PRESS RELEASE: Journalist Associations Back Ubitennis Over Controversial Removal Of Credentials In Rome - UBITENNIS
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PRESS RELEASE: Journalist Associations Back Ubitennis Over Controversial Removal Of Credentials In Rome

I am writing from Paris where I am covering the French Open and I would like to give you some update about the episode I have been involved in during the last Italian Open.

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Roma 2019 (foto via Twitter, @InteBNLdItalia)

The French Open is in full swing and the singles draws have reached the Round of 16 stage, but I wanted to take a few minutes to update you on the developments of the ‘incident’ started with the withdrawal of my credentials in Rome.

 

It has taken some time to put together this conjoint press release because, even if a very reputable publications like “Articolo 21” (usually aligned with the position of the Federal Association of the Italian Press FNSI) strongly criticized the episode, it is never easy to coordinate so many associations, presidents, vice-presidents, etc…, and it is important that every party involved expresses the same concepts in the same way.

PRESS RELEASE

All journalists associations in Italy find outrageous the decision by the organizing committee of the Italian Open of tennis to withdraw press credentials to our colleague Ubaldo Scanagatta, long-time sports writer and an internationally-renowned tennis expert.

The Federal Association of the Italian Press (FNSI), the Italian Union of Sports Press (USSI) and the Press Association of Tuscany (AST) together with the Group of Sports Journalists of Tuscany and the Council of the Professional Association of Journalists consider unacceptable this harassing attitude, especially for the reasons that allegedly justified this measure: Scanagatta should have provided journalistic coverage of the event exclusively for the media outlet that requested accreditation for him. This reason is unacceptable, especially considering how in this day and age there is a multitude of freelance journalists who need to work for several different media outlets just to earn enough to support themselves. This need is universally recognized: in the “Media Accreditation Policy” for the French Open of tennis, for example, it is explicitly stated that credentials are issued to each journalist to cover the event “whether on her/his own account, on behalf of an employer, or on behalf of any company [i.e. “any companies” as more explicitly stated in the French language version of the document: “pour le compte d’un employeur, ou le compte de toute(s) société(s)”] whom the journalist, photographer or technician is working with in relation to her/his activity, in whatever form, in respect of the Tournament”.

All press associations are invoking the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) as well as all sports federations and recommend that episodes like this one do not happen again, in any venue, in any stadium. It is worth reminding how credentials are not a privilege granted to journalists but a mere instrument needed by them to perform their role, which is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Italian Constitution that protects freedom of expression, underlining how “press shall not be subject to censorship or authorizations” and stressing that free press includes also the right of access to information without limitations.

I believe it is important this press release has eventually been issued. As you can read, the positions of all organizations involved are very firm, concerning both what happened in the past and what should happen in the future.

Since I am a… hot-blooded Tuscan old man who is never satisfied, I would have loved to see a mention of the absurd and unacceptable episode of the security agents instructed to escort me during the whole day on Saturday, while I was in the press room and I was being followed even while going to the bathroom. And even more absurdly, on the following day – on Sunday, during the Nadal-Djokovic final – when, entering the “grounds” of the tournament with an ordinary ticket having my credentials been withdrawn, I was being followed all over the venue by other security agents, as if I was some kind of criminal. I think it’s out of this world, and it could be worth a legal action… so that the people who ordered and executed the absurd (I would like to use much more colorful words, but you ought to be careful with that kind of people) removal of my credentials.

However, taking legal action on a principle, like in this case, is usually a big sort of stress, and significant expenses, for the plaintiff, while a defendant like FIT (the Italian Tennis Federation) remains relatively unscathed even if found guilty, since they can rely on large financial resources. It has happened already, on several occasion, I know this first hand.

I don’t know whether this is the end of the road or there will be further developments. At the very least it should be reminded to the person who signed that pitiful letter used as a pretext for the actions against me that journalistic ethics should prevent a journalist from doing something like that to a colleague, not even if he were ordered by the President himself.

I would also like to explain our readers how the time elapsed between the events in question and the issue of a conjoint press release by the various press associations was legally required to wait for a formal reply by FIT, that had been contacted by USSI. However the FIT did not deign to respond.

That didn’t surprise me. Probably they didn’t know what to say… without consulting with a lawyer first, a lawyer they may eventually need after all.

This press release will be forwarded to various organizations in tennis: ATP, WTA, ITF, and the International Tennis Writers Association. I can tell you that everyone has expressed their support here in Paris: other Italian journalists, international reporters, even some players.

I want to thank from the bottom of my heart those 1,000 or so readers and friends (some closer than others) who wrote to me at direttaubitennis@gmail.com, on Facebook and Twitter, and to my personal email address. I felt them close to me, I was sincerely pleased, especially because many people who hardly ever post comments on the site, some who didn’t even know how to post a comment, took time to show their solidarity. My passion and dedication to this profession is fostered also by your support, which I truly appreciate, even if you do not share or approve my positions on many other topics. This pushes me to continue along the path I have decided to take.Open Sus

Links to articles (in Italian)

 

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‘Best Match’ Of 2020 Changes Nothing For Ash Barty At Australian Open

The reigning French Open champion explains why she doesn’t consider herself the frontrunner in Melbourne.

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World No.1 Ash Barty has vowed not to get ahead of herself despite producing a dominant display in her latest match at the Australian Open.

 

Barty, who is seeking to become the first home player to win a singles title in Melbourne Park since 1978, dropped just five games during her 6-3, 6-2, win over Elena Rybakina. Who won the Hobart International last week. Despite being tested at times by the 29th seed, Barty prevailed with the help of 28 winners as she broke five times during the 79-minute match.

“I think today was probably my sharpest match that I played. I felt really comfortable moving around the court. I felt like I found the middle of the racquet a lot sooner than my other matches.” Barty commented during her press conference.
“Particularly there were tough, long service games. I was able to get out of them and continue the momentum. I think all in all it was a pretty well-rounded performance.”

The win follows her victories over Lesia Tsurenko and Polona Hercog earlier in the tournament. Barty is now on a seven-match winning streak after winning the Adelaide International last week. Her first ever WTA title on Australian soil.

As the top seed in the women’s draw, the 23-year-old is carrying the burden of expectation on her shoulders. Although the WTA Tour is renowned for its unpredictability with the last 12 major tournaments being won by 10 different players. During that time, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep is the only players to have won multiple trophies. At the Australian Open specifically, the last time the tournament was won by the number one seed was in 2015 by Serena Williams.

It is perhaps for this reason why Barty is remaining coy about her chances over the coming days. After branding her latest victory as the best of 2020 so far, she once again played down the idea of being the favourite to win.

“I’ve said from the very start, for us it’s about coming out here and enjoying it. I’m loving every minute. Trying to do the best I can. That’s all I can ask of myself.” She said.
“There’s a ‘No. 1’ next to my name and that’s about it. I think my family is the same. I’m the same.”

Danger lurks for the Australian in the next round with a rematch against Alison Riske looming. Riske was the player who knocked Barty out of Wimbledon last year. The American 18th seed edged out Julia Goerges in three sets in her third round match.

Barty doesn’t appear to be too traumatised by the loss at the The All England Club. Blaming it on a combination of factors such as tiredness and the quick turnaround from winning her first grand slam title at the French Open. She states that she lost no sleep over the defeat.

Meanwhile, Riske herself admits that she faces a tough task of repeating her Wimbledon heroics.

“It’s going to be a different experience. I’m playing on her home turf. I expect the fans against me, as they should be. It’s going to be a battle. So I’m looking forward to it.” She said.

Should Barty prevail in the next round, she will progress to the last eight of the Australian Open for only the second time in her career.

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Grand Slam

Caroline Wozniacki Bids Emotional Farewell To Tennis After Defeat to Jabeur

Caroline Wozniacki gave her last on-court interview and said goodbye to the fans after she lost the last match of her career.

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Caroline Wozniacki (@Reuters on Twitter)

Caroline Wozniacki brought the curtain down on her exceptional tennis career with a tearful farewell on Margaret Court Arena.

 

Appropriately, the Dane’s last professional match was the kind of pulsating three-set battle she is famous for. Ultimately, she lost it 7-5 3-6 7-5 to Ons Jabeur, but the occasion was about so much more than that.

It was a time for Wozniacki to look back at what she achieved and celebrate her triumphs. And, although she was clearly emotional that it was all over, there was no regret in her voice.

“I think it’s only fitting that my last match would be a three-setter, a grinder, and that I would finish my career with a forehand error,” the Dane said in her on-court interview.

“Those are the things that I’ve been working on my whole career, and I guess this was just meant to be.”

Wozniacki continued, “There’s so many things I will remember. Obviously the achievements I had on the court were amazing. The feelings that the fans give us players when we’re out here are really amazing.”

“I will remember the support I’ve had from my family – especially my dad who has coached me all these years.”

“Those are the special memories that I will always cherish. The journey we’ve been on together has been really amazing. It’s been a great ride. I really am happy, but I’m ready for the next chapter (in my life) and I’m excited for what’s to come. You may see me around – off the court.”

Players pay tribute to Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki and her team (@wwnrradio)

During a special tribute, some of the players Wozniacki competed against gave their thoughts on the Dane. Several mentioned that she was a great fighter, while others praised her positive attitude.

Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens summed up many an opponent’s feelings when facing Wozniacki. “Most annoyingly, she just got every ball back – literally every ball,” the American said. “And she had that backhand which was just not fun (to face).”

“I have a lot of really nice memories of her of just being a really genuinely nice person,” added Naomi Osaka.

The last words were left for one of the Dane’s best friends: Serena Williams. “It’s going to be really hard for me to not have Caroline on the tour,” she said. “I’m really happy for her and I know that she’s doing what she wants to do and that’s what it’s all about.”

Wozniacki was then asked how she fought so hard on court but made so many friends on tour.

“When you’re on the court, you’re there to compete and there to win,” the Dane responded. “But when we’re off the court, we’re all in the same boat. We’re all travelling to the same tournaments and I think it makes it a lot more fun if you have friends on tour.”

After her final on-court interview, all that remained was for Wozniacki to say goodbye. Tournament director Craig Tiley gave her a hug and presented her with a koala. Then her dad Piotr lifted her up and carried her across the court.

Finally, the Dane walked around the stadium thanking the fans for their love and support with happy tears in her eyes. She will be remembered very fondly by the tennis community.

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Grand Slam

Serena Williams Crashes Out Of The Australian Open With Shock Loss To Wang

Serena Williams suffered a shock third-round exit at the 2020 Australian Open. She lost a tight three-set match to Wang Qiang.

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Serena Williams (@SInow on Twitter)

Serena Williams unexpectedly tumbled out of the 2020 Australian Open at the third-round stage with a 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5 defeat to Wang Qiang.

 

It is a massively upsetting results for the American. And it means that her quest for a Margaret Court-equalling 24th Grand Slam title will have to continue if she wants it to be successful.

For Wang, this day means something entirely. It is undoubtedly the biggest win of her career so far and should give her great confidence for her first-ever Grand Slam last-16 match in two days’ time.

It also marked an extraordinary transformation from the Chinese player. At the US Open in September, she was humiliated by the great American. She lost 6-1 6-0 in 44 minutes and did not hit a single winner.

Today in Melbourne, she took the game to Serena and hit 25 of them. In addition, she made sure she held onto her serve as much as possible (she was only broken once) and she made the American play as many balls as she could.

Wang punishes Serena’s mistakes

Qiang Wang (@NZStuffSport on Twitter)

The 23-time Grand Slam champion did not perform at her best. She made more unforced errors (56) than winners (43), which is usually a bad sign. And she only got 56% of her first serves, which enabled Wang to attack her second serve.

To the 27th seed’s immense credit, she capitalised on Serena’s mistakes. She remained so consistent and made so few unforced errors in the match (just 20 in 160 minutes of play) that she reduced the margin for error for her opponent significantly.

This meant that when the American faltered, Wang could pounce. She was gifted 0-30 in the ninth game of the first set and hit two winners to seize the crucial break.

Then Serena made some sloppy errors in the fifth game of the second set and the Chinese player broke her again. Unfortunately for the 27th seed, the World No.9 played arguably her best tennis of the match to break back four games later and then eventually take the set 7-2 in the tie-break.

In the decider, Wang served brilliantly. She got 74% of her first serves in and won 84% of those points. Consequently, she did not face a single break point in the set.

By contrast, Serena had to save two break points to keep the match going all the way to 6-5 in the Chinese player’s favour.

However, that was the limit of the American’s resistance. She made five unforced errors to gift Wang the game and with it the win that she had worked so hard for.

The Chinese player will now take on another surprise winner – Ons Jabeur – in the fourth round. The Tunisian became the last player to beat Caroline Wozniacki in her career when she recorded a 7-5 3-6 7-5 win.

Barty eases into Last 16

Ashleigh Barty (@Welovetennis on Twitter)

While the former World No.1 was knocked out, the current occupier of that ranking – Ashleigh Barty – suffered no such strife. She continued her serene progress through the draw with a comfortable 6-3 6-2 victory over rising star Elena Rybakina.

The Australian, 23, has now lost just twelve games in her last six sets after she dropped the first set against Lesia Tsurenko in round one.

It is ominous form, but if Barty’s rivals are starting to worry, they may take some comfort from the fact that the World No.1 might have to play the woman who beat her at Wimbledon – Alison Riske – in the next round.

Furthermore, if the Australian makes it to the quarter-final, she will probably face a very tough task in the shape of Petra Kvitova.

The Czech, 29, has made this Grand Slam business look very easy so far at this year’s Australian Open. She followed up straight-set victories over Katerina Siniakova and Paula Badosa with a 6-1 6-2 thrashing of Ekaterina Alexandrova to book her place in the fourth round.

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