Players Left In Shock As Indian Wells Becomes Biggest Tennis Event Suspended Due To Coronavirus - UBITENNIS
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Players Left In Shock As Indian Wells Becomes Biggest Tennis Event Suspended Due To Coronavirus

The major announcement has raised concerns about if other big tennis tournaments will also be cancelled in the coming weeks.

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The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has claimed its biggest casualty in the world of tennis with the prestigious BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells being suspended for the first time in its history.

A day before the qualifying rounds was set to get underway, a public health emergency was declared in Coachella Valley following a case of the virus in the area. Which is also known as Covid-19. Organizers took the decision to postpone the tournament following guidance from medical professionals, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and State of California.

“There is too great a risk, at this time, to the public health of the Riverside County area in holding a large gathering of this size,” said Dr. David Agus, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. “It is not in the public interest of fans, players and neighboring areas for this tournament to proceed. We all have to join together to protect the community from the coronavirus outbreak.”

The decision will have a massive impact with many players already in the region training. Indian Wells is one of the biggest events to take place outside of the grand slam tournaments. Last year a record 475,000 tickets were sold over a two-week period. Categorised as a Masters 1000 event for the men and a Premier Mandatory for the women, the combined event has been held annually since 1989. Although a men’s tournament was first held back in 1974.

“We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place, but the health and safety of the local community, fans, players, volunteers, sponsors, employees, vendors, and everyone involved with the event is of paramount importance,” said Tournament Director Tommy Haas. “We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options.”

There has been more than 100,000 cases of Coronavirus around the world that has resulted in numerous countries declaring national emergencies. In America specifically, there has been an estimated 500 cases and 21 deaths caused by the virus. However, the figure is still significantly less than the worst hit European country of Italy where there has been over 7000 infections and 366 deaths, according to latest figures.

Steve Simon, who is the head of the WTA, said that organisers at Indian Wells looked at numerous options. Including playing matches behind closed doors. Two governing bodies of the sport, the WTA and ATP, recently announced ‘precautionary health measures’ to combat the threat of Covid-19. Speaking with the New York Times, Simon admits he is unsure if other events will be affected.

“It is too soon to speculate about what will happen to other tournaments that follow. We will continue to closely monitor the situation. Health and safety will always come first.” He told The Times.

‘So sad’

Commonly known as the ‘fifth slam,’ many top names in the world of tennis have already reacted to the suspension of the tournament on social media. World No.2 Rafael Nadal has said he is deciding what to do next after describing the situation as ‘sad.’ The Spaniard is hoping that the threat post Covid-19 will not affect the Olympic Games where he is targeting a gold medal.

“You probably all heard the news. Indian Wells cancelled. We are here and still deciding what’s next. So sad for all that is happening around the world with this situation. Hopefully soon solutions from the authorities. Stay all well and safe.” Nadal wrote on social media.

Nadal was in with a chance of reclaiming the world No.1 spot in Indian Wells if he won the title and rival Novak Djokovic didn’t reach the semi-final.

World No.13 Diego Schwartzman has called for more information to be provided about tournaments in the affected areas. After this month, the tennis tour moves to Europe with numerous tournaments set to take place in Monte Carlo, Spain, Italy and France.

“The situation is completely understandable. The way to report it leaves much to be desired. There should be more information for upcoming tournaments that are also in the affected cities and countries.” The Argentine said.

Coco Gauff, who is the youngest women in the top 100, was set to play in the tournament for the first time in her career. The teenager was another player to say they were ‘sad’ to hear about the decision.

“I was so excited to make my debut in IW, but safety is always the no.1 priority. Stay safe.” Gauff wrote.

On the other hand, some players have questioned why the decision has been made so late. The women’s qualifying draw was scheduled to start on Monday.

According to journalist Christopher Clarey from The New York Times, players already at the venue will still be allowed to train there over the coming days.

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Jannik Sinner reaches his second consecutive semifinal in Monte-Carlo

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Second seed Jannik Sinner battled past Holger Rune 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 after 2 hours and 41 minutes to reach his second consecutive semifinal at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Sinner becomes the only player to reach the semifinals at all three Masters 1000 tournaments this season. 

Sinner has drawn level to 2-2 in his four head-to-head matches against Rune. 

Sinner has improved to 14-2 against top 10 opponents since last September. 

Sinner set up a semifinal clash against 2021 and 2022 Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-2 in the quarter final. Tsitsipas has a career win-loss record of 18-3 in Monte-Carlo. 

Rune did not convert a break point in the fourth game of the first set. Sinner earned the only break of the opening set in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Neither player earned a single break point in the next games. Sinner held on his next service games and served out the first set with a hold at love. 

Rune recovered from 0-40 to hold for 3-2. The Danish player fended off three break points at 6-5 to hold serve at deuce. Sinner earned two set points at 6-4 in the tie-break, but Rune fired a winner to start a four-point streak to clinch the tie-break 8-6. 

Rune held his second break point at 2-2 30-40, but Sinner saved it before winning 12 of the final 15 points to win the third set 6-3 improving his win-loss record to 25-1 this season. “It took a lot to win this match. Playing against Rune is never easy, especially on this kind of occasion, so I am very happy that I won today but mostly about the level I gave. I raised it today a little bit. It was more physical, there were more rallies today. My general feelings were better, so I am very excited about tomorrow’s match. Even I lose today, I learn again, so I am very happy about today. It has been  a very tough match. I am very happy about the win”, said Sinner.

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Injury Heartbreak Motivates Australia In Billie Jean King Cup Tie With Mexico

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SEVILLE, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 09: Storm Hunter of Team Australia reacts during the Billie Jean King Cup Finals group stage match between Australia and Kazakhstan at Estadio de La Cartuja on November 09, 2023 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images for ITF)

The captain of the Australian Billie Jean King Cup team says they are supporting one of their top players after she suffered a serious injury on the eve of their latest tie. 

Storm Hunter, who is currently ranked No.3 in the world for doubles, has suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon whilst training at a practice session on Thursday with her teammates. The severity of the injury means she will almost certainly be forced to pull out of this summer’s Olympic Games where she would have been a medal contender, as well as both the French Open and Wimbledon. Hunter has already won a WTA 1000 title this season in Dubai and was also runner-up in Indian Wells. In both of those tournaments, she was partnering Kateřina Siniaková. 

“Unfortunately yesterday in our last practice before the tie, I went down and scans last night confirmed that I have ruptured my Achilles tendon,” said Hunter.
“I am devastated and heartbroken, but incredibly grateful to be around the team and I know I have a great group of people around me that will help me get back on the court as soon as possible.
“Thank you everyone so much everyone for your messages of support and love. I’m excited to stay for the tie and support our Aussie girls.”

According to the Australian press, team captain Sam Stosur said Hunter’s teammates are ‘rallying behind‘ her and “wishing her the very, very best and the quickest recovery possible.”

As a result of the injury, Daria Saville was brought in to play in her country’s singles match on the opening day of their tie against Mexico on Friday. The world No.94 was in top form as she charged to a comprehensive 6-1, 6-0, win over Marcela Zacarias in less than an hour. 

“Yesterday was a pretty tough day for all of us, pretty emotional,” said Saville who has undergone surgery on her Achilles in the past. 
“It’s so nice to have Stormy here supporting us. Not long ago that kind of happened to me … so we’re giving Stormy a lot of love. 
“I felt like I was pretty determined and clearly that showed.”

Despite the blow, Australia is on the verge of beating Mexico. In the other singles match on the opening day, Arina Rodionova came back from a set down to beat Giuliana Olmos 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. With a 2-0 lead, they only need one more win to clinch the tie. 

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Great Britain is looking to avenge defeat against France in Billie Jean King Cup tie

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France and Great Britain have drawn together once again after a thrilling Billie Jean King Qualifier tie last year.

France will take on Great Britain for the fifth time in Billie Jean King Cup. In their most recent clash France beat Great Britain 3-1 in a tight Qualifier one year ago on an indoor hard court in their first tie since 1981. Caroline Garcia and Alizé Cornet won their singles matches against Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart. 

Great Britain is looking to avenge last year’s result. 

The French team features Caroline Garcia, Karoline Mladenovic, Clara Burel and Diane Perry in a mix of experienced and young players. French captain Julien Benneteau was part of the Davis Cup-winning team in 2017. Benneteau is one of the select players to have beaten Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. 

Benneteau was named Billie Jean King Cup captain in 2018 and led France to victory against Australia in the Final in 2019. 

France was narrowly defeated by Italy in the group stages at the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Seville. 

Great Britain won their Play-Off tie against Sweden. Katie Boulter scored two thrilling singles wins. 

British captain Anne Keothavong, who won 22 matches during her playing career in the Billie Jean King Cup, has named world number 28 Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart, Heather Watson and 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu. 

Raducanu will make only her second appearance in the British team at this event. She missed most of the 2023 season after undergoing surgery on both wrists and her ankle. 

Boulter and Raducanu have been selected to play singles. 

Boulter will play against Diane Perry in the opening match. Raducanu will take on Garcia in the second match. 

Bolulter has a good chance to qualify for the Olympic Games at Paris Roland Garros. The British player, who won the San Diego Open this year, has not played a professional match on clay. Both the Billie Jean King Cup tie at the Chaudron Le Portel and the Olympic Games will be held on this surface. 

“The Olympics is always something I wanted to play as a kid and that is certainly a priority. I will be playing if I can, and I am looking forward to being a part of something which isn’t only tennis. I am sure it would be an experience I won’t forget”, said Boulter. 

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