Mats Wilander Questions Federer’s US Open Hopes, Serena’s Consistency And Kyrgios’ Antics - UBITENNIS
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Mats Wilander Questions Federer’s US Open Hopes, Serena’s Consistency And Kyrgios’ Antics

The former world No.1 has spoken out about a variety of top tennis stars ahead of the final grand slam of the season.

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With less than a week to go until the start of the US Open, a candidly speaking Mats Wilander has shared his opinion on a series of topics set to take place during this year’s tournament.

 

The 54-year-old former tennis pro has cast doubts on Roger Federer’s chances in Flushing Meadows. The Swiss player has won more grand slam singles titles than any other player on the men’s tour, however, he hasn’t triumphed at the US Open since 2008. Federer suffered a shock loss to John Millman in the fourth round last year.

The 38-year-old will be seeded third in this year’s draw and could potentially play both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic if he wants to win the title. Should he play world No.1 Djokovic, Wilander believes the Swiss maestro will struggle. However, he is more positive about Nadal’s chances. The Spaniard is the only one of the trio to have won a hard court title within the past two months.

“I think the biggest obstacle for someone like Federer is that he is going to play seven hard games,” Wilander told Eurosport.
“No matter what the style is, you may have a problem against a great server or a bottom player.
“Rafael Nadal is the only player who can beat Novak Djokovic in a five-set Grand Slam game.
“We need to have two boys in the semi-finals who don’t call themselves Roger, Rafa or Stan or Novak.”

Federer last played Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon, which he lost in five sets after having two championship points. Making it the fourth consecutive time he has lost to the Serbian in their head-to-head. On the other hand, Federer has a more promising record against Nadal. Winning six out of their seven meetings on the tour since 2015.

‘Slowly disappearing’ Serena

In the women’s draw eyes will be on Serena Williams as she once again bids to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 grand slam titles. The American is yet to win a title of any sort since becoming a mother. Settling for runner-up at three out of the past five grand slam tournaments. Including Wimbledon, where she suffered a comprehensive straight sets loss to Simona Halep.

The lack of silverware in recent time has been one debated by those following Williams’ career. However, Wilander believes the problem is that she no longer intimidates her rivals on the court.

“Her intimidation factor is slowly disappearing, compared to the youngest ones,” he said.
“She has not been consistent in the last four or five years on the regular tour and has not played enough tournaments and won enough victories.
“The dressing room probably thinks that there is a small chance that they can win because the consistency – both physical and in their tennis – has not been there.
“The intimidation factor is not as strong with Serena, as it is with someone like Roger or Rafa.”

Williams will be seeking redemption in New York following her high-profile outburst in last year’s final. She clashed with umpire Carlos Ramos after being issued with a warning for coaching. Prompting her to call the official a ‘liar’ and a ‘cheat.’ She was then issued with two additional penalties that amounted to a game penalty. In a recent interview Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, has praised the incident.

Six-time champion Williams will be seeded eighth in this year’s tournament.

The Kyrgios problem

On the topic of Nick Kyrgios, Wilander has urged the Australian to become more professional on the tour. Kyrgios splits opinion in the world of sport due to his controversial behaviour. The most recent incident took place last week at the Cincinnati Masters where he was knocked out by Karen Khachanov in the second round. During that match, he engaged in a heated confrontation with the umpire and committed a series of code violations. Including walking off the court when he wasn’t allowed to and calling the official a “F***ing tool.” Kyrgios was subsequently fined $113,000 for eight separate incidents.

It hasn’t all been doom and gloom for the 24-year-old, who recently won the Citi Open in Washington. The way he conducted himself during that tournament is what Wilander hopes to see at the US Open next week.

“I hope he doesn’t behave like he did in Cincinnati,” he said.
“I think that every week that passes is showing more and more interest in wanting to win tennis matches and wanting to improve everything around him.
“I think when he did what he did in Cincinnati, of course it looks bad and, of course, there are children in the stands and the language is bad, but at least the way he is now in the last weeks, he is showing that he cares.
“Nick wants to win, he hates losing and he wants to play well, he wants to entertain and he simply hasn’t been able to deal with it in a professional way.”

Kyrgios hasn’t reached the quarter-final of a grand slam since January 2015.

The draw for the US Open will will be made on Thursday with the main draw starting next Monday.

Grand Slam

REPORT: French Open Qualifying Match Under Investigation Over Irregular Betting Patterns

An unusual number of bets were placed on the match in three different countries.

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A first round match at this week’s French Open qualifying tournament is being looked into after an abnormally high number of bets was placed, according to a leading French newspaper.

 

L’Equipe have cited police sources saying that the clash between eighth seed Bernabé Zapata Miralles and Dudi Sela has flagged up irregular patterns. Miralles defeated his Israeli rival 6-3, 6-0, in less than an hour. It is understood that the focus of the investigation is on the second set which lasted less than 20 minutes. A total of 32 points was placed in that set with Sela only winning seven of those.

According to the source, an unusually high number of bets were placed on the match in three different countries – Cyprus, Ukraine and Armenia. Prompting judicial authorities to look into the possibility that the match could have been fixed but at present no formal investigation has been confirmed.

“There is no business,” the French Tennis Federation (FFT) was quoted by Le Parisien as saying on the matter.

37-year-old Sela is currently ranked outside the world’s top 400 but managed to get into the qualifying draw with the use of a protected ranking. He has only played in two singles tournaments so far this season with the other being at the Australian Open where he also lost in the first round of qualifying.

Sela confirmed in January that 2022 would be his last as a professional. A former top 30 player, he has reached the final of two ATP events in China (2008) and Atlanta (2014). He also reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2009 and has beaten three top 10 players during his career.

Meanwhile, Miralles sealed his place in the French Open main draw on Thursday after coming from a set down to beat Luca Nardi 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that either player has been involved in match-fixing. According to statistics from L’Equipe, there has been a 177% increase in online bets concerning the French Open over a five-year period to 128M euros in 2021.

This year players who lose in the first round of qualifying at the French Open will earn €14,000, which is a 40% increase on 2021.

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‘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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