In A Country Devastated By The Coronavirus, Italy Still Has Their Sights Set On Hosting Top Event - UBITENNIS
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In A Country Devastated By The Coronavirus, Italy Still Has Their Sights Set On Hosting Top Event

With a mounting death toll due to the deadly Coronavirus outbreak, the Italian Tennis Federation share their view about the chances of hosting a top-level tennis tournament this year.

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With the entire tennis tours suspended until June 7th due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Italian Tennis Federation (FIT) isn’t giving up their hope of hosting one of their top events.

 

Each year the country’s capital of Rome stages the prestigious Italian Open. A combined tournament played on the clay which is categorised as a Masters 1000 event for the men and as a Premier 5 for the women. Rafael Nadal holds the record for most trophies won at nine. Meanwhile, Chris Evert is the most successful woman with five titles to her name.

This year the tournament faces a crisis it has never experienced in its 90-year history. The Coronavirus outbreak has devastated the entire nation. 4825 people have been killed by the virus, which is the highest death toll in the world. On Saturday, authorities reported almost 800 deaths within 24 hours. Under the current climate, hosting any form of sporting event appears inconceivable.

However, FIT president Angelo Binaghi hasn’t given up hope yet. In a recent interview he has hinted that his federation are still hoping to stage a tournament later this year at some stage. Revealing that a change in both venue and surface remains on the cards.

“We plan to reschedule the Internationals (Internazionali BNL d’Italia) this year.” Binaghi told Sky Sport 24.
“We would be very happy to be one of the preparatory tournaments for Roland Garros. We would like them to play in Rome, but we are willing to organize them in any venue and on any surface.”

It is unclear as to where else Italy could stage such a big tournament like Rome. Which features a total of 128 main draw players within seven days. Milan is the current venue of the ATP Next Gen finals at the PalaLido. A multi-sport indoor venue that can seat just under 5500 people. Meanwhile Palmo currently hosts a WTA event on clay.

Binaghi has pledged to invest three million Euros to support local tennis clubs and young players in Italy affected by the pandemic. In an Open letter, he said he is able to provide this amount of financial support due to the ‘use of the assets that FIT has been able to accumulate over the past few years.’

“At the most difficult moment in the recent history of our country – reads the Federtennis website – Sport is also paying a very high price. From all over Italy we receive reports that describe in detail the enormous difficulties in which our movement finds itself and testify to the concern for the unknowns regarding the future.” He said.

It is unclear as to how likely Italy will be able to stage a major event later this year with the ATP and WTA in the process of making major adjustments to their calendars. Earlier in the week, the French Open said their tournament will now be played in September after the US Open. A move that has effectively cancelled a string of men’s and women’s tournaments.

Only time will tell if the world’s best tennis players will be gracing their presence in Italy later this year.

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Andy Murray’s ‘Tennis In 2020’ Caption Praised By Rising Star Gauff

Why a recent Instagram post from the three-time Grand Slam champion has been hailed by the teenage sensation.

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Coco Gauff has branded Andy Murray a ‘great ally’ for diversity after the former world No.1 highlighted an article about the lack of members from non-white backgrounds at the Lawn Tennis Association and All England Club.

 

The former world No.1 uploaded a screenshot of an interview conducted by The Times newspaper with MaliVai Washington who is the last black man to reach a Wimbledon final back in 1996. The article reported that none of the 24 board members of the two organisations are Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME). In Murray’s Instagram along with the picture he wrote the caption ‘Tennis in 2020’ followed by a confused emoji.

16-year-old Gauff has hailed the Brit for speaking out on the issue. Speaking to reporters following her 1-6, 7-6, 7-6(2), loss to Aryna Sabalenka in Ostrava on Thursday, the world No.55 said it was important to have people like Murray commenting on these issues.

“Nothing’s wrong with asking for more diversity. For him to say that is definitely inspiring, especially with him being a man and white,” Reuters news agency quoted Gauff as saying.
“For someone like him to call for diversity, it shows how great an ally he is… I love what Andy is doing on and off the court. He’s one of my favourite players to watch.
“It’s important we do have diversity, because there are people from all over the world from different backgrounds and areas and I think representation is important. At least for me, as a girl… seeing yourself being represented means a lot.”

Murray is renowned for speaking out about equality issues in tennis and was one of the first top players on the ATP Tour to hire a female coach when he collaborated with Amelie Mauresmo. In an article written for the BBC back in 2017 he said ‘anyone who has spent any time with any of the top women will know that they make those same sacrifices and are as determined and committed to winning as any of the top men on the tour.’

More recently Murray has also come out in favour of renaming the Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open due to the former player’s controversial statements about the LGBT community.

Despite her young age, Gauff has also been vocal about social issues and addressed a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in her home town of Delray Beach, Florida earlier this year where she called for change.

Coincidentally during the same week as Murray’s post, Wimbledon has appointed its first ever BAME member to its main board. The Daily Mail has confirmed that former player and Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong will join the board in a bit to increase diversity. The 37-year-old was born in the London borough of Hackney after her parents left Laos in the 1970s.

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Milos Raonic reaches his fifth quarter final this season in Antwerp

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This year’s Western and Southern Open Championships Milos Raonic edged Cameron Norrie 7-5 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 49 minutes at the European Open in Antwerp to reach his fifth quarter final on the ATP Tour this season.

 

Norrie saved three break points in the first game of the opening set and one more chance in the the fifth game, but Raonic broke serve in the 11th game to win the opening set 7-5. 

The second set went on serve en route to tie-break. Raonic earned two mini-breaks to earn three match points at 6-3. Norrie got back one of the two mini-break points, but Raonic sealed the win on his second match point. 

The Canadian player has got through to his second consecutive quarter final one week after advancing to the semifinal in St. Petersburg last week. The 2016 Wimbledon finalist has improved his win-loss record to 19-8 this year. 

Raonic is bidding to win his first ATP Tour title since his win over Roger Federer in the 2016 Brisbane final.  

Raonic set up a quarter final clash against Grigor Dimitrov, who leads 3-2 in his previous head-to-head matches against his Canadian rival. 

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Aryna Sabalenka comes from a double break down to beat Coco Gauff in Ostrava

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Third seed Aryna Sabalenka came back from a double break down in the third set to beat US qualifier Coco Gauff 1-6 7-5 7-6 (7-2) after 2 hours and 13 minutes in the second round of the J&T Banka Ostrava Open.

 

Sabalenka avenged her defeat against Gauff, who won their recent head-to-head match in Lexington by the scoreline of 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-4 in 2 hours and 48 minutes. 

Sabalenka faced the first break point of the match in the fourth game , as she netted a smash. Gauff converted it with a backhand over the baseline. The US 16-year-old player went up a double break with two passing shots to race to a 5-1 lead. She closed out the first set 6-1 with three service winners. 

Neither player faced a break point in the first 11 games, but each came back from 0-30 down twice. Gauff netted a forehand at deuce on Sabalenka’s serve at 5-5 and was broken for the first time in the next game with consecutive forehand errors. 

Gauff went up a double break to open up a 3-0 lead, as Sabalenka sent a backhand over the baseline. Sabalenka pulled one the two breaks back in the fourth game to claw her way back to 2-3, but she faced a break point in the seventh game after three double faults. Gauff converted her double break point chance to take a 5-2 lead with a lob. 

Sabalenka broke serve to claw her way back to 3-5, as Gauff made three unforced errors and a double fault. The 22-year-old Belarusian player pulled the second break back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. 

Sabalenka had a chance for a double match point, but she sent a forehand volley into the the tramlines. Gauff forced the decisive set to the tie-break. Sabalenka got a double mini-break to race out to a 4-0 lead and closed out the match with her fourth ace. 

“I would say today was a really good level compared to last time. After the last match I knew there were going to be long rallies and short balls, and that I have to step in every time on court, and that I have to step in every time on court, stay aggressive and don’t be afraid to come into net. She is a great player, she is so young and she is moving really well. It’s long rallies all the time and it’s not easy to make a winner or find a way of finishing the point against her. She is great. She is 16 and she is playing on this level. I would like to be on this level when I was 16”, said Sabalenka. 

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