Alex Corretja On Why He's Backing Garbine Muguruza For Australian Open Glory - UBITENNIS
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Alex Corretja On Why He’s Backing Garbine Muguruza For Australian Open Glory

The two-time French Open finalist explains why he believes Muguruza is the favourite in the final.

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Former world No.2 Alex Corretja believes Garbine Muguruza has the upper hand heading into the women’s title match at the Australian Open on Saturday.

 

Muguruza, who is unseeded in the draw, will take on 21-year-old American Sofia Kenin. Who will be playing in her first ever grand slam final. The Spaniard has endured a revival in her form at the Melbourne major as she dropped just two sets in six matches played. Both of which was during the first two rounds. En route to the final, she has knocked out top 10 players Kiki Bertens, Elina Svitolina and Simona Halep.

“I’m feeling good.” Muguruza told reporters on Thursday. “I think I played many top-10 players in a row and got victories. It’s definitely a sign that my tennis is good.’
“I’m excited to have one more match here (in Melbourne), and hopefully get it.”

Looking ahead to the final, Corretja believes Muguruza’s previous experience gives her an advantage against Kenin. She won the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon Championships. Muguruza was also runner-up at Wimbledon back in 2015. However, the Spaniard lost to the world No.15 in their only previous meeting at the China Open last year. Kenin defeated world No.1 Ash Barty in her semi-final match.

“For Garbine, we’ve been talking about her a lot and I always trusted her because she has got the potential and it was just a matter of time before she got back the pieces of the puzzle.” Corretja said on Eurosport.
“She found them a few months ago, started working with Conchita (Martinez), it was good she worked hard in the off-season and then played a lot of matches before coming here. Even though she got ill, she was ready, if she didn’t have those kinds of matches before she got ill she would be panicking because she knew she was in good shape and she overcame it strongly.’
“I think Garbine showed she is aggressive, she is serving well, she’s going to try to dictate and put pressure on her opponents. Kenin can defend well, hit good groundstrokes and she’s also a good mover. But I am thinking considering Garbine has been there and she knows what it takes to deal with those emotions of a final, I give her the advantage.”

Coach Conchita Martinez admits that aggression will be key for Muguruza in the upcoming final. A former Australian Open finalist herself back in 1998, the 47-year-old reunited with her compatriot at the end of 2019 after working with Karolina Plskova. She previously worked with the former world No.1 between 2017-2018 and guided her to her only Wimbledon title.

“She is a great player, a very good fighter. She strikes the ball good. She is aggressive. So the key is going to be to stay with her, to stay aggressive, try to be the one in command.” Martinez said of Kenin.
“It’s not going to be easy, but hopefully she (Muguruza) can do it.”

Women’s grand slam tennis has been renowned for its unpredictability in recent years. 10 out of the last 12 major tournaments have been won by different players. During that period, Halep and Naomi Osaka are the only ones to have claimed multiple titles. At the Australian Open, the last woman to win back-to-back titles was Victoria Azarenka in 2012 and 2013.

Should Muguruza win the title in Melbourne Park on Saturday she would become the first Spanish woman in history to ever do so.

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Tour Suspension A ‘Dire And Bleak’ Situation For Players, Warns Johanna Konta

The world No.14 also comments on the decision to move the French Open to September.

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British No.1 Johanna Konta admits that any system put into place to financially support players in the wake of the tour suspension will only have a ‘minimal’ effect.

 

Tennis is currently at a standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic with doubts cast over when play will resume again. As a consequence, many players are looking into alternative ways to generate an income. Unlike team sports where athletes have a contract, those in the world of tennis are essentially self-employed. Meaning they will only earn money in the sport if they play at tournaments. Although the top players have the luxury of endorsements to also support them.

Weighing in on the situation, Konta has described it as ‘fire and bleak.’ She is one out of 90 female players to have made more than $100,000 in prize money this year before the tour was suspended. Her current earnings for the season stands at $105,703.

“The reality is that there is no tennis player earning any money right now; all the tennis players have taken a 100 per cent salary cut,” Konta told The Evening Standard.
“Everyone is trying to find the best way possible to stand by a team and support the people you work with and feel close to while not bankrupting yourself.
“[A support system] is being worked on right now, but the reality is that even if it is possible – and let’s hope it is – it’s going to be very minimal.
“It’s a very bleak and dire situation especially for the lower ranked players.”

In light of the financial concerns, world No.371 Sofia Shapatava recently set up an online petition on change.org calling for support from the ITF, WTA and ATP. More than 1300 people have signed the petition.

“I started the petition to help tennis players to be heard by ITF, after I talked to many of the people I know and about their plans for the next three months, I realised that some people won’t even be able to have food,” Shapatava told the AFP News Agency.
“My problem is that my sport will die as it is, it will die, because players who are ranked lower then 150th in the world will not be able to play.”

In comparison to Konta, Georgian player Shapatava has made $2,896 so far this season. That works out as 0.09% of what prize money leader Sofia Kenin has made ($3,012,043). Kenin is one of four players to earn more than a million in 2020 on the women’s tour. The other are Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Ash Barty.

The WTA have said they are looking into the possibility of extending this year’s calendar is order to provide players with more earning opportunities when the sport resumes.

French open approach disappointing

Konta has also criticised the French Tennis Federation (FFT) over their management of the French Open. Officials at the FFT recently announced that the major would be delayed until September due to the Covid-19 outbreak. A move that caught many off guard, including some governing bodies. Konta reached the semi-finals of the French Open last year after previously losing in the first round four times in a row.

“It’s a really sad situation and it’s very disappointing for them to release their decision in the way that they did,” she said.
“It’s not the act itself, but the manner which was disappointing to everybody in the tennis community. It’s left a sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths.”

Lionel Maltés is the economic director of the FFT. He has defended their approach to the situation by saying the organisation had no choice but to act. Arguing that their (the FFT) first priority is French tennis. The controversy surrounding the date change is that it will take place a week after the US Open ends. Leaving players with little chance to prepare for the switch of surfaces.

“The decision was not made overnight, it was far from an outburst. We had been clear for some time that it was going to be impossible to play the tournament on the established dates and we knew we had to do something.” Maltés recently told French newspaper L’Equipe.
“There was no hint of conversation collective with the other Grand Slams so we did the only thing we had to do for French tennis. Don’t doubt that Wimbledon and US Open would have made the same decision if they could. In fact, other tournaments have backed us up by saying they understood us and that if they had been in our position, they would have done the same.
“We were aware that we would be highly criticized for this, but the safeguard of French tennis is above all,” he added.

The French Open was scheduled to run from 24 May to 7 June. Officials are now hoping that the tournament will start on September 20th.

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Madrid Open Chief Outlines Target Date For Tournament In 2020

How would players feel about having a top clay court event sandwiched between two grand slam tournaments?

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The Caja Magica, venue of the Madrid Open

Whilst the future of the 2020 tennis season remains unclear due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, organisers of the Madrid Open are not giving up hope of hosting their event this year.

 

Gerard Tsobanian, who is the CEO of Spain’s biggest tennis tournament, has set his sights on hosting the event during September ahead of the French Open. The clay-court grand slam has recently delayed their event until later this year in a move that caught some off guard. Should play resume later this year, it is possible that players will play two grand slam tournaments within five weeks. The US Open concludes a week before the French Open is set to begin. Tsobanian has outlined September 14-20 as a potential time slot to host the event.

“That date is the best, yes, but we cannot go ahead and give a date as Roland Garros did. Currently you cannot establish a fixed calendar, it is difficult.” He told L’Equipe.
“If it is to change it in two or three weeks because the situation does not begin to improve It would not be a serious thing. Now we have to watch how the pandemic evolves and, in case there is an improvement, then we can make serious forecasts that guarantee the dispute of an event.”

At present both the ATP and WTA tours have been suspended until June 8th, but it is likely to be extended into the summer. The Wimbledon Championships are on the verge of cancelling their event for the first time since 1945 due to the pandemic. Meaning that the grass season will be wiped off the calendar this year.

Should the Pandemic slow by the summer and play resumes, there are still concerns about the potential date of the Madrid Open. Sandwiched between two grand slam tournaments, there are concerns as to if top players would skip the tournament in order to focus on the majors. Although Tsobanian is optimistic about this scenario.

“I think the tennis players would accept it given the urgency and complexity of what remains to be played.” He said.
“Not all tennis players reach the final of the Us Open, some fall in the first week or at the beginning of the second, which gives time for Prepare to play Madrid on clay. The finalists of the US Open would be the only ones to feel the change, but that is a lesser evil compared to the joy of playing again.”

Both the ATP and WTA have expressed their desire to get the sport going again before 2021, but things are very much still up in the air. On Tuesday the John Hopkins University estimated that there have been 800,000 cases of Covid-19 worldwide with 37,500 deaths. It is currently unclear as to how or when the virus will be under control.

“As a member of the Board of Directors of the ATP and WTA tournaments I am in constant discussion with the players, with all the tournament directors and the leaders of the two circuits to see a little what the ideas are. There are many options and variables, but the more the weeks go by, the more the possible options fall. Whatever happens, the tennis year of 2020 will be severely damaged.” Tsobanian concluded.

The Madrid Open is currently categorized as a Masters 1000 event on the men’s tour and as a Premier Mandatory for the women.

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Matteo Berrettini: “It was a shock when the Rome Masters was cancelled”

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Last year’s US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini talked from the United States to Italian Sports channel about the period he is spending at home during the coronavirus pandemic which has forced tournament organisers to cancel their events scheduled until June.

 

“I was ready to play Indian Wells. In this period I am trying to improve my physical form. Tennis is not the priority at the moment. I have to find the form again after being sidelined by an injury problem at the start of the year. My days at home are boring and strange. This happens when we are injured. Health is our priority and we have to fight against the coronavirus. It’s a strange feeling that many tennis tournaments have been cancelled or postponed. The life of tennis players is focused on these tennis tournaments, but they are less important than what is happening in the world now. There are many people without work now. Tennis can wait. I am very sorry that the Rome Massters tournament has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. It shocked me more than the news that Wimbledon will not take place this year. Rome is my city and I started my career at this tournament. We will have to get used to this situation for many weeks”, said Berrettini.

Berrettini broke into the top 10 of the ATP Ranking on 28th October 2019 and achieved his career-high of world number 8 on 4 November. He became the first ATP Finals singles qualifier since Corrado Barazzutti in 1978. Berrettini’s 2019 season was highlighted by two titles in Budapest and Stuttgart, and the semifinals at the US Open, Halle, Vienna and Shanghai.

“I believe that the US Open has been the springboard event for my career. It has been a big step forward in my career. I did not think about reaching the top 10, but my goal was to play at my best level”, said Berrettini.

“My idol growing up was Roger Federer. He won every tournament, when I started playing tennis and it was easy to be a fan of Federer. I liked his way of playing tennis and his respect for his rivals. When I started playing against him, I realized that I can no longer be his fan. I have to be focused on myself. I enjoyed playing against Federer in London. He played a perfect match. I was not ready for that stage. I have been lucky to play against Djokovic, Nadal, Federer. I also faced Andy Murray, who was not in his best form, but he beat me last year in Beijing. Twelve months ago I would have said that my favourite surface was clay, but I achieved good results everywhere. The surface where I play better is outdoor hard-court”.

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