Kiki Bertens Relishing Time On Clay Ahead Of ‘Interesting’ French Open Campaign - UBITENNIS
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Kiki Bertens Relishing Time On Clay Ahead Of ‘Interesting’ French Open Campaign

The world No.7 evaluates her form and her chances of claiming a maiden grand slam title.



Kiki Bertens (photo by Roberto Dell Olivo)

MADRID: It was 12 months ago at the Madrid Open where Kiki Bertens enjoyed one of the best runs of her entire career.


Unseeded in the draw, she toppled the likes of Maria Sharapova and Caroline Garcia to reach her first ever Premier final. The best-ever run achieved by a Dutch player – man or woman – in the history of the tournament. Since then Bertens has made a steady rise up the rankings to a best of sixth earlier this season. During that period she has also claimed a trio of WTA titles to bring her overall tally to eight.

Bertens illustrated that threat she poses on the tour against Petra Kvitova in their quarter-final meeting in Madrid on Thursday. In what was a repeat of the 2018 final. The powerful-hitting 27-year-old bossed her rival around the court with the help of some clever angle shots. Even when Kvitova threatened to stage a comeback in the second set, Bertens stuck to her game plan to prevail 6-2, 6-3.

“Right now I’m just enjoying my game.” She reflected following her latest win.
“I had some great battles, like last week when I lost to Petra (Kvitova) in the (Stuttgart) semis. Now I have won against her, so it feels like anything is possible when you play well. I take that into every match.”

This time of the year is one Bertens relishes. The clay has brought her numerous success in the past with her first seven WTA finals taking place on that surface. In 2016 she scored her maiden top 10 win over Roberta Vinci in Nuremberg. Shortly after that win, she achieved her best ever grand slam run at the French Open. Reaching the semi-finals as an unseeded player.

“On the clay, I like to get a little more behind the baseline and build it up from there. When I get the opportunity, I really like attacking the ball. I don’t find I have to rush too much on the clay.” She explained about her game on the dirt.
“I like to wait for the second, third, fourth or even the fifth ball in the rally to attack.”

Given her history on the surface, some would rate Bertens as a key contender for the French Open title this year. Especially given how the season has gone so far with no player dominating the proceedings. During the first five months of 2019, Kvitova is the only woman to win multiple titles in singles. Overall, there have been 21 winners on the WTA tour so far this year.

“I think everyone can win every week, so it’s going to be really interesting at the French Open.” The world No.7 previewed. “I feel good on the clay and I know I can beat a lot of girls. Right now, I feel confident. But it (the French Open) is still far away.”

Prior to Roland Garros, Bertens’ focus is on Madrid and her upcoming clash with Sloane Stephens. She is yet to defeat the American but has taken a set of her in their two previous meetings in Rome (2013) and Singapore (2018).

“It’s going to be a tough match against Sloane.” She admits. “We played in Singapore, which was a really tough match. She is a great player and a great athlete. I have to be ready, play aggressive and hit as many balls back as possible.”

Should Bertens win the Madrid title this week, she will break into the world’s top five for the first time in her career.


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.



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 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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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.



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.”

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.



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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