Kiki Bertens knocked out by Pavlyuchenkova - UBITENNIS
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Kiki Bertens knocked out by Pavlyuchenkova

Pavlyuchenkova earned a big win over 9th seed Bertens, while Sasnovich also stunned 20th seed Kontaveit.

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Kiki Bertens became the highest seeded casualty in the women’s draw so far when she lost an entertaining three-set encounter 3-6 6-3 6-3 to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

 

The Dutchwoman, 27, had her best-ever year on the WTA tour in 2018. She won three titles, including the Premier 5 event in Cincinnati, but she will not back up those successes with a good run in Melbourne.

In the first set, Bertens looked comfortable as she broke Pavlyuchenkova twice to establish a 5-1 lead. However, the Russian gained a foothold in the match when she earned her first break in the seventh game.

Pavlyuchenkova built on that momentum in the second set when she went 3-0 up thanks to an early break. And she continued to serve impressively to level the match at one-set all.

The decider was more unpredictable. The Russian broke in the first game, but her Dutch opponent responded with an immediate break back.

However, Pavlyuchenkova’s groundstrokes looked in excellent working order by this stage and she used them to great effect to break Bertens twice more in the fifth and ninth games to take the set 6-3 and clinch a superb win.

“I’m really happy with the win and the way I played today,” the Russian said in her post-match interview. “She is a very tough opponent so that is a great win for me.”

Sasnovich shocks Kontaveit

Pavlyuchenkova’s opponent in round three will be another seed-killer after Aliaksandra Sasnovich beat 20th seed Anett Kontaveit 6-3 6-3.

The Belarussian claimed a headline-grabbing win over Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon last year and she is in scintillating form so far in 2019.

Sasnovich, 24, reached the quarter-final in Brisbane and the semi-final in Sydney and she has carried that momentum into the Australian Open.

She thrashed former Grand Slam semi-finalist Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-1 in the first round and then beat Kontaveit almost as convincingly.

Stephens, Garcia and Martic advance

Sloane Stephens had no such trouble in her match against Timea Babos. She beat the Hungarian 6-3 6-1 to set up a third round meeting with Petra Martic, who took out Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 7-5.

Caroline Garcia also looks to be in good form. She backed up a first-round victory over qualifier Jessika Ponchet with a 6-3 6-3 win over Australian wildcard Zoe Hives.

 

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Tour Suspension A ‘Dire And Bleak’ Situation For Players, Warns Johanna Konta

The world No.14 also comments on the decision to move the French Open to September.

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British No.1 Johanna Konta admits that any system put into place to financially support players in the wake of the tour suspension will only have a ‘minimal’ effect.

 

Tennis is currently at a standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic with doubts cast over when play will resume again. As a consequence, many players are looking into alternative ways to generate an income. Unlike team sports where athletes have a contract, those in the world of tennis are essentially self-employed. Meaning they will only earn money in the sport if they play at tournaments. Although the top players have the luxury of endorsements to also support them.

Weighing in on the situation, Konta has described it as ‘fire and bleak.’ She is one out of 90 female players to have made more than $100,000 in prize money this year before the tour was suspended. Her current earnings for the season stands at $105,703.

“The reality is that there is no tennis player earning any money right now; all the tennis players have taken a 100 per cent salary cut,” Konta told The Evening Standard.
“Everyone is trying to find the best way possible to stand by a team and support the people you work with and feel close to while not bankrupting yourself.
“[A support system] is being worked on right now, but the reality is that even if it is possible – and let’s hope it is – it’s going to be very minimal.
“It’s a very bleak and dire situation especially for the lower ranked players.”

In light of the financial concerns, world No.371 Sofia Shapatava recently set up an online petition on change.org calling for support from the ITF, WTA and ATP. More than 1300 people have signed the petition.

“I started the petition to help tennis players to be heard by ITF, after I talked to many of the people I know and about their plans for the next three months, I realised that some people won’t even be able to have food,” Shapatava told the AFP News Agency.
“My problem is that my sport will die as it is, it will die, because players who are ranked lower then 150th in the world will not be able to play.”

In comparison to Konta, Georgian player Shapatava has made $2,896 so far this season. That works out as 0.09% of what prize money leader Sofia Kenin has made ($3,012,043). Kenin is one of four players to earn more than a million in 2020 on the women’s tour. The other are Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Ash Barty.

The WTA have said they are looking into the possibility of extending this year’s calendar is order to provide players with more earning opportunities when the sport resumes.

French open approach disappointing

Konta has also criticised the French Tennis Federation (FFT) over their management of the French Open. Officials at the FFT recently announced that the major would be delayed until September due to the Covid-19 outbreak. A move that caught many off guard, including some governing bodies. Konta reached the semi-finals of the French Open last year after previously losing in the first round four times in a row.

“It’s a really sad situation and it’s very disappointing for them to release their decision in the way that they did,” she said.
“It’s not the act itself, but the manner which was disappointing to everybody in the tennis community. It’s left a sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths.”

Lionel Maltés is the economic director of the FFT. He has defended their approach to the situation by saying the organisation had no choice but to act. Arguing that their (the FFT) first priority is French tennis. The controversy surrounding the date change is that it will take place a week after the US Open ends. Leaving players with little chance to prepare for the switch of surfaces.

“The decision was not made overnight, it was far from an outburst. We had been clear for some time that it was going to be impossible to play the tournament on the established dates and we knew we had to do something.” Maltés recently told French newspaper L’Equipe.
“There was no hint of conversation collective with the other Grand Slams so we did the only thing we had to do for French tennis. Don’t doubt that Wimbledon and US Open would have made the same decision if they could. In fact, other tournaments have backed us up by saying they understood us and that if they had been in our position, they would have done the same.
“We were aware that we would be highly criticized for this, but the safeguard of French tennis is above all,” he added.

The French Open was scheduled to run from 24 May to 7 June. Officials are now hoping that the tournament will start on September 20th.

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Naomi Osaka Vows To Be ‘Stronger Than Ever’ In 2021 Following Suspension Of The Olympics

The former world No.1 has given her reaction to decision to delay the four-year sporting event due to the covid-19 pandemic.

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Two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka has said she is ‘disappointed’ but supports the decision to delay this year’s Summer Olympic Games.

 

Earlier in the week it was confirmed that the Tokyo games will now take place during the next year with a date to be confirmed. Making it the first time the Olympics have been suspended until the following year in its 124-year history. Although the games have been cancelled three times before during the first and second world wars.

Osaka had been one of the athletes authorities have used to promote the event. Featuring in a promotional campaign that also included a video. The 22-year-old is the first Asian player in history to become world No.1 in tennis. Despite the delay, she has committed to playing in the event next year.

“Everyone knows how much the Olympics means to me and how proud I will be to participate in my home country,” Osaka wrote on Twitter.
“Of course, I am disappointed that it won’t happen this year but we’ll all be ready to stronger ever in 2021! I support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s brave decision and the IOC 100%. Sport will eventually unite us again and be there for us always, but that time not now,” she added.

The world No.10 has called for the world to unite in the fight against the coronavirus. There have been more than 660,000 cases of the virus worldwide, according to John Hopkins University. The disease is particularly dangerous to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

“This is the time for people from all countries, backgrounds and races to rally together to save as many lives as we can. To me, that is the Olympic spirit. To the people of Japan: stay strong, hang in there, and let’s the show the world our beautiful country when time is right in 2021,” said Osaka.

Osaka pledged full allegiance to Japan in 2019 after having dual citizenship in according to a national law. She was born and is currently based in America, but has a Japanese mother and Haitian father.

Prior to the suspension of the WTA Tour, Osaka has started her 2020 with a win-loss record of 5-3 (including Fed Cup). She reached the semifinals of the Brisbane International before losing to Karolina Pliskova. Then at the Australian Open, she was knocked out in the third round by Coco Gauff.

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Retirement Still On For Carla Suarez Navarro, But Will She End Her Career This Year?

The former top 10 player speaks out about her plans in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Last December Carla Suarez Navarro stated that she will hang up her racket later this year for good. Then came along something that nobody saw coming.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world of tennis to a standstill with all tournaments suspended until June. Completely wiping out the entire European clay-court swing and triggering the French Open being played in September. For Suarez Navarro, it has also ruined her plans of saying goodbye at her home tournament in Madrid where she would have made her 10th and final appearance.

Like many around the world, Suarez Navarro is housebound in Las Palmas, where she is staying with her parents. In her home country of Spain there have been more than 2000 deaths due to the Coronavirus. It is a far from ideal scenario for the Spaniard, who is currently staying in a flat with little training. However, she is still hoping to say her goodbye to the sport in 2020.

“As of today I am not considering it, I said that 2020 would be my last year and it will be almost 100% that way.” Suarez Navarro told Mundo Deportivo.
“We will see if we can play more tennis or not this year, my favourite tournaments have been cancelled and I will not be able to say goodbye for the last time in a few Olympics because they will surely be cancelled.’
“If it (the WTA Tour) were not played more in 2020, I would see a possibility of being able to say goodbye in Madrid 2021.” She added.

Peaking at a high of sixth in the world, the 31-year-old has won two WTA titles during her career out of 11 final appearances. One of which was a Premier 5 event at the 2016 Qatar Open. She has also reached the quarter-final of seven grand slams, including both the Australian Open and US Open in 2018.

“At the moment I have not been able to say goodbye to some tournaments that for me were very special, we will see what happens from now on with tennis tournaments.” She said.

Due to the uncertainty of current events, it is unclear as to when Suarez Navarro and her rivals will return to action. At present both the ATP and WTA are looking into restructuring their calendar following the changing of the French Open dates. A decision that has been criticised by the world No.68.

“I was stunned when I read it, but it was normal for something like this to happen with what was happening around the world.” She commented about the decision taken by the French Tennis Federation.
“I think the most appropriate thing was to say that it was postponed but not to directly put dates that do not fit very well in our calendar. As I said, what happens in a few months, we do not know today.”

Suarez Navarro has recorded 28 wins over top 10 players throughout her career.

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