Simona Halep To Change Grand Slam Schedule Ahead of Olympics - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep To Change Grand Slam Schedule Ahead of Olympics

The Romanian is set to play extra events in the majors in a bid to boost her chances of winning a medal in Tokyo.

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Former world No.1 Simona Halep has her eyes set on winning more than one medal at the 2020 Olympic Games after confirming she will play extra matches during three grand slam tournaments next year.

 

The 28-year-old intends to participate in the mixed doubles along with a yet to be decided compatriot. It will be a rare appearance for Halep, who has only played in two mixed doubles tournaments throughout her professional career so far. Doing so at the 2015 US Open and 2016 French Open with Horia Tacu.

Despite her lack of experience in the discipline, the Romanian is hoping to build some momentum in the grand slams next year. A two-time grand slam champion, she has focused solely on singles competition at every major for over four years.

“I have only Melbourne, maybe French Open, and grass. Grass is a little bit dangerous because the surface is tough and you can get hurt a little bit with the men’s serve.” Halep told reporters in Beijing.
“But the goal is to play all the time mixed doubles with my partner to get used to the game, to be able to achieve a good result at the Olympics.”

Halep made her Olympic debut back in 2012, but opted not to play in the 2016 edition. In London she lost in the first round of both the singles and women’s doubles competition. Halep is bidding to become only the third Romanian tennis player in history to win an Olympic medal. Following in the footsteps of Tecau and Florin Mergea, who won a silver medal together in Rio 2016.

“I want to win any medal in the Olympics to fulfil everything I have done in tennis,” Halep said following her triumph at Wimbledon in July. “It is a chance to play for my country and I have always loved to do that. The disappointment from [losing in Fed Cup] this year really hurt me so to play well to get a medal, it would be a dream.”

The world No.6 has also been confirmed as her country’s flag-bearer for the upcoming event in Tokyo.

Playing through the pain

Whilst her long-term goal has been set out, Halep’s focus for the immediate future is on this week’s China Open. She kicked-off her campaign on Sunday with a clinical 6-1, 6-1, win over Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson. Peterson was her first real test since withdrawing from Wuhan due to a back injury. Whilst the score looks positive, she is not getting too ahead of herself.

“I’m not 100 percent recovered, I still feel pain,” said the sixth seed.
“Always when you have an injury, it’s a little bit risky.
“But I accepted it, I took the risk.”

A former runner-up of the tournament, Halep is hopeful of having a strong run. Beijing is her first tournament since turning 28 on Friday. To mark the occasion, she celebrated the milestone at one of the world’s most prestigious landmarks.

“Every year it’s nice to come back here,” she said. “This tournament’s a big tournament and important for everybody, and the atmosphere is very nice. You can see everyone is focused on their job.
“This year I celebrated my birthday at the Great Wall. It was actually the first time I’ve visited the Great Wall after coming here many years in a row. I think it’s going to be a good week for me—even if I was a little bit injured last week, I feel good now. I’m feeling good to play and to win matches.”

Halep will play Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova in the second round on Monday.

Grand Slam

Shock French Open Date Change Triggers Player Backlash

The change to the grand slam calendar hasn’t gone down too well.

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The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has come under fire for a lack of communication after making an unexpected announcement regarding the next grand slam tournament.

 

On Tuesday a statement was released confirming that the French Open has been delayed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Which has brought the entire tennis season to a halt. Astonishingly they now intend to hold the tournament between September 20 – October 4, which is just seven days after the conclusion of the US Open. The announcement has caught many off guard with neither the ATP, WTA or ITF yet to publish an official response.

“In order to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in organising the tournament, the French Tennis Federation has made the decision to hold the 2020 edition of Roland-Garros from 20th September to 4th October 2020.” The FFT said in a statement.
“Though nobody is able to predict what the situation will be on 18th May, the current confinement measures have made it impossible for us to continue with our preparations and, as a result, we are unable to hold the tournament on the dates originally planned.”

Whilst it was always highly likely that the date for Roland Garros would be changed due to the ongoing crisis, the way in how it was done has once again highlighted serious communication issues in the sports. Many players have taken to social media to express their frustration that they were not consulted about the decision until it was made public.

“Strong Move by French Open/FFT to move to end of Sept. I thought the powers that be in tennis were supposed to be all about working together these days?” Former world No.1 doubles player Jamie Murray wrote on Twitter.

Jonny O’Mara, who is a top 60 doubles player, also took a swipe at the situation on social media by saying ‘Glad I’m on twitter to see tournament schedules and updates. Been searching my junk mail for days.’ Diego Schwartzman wrote ‘once again we found out on Twitter.’

One of the strongest critics is Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, who is a member of the ATP Player Council. In a post that has since been deleted, Pospisil described the move as ‘madness’ before seemingly calling for a union to be formed. A highly debated topic in recent time among players and those governing them.

“This is madness. Major announcement by Roland Garros changing the dates to one week after the US Open. No communication with the players or the ATP.. we have ZERO say in this sport. It’s time. #UniteThePlayers.” He wrote.

In another tweet, the 29-year-old stressed that his criticism only related to the communication provided by the FFT and there was no other motive.

On the women’s tour, there has also been a reaction from top players. Although instead of words, they have chosen to communicate their opinions via memes.

It is understood that at least one player had been contacted about the announcement before it was made official. Journalist Eric Salliot has reported that French Open tournament director Guy Forget spoke with Rafael Nadal. Nadal, who is the reigning US and French Open champion, is yet to comment in public.

It is understood that the ATP and WTA will likely release a statement tomorrow. Meanwhile, on the same day The All England Tennis Club has confirmed that they are hoping to hold Wimbledon on the set dates (29th June-12th July). Meaning there will possibly be three grand slams on three different surfaces within three months. A situation that may trigger a revolt from players in the coming weeks.

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Why Rafael Nadal Doesn’t Want Novak Djokovic To Win Another Grand Slam

The world No.2 also sheds some light on the WhatsApp group the Big Three have.

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This week Rafael Nadal has a chance to once again return to the top of the rankings if he has a little bit of luck on his side.

 

The 19-time grand slam champion returns to action at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Mexico. A tournament he has won on two previous occasions. Nadal is required to win the event once again if he wishes to rise back to world No.1 on Monday. Even if he does that, the Spaniard also has to hope that his rival doesn’t reach the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships. Djokovic started his campaign on Monday with a straight sets win over Malek Jaziri.

“I always have good memories. I come here (to Acapulco) because I love the tournament, the organization, and the public makes me feel at home.” Nadal told reporters on Monday.
“The love of the people is exceptional and that encourages me to be here another year and makes me very happy. I have the illusion of enjoying Acapulco, it is an important week for me personally, after Australia, this is a test to see how I feel. I hope to be prepared.”

Nadal and Djokovic are members of the prestigious Big Three, who have won the past 13 majors between them. Also in the group is Roger Federer. In their head-to-head Nadal trails 26-29 to the Serbian and has lost three out of their four most recent meetings on the tour. Both men have praised each other on numerous occasions throughout their careers, but do they also secretly want the other to fall?

In Nadal’s case the answer is yes. Reflecting on the recent Australian Open final, the 33-year-old admitted that he wanted Dominic Thiem to win. Thiem had a two-set lead over Djokovic, but lost in a thriller.

“In this world we sometimes live with a bit of hypocrisy.” Nadal explained.
“I have a very good relationship with Dominic, as I also have with Djokovic, but if you ask me if I prefer Djokovic to have more Grand Slams that me, my answer is no.’
“It is a purely professional issue, I do not hide to say that, as if you ask Novak about whether he prefers me to win or Dominic in Roland Garros, Dominic will probably be the answer.’
“This is the reality of the competition, it is not going against anyone or any strange reason. If Djokovic wins, I congratulate him and I go to the next tournament, but if you ask who I wanted to win (the Australian Open), I prefer Dominic. “

At present Nadal is second on the all-time list for most grand slam titles won at 19. One behind record holder Federer and two ahead of Djokovic.

https://twitter.com/atptour/status/1232134135302565888

One example of the good working relationship between the Big Three is a Whatsapp group they have. Which was recently revealed to the public by Djokovic, who said he has ‘tremendous respect’ for his two other rivals.

Naturally tennis fans are wondering what is said on that chat and if there are any revelations made. However, it appears that the group isn’t as unique as first through with Nadal shedding further light on it.

“We are not just the three of us in a group. Yes, we are in groups with more people, groups with all of us in the Players Council to be informed of all the news that is happening and that is transmitted there, some other group that we are all three … but not alone.” The Spaniard said.
“We do not have frequent communication, that is, daily, between us, but when there are things that we need to know about each other, congratulations, concerns … no longer in the group, but on a personal level, we usually have no problem writing to us privately. The group is more for professional work issues than for personal issues.”

Nadal will start his Mexican campaign against Pablo Andujar in the first round. He will be hoping to fair better in the tournament than 12 months ago, when he was knocked out in the second round by Nick Kyrgios. Who went on to win the title. Despite the disappointment, the top seed said he doesn’t have a ‘feeling of revenge.’

“I’ve never had a feeling of revenge before a tournament, I don’t think that feeling helps you win more games, but quite the opposite. Revenge makes you not think clearly. Wth serenity, and when it comes to competing, the important thing is to have a cool enough head to give my best level. “ He concluded.

The last tournament Nadal won on the tour was the US Open in September.

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Roger Federer Pulls Out Of French Open Following Surgery

The unexpected announcement means the former world No.1 will be out of action for at least almost four months.

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20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer will miss the entire clay-court season after confirming that he has undergone surgery on his right knee.

 

The world No.3 underwent arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday in his native Switzerland following consultation with doctors. A minimally invasive procedure that involves the examination and treatment of the joint. Federer said his right knee was ‘bothering him for a little while’ and that doctors are ‘very confident of a full recovery.’ The 38-year-old also missed six months of the 2016 season due to a knee injury.

In a statement, Federer confirmed that he will not be playing another tournament until the grass season. Ruling him out of the upcoming North American hard-court swing, as well as the French Open. The only clay court tournament he was due to play in 2020.

“My right knee has been bothering me for a little while.” Federer said on social media.
“I hope it would go away, but after an examination, and discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery in Switzerland yesterday (Wednesday).”
“After the procedure, the doctors confirmed that it was the right thing to have done and are very confident of a full recovery.”
“As a result, I will unfortunately have to miss Dubai, Indian Wells, Bogotá (exhibition), Miami and the French Open. I am grateful for everyone’s support. I can’t wait to be back playing again soon.”

Concerns about Federer’s current form started during his run at the Australian Open where he lost in the semi-finals to Novak Djokovic. In Melbourne, the Swiss player experienced issues with his right leg. He described played down the issue as ‘pain and problems’ following his quarter-final win over Tennys Sandgren, which he took a medical time-out during.

“Of course, you want to be 100% to be able to train again, then get ready for hopefully Dubai. Right now it’s only guessing. I’m very happy that I don’t feel any worse than when I started (the match). That’s for me super encouraging.” He told reporters on January 30th,

Nevertheless, Federer has recently been in action. Almost two weeks ago, he took on Rafael Nadal in an exhibition match in South Africa and won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.  The clash was in aid of the Roger Federer Foundation, which supports early childhood education in six southern African countries, including South Africa. An estimated $3.5 million was raised, according to the associated press.

Should everything goes to plan, Federer’s next tournament will now be the Halle Open, which he has a lifetime contract to play at unless injured or ill. The tournament starts on June 15th.

It is only the second time in his career, Federer has undergone the knife whilst playing on the tour. The first was back in 2016 when he had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

 

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