Sweet Revenge For Naomi Osaka In Indian Wells As She Continues To Adjust To Star Status - UBITENNIS
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Sweet Revenge For Naomi Osaka In Indian Wells As She Continues To Adjust To Star Status

The Australian Open champion reflects on her surge in popularity following her latest win.

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Naomi Osaka (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Naomi Osaka has kicked-off her title defence at the BNP Paribas Open with a straight sets win over France’s Kristina Mladenovic.

World No.1 Osaka, who lost to Mladenovic in Dubai last month, made sure that history wouldn’t repeat itself once more. Securing a 82-minute 6-3, 6-4, victory with a mixed performance that saw her hit 24 winners alongside 24 unforced errors. Furthermore, she saved three out of the four break points faced and claimed 67% of points behind her first serve. Making it the 61st match in a row that Osaka has won after claiming the opening set.

“I just learned to be really positive and not give her anything.” Osaka reflected about her latest win. “Of course there are some points that I made a few really bad choices, but other than that, I just tried to do a higher percentage shot.”

A lot has changed since the 21-year-old claimed her maiden WTA title in Indian Wells 12 months ago. Since then, she has won two consecutive grand slams and topped the WTA rankings. Becoming the first Asian player in history to do so. Along with her breakthrough run, has been a sudden rise of fame for the Japanese player with a surge in endorsements and media attention. Something that hasn’t been easy for the introverted Osaka at times.

“I wasn’t nervous walking onto the court. I would say more during my practice, because I was practising on Court 3. And then when I got there, there were so many people and it felt so different from last time I was here.” She said.
“I don’t know. I just wanted to do well for all the people that were watching. Yeah, but when I walked onto the court, I was fine. It felt like normal.”

Even away from the tennis courts, Osaka is still star struck by her popularity. According to official ratings, her Australian Open final clash with Petra Kvitova was the most watched program in Japan during the Australian Open. The last 75 minutes of the match on NHK-1 averaged 32.30 rating points. Equivalent to an impressive 45% market share.

“I don’t want to call them random people, but random people stop me and want to take pictures. It usually shocks me, because it’s sometimes not when I’m anticipating it.” She explained.
“Like, if I’m at the tournament site, then I’m cool with it, because I know it’s a tennis tournament. But, if I’m just walking around in, like, a mall or something, then it just catches me off-guard.”

Osaka will play home favourite Danielle Collins in the third round on Monday. 25th seeded Collins reached the fourth round of the tournament last year and is an Australian Open semi-finalist. The American dropped only five games during her opening match against Kirsten Flipkens, winning 6-4, 6-1.

“I know she played well in Australia, and I was remembering watching her semis against Kvitova. I think I’m just going to have to watch a lot of videos.” The world No.1 said about her upcoming match.

Osaka thrashed Collins 6-1, 6-0, in their first meeting on the tour at the China Open last October.

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ATP ‘Surprised’ By Jibe From ITF Over Allocation Of Ranking Points

The row over the use of ATP points at $25,000 events has intensified on Wednesday following comments made by a member of the ITF.

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A fresh disagreement has erupted between the two governing bodies within tennis over the new transition tour.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF), who is in charge of the tour, has hit out at the ATP over their current allocation of points to $25,000 tournaments. From this year a new two-tier ranking system has come into effect following a radical overhaul. WTA points are only awarded to women playing in events that have $25,000 in prize money or more. In men’s tennis, $25,000 ITF Pro Circuit events offer both ATP ranking points (later rounds) and ITF Entry Points (all rounds); while the qualifying rounds of ATP Challenger tournaments also offer both ATP ranking points (all events) and ITF Entry Points (events up to $125,000 in prize money). Players can use their ITF ranking to enter into professional tournaments.

It is concerning the men’s $25,000 tournaments where the ITF has accused the governing body of men’s tennis of ‘blocking’ calls for change. On Wednesday a senior figure told the Press Association that the ATP had been yet to agree to allocate more ranking points at all levels of the $25,000 events. Saying the organisation wanted to ‘wait and see’ what happens.

“We have spoken to them a number of times and made this request. To date they haven’t agreed to put those points back in.” The ITF’s senior executive director of professional tennis, Kris Dent, told Press Association Sport.
“I don’t want to speak for them but my understanding is they want to wait and see how this plays out over the first two quarters of the year but we believe the issue is more immediate than that and it would make immediate sense to have those points back in.
“At the moment we’re not addressing the player opportunity issue and creating essentially a bottleneck at the 25,000 level, which understandably is causing frustration for the players who are in that ranking band.”

In the wake of Dent’s comments, the ATP has issued a statement saying that they are engaged in ongoing ‘conversations’ about the situation. Contradicting the claims and paving way for a blame game between the two.

“Regarding the allocation of ATP ranking points at the $25,000 ITF events, the ATP has already raised this with the ITF as a matter which required further assessment in order to ensure that the pathway into the ATP Challenger Tour and beyond is working effectively.” The statement reads.
“Those conversations are well underway, which makes the statement from the ITF surprising, and we look forward to reaching an agreement on this as soon as possible.”

The transition tour was created with the goal of creating a fairer and more viable system for professional players to earn a living. Whilst reducing the overall number of players on the tour. However, many have blasted the reforms and the ITF has announced a series of changes following the fallout. These include increasing the size of the qualifying draws and the number of junior exempts allowed to participate.

On the same day as the announcement, Dirk Hordoff has confirmed that ITF chief David Haggerty has agreed to ‘next steps’ in adjusting the tour. Hordoff is the vice-president of the German Tennis Federation and has been a vocal critic of the reforms.

“Spoke today to ITF president Dave Haggerty who confirmed the board decisions you can see on the today ITF press release. A big important step in the right direction.” He wrote in a Facebook post.
“We both agreed that next steps have to follow. Specially the grant of WTA and ATP points in all professional tournaments and more tournaments organized by the nations.”

It is unclear as to what these next steps will be and when they will occur.

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Cino Marchese: A Former Heavyweight In The World Of Tennis

Remembering the life of one of Italy’s biggest tennis figures in the Open Era.

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Cino Marchese standing next to Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta

On Sunday Italy lost one of their most prestigious figures in the world of tennis as the likes of Rafael Nadal paid their respects.

Cino Marchese passed away at the age of 81 whilst watching a Formula One race on TV. A talent scout, marketer and tournament director, he established himself as a highly respected figure in the sport. During the 1980s Marchese helped revive the Italian Open. As tournament director, he created the VIP village in Rome and was known fondly as the ‘mayor’ of it. According to the ATP, he generated $500,000 in revenue for the Italian Open in 1982 after selling three hospitality tents for $5000 each, which hosted up to 3000 people.


Marchese also served as the tournament chief of ATP events in Milan and Palermo. Overseeing the Milan tie-break ‘shootout’ events, which was attended by some of the biggest names of the sport. Including Yannick Noah, Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl and Sergi Bruguera in the 1991 edition. Brugera won the tournament and $200,000 in prize money. For the inaugural edition of the Palmero Open in 1979, he managed to get Bjorn Borg to participate.

“In those days friendship was worth more than a thousand contracts. And I was a friend of his. For the first edition I asked him to be there.“ He once told website Palermo Today about Bjorg’s appearance.

As a agent, he assisted in the careers of Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati, Goran Ivanisevic, Adriano Panatta, Paolo Bertolucci and others. His clients also included three-time Olympic skiing champion Alberto Tomba and Italian football star Roberto Baggio.

Nicknamed ‘The Silver Fox’ due to the white-silver hair he had since his thirties, he is remembered for cooking pasta during some of his tournaments and then inviting all the players for a meal.

Another role Marchese held was the head of Italian operations for the International Management Group (IMG) for more than 25 years. A position that involving sports such as skiing, tennis, football and basketball. He also organised the 1985 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Bormio.

Marchese’s funeral takes place today (Wednesday). He is survived by his wife, Gabriella.

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Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka dig deep to set up re-match against Barbora Krejikova and Katerina Siniakova in Indian Wells doubles final

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Unseeded team Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka had to dig deep to beat Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan 6-2 7-6 (7-5).

Mertens and Sabalenka built up a 6-2 5-2 lead, but Dabrowski and Yifan won three consecutive games thanks to a break-back in the ninth game to draw level to 5-5. Mertens and Sabalenka took the 7-5 edge in the tie-break.

“Two days ago I lost my singles match and then I went to play doubles and we won that match. For me that’s the best recovery. It’s always nice to play doubles and stay in a tournament especially in this tennis paradise. It’s cool to be here. It does not matter singles or doubles”,said Sabalenka.

The Belgian and Belarusian team set up a doubles final against reigning Roland Garros and Wimbledon doubles champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, who battled past Chan Hao Ching and Latisha Chan 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 10-6 after saving match points in a hard-fought second set.

Mertens and Sabalenka will be looking to take a re-match against Siniakova and Krejcikova, who came back from one set down to win 2-6 6-2 6-3 of the Australian Open third round match.

 

 

 

 

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