Li Na, Mary Pierce, Yevgeny Kafelnikov To Be Inducted Into The Hall Of Fame - UBITENNIS
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Li Na, Mary Pierce, Yevgeny Kafelnikov To Be Inducted Into The Hall Of Fame

The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport has chosen the inductees for the Class of 2019. They are Li Na, Mary Pierce and Yevgeny Kafelnikov

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International Tennis Hall of Fame members and inductees at the 2019 Australian Open: (left to right) Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Li Na, Mary Pierce, Evonne Goolagong, Kim Clijsters (photo Twitter @AustralianOpen)

Chinese tennis great Li Na, France’s Mary Pierce, and Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, each a two-time Grand Slam singles champion among their many career accolades, have been elected to receive tennis’ ultimate honor in 2019 – induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

 

Li Na, China’s first global tennis star, reached the world No. 2 ranking and was a champion at both the French Open and the Australian Open. Pierce is a former world No. 3 in singles and doubles, and four-time major champion, having won a singles title at the Australian Open, singles and doubles titles at Roland-Garros, and a mixed doubles title at Wimbledon. In addition to his two major singles titles, Kafelnikov is a former world No. 1, Olympic Gold Medalist, and the winner of four major doubles titles.

The new inductees will be celebrated on Tuesday, January 22 in a special ceremony in Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open, joined by many other Hall of Fame tennis legends such as Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Kim Clijsters, Frank Sedgman, Ken Rosewall and Cliff Drysdale.

It’s a pleasure to congratulate Li Na, Mary Pierce, and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and to welcome them into the International Tennis Hall of Fame,” stated Hall of Fame President Stan Smith. “They are three incredibly hard-working athletes who set and achieved goals at tennis’ highest levels. This is a well-deserved honor, and we look forward to celebrating them as Hall of Famers in Newport in July.”

I’m incredibly honored to become a Hall of Famer. I love tennis and am grateful for all the opportunity it has provided me. I have loved seeing the sport grow in China and I’m proud to be part of that history. To have my career and China’s growing tennis history be recognized at the International Tennis Hall of Fame is a great honor and I’m humbled and grateful. I look forward to the celebration in Newport this year and to becoming a Hall of Famer,” said Li Na.

Pierce remarked, “To be recognized alongside some of the most accomplished, inspiring people in our sport is a huge honor. It’s humbling and gratifying, and I’m thrilled to become part of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Kafelnikov, who could not be in Melbourne at the ceremony, was the first-ever major singles champion for Russia. He commented, “I’m very honored to become a Hall of Famer and to represent Russia among tennis’ greatest champions.

ATP

Queen’s Organizers Optimistic Over Andy Murray’s Return As Two Top 10 Players Join Entry List

The first four names set to play in the ATP 500 event has been announced.

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The director of the Fever-Tree Championships has said he is ‘hopeful’ that Andy Murray will play in the tournament later this year after he was included in the first group of names on the official entry list.

 

The three-time grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since the Davis Cup last November due to a pelvic injury. Murray has already delayed his return to the tour on numerous occasions as he continues his rehabilitation process. It is the latest setback for the injury-stricken 32-year-old, who also underwent career saving hip resurfacing surgery last year.

“Andy is our greatest champion. We know Andy is still working his way back to fitness, but we also know that he wants to play, so fingers crossed that he will be able to.” Stephen Farrow said in a press release on Tuesday.

Murray, who is currently ranked 130th in the world, is the most decorated player in the history of the Queen’s event. He has won the trophy five times between 2009-2016 and has won 30 out of 37 matches played there. Last year he also won the doubles title alongside Feliciano Lopez in what was his comeback tournament following his hip surgery.

Tuesday’s announcement of Murray playing at The Queen’s Club comes as no surprise. He has a lifetime contract to play there for the rest of his career unless he is ill or injured. Similar to what Roger Federer has with the Halle event, which takes place during the same week as Queen’s.

Other names to play in London this year include ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals last year. The Greek is yet to contest an ATP final on the grass, but did win the Wimbledon boys’ doubles title back in 2016.

“London will always be a special place for me after winning the ATP Finals last year and I am looking forward to coming back in June.” Said Tsitsipas. “The crowd at the O2 touched my heart in a very special way and I am excited to play at Queen’s again this June. It is a big tournament and important to play in the lead up to Wimbledon.”

World No.5 Daniil Medvedev is another top name set to play in what will be his fourth appearance at Queen’s. In 2019 he produced his best ever run at the tournament by reaching the semi-finals before falling in three sets to France’s Gilles Simon.

“The last 6 months have been incredible for me, a real breakthrough, and now I want to try to do the same on grass.” The US Open finalist stated. “The Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club is a great event with perfect grass courts, and I am looking forward to playing there ahead of Wimbledon.”

Completing the quartet of confirmed names is 38-year-old two-time champion Lopez, who won the singles title last year, as well as the doubles with Murray. He is one of only two Spanish men to have ever won the event in the Open Era. There other was Rafael Nadal back in 2008.

“I thought when I won the title in 2017 that it was the best moment of my career. I was wrong. It was last year! Winning singles and doubles was something incredible, more than I could ever have dreamed when Stephen (Farrow) gave me the wild card.” Lopez reflected.
“That final day is one that I will never forget, Queen’s is always going to be one of the most special places of my career, and I am already looking forward to coming back to the Fever-Tree Championships in June to defend my title.”

The ATP 500 event will get underway on June 15th.

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ATP

‘There’s A Lot To Improve’ – Stan Wawrinka Survives Marathon Opener In Mexico

It was a tough day at the office for the three-time grand slam champion.

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Stan Wawrinka admits that there are areas of his game that he needs to work on after battling his way into the second round of the Mexican Open.

 

The Swiss third seed required almost three hours to edge out America’s Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(1), during what was a roller coaster encounter. Wawrinka blasted 35 aces past his American opponent and crucially saved all nine break points he faced throughout the match. In the decided he failed to convert match points whilst leading 5-4 and 6-5, but managed to eventually prevail in the tiebreaker. Converting his fifth match point with an ace fired down the centre of the court.

“It was a big battle in the first round. Last year we also played a big match in Basel.” Wawrinka told TennisTV.
“I had a lot of opportunities in the third set and I should have taken them. I’m happy with the win, that’s the most important.’
“There is a lot to improve, for sure, but in the first round it is never easy to play your best.”

This week is Wawrinka’s first tournament since his quarter-final loss at the Australian Open. He has recently pulled out of playing in both Rotterdam and Montpellier due to an unspecified injury. However, the physical issue now appears to be a thing of the past.

“I’m happy. I had the chance to come here (to the tournament) early and practice well.” He stated.

The 34-year-old will take on either Pedro Martínez or Radu Albot in the second round.

Elsewhere, Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanović rallied back from a set down to defeat world No.25 Alex de Mianaur 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. De Minaur was playing his first match since the ATP Cup after being sidelined from action due to an abdominal injury.

“I just tried to stay focused as much as I could. Try to go for shots and go for points because I knew if I went into the rallies I didn’t have much chance.” Kecmanović told The Tennis Channel.
“The night sessions are better to play. The ball doesn’t jump as much and I think that really helped me today.”

It is the first time this year the 20-year-old has defeated a player ranked in the world’s top 25. His previous biggest scalp (in terms of ranking) was against world No.30 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Doha at the start of 2020. Kecmanović is on course for a meeting with top seed Rafael Nadal in the last 16 if the world No.2 wins his opening match on Tuesday.

Finally, New York Open champion Kyle Edmund produced a comprehensive 6-4, 6-1, win over Feliciano Lopez.

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ATP

Italian Challenger Final Cancelled Due To Coronavirus

A series of ‘extraordinary measures’ implemented in the region on Sunday has forced the tournament to end early.

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ATP Challenger Bergamo 2019 (foto Antonio Milesi)

The ongoing disruption caused by the Coronavirus outbreak has affected another tennis tournament with the final of the Bergamo Challenger being cancelled. Making it the first time a tennis event in Europe has been disrupted due to the threat of the illness.

 

This weekend Italy has introduced what it described as ‘extraordinary measures’ to combat the virus, which originated in China and has killed more than 1000 people worldwide. In the country there have been over 100 cases of Coronavirus and at least two deaths. People living in the northern towns of Lombardy and Veneto have been asked to stay at home by the authorities and it is forbidden for them to leave the affected areas unless permission is granted.

The decision means that several Serie A football matches have been cancelled, as well as the final of the Bergamo Challenger. Bergamo is located 40 KM away from Lombardy. The final was set to feature French seventh seed Enzo Couacaud against Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko. Known as the Trofeo Faip–Perrel, Bergamo has held an annual men’s tournament since 2009. This year’s draw featured five players ranked in the top 200, as well as the debut of 16-year-old Leo Borg. The son of Bjorn Borg.

“The Government is preparing to issue urgent measures to deal with and contain particularly incisively the cases of infection with Coronavirus. These measures also include the sports world due to the need to prevent risks and better protect the health of all those who, in various capacities, participate in events and competitions. Pending the completion of the measures and the full and effective implementation of the same, on the due notice of the Council of Ministers, for reasons of caution and utmost precaution, I ask you to act as interpreter at all the competent sports bodies of the Government’s invitation to suspend all sporting events of all levels and disciplines scheduled in the Lombardy and Veneto regions for Sunday 23 February 2020.” Sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora said in a letter sent to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).

Organizers tried to look into a variety of options in order for the men’s final to be held, including playing it behind closed doors. However, it did not receive the required permission to do so. Instead, both Couacaud and Marchenko will share the prize. Each player will exit the tournament with 48 ranking points and € 3,650 in prize money.

Italy will not host another Challenger event until April.

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