Simona Halep Gains Momentum In Her Beloved Madrid Despite Pesky Cold - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep Gains Momentum In Her Beloved Madrid Despite Pesky Cold

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Simona Halep ( photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

MADRID: It is a bit like a love story when it comes to Simona Halep and the Madrid Open.

 

The reigning French Open champion is one of only four women to have recorded 20 or more wins in the tournament. She is also only the second woman to have won back-to-back Madrid titles after Serena Williams.

On Tuesday Halep continued her love affair in the Spanish capital with a rollercoaster 7-5, 6-1, win over Johanna Konta. Their first tour meeting since 2017. Konta entered the match fresh in confidence after reaching the final of the Marrakech Open on Sunday. Initially, it was that confidence that proved problematic for the former world No.1. Halep initially struggled to break the brick wall defensive play of her opponent as she trailed 2-4.

Despite the setback, a gutsy Halep battled back into contention with the help of some misses from the Brit. With little to separate the two throughout the opener, Halep eventually prevailed on the 60th minute. After missing four set points, she triumphed on her fifth with the help of a Konta backhand drifting wide.

Snatching the lead, Halep’s momentum gained rapidly as her opponent faded away in the second. Winning 15 points in a row to race through the second set in half the time it took her to triumph in the first. Overall, she won 62% of her service points and saved six out of the eight break points she faced.

“I feel good every time when I come to Madrid and I’m happy to be back and winning matches.” Halep said during her press conference. “It’s a special place for me. Many friends are coming. Ilie Nastase was there today, Nadia Comaneci, many others. It’s nice to play in front of them and when you feel like home, you can play better. So that’s why here I can play one of my best games.”

Madrid is the first test for Halep on the clay this season. It is a later than scheduled start due to a hip injury, which she has since recovered from. However, she has fallen victim to illness. A relatable situation Rafael Nadal also finds himself in.

“I have no pain anymore. I had a rest at home.” The Romanian assured. “When I arrived here, I got a cold and I’m not 100 percent. But, as it looks, it doesn’t affect my game that much. Just that recovery is more difficult. ‘
“I’m here to give everything I have and I have no expectations for this week.”

Whilst declaring that she has ‘no expectations,’ the 27-year-old must fancy her chances. Besides her record at the venue, there has been no clear frontrunner on the tour. In fact, five months into 2019 and Petra Kvitova is the only player to have won multiple grand slam titles.

“It’s a good thing for tennis and for the spectators as well,” Halep explains. “It’s more exciting to see many champions. Tennis is open now and everyone has the chance to win and to be there, to be in the top.”

Whilst relishing in the unpredictability of the tour, Halep will be hoping that no surprises occur in her next match. Awaiting her will be Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova. Somebody who reached the doubles finals of the Prague Open on clay and stunned Kiki Bertens earlier this year.

“It’s a big challenge always when I play with someone that I never played before. So I just want to see what I have to do against her. But the main thing is to focus on myself, on my game, and if I feel it, then I have a better chance.” The world No.2 previewed.

Halep will play her third round match on Wednesday.

ITF

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.

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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 change.org 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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ATP

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.

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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.”

https://twitter.com/TennisPodcast/status/1112840144904773632

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.

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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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