There is one infallible way to ruin a debate, and that is to mention Hitler, i.e. to “play the Nazi card”. When the infamous “reductio ad Hitlerum” come into dialectic play, it spells doom for any argument, all but driving it towards implosion – and this is especially true if the debate is web-based.
Ever since Maria Sharapova received a ban from the WADA, something akin to what I’ve described has started to happen. In what way? Well, regardless of what I’ll be writing in the next few lines, someone is going to comment on the article by reminding us that Maria has been banned for substance abuse. At that point, defense attorneys and prosecutors will enter the arena, and every other aspect of the discussion will become an afterthought – we might call Sharapova’s predicament “reductio ad Meldonium”.
This is why I’d like to propose a deal to our readers: since we’ve had plenty of occasions to discuss Sharapova and doping, and since we’ll have many more in the future, can we just for once refrain from talking about it, and instead reflect on something else? This isn’t a way to do her a favour (I’m not a defence attorney myself), but rather an attempt to create a chance for reasoning without incurring into the usual jingle.
Another subject that I don’t want to discuss is her glam side, the side that’s been able to become such a household name off-court, transcending sporting achievements. Nor do I want to talk about her resumé – 5 Majors, and a Career Grand Slam. What I’d like to do is focussing on the type of tennis she played, and how she’s left her mark on the women’s game from 2004 onwards.
High-intensity power tennis
Events such as the arrival of the Williams sisters on the main stage, Lindsay Davenport’s successes, and the twilight of Martina Hingis’ dominance, are all viewed as the essential tokens of the passage to a new tennis era – the advent of power tennis. At the turn of millennium, a new generation of female athletes reached the top, provided with a special gift for injecting pace to their shots, thanks to a superior innate power.
Davenport was born in 1976, four years before Venus, and five before Serena. Sharapova, despite succeeding at an obscenely young age (she won her first Slam at SW19 in 2004), was born in 1987, and thus ascended on the WTA scene a few years later. For this reason, she can’t be considered among the progenitors of the new age, but at the same time she introduced a few innovations that are worthy of a mention.
To explain what I mean, I’ll quote from an article I wrote a few years ago about a historic match, the 2005 Australian Open semifinal between her and Serena (Williams won with a 2-6 7-5 8-6 scoreline). Here it goes: “Serena is a player who still showcases the legacy of the classic game, a game in which the highest degree of aggression is expressed through the charging of the net. Serena did just that in several crucial moments of the match, enacting plays from the previous decades, with aggressive approaches followed by volleys or smashes. Disclaimer: it was unmistakably power tennis, but rallies were devised with the idea of a vertical transition towards the net.”
On the other hand, Sharapova was a thoroughly modern player. Generally, her game never encompassed the idea of verticality, but rather entailed never-ending pressure from the baseline, with supreme confidence in her ability to hit winners with her groundstrokes.
And while Williams has dominated the head-to-head tally against Sharapova, one might argue that history has reversed the tendency, with more and players embracing Masha’s style. Nowadays, it’s hard to believe that Serena herself once approached the net with hints of the classic style, and yet she did, at least until she “Sharapovised” her game through the years, focussing more and more on hitting winners from the baseline.
So, the first aspect that I’d like to highlight vis-à-vis Sharapova’s game is her nature as a pure power hitter from the baseline, wholly detached from the dogmas of the previous century.
Furthermore, there is another aspect that is entirely hers, and that is strictly linked to a baseline-aggresion, namely her constant search for the highest degree of intensity.
Such voltage was conveyed via a brand of aggression that didn’t know hesitation nor pauses, to the point that interlocutory shots were chopped down to a minimum, when not erased altogether.
Sharapova was hardly the first player to display such an intense attitude – the real forerunner in this regard is undoubtedly Monica Seles. However, the Russian might have been the first athlete to employ both of the aforementioned weapons (power and intensity) with such frequency.
Wimbledon Champion Simona Halep Wary About Return To Tour
The world No.2 is expecting a tough time when she returns to action following the lengthy suspension of the sport due to COVID-19.
Simona Halep has admitted that she has concerns about returning to tennis following a lengthy period away from the sport.
The two-time grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since winning the Dubai Tennis Championships in February. All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended or cancelled since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials are hoping to get the sport back on its feet during the summer but an exact return date is still to be confirmed with the US Open set to announce next month if their tournament will go ahead or not.
Spending her lockdown in Romania, Halep is expecting a tough time when she returns to action due to having a lack of match play. To fill the void, some top 10 players have entered into domestic tournaments. Both Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova are playing tournaments in the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, Elina Svitolina is set to play in a behind the doors event in Berlin in July. Halep is yet to publicly commit to playing any such event.
“My longest break before the lockdown has been of 3-4 weeks and [returning to competitions] was very difficult for me. You lose pace, you lose focus … and then physically, if you idle about for a whole week you’ve lost half a year,” news agency AGERPRES quoted the 28-year-old as saying.
“ I don’t know what others have done during this time, maybe some did training runs, maybe they did strength workouts, I don’t know, I can’t assume. But I feel it on my own skin that it will be a bit difficult for me. It matters a lot that I haven’t had official matches. You can train five hours a day for a whole year, if you are not on an official game, you’re out when you step on court … I mean, you’re not in the game at all. There’s a big difference.”
Despite her concerns, Halep’s time away from the sport has allowed her to appreciate things she wouldn’t usually have time to do due to the demanding travelling requirements of tennis. Speaking about the lockdown, she says it has enabled her to evaluate her time on the Tour as well as the future.
“I learned a lot from the two-month isolation. I realized that in the last 6 years I’ve been actually on a total lockdown,” she explains.
“It occurred to me that I have to change something in my life, in order to also develop on the emotional and personal side. The fact that I’ve been on lockdown for 6 years has helped me become world No. 1, but now, for me to have a happy life without tennis, I am slowly trying to experience new feelings, see something else.”
Halep started 2020 by winning 10 out of 12 matches played. Besides her triumph in Dubai, she also reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open before losing to Garbine Muguruza. Halep is one of four women to have already made more than $1 million in prize money this season.
Former No.1 Karolina Pliskova Hits Out At Men Worrying About Equal Pay In Tennis
The world No.4 explains why she personally doesn’t want equal pay on the tour, but criticises those who worry that women players might do so in the future.
Czech tennis star Karolina Pliskova has labelled men who voice opposition against equal pay as ‘super weak’ as she becomes the latest player to throw her backing behind the possibility of a merger of the two premier tennis Tour’s.
Pliskova, who is a former US Open finalist, spoke out about the topic when questioned by the PA Press Agency. In recent weeks there has been growing calls for the ATP and WTA to be merged into one. Support for the idea gained momentum when Roger Federer tweeted his support for it. However the heads of the two governing bodies have already been in discussions about working closer together in some capacity since the start of this year.
Although the prospect of a merger remains low due to the complex process that it would involve, both the ATP and WTA have vowed greater collaboration to help enhance the future of the sport. One of the main talking points behind the calls is pay. There is equal prize money at all of the grand slams, however, it does differ behind the men and women on the Tour. Last year six men earned more than $7 million in prize money compared to one on the WTA Tour (Ash Barty).
Weighing in on the topic, Pliskova has interestingly said that she is not interested in campaigning for her to be paid similar to her male counterparts. Arguing that the two genders should not be compared. However, she has voiced her frustration at those who are against the concept of equal pay.
“I don’t think so and I am not the one who wants it. But I don’t like the men who are complaining that we would get the same money. I think it is super weak from them that they complain we have the same money as them,” she said.
“The only time it is true is at grand slams. I understand they play longer, but they are men. They are stronger than us. I don’t see the reason why we should compare each other. I don’t need to have the same prize money as men. But to have the same chance to play on centre court or to have the same chance to be on TV, that should be possible with these changes.”
As of March 20th Pliskova has made $19,997,689 in prize money throughout her career, which is the 19th highest tally in the history of women’s tennis.
Speaking more specifically about a possible merger, the 28-year-old believes it would help enhance the women’s tour. Although she is staying cautious about the prospect of such a thing happening in the future.
“I think for the women’s tour it can only help. I don’t know exactly what they are discussing but if there is any chance to say yes, then I would say yes,” Pliskova said.
“It needs to be positive also for the ATP so they need to find a balance so it is a forward step for both. It might take a couple of years to get going. It will be different, but I don’t think for the players it would change that much. It would be a good step.”
Pliskova is currently ranked third in the WTA rankings and has won 16 WTA titles. She is set to return to action next week at the LiveScore Cup in Prague.
Injury Scare Fails To Derail Petra Kvitova From Winning ‘Bizarre’ All-Czech Tennis Event
The world No.12 speaks out about the unusual circumstances she was playing in earlier this week as she sheds light on a recent injury issue she has been dealing with.
During what was meant to be the first week of the French Open Petra Kvitova is still winning matches albeit in very different circumstances.
With professional tennis still halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two-time Wimbledon champion was one of the headline acts at the CTS President’s Cup earlier this week. A Three-day event that features eight men and eight women taking part in a all-Czech tournament. Umpires and ball boys had to wear face masks and there was limited spacing for spectators to watch from the sidelines with organizers mindful of social distancing.
“The gloves, face masks, the fact nobody handed us the towels, no handshakes, that was definitely bizarre,” said Kvitova.
“And playing without people, the atmosphere was not exactly what we are used to.”
Despite the unusual circumstances, it failed to prevent Kvitova for winning the event on Thursday. During a rain-interrupted final she saw off Wimbledon quarter-finalist Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-3. Earlier in the event she also scored wins over former world No.1 doubles player Kateřina Siniaková (7-5, 6-4) and Barbora Krejčíková (7-6, 6-2).
The trio of victories came only days after there was concern if Kvitova would be able to play at all. Leading into the tournament the Czech started to feel pain in her forearm, but was later given the all clear by her doctor. Speaking to reporters, she said the pain she felt was similar to what occurred this time last year when she was forced to withdraw from the French Open.
“Two days before the start of the tournament, my forearm started to stiffen, similar to last year before the French Open,” the 30-year-old explained.
“That’s why I didn’t train on Monday. I was waiting for Mr. Kolář’s verdict, but he said that I would be able to do it (play) in some way.”
Now her first taste of competitive tennis in over three months has concluded, Kvitova has relished the experience. It is still unclear as to when the WTA Tour will resume. At present the suspension is until July 31st. In recent days both the US Open and French Open have said they are optimistic that their events will be able to go ahead later this year in some capacity.
“Given the circumstances and the pandemic, it was a wonderful tournament,” Kvitova stated.
Whilst officials ponder when to restart the sport, Kvitova plans to take some time resting her hand in order to prevent aggravating it further.
“I’ll definitely feel my hand for a few days now, but I’ll take time off, there’s no hurry,” she concluded.
In the men’s final world No.450 Michael Vrbensky, who shocked top seed Jiri Vesely in the first round, won the title.
Guy Forget thinks that more experienced players will be on top, when the tour resumes
The Ultimate Guide To Tennis Tournaments Taking Place During The Tour Suspension
Rafael Nadal’s Record Breaking Career By The Numbers
Rafa’s Dirty Dozen And More
The Cincinnati Western&Southern Open May Relocate To New York
Nikoloz Basilashvili Domestic Abuse Case: Extraordinary Claims Emerge From Both Sides
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal Returns To Practice But One Of Them Appears To Have Broken Confinement Rules
Why It Is Right To Criticise Novak Djokovic Over His Chat With Chervin Jafarieh
‘It Was Like Being In Prison’ – Serena Williams’ Coach Blasted By Former Player
Roger Federer Still Experiencing Knee Issues, Says Fellow Member Of Big Three
Pat Cash Exclusive: Novak Djokovic Is Better Than Nadal and Federer
EXCLUSIVE: Todd Martin To UbiTennis: “Ubaldo, Come Work For Me!”
Patrick McEnroe speaks to UbiTennis: “Had I beaten John, he would have stopped talking to me!”
Tennis Like “The Godfather”: Seven Families Fighting For Power (Video-Interview With Mary Carillo)
Emilio Sanchez Exclusive: One Loss That Destroyed His ‘Winning Will’ And The Match That Could Have Changed Roger Federer’s career
Focus3 days ago
Madrid And Rome With 48-Player Draws And Finals On Tuesday
Hot Topics2 days ago
Pat Cash Exclusive: Novak Djokovic Is Better Than Nadal and Federer
Comments3 days ago
Five Ideas To Improve Tennis
ATP3 days ago
ATP Issues Apology Over ‘Ill-Judged Retweet‘ On Eve Of LGBT Pride Month
ATP2 days ago
Rafael Nadal Commits To The French Open On One Condition
Latest news3 days ago
Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev sign up to play exhibition tournament in Khimki
ATP2 days ago
REPORT: ATP To Hold Zoom Meeting With Players Concerning Future Of 2020 Season
Latest news2 days ago
Matteo Berrettini: “I am fit and I trained with Frances Tiafoe”