Elina Svitolina Solves Muchova Puzzle To Reach First Grand Slam Semi-Final - UBITENNIS
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Elina Svitolina Solves Muchova Puzzle To Reach First Grand Slam Semi-Final

Elina Svitolina got the better of Karolina Muchova in two rollercoaster sets to progress to her first Grand Slam semi-final.

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Elina Svitolina (@WeAreTennis on Twitter)

Elina Svitolina is through to her first Grand Slam semi-final after she beat Karolina Muchova 7-5 6-4 in the last eight at Wimbledon.

 

It is a very significant achievement for the Ukrainian. She has been ever-present in the world’s top ten since May 2017, but she has never previously made it past the quarter-final stage of a major.

“It feels amazing,” Svitolina said in her post-match interview. “I didn’t expect it would happen here, so it’s exciting and I’m looking forward to my semi-final already.”

She continued, “Muchova is a very tricky player. I think grass suits her. I had to really fight for every point and try to find my opportunities.”

Svitolina recovers after nightmare start

Svitolina, 24, had to win the hard way after an awful start. She was gifted the opening game by three unforced errors from Muchova, but she only won one point in the next four games as her Czech opponent broke her twice and stormed into a 4-1 lead in just 14 minutes.

At the changeover, the Ukrainian shook her head, as did her boyfriend Gael Monfils in the stands. Next to Monfils, Svitolina’s coach Andrew Bettles looked puzzled.

Happily, for their sake and hers, the World No.8 finally settled in game six. She served much better and hit three superb shots at the net to secure her first hold of the day.

Svitolina then put pressure on Muchova in game nine with her consistent groundstrokes, and the Czech buckled and allowed her to break back.

The World No.68 decided all six points in game ten. She moved the ball expertly around the court during two great grass-court points that showcased her potential. However, she also made four unforced errors, which allowed the Ukrainian to draw level at 5-5.

Svitolina went on the attack in the next game. She won one point at the net and then pinned Muchova behind the baseline to win another.

But the Czech was determined to make the Ukrainian work for the break. She saved four break points during what turned out to be the longest game of the match. There were also some excellent rallies for the crowd to enjoy. Ultimately, Muchova’s efforts were to no avail, as Svitolina forced an error from the youngster to move 6-5 ahead.

The World No.8 served out the set in style. She finished one point with a smart volley, another with a classy cross-court forehand winner and a third with a clever drop shot-volley combination.

Svitolina raises her game to see off Muchova challenge

Elina Svitolina (@Wimbledon on Twitter)

The second set was crazy. Muchova seized an early break with a forehand winner after Svitolina handed her a break point with a sloppy error.

The Ukrainian responded brilliantly. She floated a forehand beyond the Czech’s reach and unleashed a stunning forehand winner down the line to earn 0-30. She then profited from two unforced errors from Muchova to seal a break to love.

Svitolina saved two break points in game four and then broke the World No.68 twice more to move 5-2 ahead.

Still Muchova fought. She hit a superb backhand winner to force a break point and the Ukrainian made an error to hand her the break.

Svitolina ensured there was no repeat in game ten. She rushed the Czech whenever she could to earn a match point at 40-30. Then she hit a big serve out wide to clinch victory and jumped up and down in sheer delight.

The Ukrainian will now face Simona Halep in the last four. Although she leads their head to head 4-2, it will be tough to beat the Romanian in their first meeting on grass as she looks to be in top form.

“It’s a great opportunity for me,” Svitolina said. “I really love the atmosphere here and it will be exciting to play on the Centre Court for the first time.”

 

 

 

 

Grand Slam

Tennis Australia Suffers Major Financial Loss Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

Millions has been lost over a 15-month period, according to an official document.

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Tennis Australia’s staging of the 2021 COVID-19-affected Australian Open came at a huge financial cost, according figures published in their annual report.

 

The governing body has revealed that between June 30, 2020 and September 30, 2021 they suffered a total loss of AUS$100.02 million which equates to roughly $71M in US dollars. Part of the heavy loss is linked to the hosting of this year’s Australian Open in accordance to rules related to the pandemic. Charter flights were provided to players for them to fly into the country. Then they all have to go through quarantine at designated hotels. To add to the financial burden, during the Grand Slam fans were banned from attending for a five-day period after Melbourne went into a snap lockdown. On the days the event was opened up to the public it was for a limited capacity crowd.

It was also confirmed that Tennis Australia used all of their AUS$80M cash reserves and subsequently had to borrow an additional AUS$40M loan in order to help them with their staging of next year’s Australian Open.

It is hoped that the organisers will be able to regain some of their financial loss in January where the country will host a series of ATP and WTA tournaments prior to the Melbourne major. As it currently stands, the Australian Open will be operating with full capacity crowds which maximises their earning potential from the visiting fans. There is also no mandatory quarantine required for players arriving in the country. Instead, they will have to take a COVID-19 test both before and upon arrival. Furthermore, they must also be double vaccinated in order to play.

Officials are hoping to stage the 2022 Australian Open in more normal circumstances despite the threat of the recently discovered Omicron variant which scientists are still looking into. The first case of community transmission of the variant in Australia was discovered on Friday in New South Wales.

“We’re still waiting. I’ve been talking to the government … there’s still a lot of unanswered questions around this (new COVID-19 variant),” tournament director Craig Tiley told the Nine Network earlier this week.
“I think in the next 14 days we will have some clarity, but at this point, the plans are going ahead as they are.”

The Australian Open is set to get underway on January 17th.

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Grand Slam

Nick Kyrgios Backs Australian Open Ban On Unvaccinated Players But Opposes Mandatory Vaccinations

The world No.90 landed himself in some hot water after making some comments on the No Boundaries podcast.

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Tennis star Nick Kyrgios says recent comments made by him on a podcast were taken out of context after he was accused of calling for next year’s Australian Open to be cancelled.

 

The former top 20 player spoke about the upcoming event and other issues on the No Boundaries podcast which he is a co-founder of. During one part of the discussion, Kyrgios said that he doesn’t think that the Australian Open should go ahead due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The country has had one of the strictest rules in the world regarding the pandemic with many cities being placed into a lockdown for almost a year and heavy restrictions being placed on international travel.

I don’t think the Aus Open should go ahead, just for the people in Melbourne – you’ve got to send a message,’ Kyrgios said on the podcast.
‘How long did (Melbourne) do in lockdown? 275 days or something?’

However, the 26-year-old later clarified his comment and said his point was more about the people living in Melbourne and not that the tournament should be cancelled. Kyrgios reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open back in 2015 and has made eight consecutive appearances in the main draw. This year he reached the third round before losing to Dominic Thiem in five sets.

“To say that I’d want the Australian Open cancelled, I think that was the sentence that got taken out of context,” he said in a video on his Instagram account. “It’s more so for the people of Melbourne who have gone through hell and back. I think it’s been … nearly 300 days of lockdown and your freedom has been, you know, taken away from you.”

Next year’s Melbourne major is still yet to publicly confirm their entry requirements amid growing speculation that players will only be allowed to play in the tournament if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is due to a health mandate being implemented in Victoria which requires all essential workers, including elite athletes, to be vaccinated. Premier Daniel Andrews has previously told journalists that he would not be making any exceptions to the rules for players.

Weighing in on the topic of vaccinations, Kyrgios said the idea of having a policy on Tour which requires all players to be vaccinated is ‘morally wrong.’ Novak Djokovic is among a group of players who have not revealed their vaccination status. Prompting speculation over if he will travel to Australia next January or not.

“(NBA player) Kyrie (Irving), Novak (Djokovic), these guys have given so much, sacrificed so much,” Kyrgios commented. “They’re global athletes who millions of people look up to and I just feel like it’s so morally wrong to force someone to get vaxxed. There’s other solutions around it.”

However, Kyrgios has also said that he thinks it is ‘morally wrong’ for unvaccinated players to be allowed in Melbourne.

I don’t think it’s morally right to accept players from overseas that aren’t vaccinated to come into our country.” He stated.

Although Tennis Australia is yet to confirm their policy, media sources are reporting on Tuesday that unvaccinated players will be banned from the tournament. According to ABC Australia, Victorian Sports minister Martin Pakula told reporters that unvaccinated players would be banned from the Australian Open along with unvaccinated fans and staff.

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ATP

Roger Federer Unlikely To Play Australian Open Next Year

One of Federer’s coaches has issued an update concerning his recovery from injury.

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Roger Federer Wimbledon 2021
Roger Federer (SUI) playing against Adrian Mannarino (FRA) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

It appears that Roger Federer’s return to professional tennis will not occur in Australia after one of his coaches described the chances of him playing in the first Grand Slam of 2022 as ‘very few.’

 

Ivan Ljubicic has issued an update on the 20-time Grand Slam champion who has not played since his quarter-final loss to Herbert Hurkacz at Wimbledon. Shortly after that defeat, Federer underwent a third operation of his knee following a consultation with his medical team. He has already undergone two minor surgeries on his knee during the first half of 2020, as well as a separate procedure back in 2016.

Speaking in Zurich during a sponsor event for Mercedes-Benz back in September Federer said ‘the worst is behind him’ but he is taking his recovery slowly. Speaking about his progress earlier this week, coach Ljubicic said the Swiss maestro is unable to recover ‘as quickly as he used to’ due to his age. Admitting that the prospect of Federer returning to action at Melbourne Park is unlikely.

“I think there are very few chances, he is still recovering and knowing him, he wants to be sure he can play to win the tournament and be at 100%,” Ljubicic told Stats Perform.
“So I think the Australian Open is not a real possibility right now. But he will go step by step because he is 40 years old now and he needs to be patient. He cannot recover as quickly as he used to.”

Federer has won six out of his 20 major titles at the Australian Open with the most recent occurring back in 2018. He also missed the tournament this year due to his knee. Prior to this, he had made 21 consecutive appearances at Maelbourne Park (2000-2020).

However, Ljubicic is optimistic that Federer will return to competition and retirement talk is currently not on the cards despite his age. According to the ATP, only six players older than Federer have an official ranking but none of those are currently ranked in the top 200. Although Feliciano Lopez is the same age as him but is a couple months younger.

We have spoken and I can guarantee he wants to return to playing tennis. When he decides to stop he will retire, but I don’t think it’s going to happen all of a sudden.” Ljubicic stated.

During his career, Federer has won 103 ATP titles and has earned more than $130M in prize money.

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