Relentless Sofia Kenin Fights Her Way To Lyon Title - UBITENNIS
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Relentless Sofia Kenin Fights Her Way To Lyon Title

The world No.5 has returned back to the winner’s circle after failing to win a match at her two previous tournaments.

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American rising star Sofia Kenin has won her first title since her maiden grand slam triumph in January at the Lyon Open on Sunday.

 

The 21-year-old top seed prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, in a lopsided encounter with Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam at the Palais des Sports de Gerland. Friedsam, who is five years older than Kenin, was playing in her first WTA final since 2015. Similar to her earlier matches in the tournament, it was far from an easy encounter for the world No.5. Who hit 29 winners to 42 unforced errors and dropped her serve three times in total.

Initially, it looked as if Kenin would be on course for a straightforward victory after leading her rival by a set and a break advantage. However, Friedsam hit back during the second set before going on to break once again to force the match into a decider. Despite the blip, Kenin managed to restore order in the final set by breaking the Firedsam serve twice en route to her fifth title on the WTA Tour.

“It was a little bit different pressure and it was such a tough tournament,” Kenin said during the trophy presentation. “I’m so happy to have come here. Lyon is so beautiful.
“I’d like to congratulate Anna-Lena on a great tournament, great match it honestly could have gone either way.”

The victory comes after what has been a difficult period for Kenin since the Australian Open. In her two previous tournaments (Doha and Dubai) she lost in the first round. Besides Friedsam, she also defeated Alison Van Uytvanck, Océane Dodin, Jaqueline Cristian and Vitalia Diatchenko in Lyon. Four out of her five wins were in three sets.

“I had two tough losses (last month) but I knew I needed to regroup, and I’m so happy that I won it,” Kenin reflected.
“Every match was a close one and I had to really fight through – every player I played put up a tough fight against me, and I was able to play my game which was good. I’m happy that I came here – it was a good decision from my side… I wanted to get enough match play going into Indian Wells and Miami.”

Kenin will be hoping to carry her winning momentum into Indian Wells where she will be seeking to end her country’s title drought at the tournament. An American player hasn’t won the Indian Wells title since Serena Williams and Andre Agassi both triumphed back in 2001. She will grace her presence in the main draw for only the third time in her career and is yet to progress beyond the second round.

 

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Novak Djokovic accepts that playing in front of empty stands is the only solution to continue the tour

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Novak Djokovic talked about the problems tennis players are facing in this difficult period in a recent interview to three-time Grand Slam champion Guga Kuerten. The Serb said that he cannot imagine the idea of playing behind closed doors.

 

The interview was part of a promotion for Kuerten’s “Vencendo Juntos” programme to raise 10 Million Brazilian Real to help 35000 Brazilian families affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Djokovic and Roger Federer have agreed to show their support for the initiative.

“I honestly don’t dream to play in front of empty stands, but it looks like that it’s going to be the reality of tennis. We have probably to accept that if we want to continue the tour, then we have to be playing in restricted conditions that will at least allow us to play and compete. Of course it is not ideal. Of course, I play for me and my family. My opinion is that I personally don’t play tennis for me only. Of course, I play for me and my family. I feel like tennis gives me so much joy and I love playing it and of course, I practice. I don’t need to have people there every practice. I think the advantage of tennis in these circumstances compared to many other sports is that you can play national level tournaments if countries between themselves allow people and players to travel between the countries”, said Djokovic.  

Tennis players are going through a lot of challenges in this difficult period.

“We have earned enough money to have comfortable lives. We are lucky and grateful to have this life, but 95% of tennis players and also the people in the world, but also the people in the world, but we are talking about tennis now, they are fighting. This is the reality. Especially those in the lowest positions. They do not have the opportunity to compete and earn money. For many of those players, this is about surviving, continuing to play professional tennis or quitting. I have spent a lot of time in the last two months helping the Serbian Tennis Federation organize a tour. I also spend a lot of time talking to the ATP and the Council, trying to understand the players, with the ATP, with the President and player representatives, about the best ways to help lower-ranking players. I hold myself accountable not only because I am the President of the ATP Council but also as one of the best players in the world and someone was very successful in tennis and made a lot of money from it. I need to be present as much as I can, be available to contribute in any way possible. I spoke with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal there was a lot of communication. I am very happy with how the world of the men’s tennis responded in these difficult times”, said Djokovic.

Djokovic said that he would like to visit Rio de Janeiro to play an exhibition match with Kuerten. The Serb visited Rio de Janeiro in November 2012 for the opening of a tennis court in the Rocinha part of the city, one of the largest slums in South America.

“I remember the day we played at Macaranazinho. I remember Rio well. I remember well. It was one of the best days of my life”, said Djokovic.

 Djokovic showed his appreciation for Guga Kuerten.

“Guga is one of the most charismatic players to have been involved in tennis and today he showed why. Brazilian tennis has a great spirit and big soul. Serbia is a small country but it has a lot of common with Brazil. We are very emotive people”, said Djokovic.

 

Djokovic started the 2020 season with an unbeaten streak of 18 wins and claimed three titles at the inaugural edition of the ATP Cup in Australia, the Australian Open in Melbourne and Dubai.

 

The Serbian star saved two match points to beat Roger Federer in an epic five-set Wimbledon final last July. He won his 17th Grand Slam title in Melbourne by beating Dominic Thiem.

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Cut Prize Money In Doubles To Help Low-Ranked Players, Says Wimbledon Champion Bartoli

The former top 10 tennis star has come up with a controversial proposal to help bridge the pay gap in tennis.

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Former French tennis star Marion Bartoli has come under fire after suggesting how she would help financially support players ranked outside of the top 100.

 

Bartoli, who won the 2013 Wimbledon trophy, has come up with a radical idea that would see money earned from doubles tournaments get taken away and redistributed to singles players. Speaking to Tennis Majors, the 35-year-old said she couldn’t understand where there were so many doubles events taking place outside of the four grand slams and Olympics. Her argument stems from a claim that she has witnessed doubles players having teams of ‘like six people’ and therefore earn more than enough money.

“I know I’m not going to make myself friends but I think we have to say it: I don’t understand all these doubles competitions all year round,” Bartoli told the Match Points talk show.
“I understand during Grand Slams and the Olympics because doubles is part of tennis history (but) I’ve been to some tournaments now with my player and I see now, these (doubles) players, they have crews, like six people around them.’
“When I was a player, as a singles player, we couldn’t afford to pay six people to travel with us full-time. They can afford to pay six people and they just play doubles!”

The comment concerns the ongoing debate over how lower-ranked players are coping during the Tour suspension due to COVID-19. Recently it was announced that a $6 million Relief fund has been set up to support roughly 800 players. The money will be issued by the ATP and WTA as long as players meet certain criteria. Furthermore, the International Tennis Federation is currently in the process of coming up with their own plans.

Nevertheless, Bartoli believes it would be right to take some money away from the doubles Tour because those players don’t put in as much effort in her opinion. The Frenchwoman won three WTA titles in doubles during her career.

“Why don’t you get some of that money to qualifiers, to someone who plays only Challengers? I just don’t understand because in doubles, you just don’t make the same effort as a singles player,” she said.
“You don’t practice as much….they keep going, week in and week out, getting that money. I don’t know if we have to stop doubles completely, but to get less money and give that money to qualification and others, that should be a solution.”

Belgian tennis player Joran Vliegen has hit back at the criticism. The 26-year-old currently has a doubles ranking of 36. Last season he won three ATP titles and reached the quarter-finals of the French Open. During 2019 he earned $187,673, which is more than 20 times less than what Novak Djokovic has already earned in 2020.

“Marion Bartoli thinks we shouldn’t play doubles and give money to singles qualifiers and challengers because we can afford to have six people in our team. We’ve only recently added a traveling coach because we could never afford it. Also, we practice 5-6 hours a day. Guess that’s not enough for her,” Vliegen wrote on Twitter.
“I completely agree with her that there is a problem with prize money distribution towards the lower rankings. In my opinion however, this is not the way to change that,” he added.

Addressing the current structure of the Tour, Bartoli has also criticised the distribution of prize money to players at the big tournaments. Arguing that the current situation makes the rich richer and poor poorer. Citing the US Open, which awarded the 2019 men’s and women’s champion $3,850,000 each. Roughly a third of what the former world No.7 earned throughout her entire career.

“When I see someone winning the US Open, and taking 4 million…. I won Wimbledon and I didn’t take four million. I believe I took enough money out of it. Right now the numbers are way too high for the people who are winning. They don’t share the money enough.” She concluded.

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Return of British Tennis Tour Opens The Door For Andy Murray’s Latest Comeback

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Andy Murray at the 2019 Australian Open (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Great Britain has become the latest country to take the route of domestic tennis to fill in the void of the ongoing Tour suspension due to COVD-19.

 

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has announced the return of the British Tour during July. A total of four events will take place over as many weeks. Each tournament will have a field of 32 players with 16 men and 16 women. Participants are eligible to take part based on their current ranking providing they are a member of the LTA. All four tournaments will be held over three days (Friday-Sunday) at the National Tennis Center in Roehampton. There will also be doubles action with eight teams featuring in a FAST4 format over one day each week.

“Since the coronavirus crisis, we have been working incredibly hard to support all our players, venues, coaches and officials through this very challenging time,” LTA CEO Scott Lloyd said in a statement.
“I’m delighted to announce today the next stage of elite tennis’ return to competing safely behind closed doors as part of a five-phase plan coordinated by UK Sport with Government.”
“The LTA is actively engaged in developing the necessary guidelines for behind closed doors events, which we hope will be determined by the Government in the coming weeks to ensure the safest environment for anyone involved in returning to competition and look forward to bringing tennis back into people’s lives this summer.”

It is yet to be confirmed who will be playing at the tournament. Although both Andy Murray and Johanna Konta are expected to feature at some stage. Murray hasn’t played a competitive match since the Davis Cup finals last November due to pelvic bruising. The three-time grand slam champion had recently said that his rehabilitation is going according to plan but gave no further comment on when he expects to be back to full fitness. During an Instagram Live chat with Rafael Nadal on April 20th he said that he ‘felt pretty good’ without going into specifics.

In weeks two and four of the British tour there will be Premier-level events with a prize money pool of £16,000. Each of the winners will take home £2250. Meanwhile in weeks one and three those tournaments will be classed as a ‘Tier 1.’ The prize money is a 50% increase compared with previous British Tour events.

The British Tour is set to take place between July 3-26 but is still subject to government approval.

Top five British players

Men
1.Dan Evans (No.28)
2.Kyle Edmund (No.44)
3.Cameron Norrie (No.77)
4.Andy Murray (No.129)
5.Jay Clarke (No.167)

Women
1.Jo Kona (No.14)
2.Heather Watson (No.50)
3.Harriet Dart (No.146)
4.Sam Murray (No.180)
5.Naiktha Bains (No.212)

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