Elena Rybakina comes back from one set down against Karolina Pliskova to reach her fourth semifinal of the year in Dubai - UBITENNIS
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Elena Rybakina comes back from one set down against Karolina Pliskova to reach her fourth semifinal of the year in Dubai

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Elena Rybakina came back from a break down in the opening set to beat Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 reaching the semifinal at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

 

Rybakina has qualified for her fourth semifinal this season. She opened the year with the final in Shenzhen followed by a title in Hobart. After losing to Ashleigh Barty in the third round at the Australian Open, the Kazakh player finished runner-up to Kiki Bertens in the final in St. Petersburg.

Rybakina hit 33 winners (including 11 aces) to 20 unforced errors and saved 10 of the 11 break points she faced.

Pliskova fended off a break point in the opening game of the first set before breaking serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead after a pair of double faults from Rybakina.

Rybakina broke straight back in the seventh game with forehand return winners. The Kazakh player missed a break point at 4-4, but she held her serve in the 12th game with three consecutive aces to force the first set to the tie-break. Rybakina raced out to a 6-0 lead in the tie-break and sealed the tie-break on her second set point 7-1.

Rybakina broke serve in the second game to open up a 4-1 lead. She had to overcome a total of eleven deuces and saved six break points in her first three service games. She held serve for 1-0 with three consecutive service winners and hit a backhand crosscourt winner in the third game and a forehand down the line down break point in the fifth game.

Rybakina earned her first break in the second game of the second set to open up a 2-0 lead after a double fault from Pliskova.

Pliskova saved three break points in the sixth game to hold serve for 2-4. Rybakina held serve at deuce to take a 5-2 lead and rallied from 0-30 down to serve out the win.

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Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova is ready to play in November if the season is extended

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Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova said that she would be ready to play in November and December, if the season is extended once the WTA circuit resumes after the long suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The season may be extended to November to make up for the events, which were called off due to Covid-19.

Pavlyuchenkova opened her 2020 season with early defeats against Petra Kvitova in the first round in Brisbane and Ashleigh Barty in the second round in Adelaide. The Russian player produced a major upset when she beat Karolina Pliskova in the third round at the Australian Open, scoring her first win in seven head-to-head matches over the former world number 1 player. She came back from a set down to beat Angelique Kerber reaching the sixth Grand Slam quarter final of her career. In the quarter final Pavlyuchenkova lost to former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza. She recently split with 53-year-old French coach Sam Sumyk.

Pavlyuchenkova is a former world number 1 player and won two junior Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and at the US Open in 2006. She lifted twelve singles titles and five doubles titles on the WTA Tour.

“If it is necessary to play in December, I will be ready. In any case it is necessary to change to change this calendar where we play without stopping from January to November. We have announced a resumption date but there is no agreement. Everything can change. It does not look like as an offseason at all as some say because the only thing that I can do is to motivate myself physically and hit the ball because I am lucky that I have a court not far from home. Some people can’t even do all that”, said Pavlyuchenkova to TennisActu Website.

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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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Amelie Mauresmo Fears 2020 Season Is Over, But Becker Disagrees

Two former world No.1 disagree on what will happen to the sport this year, but what is the current stance of the governing bodies?

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Former world No.1 Amelie Mauresmo has said she is doubtful that there will be any more competitive tennis played this year due to the covid-19 pandemic.

 

Both the ATP and WTA tours are currently suspended until June 8th due to the deadly virus. According to the John Hopkins University there has been an estimated 800,000 cases of Coronavirus globally that has killed over 37,500 people. The disease is particularly dangerous to the elderly and those with pre-existing medical problems.

In light of the epidemic, it is likely that the Wimbledon Championships will be officially cancelled later this week following a series of emergency meetings. Making it the first time the grand slam has been scrapped in peace time. Wimbledon wasn’t played 10 times during the first and second World Wars. It is expected that a decision concerning a potential extension of the tour suspension will be made after the announcement.

Weighing in on the situation, two-time grand slam champion Mauresmo believes officials could be soon forced to cancel the entire season. Echoing similar comments that were previously made by Craig Tiley, who is the chief of Tennis Australia.

“I think that we are going to have to draw a line under the 2020 tennis season.” Said Mauresmo.
“The international circuit = male and female players of all nationalities including their coaching staff, spectators and people from all over the world who bring these events to life.
“No vaccine = no tennis,’ she added.

Due to the unpredictability of the epidemic, it is unclear as to when life around the world will return to normal. However, not everybody is thinking the worst when it comes to tennis this year. German legend Boris Becker has called for an end to what he describes as ‘doom and gloom.’

“We should stop with all this doom and gloom — of course tennis will be played this year,” he tweeted in a reply to an article concerning Mauresmo comments.

Looking beyond Wimbledon, two grand slam tournaments are still hoping to take place this season. The US Open is scheduled to get underway on August 24th in New York. Although the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which hosts the tournament, has been turned into a 350-bed hospital to help New York cope with the Covid-19 outbreak. Meanwhile, the French Open is optimistically intending to play their event the week after the US Open concludes.

What are the governing bodies saying?

In regards to planning for the future of the tennis season, the women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has shed some light on their potential plans. In a statement sent to Reuters News Agency on Tuesday, they are pondering the possibility of extending the calendar beyond the first week of November. Allowing more tournaments to be played and therefore more players can earn money.

“The WTA is diligently working with our tournaments to maximize earning possibilities when the professional tennis circuit is able to resume and is considering an extension to the current 44-week season to enable more tournaments to take place,” the WTA statement reads.
“It is our sincere hope to return to the court as soon as possible – when the health and safety or our players, fans and staffs can be guaranteed, we will be back competing.”

It is likely the male equivalent, the ATP, is considering similar approaches. Although they have yet to publicly comment on their potential plans. ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi admitted on March 24th that it is unknown as to when the tour will be able to resume.

“This is bigger than any sport. The current situation raises many questions which we empathize with greatly, and we are working hard on evaluating all options.” He said.
“Our ability to address any supportive measures will be best guided once we know the duration of the crisis and when the Tour will resume, which remains unknown at this time.“

Finally, the International Tennis Federation is also pondering what their next move will be. The ITF is responsible for the Olympic tennis event, as well as both the Davis Cup and Fed Cup. Later this year Madrid, which has been severely hit by Covid-19 cases, is set to hold the 18-team Davis Cup Finals. Although ticket sales for the event has been halted with a release date yet to be confirmed.

“Due to the current global situation caused by the impact of Covid-19 it is yet to be determined when tickets for the 2020 Finals will go on sale.” Officials said in a statement obtained by the Guardian.

There are also questions concerning how future decisions will be made. The suspension of play saw a joint-statement from the ATP and WTA. A rare glimmer of unity in a sport split up by various governing bodies with their own interests. Although the head of the WTA, Steve Simon, insists that all the relevant bodies are working together on a regular basis.

“It’s very important right now for our sport to be working together. We are in contact on a daily basis with the ATP, as well as the ITF and grand slams. I think the sport is working very well together. There are obviously, when you go through these things, blips in the script.” Simon told The Tennis Channel.

Both the men’s and women’s rankings have been frozen until play resumes.

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