Serena Williams Drawn To Face Maria Sharapova At US Open 2019 - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams Drawn To Face Maria Sharapova At US Open 2019

Serena Williams versus Maria Sharapova is the headline clash in an intriguing 2019 US Open Women’s Singles Draw.

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Serena Williams (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Serena Williams will play Maria Sharapova in the first round of US Open 2019. It will be their first-ever meeting at Flushing Meadows.

 

When these women clash, it is always a talking point, always a reason to get excited. The American and the Russian are such high-profile athletes that it does not even seem to matter that the American has beaten Maria Sharapova an incredible 18 times in a row.

The sense of anticipation for the encounter is even higher in some ways because it is so long – three years and seven months – since they last faced each other. That was in the quarter-final of the 2016 Australian Open. They were due to play last year at the French Open, but Williams pulled out with a pectoral injury. Hopefully fitness issues will not ruin things this time around.

Barty and Kerber join Serena and Sharapova in packed quarter

The winner of the Serena-Sharapova match will emerge into a favourable section of the draw. Crafty 29th seed Hsieh Su-Wei is the only real obstacle between them and the last 16.

However, if either the American or the Russian makes it to the fourth round, their route will then become much more difficult. 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova, a quarter-finalist on each of her last three appearances at Flushing Meadows, is their most likely opponent at that stage.

In the other half of the quarter, 2016 champion Angelique Kerber faces a tricky opener against Kristina Mladenovic, while World No.2 Ashleigh Barty takes on Zarina Diyas. The German and The Australian should be wary of 30th seed Maria Sakkari. The Greek beat Elina Svitolina, Petra Kvitova and Aryna Sabalenka during excellent runs in San Jose and Cincinnati.

After an easy start, things will get tough for Osaka

Naomi Osaka (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

The World No.1 and reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka has endured a difficult few months, so she will be happy to see that the draw has been relatively kind to her.

The Japanese player will face Anna Blinkova in round one and then either Astra Sharma or Magda Linette in round two. If she gets through those, she could face difficult matches against teen sensation Cori Gauff in round three and 13th seed Belinda Bencic in round four.

If Osaka makes it to the last eight, there are number of potential opponents who could cause her problems. Aryna Sabalenka is one, if she can negotiate a tricky opener against Victoria Azarenka and a challenging third-round meeting with Donna Vekic.

Vekic is another possible quarter-finalist, as is Julia Goerges, who could cause an upset in the third round by beating the 7th seed with a poor record at Flushing Meadows: Kiki Bertens.

Halep well-placed to put first-round exits behind her

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep has fallen at the first hurdle at the last two US Opens. In 2017, she lost to Sharapova. And then she was thrashed by Kaia Kanepi in an error-strewn display in 2018.

Both of those were tough first-round draws, so the Romanian will be glad to be taking on a qualifier this time around. The fourth seed should reach the last 16 with relative ease, but that is where the real challenges are likely to begin with a possible clash against rising star Bianca Andreescu.

In the other half of the quarter, a potential third-round encounter between 11th seed Sloane Stephens and 24th seed Garbine Muguruza catches the eye. To reach that stage, the American and the Spaniard may have to beat tricky second-round opponents in the shape of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Ostapenko respectively.

6th seed Petra Kvitova is also in that section. The Czech will be keen to put a spell of patchy form behind her by coming through a relatively calm section of the draw that also include 25th seed Elise Mertens.

Pliskova, Svitolina and Keys feature in a quarter full of potential winners

 

Madison Keys (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

While other sections steal the headlines for obvious reasons, the quarter that includes Karolina Pliskova, Madison Keys and Elina Svitolina may be the toughest of all.

2016 runner-up Pliskova could face Caroline Garcia in round three and Johanna Konta and Marketa Vondrousova in round four.

Five-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Svitolina might have to beat Venus Williams in round two, 32nd seed Dayana Yastremska in round three and Sofia Kenin or Keys in round four to reach the last eight again.

Keys will be feeling confident again after she won the title in Cincinnati. She will probably face Kenin in the third round, Svitolina in the fourth round and then Pliskova in the quarter-final if she makes it that far.

Grand Slam

Wimbledon Set To Change Historic All-White Dress Code Rule

The clothing policy at the the grass-court major, which dates back to the Vcitoria era, has been under increasing scruity in recent years.

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Ons Jabeur (TUN) playing against Venus Williams (USA) on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 3 Wednesday 30/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jon Super

It is understood that The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) are having discussions about making changes to its dress code following concerns from female players. 

 

The Telegraph is among a series of sources to report that organizers are speaking with the WTA about changing their policy to address players’ concerns about playing in white whilst going through their menstrual cycle. Whilst no official announcement has been made, it is underwood that there will be a relaxation on what colour underwear and bras are worn. Although the top layer of clothing must remain completely white. 

During this year’s championships, there was a protest shortly before the women’s finals called ‘Address The Dress Code.’ During an interview worth The Guardian, protesters said they wanted to highlight the anxiety women face whilst playing in their whites. 

More recently, tennis coach and former British Fed Cup captain Judy Murray told The Daily Mail that more players needed to speak out on the issue to drive a change to the policy. Murray, who is the mother of three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray, has also called for the inclusion of women in the decision-making panel when it comes to these matters. 

“One of the biggest problems previously in sport was that it was always white shorts, white kit and so on in lots of different sports. Everything was white. Nearly all sports have moved over to colour now.” Said Murray. 

“I think it’s certainly a much more open talking point, but it would probably need more of the players to speak out openly about the trauma it can cause you, if you are wearing all white and then possibly have a leak while you’re playing. I cannot think of a much more traumatic experience than that.”

In a statement sent to The Telegraph, the AELTC confirmed that they are currently looking into making adjustments to the dress code. As it currently stands, the rule states that all players must wear almost all white whilst playing and practising at the Grand Slam. However, around the neckline and the cuff of sleeves can be in colour but no thicker than 1cm. The same applies to Caps (including the underbill), headbands, bandanas, wristbands and socks. 

“Prioritising women’s health and supporting players based on their individual needs is very important to us, and we are in discussions with the WTA, with manufacturers and with the medical teams about the ways in which we can do that.” The AELTC said. 

The all-white policy can be traced back to the 1870s when it was widely considered that white was best at not showing sweat. During the Victorian era, it was viewed as improper to visibly sweat. The tournament has since continued with this tradition. 

Next year’s Wimbledon will begin on Monday, July 3rd. 

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Nick Kyrgios Urges Officials To Allow Djokovic To Play Australian Open

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Nick Kyrgios has lent his full support to Novak Djokovic and his bid to be allowed to return to the Australian Open next year. 

 

Nine-time champion Djokovic is currently waiting to see if government officials will waive his ban from entering the country. Earlier this year, the former world No.1 was deported from Australia following a high-profile dispute regarding the legality of his visa. Djokovic said he was told by Tennis Australia that a medical exemption would allow him entry into the country despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19. Something the border force and government deemed not to be a legitimate reason. After winning his first court case regarding the process of how his detention was handled, a second at the High Court ruled in favour of the government, who decided to deport him. 

Under Australian law, deportations such as these result in a three-year ban from returning to the country. However, Djokovic is hoping his ban will be removed by the latest administration who are said to be more sympathetic to the matter. 

Weighing in on the debate during the opening of the NBA store in Sydney, Kyrgios said it was important for the sport that the best players participate. Citing the recent retirement of Roger Federer, he argues that the remaining members of the Big Three must continue showing their presence at major events. 

I hope he is here, for the sport,” WAtoday quoted Kyrgios as saying.
“We just saw one of the legends leave the sport, Roger, and that’s going to be some shoes that no one is ever going to be able to fill.
“While Novak and Rafa [Rafael Nadal] are still around, we need these types of players. Otherwise, the people of Australia love the AO, Ash Barty brought us crowds, me and Thanasi [Kokkinakis] won it.
“We want to see the best players in the world there. Me being a competitor, I want to see Novak there.“

Djokovic’s potential presence at Melbourne Park would make him one of the key contenders for the title and could make it tougher for Kyrgios to claim his first Grand Slam title. The two locked horns in the final of Wimbledon earlier this year with Kyrgios claiming the first set before losing in four. 

“Of course, you want to have those guys there,” he said.
“He’s some of the reason why I play. As a kid, you want to play the best players in the world in the best stadiums. Hopefully, he is there.
“He’s had a rough run the last nine months and not being able to play here, play here, not being able to play here, hopefully, Australia welcomes him with open arms this time.”

Djokovic has won the Australian Open men’s title more times than anybody else in history. It is unclear when a final decision regarding his participation in the 2023 tournament will be made. 

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‘Unofficial’ Signs Give Novak Djokovic Hope Of Australian Open Return

The tennis star has given an update on his chances of returning to Melbourne Park following his deportation from the country.

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC OF SERBIA - PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO

Novak Djokovic says he is cautiously optimistic that he will be allowed to play at the 2023 Australian Open as legal negotiations continue. 

 

The 21-time Grand Slam champion was deported from the country in January following a high-profile legal battle with authorities over his visa. Djokovic said he was told he could use a medical exemption to enter the country despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19. At the time all arrivals needed to be vaccinated. The Australian border Force declared that exemption to be invalid and therefore his visa. Djokovic was then moved to an immigration facility before winning a court hearing over how his case was handled. However, in a second legal hearing, the High Court backed the government’s decision to deport the tennis star. 

As a result of being removed from Australia, Djokovic is currently banned from re-entering for three years. However, there is hope that this ban could be waived with the help of a new administration coming to power which is understood to be more sympathetic to the situation. 

“When it comes to Australia, there are some positive signs, but unofficially,” Djokovic said during a recent interview with Sportal“We are communicating through my lawyers in Australia. In fact, they are communicating with the authorities in charge of my case. I hope to have an answer in the next few weeks – whatever that answer might be, but of course I am hoping for a positive one – so that I have enough time to prepare for the start of the season, if that start is going to happen in Australia.”

Not everybody is thrilled by the prospect of the Serbian being allowed back into Australia. Former Home Affairs minister Karen Andrews has previously described such a move as a ‘slap in the face for those in Australia who did the right thing and got vaccinated.’ 

Djokovic is still not vaccinated against COVID-19 and has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t intend on doing so. In an interview with the BBC earlier this year, he explained that he had reservations about what is injected into his body and was cautious about the side effects. The COVID-19 injection has been deemed safe by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

“I respect that everyone has a different way of thinking in relation to my situation and my circumstances. After all, I have never offended anyone or ever tried to be disrespectful in any way. I always tried to show that it is important for everyone to have the right and freedom of choice.” He said. 
“For the choices I made, I knew there would be certain consequences like not going to America, and that is it. For Australia it was a different case, I had the exception, but in the end it did not work out. We know what happened, let’s not go back. This time I am waiting for the permission again. It is a good thing that they have now opened the borders for unvaccinated foreigners travelling to Australia. I have that ban, I hope it will be lifted. As I said, it is not in my hands, I hope the people in the Australian Government will give a positive answer, that is all.”

Djokovic is the most decorated male tennis player in Australian Open history with nine titles to his name. That is three more than his nearest challenges (Roy Emerson and Roger Federer both won the event six times). It was at Melbourne Park where he won his first major title back in 2008. 

“I really want to go there, I am over what happened this year and I just want to play tennis, it is what I do best. Australia has always been the place where I have played my best tennis, the results speak for themselves, so I am always extra motivated to go there. This time even more, so. I am hoping for a positive answer.” He concluded. 

The Australian Open will start on January 16th. It is unknown when a final decision regarding Djokovic’s participation will be made. 

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