Elina Svitolina Steps Up To See Off Konta And Reach Second Grand Slam Semi-Final - UBITENNIS
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Elina Svitolina Steps Up To See Off Konta And Reach Second Grand Slam Semi-Final

Elina Svitolina advanced to the semi-final of US Open 2019 after beating Johanna Konta in straight sets in a pulsating encounter.

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Elina Svitolina (@usopen on Twitter)

Elina Svitolina performed brilliantly to beat Johanna Konta 6-4 6-4 at US Open 2019 and advance to her second successive Grand Slam semi-final.

 

The Ukrainian, 24, is in stunning form. She is yet to drop a set and she must be feeling very confident about her chances of winning her first major title at Flushing Meadows this year.

Svitolina booked her place in the last four by outplaying Konta from the baseline. She chased down the Brit’s shots, hit winners when she could and kept her unforced error count to a minimum.

Consequently, she put the World No.16 under intense pressure throughout. And the strain started to tell during a long fifth game, when the Ukrainian earned the first break point of the match.

Konta saved that one, but Svitolina seized her second chance a few points later with a cross-court forehand that the Brit found too hot to handle.

In the next game, the World No.16 was very aggressive. She unleashed a series of powerful groundstrokes that earned her enough points to set up a chance to break. Then the Ukrainian hit a backhand into the net, which sealed the break back and levelled the score at 3-3.

Crucially, Svitolina did not dwell on that game. She immediately re-focused and set about making Konta’s life difficult once again. It paid instant dividends, as the Brit made a couple of bad errors to gift her two break points. The Ukrainian then passed her with a superb winner to re-establish her lead.

Although Konta tried hard to break Svitolina again and lengthen the set, the World No.5 held firm to close it out 6-4.

Svitolina keeps the pressure on

The second set followed an almost identical pattern. The first four games passed without major incident, and then the Brit dropped her serve in game five.

Just like in the first set, Konta responded by going on the attack. She forced Svitolina back behind the baseline repeatedly and this led to errors from the Ukrainian. The Brit then seized her first break point of the game with a high-risk drop shot.

However, the World No.16 wasted the break. She made two poor errors and she was punished for two terrible approach shots as she lost her service game to love and fell 4-3 behind.

Johanna Konta (@bbctennis on Twitter)

Svitolina ensured Konta had no chance of getting back into the match after that. She held serve comfortably to move 5-3 ahead. Then she accepted events philosophically when the Brit saved match two match points in game nine.

This set up a chance to serve for the match. The Ukrainian dealt with it superbly. She won one point with a great serve and then a second by outlasting the World No.16 in a pulsating rally.

Then the next point broke the last of Konta’s resistance, as Svitolina finished a stunning point with a brilliant backhand pass on the run to make it 40-15. When the Brit hit a backhand long, the Ukrainian’s win was confirmed, and she closed her eyes and looked to the sky with a broad smile.

“It feels amazing,” Svitolina said in her on-court intreview. “It was a very, very tough match. I think we were both striking the ball (well) and it was quite even. Then in the end I had to close on my serve, which was very tricky. I’m very, very happy with how I handled the pressure today.”

Svitolina hails Monfils effect ahead of potential Serena clash

The Ukrainian also spoke about the influence of boyfriend and hitting partner Gael Monfils, who will take on Matteo Berretini in the quarter-final of the men’s draw.

“We are definitely pushing each other,” she said. “We are trying to join each other in the semi-final, so now he needs to step up his game.”

Svitolina’s next match could be exceptionally tough, as she is due to meet the winner of Serena Williams versus Qiang Wang.

If she does face the legendary American, she will not have any recent experiences to draw on because, by a curious twist of fate, they have not met one another since the Rio Olympics in 2016.

On that occasion, Svitolina beat a strangely lacklustre Serena. However, it may not mean much because the Ukrainian is a much better player now and the American has gone through at least two life-changing experiences (marriage and childbirth) since then.

The biggest source of encouragement for Svitolina could be the performance of Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final. The Romanian, who is a similar type of player, anticipated Serena’s shots superbly that day and demolished her in a fashion rarely seen during her stellar career.

“It would be exciting to play Serena again,” the Ukrainian said. “If I play her, it will be a good match.”

Grand Slam

Quarantine Drama: Players And Support Staff Warned For ‘Challenging Behaviour’ Amid Argument Over Rules

Officials and players are at a disagreement over the rules concerning who is deemed a ‘close contact’ of somebody who test positive for COVID-19.

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The Commissioner for COVID-19 Quarantine in Victoria says she will tolerate no rule breaking by those staying in quarantine ahead of the Australian Open after a fourth confirmed test emerged on Sunday.

 

Emma Cassar said that there have been incidents of ‘challenging behaviour’ from both players and members of their teams in relation to the rules set out. Due to the pandemic, everybody has to go into a 14-day quarantine but the process has turned more complicated following a series of positive tests by those travelling on plans funded by Tennis Australia. The latest case involves a member of the broadcast team flying from Los Angeles.

The Australian government has ruled that everybody on board a plane where somebody has tested positive for the virus must go into a stricter form of quarantine where they must remain in their room and are not allowed to train outside. This has affected more than 40 players on two different flights from Abu Dhabi and another from Los Angeles. As it currently stands 62 people have been deemed close contacts of the four cases, three of which were announced on Saturday, according to Fox Australia.

To add to the drama, Cassar has confirmed that some players and their team members have already been given a warning for what she says is ‘challenging behaviour.’ Branding their actions as ‘dangerous acts that we can’t tolerate.’

“I can give you two examples – a player who opened his door to try and have a conversation with his training mate down the hallway. Again, he’s got a phone, you can pick up the phone and use the telephone as opposed to putting you and others at risk,” she said.
“The other was another gentleman who shouted some UberEats to some other people on the floor and was praising his great efforts and opened his door to do so.
“It is very low level, but they are dangerous acts that we cannot tolerate … they have been formerly warned, and Victoria Police will continue to follow up those who haven’t been spoken to yet.”

Even more extraordinary is the confirmation that extra police have been sent to the hotels where players are quarantined. Repeat offenders have been warned they could be fined or even transferred to a ‘complexed care hotel’ where a police officer stays outside their door.

Did the players know?

In regards to the quarantine process, some have questioned the transparency of the rules which has been set out. Critics have argued that they were never informed that should someone test positive on a plane everybody on board would have to isolate for 14 days.

World No.12 Belinda Bencic has gone as far as saying that the rules have been changed upon arrival in Melbourne. A view that has also been expressed by Alize Cornet, Yulia Putintseva and Sorana Cirstea.

“We made our decision to come here from rules that were sent to us. Then we arrived and received an information/rule book with more/new rules that we did not know about,” Bencic wrote on Twitter.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has addressed those statements by saying that all players were informed that this would be a possible scenario that they would face. Leading up to the quarantine, all players and their teams should have been sent documents detailing their stay.

“The determination of who was and who wasn’t a close contact was going to be entirely up to the health department, and they’re doing what is necessary in order to keep our community safe,” he told Channel 9 TV.
“Obviously what has changed over the last several weeks is the new UK strain, which is more infectious, and there’s obviously a great desire by all of us to make sure that doesn’t come into our community.

Although the motion that the rules have changed in some capacity is disputed by Commissioner Cessar who stated that no adjustments to the policy will be made in the coming days.

“The rules of close contacts haven’t changed, and there’s no other way you can consider this. If you’re on a plane for 16 to 24 hours in air that circulates throughout the plane, you are a close contact,” she said.
“The program is set up to keep people safe. We will not be modifying the program or watering it down under any circumstances.”

Whilst there are ongoing discussions concerning the scheduling of tournaments taking place during the first week of February, Tiley has confirmed that the Australian Open start date of February 8th will remain unchanged.

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Grand Slam

24 Players In Isolation After Positive COVID-19 Tests On Australian Open Charter Flight

It is understood that Kei Nishikori and Victoria Azarenka are among those to be affected by the latest development.

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Tennis Australia has been dealt a new blow to their preparations for the Melbourne Grand Slam after it was confirmed two people tested positive for COVID-19 on one of their flights.

 

A member of the flight crew and one passenger who was on Flight QR793 from Los Angeles Airport have tested positive for the virus. It has been reported by journalist Pablo Amalfitano that the coach of Lauren Davis, Edward Elliot, is the passenger who has tested positive. Although he reportedly claims that the result is a false positive.

A total of 79 people were on the flight with 24 of those being players such as Kei Nishikori, Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Alison Riske, Vaskek Pospisil and Tennys Sandgren. Sandgren did test positive prior to the fight but was given the all clear to travel after it was deemed that he was ‘viral shedding.’

Due to their possible exposure to COVID-19 Australian health officials have instructed all players to isolate for 14 days and they will not be allowed to leave their room to train in what will be a big setback to their preparations.

“The Chief Health Officer has reviewed the flight and has determined that everyone on board needs to isolate and will be confined to their rooms for the 14-day quarantine,” a leaked email sent to players read. “We know this is not how you imagined your preparations for the AO would start but our entire team is here to support you and do everything that we can to get you through this.”

News of the positive tests was first reported online by the players themselves after they uploaded a leaked email detailing what had happened before Tennis Australia had a chance to publish a statement.

“We are communicating with everyone on this flight, and particularly the playing group whose conditions have now changed, to ensure their needs are being catered to as much as possible, and that they are fully appraised of the situation,” Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley commented.
“Our thoughts are with the two people who tested positive on the flight and we wish them well for their recovery.”


Doubles specialist Artem Sitak, who was on board the plane, commented on the situation by giving an update to his followers on Instagram. The Russian-born New Zealand player is currently ranked 78th in the world and has won five ATP titles so far in his career.

“We’re all deemed close contact. I asked for a bike, so hopefully I’ll get one and stay in shape,” Sitak said. “We’ll probably be out on the 29th of January and head straight into the ATP 250 a few days after.
“Obviously not great, but that’s the risk we were all taking. They kind of warned us this was going to be at the discretion of the Australian government, Australian health authorities if something like this happened. It’s just unlucky that two of them contracted the virus.”

In a later update the 34-year-old confirmed that he has had a bike delivered to his room. |

Meanwhile, Japanese media have confirmed that all of Nishikori’s team has tested negative for the virus but the former US Open finalist will be training alone in his room.

The first series of tournaments are set to take place in Melbourne a week before the Australian Open on January 31st.

List of affected players

  • Victoria Azarenka
  • Sloane Stephens
  • Kei Nishikori
  • Tennys Sandgren
  • Nicholas Monroe
  • Santiago Gonzalez
  • Artem Sitak
  • Guido Pella
  • Alison Riske
  • Marcos Giron
  • Vasek Pospisil

Note – list is incomplete and compiled via news agencies

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Tennis Australia Back Tennys Sandgren To Fly Internationally Despite Positive COVID-19 Test

The world No.50 is said to be allowed to fly following intervention from tennis boss Craig Tiley.

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Tennis Australia has insisted that adequate health and safety protocols are being followed after it was confirmed that one player will be allowed to enter their bio-secure bubble less than a week after testing positive for CVOVID-19.

 

Tennys Sandgren, who reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open last year, posted a series of tweets detailing his dilemma. The American said he tested positive for a second time on Monday after also doing so during Thanksgiving before going on to cast doubt on his abilities to travel. However, in a separate tweet written less than two hours later he confirmed that he was on a plane before calling Australian Open director Craig Tiley ‘a wizard’ for his intervention.

“Wait, hold on I think they are trying to get me on 15 minuets after the plane was supposed to depart.. my bags still aren’t checked,” Sandgren wrote.
Wow I’m on the plane. Maybe I just held my breath too long.. Craig Tiley is a wizard,” he later added.

The decision to allow Sandgren to head to the ‘bio-secure bubble’ in Melbourne comes amid what has been dubbed as one of the strictest COVID-19 measurements taken by a country for athletes. All players arriving in Australia are required to go through a 14-day quarantine period where they will be only allowed to leave their rooms for training. Should anybody break the rules they face a fine of up to AUS$20,000 and even deportation.

As to why Sandgren is allowed to enter the bubble despite testing positive is a due to the fact those who recover from the virus can still continue to test positive over the coming weeks. Tennis Australia says their decision has been made after the local health authority reviewed Sandgren’s medical file. Although it is unclear as to what evidence they had to prove that Sandgren didn’t contract the virus for a second time which is possible.

In the case of Tennys Sandgren, who has self-disclosed that he previously tested positive in late November, his medical file had to be reviewed by Victorian health authorities,” a Tennis Australia statement reads.
“Upon completion of that review he was cleared to fly. Any recovered case must go through this process in order to have an opportunity to travel here for the Australian Open . No one can travel without either proof of a negative test or this special clearance from authorities confirming they are not infectious.’
“Upon arrival all players are immediately placed in a secure quarantine environment for 14 days under the authority of COVID Quarantine Victoria, and will undergo a more rigorous testing schedule than most returning travellers.”

Lisa Neville, who is the Australian Minister for Police and Emergency Services, confirmed that Sandgren has been declared as somebody who is ‘viral shedding from a previous virus’ according to health experts. Neville also stated that anybody who test positive for COVID-19 the first time or are ‘infectious’ would not be allowed to play in the Grand Slam.

It is estimated that around 1200 players and their teams will be landing in Australia within the next few days to begin their quarantine. Under protocols set out by the local government and Tennis Australia, they will all be subject to daily COVID-19 tests and allowed to train upto five hours a day. Most of the players will be staying at hotels in Melbourne however, the top three players on both the ATP and WTA Tour’s will be staying in Adelaide.

The Australian Open will start on February 8th.

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