Roger Federer Urges The WTA To Rethink Age policy, But Serena Is Unsure - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer Urges The WTA To Rethink Age policy, But Serena Is Unsure

The two tennis giants have contrasting views when it comes to how many tournaments young players should be allowed to play every year.

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WIMBLEDON: Roger Federer has come out in favor of allowing young players to play more matches on the tour in the wake of Cory Gauff’s success at Wimbledon.

 

15-year-old Gauff is through to the third round of the grand slam after coming through the qualifying rounds. Becoming the youngest player in history to do so. Wimbledon is only her third event this year on the WTA Tour. Under the Age Eligibility Rule Gauff is allowed to play a maximum of 10 tournaments between her 15th and 16th birthdays. Plus the two year-end tournaments if she qualifies and the Fed Cup.

“I understand the rule completely that they want the young players not to play too much. I’ve told the WTA they should loosen up the rules.” Federer said following his second round win at Wimbledon.
“I loved seeing (Martina) Hingis doing what she did at a young age.’
“I think it would be nice if they could play more.”

The policy is in force to prevent early burn-out. It was better known as the Jennifer Capriati rule in connection with her adjustment to a surge in fame at such a young age. Capriati made her professional debut at the age of 13 before breaking into the world’s top 10 a year later.

Whilst the intention is good, 20-time grand slam champion Federer feels that it could be having a negative effect on some players. As of 4th July this year there are 20 players aged 16 or under with a WTA ranking.

“I feel like it (the rule) puts in some ways extra pressure on them every tournament they play.” Federer points out.
“It’s like their week, this is now where they are finally allowed to play, they have to do well, right? I’m not sure if it’s maybe to some extent counterproductive.”

Those views are ones not necessarily agreed upon by everybody. Serena Williams was more coy about the situation. Shortly after her 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, win over Kaja Juvan, the 37-year-old said she was unsure if there should be a change. Adding that she believed she was ‘not a good player’ at the age of 15. Williams’ first professional event was at the 1995 Bell Challenger at the age of 14.

“I can’t really comment on that because I can’t really experience that. I do know when I was younger, I was limited to tournaments. I also was able to go to school and be able to do things that I’ll never get back.” Williams responded when asked.

One possible solution mentioned by Federer is the creation of a mentoring scheme. Where legends of the game would help guide the rising stars. Providing with tips about how to cope with life on the tour. Naming Billie Jean King, Chris Evert or Martina Navratilova as potential mentors.

“They could maybe do a mentoring system that there is maybe still a rule about how many tournaments they’re allowed to play, but maybe it should be more, in my opinion.” He said.
“Maybe your best time (in tennis) is from 14 to 20 for some reason. It’s not like everybody is from 20 to 30.’
“Some want to have kids maybe at 24. At least you had a strong career for 10 years, from 14 to 24.”
“I don’t have the perfect solution. I see why they did it because we’ve had a history of some tough parents out there. But at the same time, you’re also increasing the pressure for that player each week to produce.”

At present, there are no signs from the WTA that they will make any changes to the rules in the foreseeable future.

ATP

‘Time To Accept The Situation And Fight’ – Rafael Nadal Targets French Open Despite Foot Concern

After recently returning to the Tour following a rib injury, a flare up of another issue threatens to spoil Nadal’s Paris dreams.

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Image via Roberto Dell’Olivo

Just over a week before the start of the French Open Rafael Nadal once again finds himself nursing a long-term condition that sidelined him from the Tour for months last year.

 

The 21-time Grand Slam champion looked to be in visible discomfort during parts of his clash with Denis Shapovalov in the third round of the Italian Masters on Thursday. After clinching the opening set, Nadal fell 1-6, 7-5, 6-2, to the Canadian who registered his first-ever win over a top 10 player on clay and his 10th overall. He now faces a race against time to be ready for the French Open which he has won a record 13 times.

“I am not injured. I am a player living with an injury. That’s it, it is nothing new. It’s something that is there,” Nadal told reporters in Rome.

35-year-old Nadal suffers from Mueller-Weiss syndrome, which is a degenerative disease that causes a deformity of one of the bones in the central part of the foot. Due to the condition last year he was only able to play in one tournament over a six-month period. In September that year he underwent treatment on his foot but not surgery.

“My day-by-day is difficult, honestly. Even like this, I am trying hard. Of course, it’s difficult for me to accept the situation sometimes,” the former world No.1 said of his condition. “It can be frustrating that a lot of days I can’t practice the proper way.”

The setback occurred during what was only Nadal’s second tournament since returning to action following a rib injury. At last week’s Madrid Open he reached the quarter-finals before losing to compatriot Carlos Alcaraz. Nadal’s recent misfortunes follow what has been a blistering start to the season for him. He started 2022 by winning 20 matches in a row before losing to Taylor Fritz in Indian Wells. His win-loss for the season currently stands at 23-3 with three titles won, including the Australian Open.

During his visit to Roland Garros this year Nadal will be joined by his doctor who will be keeping a close eye on his foot. As to how much the condition could hinder his campaign in the French capital, the Spaniard admits that he doesn’t know due to its unpredictability.

First thing that I need to do is to not have pain to practice, that’s it. And the negative thing is today it’s not possible for me to play. But maybe in two days things will be better, that’s the thing that I have with my foot,” he explained.

Nadal is the most successful player in French Open history with a total of 105 main draw wins. In fact, the only players to have ever beaten him at the tournament are Novak Djokovic twice and Sweden’s Robin Soderling.

“It’s time to accept the situation and fight. That’s it. Honestly, I can’t say anything more now,” Nadal continued.
“I still have a goal (to be ready for the French Open) in one week and a couple of days. I’m going to keep dreaming about that goal.”

Nadal has played just five matches on clay this season heading into the French Open.

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Players Face Sanctions If They Make Pro-Putin Statements At French Open, Warns Mauresmo

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The tournament director of the French Open admits there is ‘no fair decision’ regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian players in the Grand Slam.

 

Amelie Mauresmo, who is a former WTA No.1 player herself, confirmed that players from those countries will be allowed to play during an interview with French radio. Although they will only be allowed to play under a neutral status in line with the rules which have been adopted by other governing bodies of the sport. The action has been taken in response to Russia’s military assault on the Ukraine which began on February 24th. Belarus is suspected of supporting Russia in the conflict which has already killed thousands of people.

The stance of officials in Paris is a stark contrast to that of Wimbledon who has controversially implemented a ban on those players, as well as the LTA. Making it the first time The All England Club has excluded players due to their nationality since the World War Two Era when German and Japanese players weren’t allowed to participate. The ATP Tour is reportedly considering removing the allocation of points to the event in response to the ban.

Speaking about the issue, Mauresmo confirmed that action could be taken against any player who decides to make pro-Putin statements during the tournament. Although she didn’t elaborate on what penalties could be used if such a situation occurs.

“We have thought a lot, and I have the impression that there is no fair decision, one way or the other,” said Mauresmo. “We are in line with what European sports ministers have decided, we do not welcome teams but individual athletes. Obviously if an athlete speaks in the press for example and supports Vladimir Putin, sanctions will be taken. “

Providing an update on the upcoming tournament, Mauresmo says she is confident that this year’s tournament will have an almost full attendance. Confirming that “tickets are sold at more than 90-95%” of its capacity in what she hails as a ‘real success’ for the tournament. Last year’s edition took place with a restricted capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s French Open will begin on May 22nd. Novak Djokovic and Barbora Krejcikova are the defending champions.

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REPORT: ATP Player Representatives Backs Move To Strip Wimbledon Of Ranking Points Over Ban

It is understood that emergency meetings are taking place as momentum gathers to take an unprecedented move against the grass-court major.

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Aerial view across the grounds as spectators watch the big screen on the outside of No.1 Court in the sunshine at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 7 Monday 05/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Joe Toth

This year’s Wimbledon Championships could be entering into chaos after multiple reports suggest that there is growing support for the ATP to take a hardline approach to the tournament over their decision to ban Russian and Belarussian players.

 

According to multiple British media sources, the ATP Tour player representatives have endorsed the unprecedented move to remove all ranking points from the Grand Slam, as well as other events taking place in Britain this year. Something which has never happened in the Open Era. Supporters of the approach argue that it would create a fairer system with the players who are not allowed to participate.

Last month The All England Club and the British Lawn Tennis Association became the first organizations in the sport to ban Russian and Belarussian players over the war in Ukraine. Until then, it was agreed by tennis’ seven governing bodies that those players will be allowed to play on the Tour but only as neutral athletes and their federations have been suspended from team events. However, Wimbledon said their stance was made following recommendations from the British government, as well as taking into account other factors.

“We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible in the circumstances and that, within the framework of the government’s position, there is no viable alternative to the decision we have taken in this truly exceptional and tragic situation.” AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt recently told reporters.

Organizers did consider a proposal to let players participate but only if they signed a declaration condemning the actions of their governments but decided against doing so over safety concerns. Russia currently has strict laws in places concerning the war and thousands of people have been arrested for taking part in anti-war protests.

The bold move has prompted criticism from many leading names on the Tour. Former Wimbledon champions Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have all previously voiced their opposition.

“I think it’s very unfair (on) my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues. It’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war,” said Nadal.

Emergency talks are now set to take place amid the threat of removing points from Wimbledon. Each of the four Grand Slam tournaments has the biggest number of ranking points on offer on the Tour with the singles winner being awarded 2000 points. Whilst Wimbledon is independent from the Tour, it is the ATP who has control over the allocation of ranking points.

It is also unclear as to what action the women’s WTA Tour will take and if they will follow the same rumoured approach as the ATP. Steve Simon, who is the CEO of the WTA, has previously warned that his governing body would make ‘strong reaction’ but didn’t elaborate on what that might be. According to The Daily Mail, the ATP is trying to work alongside the women’s Tour in some capacity regarding this matter.

It is unclear as to when a final decision will be made.

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