Simona Halep Keeps Her Cool To See Off Mertens Challenge - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

Simona Halep Keeps Her Cool To See Off Mertens Challenge

Simona Halep continued her impressive progress through the Australian Open draw with a straight-sets victory over Elise Mertens.

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Simona Halep (@Femei_din_sport on Twitter)

Simona Halep produced a superb performance to beat Elise Mertens 6-4 6-4 and secure her place in the quarter-final of the Australian Open for the fourth time.

 

The Romanian, 28, reached the final two years ago and lost an epic clash to Caroline Wozniacki. She has not dropped a set so far this year and she is probably quietly confident about her chances of winning the title (particularly with all the high-profile exits) but, as she said in her press conference after the previous round, she is focusing on each match as it comes.

“It’s a great performance by me to reach the quarter-finals again,” Halep said in her on-court interview. “I played against (Mertens) in the final in Doha last year. I was leading a set and 4-2 and then lost the match, so I knew I had to stay focused.”

She continued, “I had to calm myself down. When I get a little bit nervous, I get crazy on court. So I had to stay cool to get the energy from my box.”

Halep makes life difficult for Mertens

Halep’s calmness was a feature of the day. She dealt with most of the challenging moments in a composed manner and never let herself get derailed by a poor shot or a lost service. Consequently, she ended up with outstanding statistics: 21 winners and just eight unforced errors.

These numbers reflect the pattern of the match, which was established early on. Mertens went for her shots and tried to hit as many winners as possible. Meanwhile, Halep defended brilliantly and made sure her opponent had to play plenty of long points.

Each extended rally brought with it an increased risk of the Belgian making an unforced error. And it was a method that worked well, as the Romanian won 15 points with this method in the first five games.

With the help of those 15 unforced errors from Mertens, Halep earned a 3-2 lead thanks to a break in game three. During that game, the Belgian cancelled out her own winners with unforced errors. Despite this, she still managed to save three break points before the Romanian eventually seized the break with an excellent forehand winner.

The World No.17’s aggressive approach eventually paid off in game six. She struck three impressive winners to break Halep and make it 3-3.

Unfortunately for Mertens, the Romanian then demonstrated why she is a two-time Grand Slam champion. She put the setback out of her mind immediately and put the Belgian under all kinds of pressure in game seven.

Then Halep raised her game again and hit two stunning forehand winners to break Mertens easily in game nine. She clenched her fist in celebration, and then re-focused to secure the hold she needed to clinch the set 6-4.

Halep withstands Mertens’ fightback

Simona Halep (@AustralianOpen on Twitter)

At the start of the second set, the World No.3 produced some sparkling tennis. She hit a precise forehand winner to seal an immediate break. Then she hit an extraordinary angled backhand winner at full stretch to move 2-0 ahead.

In game three, Mertens was 40-30 ahead. Then Halep hit three consecutive forehand winners to break the Belgian again. At that stage, it looked like she might run away with the set.

However, the World No.17 was not ready to concede defeat just yet. She struck two winners and a powerful forehand to earn three break points. Then the Romanian missed a backhand to confirm the break.

Both players enjoyed a rare love hold to move the score along to 4-2. Then Mertens won a series of long rallies to make it 4-3.

This gave the Belgian a platform to attack Halep’s serve. And she did it to great effect. She drove the Romanian back behind the baseline to win one point. Then she unleashed a huge forehand to earn a break point, followed by a classy volley to seal the break.

Both players contested the next game like their lives depended on it. They engaged in a series of long rallies, and eventually it just came down to which woman held her nerve. Halep eventually took it on her fifth break point when Mertens volleyed just wide.

The Romanian closed the match out clinically. She hit an unreturnable serve, a forehand winner and an ace to move 40-0 up. Then the Belgian missed a backhand and the clash was over.

Halep will now face either Anett Kontaveit or Iga Swiatek in the last eight. She will be the heavy favourite to win whichever player makes it through.

Grand Slam

US Open Taking A Big Risk If Tournament Goes Ahead, Warns Former Top 10 Player

Will the USTA be able to defy the odds and stage the North American grand slam as planned?

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The prospect of the US Open going ahead as planned could potentially lead to ‘scandal’ occurring in the sport, according to a two-time quarter-finalist of the tournament.

 

Janko Tipsarevic says a ‘big question mark’ is looming over the grand slam and its intention to host the event from the last week of August. New York state, which is where the US Open takes place, is at the centre of the covid-19 outbreak in America. As of Saturday morning official figures put the number of cases at 113,700. The Billie Jean Tennis Center has recently been turned into a 350-bed facility to help cope with the outbreak.

“I wouldn’t still rule out the possibility of seeing a tennis ball being hit for the rest of 2020 but I consider the US Open a big question mark,” Tipsarevic told Sport Klub.
“I think the United States will be the hardest hit country by the coronavirus pandemic and it will be extremely hard to get the situation under control before the end of August, when the US Open is scheduled to start.”

Nevertheless, the United States Tennis Association is still not giving up their hope of staging the event as scheduled unlike other majors. The French Open has suspended their tournament to the last week of September in a hope they can still host the event this year. However, Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since 1945.

There are also questions as to how much time it will take to make the facility safe for the public after being used to treat those with the virus. The facility being used to treat those affected is the indoor training centre and not the premier Arthur Ashe stadium or other courts. Danny Zausner, who is the chief operating officer of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, insists there will minimal risk to the public should the US Open get underway in the summer.

“I can assure you that by the time people leave these two entities—and obviously we hope that’s sooner rather than later—that they will be cleaner and more meticulous than when they opened. Obviously, we’re not going to be bringing the public into these spaces until everyone is out.” Zausner told tennis.com.

Despite the reassurances, Tipsarevic still believes that the legal risk involving the tournament could be too high. Making a reference to Eugenie Bouchard, who onced sued the USTA after slipping over in the locker room and suffering a concussion.

“You probably remember when Eugenie Bouchard fell in the locker room a couple of years ago, sued the US Open, won the case and got compensated a few million dollars.” He said.
“Can you imagine a situation in which the tournament organizers decide to proceed with the US Open and a player contracts the coronavirus and has serious consequences. Just imagine that scandal.”

Out of the four grand slams, the US Open was the only one to take place during the first and second world wars.

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Grand Slam

Wimbledon Announces Cancellation As Coronavirus Continues To Affect Tennis Calendar

For the first time since World War Two, Wimbledon has been cancelled.

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Wimbledon has announced it has cancelled this year’s tournament due to health fears over the coronavirus. 

 

This is the first time since world war two that the famous grass-court tournament at SW19 has been cancelled as the coronavirus continues to impact the tennis calendar.

In a statement, Wimbledon confirmed that the next edition of the tournament will occur in 2021, “It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic,” they said on their website.

“The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021. Uppermost in our mind has been the health and safety of all of those who come together to make Wimbledon happen – the public in the UK and visitors from around the world, our players, guests, members, staff, volunteers, partners, contractors, and local residents – as well as our broader responsibility to society’s efforts to tackle this global challenge to our way of life.

“Members of the public who paid for tickets in the Wimbledon Public Ballot for this year’s Championships will have their tickets refunded and will be offered the chance to purchase tickets for the same day and court for The Championships 2021. We will be communicating directly with all ticket-holders.”

Speaking on the decision, All-England Club chairman Ian Hewitt admitted that health and public safety was more important than tennis right now, “This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, and we have done so with the highest regard for public health and the wellbeing of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen.”

“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond.”

As a result of today’s announcement, all grass-court tournaments in England and abroad have been cancelled as there will be no tennis until the 13th of July at the earliest.

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Grand Slam

Wimbledon Cancelled And Roland Garros Punished For Its Decision

German Tennis Federation vice-president Dirk Hordoff confirms Wimbledon will not take place in 2020. The decision by the FFT to postpone Paris will not stand: the other organizations are committed to fight. FFT’s president Giudicelli may have overplayed his hand

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A bombshell interview by French sports newspaper l’Equipe to the Vice-President of the German Tennis Federation Dirk Hordoff has released some new details about the discussions taking place behind the scenes among top tennis executive to try and sort out the chaos created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

According to Hordoff, the grass-court season will be a write-off in 2020, with all tournaments waiting for Wimbledon to announce the cancelation of the tournament next Wednesday to make their decision official. “It’s the only decision that makes sense,” said the German executive “it is possible to play on clay later in the year, but it is not possible to have tournaments on grass in October, you can’t play on grass when it is moist”.

But the juiciest bits of the interview described with an abundance of details the reactions to the French Federation’s decision to unilaterally postpone the Roland Garros to late September (20 September – 4 October) without waiting to reach a consensus among the ATP, the WTA and the other Grand Slam tournament. “This is not the French way of doing things, it’s Bernard Giudicelli’s way of doing things”, said Hordoff. The FFT President Giudicelli reportedly forced the decision upon the other tournaments, uploading the press release to announce the decision while he was on a conference call with other tennis executives. “I believe he panicked because of the elections coming up [in February 2021] and wanted to score some points on his opponent” reported Hordoff. His decision to also cancel the qualifying tournament was intended to be a “biscuit” for the ITF President David Haggerty, since it would make the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid in November even more financially attractive to all the players who did not have the opportunity to earn money with the Roland Garros qualifying tournament. “He hoped to have the ITF on his side, but now he is alone against the rest of the world,” said Hordoff, adding that the ATP is threatening to remove the ranking points assigned to Roland Garros for both 2020 and 2021.

One manager at the FFT allegedly told Hordoff: “This decision will be his Waterloo”, alluding to Giudicelli’s birth region of Corsica, the island in the Mediterranean that also was Napoleon’s birthplace.

The idea for the remainder of the season would be to have Roland Garros some time between September and October, depending on when it is possible to start playing again and have a short clay-court season before then. The situation in New York is quite dire at the moment, so the US Open is still a question mark for the time being, explained Hordoff. “But the most important thing right now is people’s health. I believe that until we have a vaccine or a cure it will be difficult to start again. Can you imagine all the people travelling from tournament to tournament, all the players, the fans, the coaches, the physios, the referees? There are more important things than tennis to think about”.

“Financially tennis will be all right – concluded Hordoff – I don’t see any of the Top 100 having problems to survive even without tennis. Of course, there may be some sponsors that will pull back their support to some tournaments, but tennis will survive. It will be different, but it will survive”.

Correction: In previous versions of the article, Dirk Hordoff was being identified as the President of the German Tennis Federation. His position has now been corrected.

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