Sloane Stephens Ready To ‘Start Her Season’ Alongside New Coach - UBITENNIS
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Sloane Stephens Ready To ‘Start Her Season’ Alongside New Coach

The world No.8 is hoping to find a boost in her form with the help of her new coach.

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Sloane Stephens (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

MADRID: Technically the tennis calendar always begins in January, but Sloane Stephens has her own plan in motion.

 

The former US Open champion has endured mixed start to the season. Prior to this week, she had only won back-to-back matches in two out of seven tournaments played. Reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open and the quarter-finals in Charleston. A far from ideal situation for somebody who was ranked third in the world back in February, but has since dropped to eighth.

Trying to pinpoint the reasons behind those results, the 26-year-old admits the problems are more mental, than physical. A similar sentiment that has been echoed by Jelena Ostapenko. Another former grand slam champion trying to find her footing on the tour.

“I think definitely mentally. I’ve had a lot of changes in my life and career.” Said Stephens, who recently got engaged to MLS player Jozy Altidore.”I won’t say I’m an emotional person, but I definitely need to adjust to things and take it all in. I think that took me a bit longer at the start of the year.”

Hoping to get herself back on track, Stephens recently appointed Sven Groeneveld as her latest coach. A well-known figure on the WTA Tour, who has previously worked alongside Monica Seles, Mary Pierce, Caroline Wozniacki, and Maria Sharapova.

“I think he’s a great guy, he’s a great coach. We had some great practice before here (Madrid).” Stephens assessed. “I can’t speak about it too much, but I guess two wins is good and I think it’s good tennis.”

It has been so far, so good for the new partnership. In Madrid, Stephens overcame Victoria Azarenka in the second round on Monday. Claiming her fourth consecutive win over the Belarusian since the start of 2018. Whilst it is too early to tell how the collaboration is working out, Stephens believes she is heading in the right direction.

“Now that I’ve found a good coach and I’m happy with things. I’m looking forward to starting the season, I know it’s May, but it’s never too late.” She said.

During the clay swing, the American has 1527 points to defend. Most of which will be at the French Open where she lost to Simona Halep in the final last year. She is one of only two player’s defending more than 1500 points during this period. The other is Halep with 2900 points.

“I try not to think too much, get too stressed. It’s kind of trying to find the right balance in tennis, like in life.” Stephens commented on coping with the pressure.

The next task for the world No.8 will be either Alize Cornet or Saisai Zheng in Madrid 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.”

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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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