2018.”

Trying to limit the bad publicity, the ITF opted to publish the new development shortly before the draws were made for the French Open, which starts on Sunday. In other developments, $15,000 tournaments will offer three places to top100 junior players. This rule doesn’t apply to any other level on the tour.

ITF president David Haggerty, who is up for re-election later this year, said he is committed to helping juniors progress onto the professional tour.

“Collaborating further with the ATP and WTA, our goal is to ensure the professional pathway from juniors to professional tennis is fit for purpose. It is vital that players have the opportunity to play and progress and nations can afford to host events in their countries at both professional and transitional levels.” Said Haggerty.
“These additional reforms to the pathway will further strengthen the new structure introduced in 2019, that in turn will create a true professional group of players, increase playing opportunities at all levels of the game, and help widen the number of nations hosting professional tournaments so that tennis can remain a truly global sport.”

A review is currently underway into a new developmental tournament for junior players to progress to the senior tour via the $15,000 events. These tournaments will offer ITF ranking points, but there are ongoing discussions with both national associations and relevant stakeholders of the ITF.

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ATP

Andy Murray ‘Kind Of On Track’ For Recovery And Potential Return To Tennis

The brother of the former world No.1 has spoken out about Murray’s chances of returning back to the tour.

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Andy Murray (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray is focused on his rehab with no indication yet of when will return back to the tour, according to his brother Jamie.

 

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a match since his first round loss to Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open in January. Murray has been blighted by hip problems over the past two years and admitted he could be forced to retire from the sport. Earlier this year, he underwent hip resurfacing surgery in his latest attempt to prolong his career. A procedure which involves inserting a metal rod into the joint.

Murray has kept out of the limelight in recent weeks, but has been spotted hitting balls on the court once again. Giving an update on his brother’s recovery, Jamie said he is hopeful Murray will return to the tour. Jamie spoke with reporters on Sunday during an exhibition event to test the new roof on Court One at Wimbledon, which will be used for the first time this year.

“I hope so. I’m pretty sure he wants to be able to do that again at some point.” World No.7 doubles player Jamie told reporters.
“He’s doing his rehab, I think he’s kind of on track with his recovery for where he is in terms of the timing of it right now, and I think his goal is just rehab, get his hip as strong as possible so that when he does get the chance to get back out on court and train properly, he’s best positioned to really find out what is going to be possible for him.”

https://twitter.com/TennisPodcast/status/1112840144904773632

Elaborating further, Jamie said the two-time Wimbledon winner is ‘pain-free’ and happier. Although he is yet to properly test his hip on the court in terms of movement. Since the 2017 Wimbledon Championships, Murray has only been able to play in eight tournaments.

“He’s hitting a few tennis balls. He’s not like tanking it around the court or anything like that movement-wise, but that is what he is building up to and I don’t know exactly when that will happen.” He said.
“He’s doing fine, pain-free and a lot happier. So we’ll have to just wait and see. It’s just difficult to know what is going to be possible.”

Murray does currently have a wild card to play in the Fever-Tree Championships, which will start on June 16th. However, he will notify the tournament closer to the time if he will be ready in time to participate. The 32-year-old has a contract to play at The Queen’s Club for the rest of his career, unless injured or ill.

It has been speculated that Murray could return at Wimbledon to play in the doubles alongside his brother for the first time. However, Jamie has now played down the chances of that happening.

“For me, these are the peak years in my career and if I go to play Wimbledon with someone who hasn’t hit a tennis ball in eight months, I’m kind of giving up one of those years, so that’s a big decision for me to take.” He explained.
“Circumstances might dictate otherwise, but I want to give myself the best chance of winning the tournament. Normally I would have a good chance with Andy, but probably right now he’s not in his peak moment.”

So far in his career, Murray has won 45 ATP titles and has spent 41 consecutive weeks as world No.1.

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VIDEO: Rafael Nadal, Karolina Pliskova Conqueror Rome

Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta looks back on the final day of action at this year’s Italian Open.

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After a week full of mayhem both on and off the court, the winners of the 2019 Italian Open have been decided.

 

Under the guidance of four-time winner Conchita Martinez, Kasrolina Pliskova claimed the women’s title. Making her the first Czech woman to triumph in Rome since 1978. Pliskova now has 13 WTA titles to her name, of which three were won on the clay.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal claimed his ninth trophy at the Foro Italico. The Spaniard disposed of Novak Djokovic in three sets to claim his first title of 2019.

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