Novak Djokovic Questions Scheduling Of Women’s World No.1 Match In Cincinnati - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Questions Scheduling Of Women’s World No.1 Match In Cincinnati

The Serbian has issued his opinion on the decision to make Naomi Osaka play on one of the smaller courts at the combined tournament.

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Novak Djokovic has said he was ‘surprised’ by the decision made by the organisers at the Western and Southern Open to make fellow world No.1 Naomi Osaka play her third round match on a smaller court.

 

Thursday at the Cincinnati tournament saw all 16 third round matches get played. Djokovic, who is the defending champion, played his match on centre court along with rival Roger Federer, Venus Williams and Elina Svitolina. Meanwhile, the Grandstand Court featured the likes of Ash Barty, Daniil Medvedev and Simona Halep. Overall, six out of the 10 matches that took place on the two premier courts were from the men’s draw.

Two-time grand slam champion Osaka was made to play her match on Court 10, which has no Hawk-Eye system in place. The world No.1 ousted Hsieh Su-wei 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-2, after two-and-a-half hours of play. Reaching the quarter-finals of a WTA Tournament for the second week in a row. Something she last achieved back in May.

“I was surprised to be honest.” Djokovic commented following his straight sets win over Pablo Carreno Busta.
“Obviously, in a combined event, it’s always tricky because someone will have to go out from the first court or first two courts. But she’s No. 1. So I think she deserves to be at least on the grandstand if not centre court.”

Osaka herself played down the debate over the scheduling of her match, but admitted to finding it ‘funny.’ It is not the first time this year where there has been questions raised over the scheduling of matches in the combined events. At the Wimbledon championships the then world No.1 Barty was made to play her fourth round match on Court Two during Manic Monday.

“I’m the type of person that will play on any court.” Said Osaka.
“I thought it was a bit funny, especially since, like, that’s kind of a doubles court in a way. Because I saw there was a lot of doubles matches on there. But, I mean, I’ll play on whatever court.”

Osaka will take on Sofia Kenin in her next match, which will take place on Center Court.

The Kyrgios fiasco

Another hotly debated topic at the tournament is Nick Kyrgios’ latest meltdown. The Australian was fined more than $100,000 for a series of violations committed during his third round match against Karen Khachanov, which he lost in three sets. Kyrgios were heard calling umpire Fergus Murphy a “F***ing tool” and at one stage left the court without permission to smash two of his rackets. The ATP has since said they are investigating to see if any further action needs to be taken.

“It’s more of a decision of, I think, combined between ATP and the tournament, I think, depending on the severity of the behaviour of the player. So it’s tough to really judge, to say what’s right, what’s wrong, whether it should be more or less.” Djokovic commented on the fine.
“The match was, I thought, a great quality match in terms of tennis for a couple of sets. And then Khachanov just was tougher in the end.”

Djokovic, who is a member of the ATP player’s council, has always paid attention to what is going on in the sport around him. Something he feels that he has a duty to do.

“Of course I do follow what’s going on. Not every match, not every court, not everything, because I also have a life off the tennis court, as well, and things that interest me.” He explained.
“Of course I follow it. It’s part of me, part of my life, part of my career. I also enjoy it. But I also have the responsibility to follow because of my role in the council.”

The 32-year-old is the only top eight seed remaining in the men’s draw. He will play France’s Lucas Pouille in the quarter-finals on Friday. Djokovic dropped only four games against Pouille in their first meeting earlier this year at the Australian Open.

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Bianca Andreescu Reunites With Former Coach Ahead Of New Season 

How will the Grand Slam champion fair on the Tour with her latest mentor?

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has brought a familiar face back into her team as she bids to return to her best form in 2023. 

 

Andreescu, who is currently ranked 45th in the WTA rankings, has appointed Christophe Lambert as her latest coach. Lambert had been working as the performance director at Tennis New Zealand and resigned from that position to work with the former US Open champion. He had also previously worked for Tennis Canada and during that time he was a private coach for Andreescu in 2016. 

“Bianca asked me to coach her and I accepted the job. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Lambert told sport.co.nz. 

Lambert, who has also spent time working with the Chinese Davis Cup team and for the British LTA, has stayed in contact with Andreescu ever since coaching her six years ago. 

“It wasn’t like every week or every month. It’s always good to have people calling you when you are up, but when she was down I was checking on her and giving her my opinion.” He said. 

Andreescu had been working with Dutch coach Sven Groeneveld for over a year before they decided to end their collaboration in October. Groeneveld has a wealth of experience in the sport after working with a series of top names, including Maria Sharapova. 

This season the former world No.4 has won 20 out of 33 matches played with her best performance being a run to the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. However, her record against top 10 opposition was 2-5.

“I’m just taking it day by day, and it’s a great way to end off the year as well, just bringing back all the emotions that fire a lot in me,” Andreescu recently told reporters in Glasgow at the Billie Jean King Cup. “I think I’m going to have a great preseason. Next year I really think I can crack the top 10 again.”

Andreescu, who has been hampered by injury issues in recent years, hasn’t won a singles title of any sort since 2019. 

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Four-Time Grand Slam Winner Naomi Osaka Named In FTX Lawsuit 

The former world No.1 took an equity stake in the failed business earlier this year. 

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NAOMI OSAKA OF JAPAN - PHOTO: ALVARO DIAZ / MMO

Naomi Osaka is among a series of high-profile individuals who have been accused of using their celebrity status to promote FTX’s failed business model in a lawsuit filed against the cryptocurrency exchange. 

 

The BBC has reported that over one million people and businesses could be owed money following the collapse of FTX, according to bankruptcy filings. A week ago FTX collapsed into bankruptcy with its former boss Sam Bankman-Fried stepping down as CEO. A massive development in the financial for what was one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world that had the naming rights to a Formula One racing team as well as a sports arena in Miami.

According to the Associated Press, the company is being investigated by state and federal prosecutors over allegations it ‘invested depositors’ funds in ventures without their approval.’ In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, it argues that celebrity backers of FTX such as Osaka should be held just as accountable as Bankman-Fried as they brought ‘instant credibility’ to the company. 

“Part of the scheme employed by the FTX Entities involved utilizing some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment — like these Defendants — to raise funds and drive American consumers to invest … pouring billions of dollars into the deceptive FTX platform to keep the whole scheme afloat,” the lawsuit said.

Osaka took an equity stake in FTX in March where she would be receiving compensation in Crypto. Signing what was described as a ‘long-term partnership’ to become a global ambassador, the tennis star aimed to draw attention to women joining the platform and she played a role in directing its content.

“We have seen the statistics about how few women are part of crypto by comparison, which kind of mirrors the inequality we see in other financial markets,” Osaka said earlier this year.

Osaka, who has won 14 out of 23 matches played this season, has not made any public statement regarding the lawsuit. NFL quarterback Tom Brady, comedian Larry David and basketball team the Golden State Warriors are also defendants in the lawsuit.

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WTA Targets New Multi-Year Deal For Its Premier Event If Agreement With China Fails

Will the WTA Finals return to Shenzhen in 2023?

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WTA CEO Steve Simon

The WTA say they are not willing to compromise their principles concerning the possibility of hosting tournaments in China next year amid uncertainty over the future of their season-ending event. 

 

Steve Simon, who is the CEO of the women’s Tour, says he is hopeful that a resolution can be found with the country but has vowed now to back down on its stance. Last year the WTA suspended tournaments in China over concerns about the safety of former player Peng Shuai who accused a former government official of sexually assaulting her. 

Shuai disappeared shortly after posting her statement on social media before returning a few weeks later with photos and videos of her being posted online by journalists linked to the government-controlled media. There are concerns that the former doubles Grand Slam champion, who has not left her country since making those allegations, is being censored by the government. The WTA wants an investigation to be conducted into the matter. 

“We’ve made a strong stand, and we stand behind that stance, and we’re not going to compromise our principles,” Simon said during an interview with The New York Times. “Clearly when we did it, we understood eyes wide open what it could mean.”
“We’re still in the same place. If they come forward with something else we should look at, of course we are open to it. But we haven’t seen it so far. I’m hopeful we do find a resolution. That’s the goal, to find the right resolution. What’s the truth? Then we can move forward.” He added. 

Simon said he is confident that Shuai is safe in Beijing but he has not been able to make any direct contact with her, despite trying to on multiple occasions. A letter reportedly written by Shuai to the WTA was posted online in 2021 saying that she wishes to be left alone. However, many have doubted the authenticity of that letter with some fearing that she wrote it under duress. 

One of the biggest impacts of the fallout has involved the prestigious WTA Finals, which is a round-robin tournament featuring the eight best-performing players over the past 12 months. In 2018 a lucrative deal was agreed that paved the way for the event to be held in Shenzhen for 10 years. However, the event was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the next two additions were moved elsewhere.

Whilst the WTA is optimistic about a return to Shenzhen in 2023, there are also backup plans in the works. Simon confirmed that it is no longer feasible for the WTA Finals to be held in a location for just one year. So it is likely that the tournament would be held in a city for two or more years in a row if it doesn’t return to China next season. 

“We’re not going to continue to do these one-year decisions,” he said. “It’s not sustainable. If it looks like we can’t go back to China or aren’t ready to go back, then I do think we will carve out a multiyear situation, because we need to for the business.”

The case involving Shuai isn’t the only barrier for the WTA. China’s zero-covid policy has made hosting international events in the region unfeasible and the ATP cancelled all of their events in the tournament this year due to the situation. 

This year’s WTA Finals has a prize money offering of $5M which is more than half of what was on offer at the 2019 tournament in Shenzhen ($14M). 

Simon didn’t provide any deadline for when an agreement must be reached with China must be reached before the WTA considers moving their event elsewhere once again. 

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