Sofia Kenin Stuns Ash Barty To Reach Maiden Grand Slam Final - UBITENNIS
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Sofia Kenin Stuns Ash Barty To Reach Maiden Grand Slam Final

Sofia Kenin stunned an erratic Ash Barty to reach her first grand slam final at the Australian Open.

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Sofia Kenin (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Sofia Kenin stunned world number one Ash Barty 7-6(6) 7-5 to reach her first grand slam final at the Australian Open.

 

The American reached her maiden grand slam final as she forced the errors out of an erratic Barty in the straight sets win.

After being a break down in the second set, Kenin won four straight games as she booked a place in Saturday’s final in Melbourne.

Next Kenin will face either Simona Halep or Garbine Muguruza.

Barty, who was looking for revenge having lost in Toronto to the American, had a promising start producing a serving masterclass with six aces in her opening three service games.

However the slice backhand was a feature that was missing from the Australian’s game all match as she could not convert any of her three break point opportunities in the sixth game.

As for Kenin she remained confident and solid off of both wings but failed to create any clear-cut opportunities as the opening set went to an opening set tiebreak.

The world number one dominated most of the tiebreak with some fearless striking and simple combinations before getting tight at 6-4 up.

It was completely the opposite from the 14th seed as she sealed a run of four consecutive points to seal the opening set.

In the second set there was cleaner striking and less unforced errors from the backhand as the world number one claimed the first break of the match for a 2-1 lead.

Frustration began to mount for Kenin as she couldn’t aggressively outpower the subtle Barty who glided across the court with her slices and variety.

However as the Roland Garros champion failed to break for the set, nerves took over as she couldn’t serve the set out and a missed forehand volley sealed the break back for 5-5.

Clear mistakes mixed with poor decision making cost the Australian as she nodded her head in frustration but with that Kenin’s confidence grew.

Despite having four set points in both sets combined, the Barty Party was spoiled as Kenin broke for a second consecutive time to seal her place in a grand slam final for the first time in her career.

This achievement caps off what has been an amazing rise for the 21 year-old in the last 12 months as she looks for a first grand slam title.

As for Barty, it is a massive opportunity lost as she knows how much she lost that match as well as Kenin won it. Too many errors in key moments cost her a spot in Australian history, but more chances will await the world number one.

The American will now await Simona Halep or Garbine Muguruza in the final.

 

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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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