No.1 Status Irrelevant For Ash Barty And Her Quest For First Win Of 2020 In Adelaide - UBITENNIS
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No.1 Status Irrelevant For Ash Barty And Her Quest For First Win Of 2020 In Adelaide

The grand slam winner believes she has work to do in order to become a ‘complete player.’

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Ash Barty has stated that her current place at the top of the WTA rankings doesn’t guarantee anything as she aims to reach her best form in time for the Australian Open.

 

The French Open champion will return to action in Adelaide following a disappointing start to her season in Brisbane last week. At the event the Australian crashed out of her opening match to Jennifer Brady in straight sets. A rare occurrence for Barty, who only lost her opening match in one out of 15 tournaments played last year. Not to be disheartened by her latest loss, the 23-year-old is hoping to get back on track.

“I can’t wait to start. Every match I play here will be a bonus, I’ve done my preparation well. I’ve put myself in a position to try and play my best tennis,” Barty told reporters.
“At the moment, this event is all that’s on my mind.”

Whilst Adelaide is at the top of her priorities at present, Barty is hoping the tournament will place her on a good footing heading into the Australian Open. Where she will be bidding to become the first home player to win a singles title there since 1978. Last year she reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne for the first time in her career.

Currently ranked No.1 in the world, there are high expectations for Barty to deliver in front of her home crowd. Although she is yet to win a WTA title of any sort in Australia. Last year she made $11,307,587 in prize money on the tour.

“Regardless of what number is next to my name – and whether it’s one, two, 10, 20, 50 – it’s not going to make me any more or less hungry to try and be the best that I can be,” she explained. “That is what we’re striving for every single day, to try and improve every single day and try and bring the best out of myself.
“And I have an exceptional team of people around me that help me do that and that is all we worry about – there certainly won’t be any stresses about whatever number is there.”
Having a number next to your name doesn’t guarantee anything – it doesn’t guarantee wins.
“You still have to go out there and do the work … and do your best every single match.
“And that is how I’m going to approach this week here in Adelaide; that is how I’m going to approach the Australian Open.”

Despite her rise in the sport to become one of the most formidable players in the women’s game, Barty believes she still has a way to go to reach her maximum potential. So far in her career, she has won seven WTA titles with four of those occurring during the 2019 season.

“I want to be the complete tennis player,” she states.
“… The challenge is now to continue to try and improve as a tennis player and that’s all I can really ask of myself.
“It’s going to be small improvements but improvements nonetheless every single day.”

Barty, who has a bye in the first round, will start her Adelaide campaign against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

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Tennis In The Time Of Covid-19

There will be tennis again, but along the way there should be memories of triumphs that rise above the challenges that these times engender. Existence can hinge on more than tennis, but the game will survive a pandemic with a lot of patience and ingenuity.

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By Cheryl Jones

It’s April. Tennis hasn’t been cancelled, but it’s been sidelined by something much bigger than the sport itself. The Covid-19 virus has taken center stage. It’s doubtful that Rafael Nadal will be taking his yearly bite out of the Coupe des Mousquetaires, even though Roland Garros has merely been rescheduled for September. Paris’ delay could eventually lead to cancellation, gauging the way things are now. Roger Federer is likely having mixed feelings about the cancellation of most major events that he was planning to skip anyway, having had knee surgery quite recently. Andy Murray has probably been weighing the events of the day, trying to decide if he should retire and become an expert on the rare species of bats that have taken up residence on his property – or maybe not.

 

There’s a likelihood that the stars of the tennis world are doing just what everyone else is doing – sheltering in place, reading that book that’s been on the shelf gathering dust, or maybe like Federer trying to hit balls against a wall to get back into condition. Of course it is snowing and windy and cold in Switzerland this time of year, but as Chaucer once said – time waits for no man. Evidently, not even Roger Federer.

Having a good deal of time on my hands, having read three of those dusty books and missing tennis, my mind began to wander. I thought about others that were confined to their homes, much as I am here in Southern California. Because this was a rather unplanned sequestering, most folks have had to make-do with what they have on hand.

Last week, ESPN, hungry for sports news, where thanks to the virus, none exists, showed Federer hitting balls against a backboard on his private court. I imagined that he had to make sure there were no gut strings involved that would grow gummy in the wet and wild weather. Then I thought, what if his supply of synthetic strings ran low? A crafty guy like Federer would have something on hand. He would have known that he needed to rehab and there should have been a way to make that happen. What better way to get in shape for tennis than with tennis?

I imagined that he called his good friend Rafa and the two of them surely would have chatted about the dilemma Roger was having. He needed to rehab, but he had way too much gut and not enough synthetic string. As problems go, this should have been inconsequential, in the scheme of things, but it wasn’t. They both knew that their livelihood should not depend on the lack of suitable manmade product. The chitchat that the two greats exchanged would have been light and airy – How are the kids? How about the newlyweds? How’s the fishing going? Kids are fine; marriage is fine; fishing isn’t what it once was, but life is good. Wait – fishing… Rafa might have remembered that he left a tackle box in Roger’s huge garage. Recalling the contents, he would have said, “Check the stash of fishing line, No?”

A glimmer of hope would have painted a smile on Roger’s face and off he would go to check the garage for the tackle box. Looking in every crevice of the space that was carefully catalogued and organized for convenience, he might finally have spotted the box. It was filled with hooks and lures. Not much in the way of fishing line, but when he moved the top drawer, there under it all, was a supply of fishing line. It would have been cold out there. Roger would have stuffed his pockets with spools of various test weights. (Fishing line is gauged by the size of fish it could be strong enough to reel in.)

He would have jogged back into the house, thrilled with his find. After all, the sporting goods stores were all on hiatus because the places had been declared non-essential businesses. The thought of that had left him muttering about who made those decisions? But, he would have headed for his stringing machine, hoping all the while for a miracle.

He would have tried the 16-pound test line first. It was easy to evenly string the test racquet he had selected. But when he struck a ball, it nearly sliced the little green orb into pieces. By then, his wife, Mirka would have entered the picture and procured the strangely strung racquet for slicing hardboiled eggs to make uniquely cubed egg salad sandwiches. With those snacks, their four kids would have memories to share with their own children, someday. Who but a child of the father of an invention could have been so lucky?

A determined Roger would have moved on to another test case (or test racquet) then. He would next have tried the 40-pound test. The curly string would have been a clear example of over-kill, but he persevered. After it had seemed satisfactory, the excited Federer would have swiftly donned his outside clothing and ambled to the soggy court. In mere seconds, his racquet would have been immune to the wet, icy air. He would have swatted ball after ball toward his anxious opponent – the wall. Satisfied to having solved his pressing issues, at least for the day, he would have again dialed up his Spanish friend. The line would have crackled and a friendly voice would have answered, No?

Yes! Would surely have been Roger’s reply. The two friends would have marveled at their ability to think outside the box, even though the solution had been in the tackle box all along.

There will be tennis again, but along the way there should be memories of triumphs that rise above the challenges that these times engender. Existence can hinge on more than tennis, but the game will survive a pandemic with a lot of patience and ingenuity.

 

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Neil Stubley: “It is impossible to host Wimbledon in late summer because the courts would become slippery”

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Wimbledon groundsman Neil Stubley explained to the British newspaper that the change of date was not possible at the All England Club. It is impossible to stage Wimbledon in late summer. Wimbledon became the highest-profile tennis tournament to be called off due to the coronavirus. The All England Club confirmed that the 134th edition of the Championships will be held from 28th June to 11th July 2021.

 

According to Stubley it is impossible to host Wimbledon in late summer because the courts would become slippery much earlier than in July. It would shorten the window for matches making it extremely difficult to organize many matches between 11.30am to 17pm.

“In late summer the sun gets lower in the sky. The dew point on the grass arrives earlier and the courts get slippery. The window for play becomes shorter at both ends. As much as it would be lovely to play in late summer and autumn. It’s not possible. We have indeed staged Davis Cup matches in September, but the the play would start at 11.30 or noon and finish by 5pm. Whereas, at the Championships, you are going from 11am until 9 pm every day. To get through 670 matches over 13 matches is a challenge in the height of summer, let alone at other times of the year”, said Stubley.

Stubley said that he will miss the adrenaline rush he gets on the first day of Wimbledon.

 “One of the beauties about my job is that to showcase my work to the world every day. When the eyes of the world are looking to how Centre Court is for that first day of the Championships, it’s always a nervous feeling. It will be a funny feeling, through June and July, not to have that adrenaline rush again”, said Stubley.

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‘He Did Everything I did, Only Better’ – Pat Rafter Names The Toughest Rival Of His Career

The two-time grand slam champion opens up about his toughest rivalry as he predicts a bleak outlook for the 2020 tennis season.

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Former world No.1 Pat Rafter has named an American tennis legend as the player who he struggled the most against throughout his professional career.

 

The 47-year-old was a star of Australian tennis during his playing days after achieving a series of milestones. His accolades include becoming the first player from his country in 28 years to reach the top of the ATP rankings in 1999 and becoming the first man to win the Rogers Cup, Cincinnati Masters and US Open within the same year. Rafter is also the last player outside of the Big Three to have won back-to-back US Open titles after triumphing in 1997 and 1998.

Despite his successes, there was one player that caused him difficulty. Rafter played Pete Sampras 16 times on the ATP Tour, but could only win four of those encounters. At one stage he lost to the 14-time grand slam champion eight times in a row.

“The toughest player I played against was definitely Pete Sampras – he did everything I did, only better.” Rafter told Eurosport.
“His record was the best so there’s no doubt about it Sampras the stand-out. I enjoyed playing Andre Agassi the most – I thought we had a really good battle, I really enjoyed playing him.”

The rivalry between the two was tense at times. Highlighted best by their encounter in the 1998 US Open semifinals. Sampras complained of a quadriceps injury following his loss to the Australian. Prompting Rafter to famously say ‘he’s becoming a bit of a crybaby.’ A few months before that comment, he admitted that his relationship with the American wasn’t solid by saying ‘We’re not the best of mates. I wouldn’t go out for a beer with him, put it that way.’

22 years on from the verbal exchange between the two, Rafter now describes it as a thing of the past. Insisting that his rival never took what he said to him ‘personally.’

“I can’t remember the exact words, but we had a run-in in Cincinnati one year – I probably told him to grow up.” He recounted.
“He cracked it when I beat him one time. But that was back in the old days, emotions were running high and don’t take it personally. It’s all good.”

No tennis in 2020

Besides reminiscing about his playing career with Eurosport, Rafter has also predicted a bleak outlook for this year’s tour. All professional tournaments have been suspended until July 13th due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first time since 1945 Wimbledon has been cancelled due to the situation.

Many are now speculating as to when it will be possible for the tour to resume. The US Open is still optimistic that they can hold their tournament as scheduled later this summer. Meanwhile, the French Open is set to be played during the later part of September. However, Rafter doubts that either of those tournaments will happen.

“No, I think this (the virus) is going to be around for a long time.” Rafter commented on the chances of the 2020 season resuming. “Until they get a vaccine I can’t see how anyone is going to be playing.’
“Personally, I think it’ll be like the flu and we’ll have to get used to it.”

Potentially one solution for the tournaments would be to host matches without spectators. In order to minimise the risk of the virus spreading. An approach that has already been taken by other sports such as football. However, Wimbledon refused to consider that option this year.

“I think they could. No spectators. Sure. No ball-boys – I’d love to see the players pick up the balls themselves!” he concluded.

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