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Now It’s More Like More like Indian Wells – Good Weather, Roger and Rafa

A Federer-Nadal quarter-final would be a gift of sorts, especially since the No. 1 seeds both were eliminated.

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Roger Federer (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

By Art Spander

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — That was more like it. Indian Wells, the elite suburb of Palm Springs — which is pretty elite its ownself — was what we expect this time of year, beautiful weather. And Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also were what we expect this time of year, playing beautiful tennis.

 

There probably isn’t a tournament from Melbourne to Toronto that either hasn’t won, but at this one, the BNP Paribas Open, the first big event each year after the Australian Open, both have been particularly successful.

Federer has won it five times, Nadal three, and the possibility one or the other will add another championship is very much real — and as always good for the gate, good for the Tennis Channel and good for Roger and Rafa.

“All the best players come here,” Federer said, addressing a stadium full of fans Wednesday, after his 6-1, 6-4 victory over Kyle Edmund, the relatively young (24) British player.

“You guys are having a good time,” he told a crowd that didn’t need the reminder, “and so are we.”

Nadal, whose 6-3, 6-4 win over Filip Krajinovic of Serbia came in the day’s first match, was a trifle less effusive than Federer, which given his 11 a.m. start time is understandable.

“I have to wake up at 6:30 in the morning,” said Nadal.

Federer and Nadal are one match apiece away from facing each other for a 39th time in their careers (Rafa has won 23 of the 38). And to the question of whether yet another opportunity against Rafa would still be exciting, Federer had a quick response.

“Yes, absolutely,” he said, “I think that’s also one of the reasons I’m still in the game, is that when I play the top guys I’m ready for it. For that, I train hard.”

Federer is 37 with 20 Grand Slams, arguably the best player ever, and we’ll get into that more when Roger discusses Rod Laver, the last to win the true Slam, all four majors in a single calendar year — and he did it twice, in 1962 and 1969.

Nadal is 32 with 17 Slams, including 11 French Opens, the most titles won in a single event by a male player. And since the French is played on the red dirt of Roland Garros Stadium, he is considered the finest clay court player in history.

So, in this non-major-yet-anything-but-minor BNP event, a Federer-Nadal quarter-final would be a gift of sorts, especially since the No. 1 seeds, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, both were eliminated.

“I’m very happy this week,” affirmed Federer. “I hope I can get there. But I’m not going to underestimate Hubert.” As in unseeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, his next opponent — and the guy who upset Denis Shapovalov of Canada.

“And yeah,” agreed Federer, “Rafa looked supreme this week. He clearly also goes in against (Karen) Khacanov, but Khacanov played a good match just now against John Isner. I think that’s also going to be quite a test for Rafa. But same for me with Hubert.

“I don’t think we’re looking too far ahead, to be honest.”

Everyone else is. Big names with big games are the sport’s attraction. Time and achievement merge to create an irresistible blend. Nothing against Hubert Hurkacz and Karen Khacanov, but if you had to rely on them to get headlines and ratings, well, you wouldn’t get either.

Federer, the Williams sisters, Rafa — they have earned their status. They’ve won. They’ve lasted, even longer than players did a generation ago, because of the emphasis on diet and training.

Federer, who was No. 1 seemingly forever, now is No. 3. Venus Williams, 38, a multi-time champ, is 36th and hasn’t won in a long while.

“You’ve got to be passionate about what you do,” said Federer.

Laver, 80, played in the ’50s and ’60s, first as an amateur and then as a pro, as jet travel was just beginning. ”What he went through, going from city to city,” said Federer, ”clearly he was ahead of his time. He brought something to the game.”

So have Federer and Nadal, who could bring even more if they meet here at Indian Wells.

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REPORT: Madrid Open To Be Axed Amid COVID-19 Concerns In Latest Setback For Tennis

Hopes of Spain holding their top tennis event in 2020 are over.

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The world of tennis is set to suffer another severe blow with multiple media sources confirming that organisers of Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament will officially cancel their event on Tuesday. 

 

The Mutua Madrid Open will be removed from the 2020 calendar following a meeting involving tournament owner Iron Tiriac. Recently doubts have been cast on the event after local health officials called for it to be suspended due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Although the final decision was up to Tiriac and his team. It had been due to take place between September 12 to 20, following the conclusion of the US Open. 

“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September,” tournament director Feliciano Lopez told L’Equipe over the weekend. 

Spain has seen their rate of COVID-19 cases rapidly rise since the country ended its lockdown. According to El Pais, the number of cases recorded within 24 hours is eight times the amount compared to 40 days ago. Rising from 334 (June 20) to 2,789 (between July 29 and 30). On Friday July 31st there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

Held at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open is a key event for both men and women. It is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. Last year each of the singles champions took home €1,202,520 in prize money. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The demise of Madrid this year is another setback for what is becoming a rapidly thinning 2020 tennis calendar. Within the past two weeks China has confirmed that they will not be hosting any tournaments this year, Japan’s scrapped it’s premier women’s event and the Italian Open has been advised to not allow any fans to their event this year. 

As a result of the latest development, only two WTA clay-court events will take place after the US Open leading up to Roland Garros. They are both set to get underway on September 21st in Rome and Strasbourg. As for the men, Rome will be their only point of call. 

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Serena Williams leads a high-quality line-up in Lexington

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Twenty-three time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will be the top seed at the inaugural edition of the Lexington Open from 10th August 2020 on the same week as the Prague Open. The Lexington Open will be the first US tournament of the US hard court season, which will continue with the Western and Southern Open and the US Open, which will be held in the same venue at Flushing Meadows in New York. 

 

Serena was very close to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, but lost four times in a Major final after giving birth to her daughter Olympia. 

The US legend will play her first match since she hepled the US team beat Latvia in the Fed Cup last March in Everett. There Serena beat Jelena Ostapenko but she was defeated by Anastasija Sevastova. 

Williams will lead a star-studded line-up, which features this year’s Australian Open finalist and former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, Aryna Sabalenka, Sloane Stephens, Johanna Konta, Amanda Anisimova and Yulia Putintseva, Ons Jabeur, Victoria Azarenka, Heather Watson and US rising star Cori Gauff. 

Sabalenka won two consecutive editions of the Wuhan tournament in 2018 and 2019, in Shenzhen in 2019, the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and the Doha final in 2020. 

Stephens won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2017 and reached the final at 2018 Roland Garros. She finished runner-up to Elina Svitolina at the 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore. The US player lost to Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez in Monterrey in her last WTA Tour match before the pandemic. 

Amanda Anisimova won her maiden WTA title in Bogotà in 2019 in her first professional tour tournament on clay. Last year the young US player beat Simona Halep en route to becoming the youngest semifinalist at the French Open since 2006. This year Amanda lost to Serena Williams in the semifinal in Auckland last January. 

Johanna Konta reached the French Open semifinal and the Rome Final in 2019. The British player enjoyed her best year in 2017, when she won the Miami title and reached the Wimbledon semifinal rising to her best ranking at world number 4. 

The Top seed Open will be the first WTA tournament to be played in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the United States. The Kentucky tournament will feature a 32-player singles draw and a 16-player doubles field. 

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Kremlin Cup Becomes Latest Tournament Thrown Into Uncertainty

Will there be tennis in Russia this year?

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There could be a new blow to both the ATP and WTA Tour’s with officials admitting that the venue of Russia’s top tennis tournament is yet to be approved.

 

The Kremlin Cup in Moscow is one of three events to be currently included on the provisional WTA Calendar beyond the French Open along with Seoul, South Korea and Linz, Austria. This year’s 2020 tennis season has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought the sport to a standstill since March. Due to the virus all events set to take place in China later this year have been axed which includes the season-ending WTA Finals.

Shamil Tarpischev, who is the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, has said hopes of the Kremlin Cup taking place in 2020 depends on one venue in Moscow which he describes as the ‘only option.’ The tournament was held at the Olympic Stadium between 1990-2018, but it is currently going through a two-year renovation. Last year it took place at a temporary location at the Krylatskoye Ice Palace.

However, Tarpischev said the only place the tournament can be hosted in 2020 is at the CSKA track and field arena. The federation has already applied to use the venue but they are yet to get the necessary authorisation.

“CSKA is overcrowded, and therefore they have not given us an answer yet,” The Russian tennis chief told Tass news agency on Wednesday. “We are waiting for a decision in the near future, we sent all the letters. But this is our only option – there is nowhere else to play [VTB Kremlin Cup] this year.

Should they get the green light, officials intend to hold the men’s and women’s tournaments separately instead of their original plan of a combined event. Tarpischev has said the ATP event will take place from October 19 to October 25. Although this is yet to be confirmed by the ATP, who have not published their calendar for events taking place after September. Meanwhile, the women’s event is set to take place during the first week of November (2-8).

The Kremlin Cup is currently classed as an ATP 250 event for the men and a Premier for the women. Andrey Rublev and Belinda Bencic are the reigning champions.

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