‘Best Match’ Of 2020 Changes Nothing For Ash Barty At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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‘Best Match’ Of 2020 Changes Nothing For Ash Barty At Australian Open

The reigning French Open champion explains why she doesn’t consider herself the frontrunner in Melbourne.

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World No.1 Ash Barty has vowed not to get ahead of herself despite producing a dominant display in her latest match at the Australian Open.

 

Barty, who is seeking to become the first home player to win a singles title in Melbourne Park since 1978, dropped just five games during her 6-3, 6-2, win over Elena Rybakina. Who won the Hobart International last week. Despite being tested at times by the 29th seed, Barty prevailed with the help of 28 winners as she broke five times during the 79-minute match.

“I think today was probably my sharpest match that I played. I felt really comfortable moving around the court. I felt like I found the middle of the racquet a lot sooner than my other matches.” Barty commented during her press conference.
“Particularly there were tough, long service games. I was able to get out of them and continue the momentum. I think all in all it was a pretty well-rounded performance.”

The win follows her victories over Lesia Tsurenko and Polona Hercog earlier in the tournament. Barty is now on a seven-match winning streak after winning the Adelaide International last week. Her first ever WTA title on Australian soil.

As the top seed in the women’s draw, the 23-year-old is carrying the burden of expectation on her shoulders. Although the WTA Tour is renowned for its unpredictability with the last 12 major tournaments being won by 10 different players. During that time, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep is the only players to have won multiple trophies. At the Australian Open specifically, the last time the tournament was won by the number one seed was in 2015 by Serena Williams.

It is perhaps for this reason why Barty is remaining coy about her chances over the coming days. After branding her latest victory as the best of 2020 so far, she once again played down the idea of being the favourite to win.

“I’ve said from the very start, for us it’s about coming out here and enjoying it. I’m loving every minute. Trying to do the best I can. That’s all I can ask of myself.” She said.
“There’s a ‘No. 1’ next to my name and that’s about it. I think my family is the same. I’m the same.”

Danger lurks for the Australian in the next round with a rematch against Alison Riske looming. Riske was the player who knocked Barty out of Wimbledon last year. The American 18th seed edged out Julia Goerges in three sets in her third round match.

Barty doesn’t appear to be too traumatised by the loss at the The All England Club. Blaming it on a combination of factors such as tiredness and the quick turnaround from winning her first grand slam title at the French Open. She states that she lost no sleep over the defeat.

Meanwhile, Riske herself admits that she faces a tough task of repeating her Wimbledon heroics.

“It’s going to be a different experience. I’m playing on her home turf. I expect the fans against me, as they should be. It’s going to be a battle. So I’m looking forward to it.” She said.

Should Barty prevail in the next round, she will progress to the last eight of the Australian Open for only the second time in her career.

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Cut Prize Money In Doubles To Help Low-Ranked Players, Says Wimbledon Champion Bartoli

The former top 10 tennis star has come up with a controversial proposal to help bridge the pay gap in tennis.

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Former French tennis star Marion Bartoli has come under fire after suggesting how she would help financially support players ranked outside of the top 100.

 

Bartoli, who won the 2013 Wimbledon trophy, has come up with a radical idea that would see money earned from doubles tournaments get taken away and redistributed to singles players. Speaking to Tennis Majors, the 35-year-old said she couldn’t understand where there were so many doubles events taking place outside of the four grand slams and Olympics. Her argument stems from a claim that she has witnessed doubles players having teams of ‘like six people’ and therefore earn more than enough money.

“I know I’m not going to make myself friends but I think we have to say it: I don’t understand all these doubles competitions all year round,” Bartoli told the Match Points talk show.
“I understand during Grand Slams and the Olympics because doubles is part of tennis history (but) I’ve been to some tournaments now with my player and I see now, these (doubles) players, they have crews, like six people around them.’
“When I was a player, as a singles player, we couldn’t afford to pay six people to travel with us full-time. They can afford to pay six people and they just play doubles!”

The comment concerns the ongoing debate over how lower-ranked players are coping during the Tour suspension due to COVID-19. Recently it was announced that a $6 million Relief fund has been set up to support roughly 800 players. The money will be issued by the ATP and WTA as long as players meet certain criteria. Furthermore, the International Tennis Federation is currently in the process of coming up with their own plans.

Nevertheless, Bartoli believes it would be right to take some money away from the doubles Tour because those players don’t put in as much effort in her opinion. The Frenchwoman won three WTA titles in doubles during her career.

“Why don’t you get some of that money to qualifiers, to someone who plays only Challengers? I just don’t understand because in doubles, you just don’t make the same effort as a singles player,” she said.
“You don’t practice as much….they keep going, week in and week out, getting that money. I don’t know if we have to stop doubles completely, but to get less money and give that money to qualification and others, that should be a solution.”

Belgian tennis player Joran Vliegen has hit back at the criticism. The 26-year-old currently has a doubles ranking of 36. Last season he won three ATP titles and reached the quarter-finals of the French Open. During 2019 he earned $187,673, which is more than 20 times less than what Novak Djokovic has already earned in 2020.

“Marion Bartoli thinks we shouldn’t play doubles and give money to singles qualifiers and challengers because we can afford to have six people in our team. We’ve only recently added a traveling coach because we could never afford it. Also, we practice 5-6 hours a day. Guess that’s not enough for her,” Vliegen wrote on Twitter.
“I completely agree with her that there is a problem with prize money distribution towards the lower rankings. In my opinion however, this is not the way to change that,” he added.

Addressing the current structure of the Tour, Bartoli has also criticised the distribution of prize money to players at the big tournaments. Arguing that the current situation makes the rich richer and poor poorer. Citing the US Open, which awarded the 2019 men’s and women’s champion $3,850,000 each. Roughly a third of what the former world No.7 earned throughout her entire career.

“When I see someone winning the US Open, and taking 4 million…. I won Wimbledon and I didn’t take four million. I believe I took enough money out of it. Right now the numbers are way too high for the people who are winning. They don’t share the money enough.” She concluded.

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Return of British Tennis Tour Opens The Door For Andy Murray’s Latest Comeback

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Andy Murray at the 2019 Australian Open (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Great Britain has become the latest country to take the route of domestic tennis to fill in the void of the ongoing Tour suspension due to COVD-19.

 

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has announced the return of the British Tour during July. A total of four events will take place over as many weeks. Each tournament will have a field of 32 players with 16 men and 16 women. Participants are eligible to take part based on their current ranking providing they are a member of the LTA. All four tournaments will be held over three days (Friday-Sunday) at the National Tennis Center in Roehampton. There will also be doubles action with eight teams featuring in a FAST4 format over one day each week.

“Since the coronavirus crisis, we have been working incredibly hard to support all our players, venues, coaches and officials through this very challenging time,” LTA CEO Scott Lloyd said in a statement.
“I’m delighted to announce today the next stage of elite tennis’ return to competing safely behind closed doors as part of a five-phase plan coordinated by UK Sport with Government.”
“The LTA is actively engaged in developing the necessary guidelines for behind closed doors events, which we hope will be determined by the Government in the coming weeks to ensure the safest environment for anyone involved in returning to competition and look forward to bringing tennis back into people’s lives this summer.”

It is yet to be confirmed who will be playing at the tournament. Although both Andy Murray and Johanna Konta are expected to feature at some stage. Murray hasn’t played a competitive match since the Davis Cup finals last November due to pelvic bruising. The three-time grand slam champion had recently said that his rehabilitation is going according to plan but gave no further comment on when he expects to be back to full fitness. During an Instagram Live chat with Rafael Nadal on April 20th he said that he ‘felt pretty good’ without going into specifics.

In weeks two and four of the British tour there will be Premier-level events with a prize money pool of £16,000. Each of the winners will take home £2250. Meanwhile in weeks one and three those tournaments will be classed as a ‘Tier 1.’ The prize money is a 50% increase compared with previous British Tour events.

The British Tour is set to take place between July 3-26 but is still subject to government approval.

Top five British players

Men
1.Dan Evans (No.28)
2.Kyle Edmund (No.44)
3.Cameron Norrie (No.77)
4.Andy Murray (No.129)
5.Jay Clarke (No.167)

Women
1.Jo Kona (No.14)
2.Heather Watson (No.50)
3.Harriet Dart (No.146)
4.Sam Murray (No.180)
5.Naiktha Bains (No.212)

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Ice Hockey Great Gretzky Heaps Praise On ‘Truly Remarkable’ Bianca Andreescu

The tennis star has been branded a ‘hero’ for children in Canada by one of her country’s sporting icons.

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Reigning US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has been praised for her work ethic by one of Canada’s greatest ice hockey players of all time.

 

Wayne Gretzky said he has been impressed with the world No.6 ever since watching her breakthrough run at the BNP Paribas Open last year. Where Andreescu defeated five seeded players en route to the title. At the time she was only able to enter the main draw of the event with the help of a wild card. Last year Andreescu scored eight wins over top 10 players and claimed three titles overall. Including her maiden grand slam at Flushing Meadows.

Speaking on Tennis United, Gretzy has hailed the 19-year-old for how she has been able to handle the pressure placed upon her at such a young age. Andreescu have already achieved a series of milestones for Canadian Tennis. Including being the first to win a grand slam title in singles and the highest ranked female player from Canada in WTA history.

“I remember watching her first match [at Indian Wells] and thinking that’s one of the hardest working athletes I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Gretzky.
“She went on to win the tournament and then, at the US Open, to play in front of all those fans and everyone cheering the American girl (Serena Williams) – and one of the greatest athletes of all time – was pretty special. My hat goes off to her for how she handled herself and how she handled the pressure.”

Gretzky is particularly impressed with how the tennis star has coped with life in the public eye and dealing with the media. Something he has plenty of experience in. Gretzky, who played in the NHL for 20 seasons, has been labelled as the “the greatest hockey player ever” by many pundits. The four-time Stanley Cup winner has scored 894 goals in the NHL which is 93 more than any other player in history.

“The thing that impressed me most about her – and I’ve said this to a lot of people – is not how good she is or how hard she works but how she handles herself with the media. She handled herself with such poise, she was so humble, so appreciative,” he said.
“I don’t think we could have a better hero in our country for young kids. She’s truly remarkable and deserves all the credit she’s getting.”

Andreescu hasn’t played a match since the WTA Finals last November due to a knee injury. She is set to return to action next month at a 16-player event set up in Charleston. The Credit One Bank Invitational, which is taking place during the Tour shutdown, will begin on June 23rd.

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