Relief And Disappointment At Once: The World Of Tennis Reacts To Olympic Postponement - UBITENNIS
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Relief And Disappointment At Once: The World Of Tennis Reacts To Olympic Postponement

Ubitennis looks at how players and governing bodies have reacted to the one-year suspension of one of sport’s biggest events.

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The Olympic Tennis Center in Barra da Tijuca, venue of the 2016 Olympic Tennis tournament. (image via Wiki commons)

The world of tennis has united in support for the suspension of the Tokyo Olympic Games amid the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

 

On Tuesday it was announced that the four-year event would be delayed until 2021 due to uncertainty over the virus and the lack of preparation athletes have been able to do. It is only the fourth time in history the event has been affected by outside forces since the birth of the modern Olympics back in 1896. The first three were due to the first and second world wars where they were cancelled outright.

Kei Nishikori was set to be one of his country’s headline acts at the games this summer. In 2016 he won a bronze medal in the singles tournament. Becoming the first Japanese tennis player to win a medal at the Olympic Games since 1920. It is important to note that Tennis wasn’t an Olympic event between 1928–1984.

“I was a little relieved to hear the news of the Olympics this (Tuesday) morning.” Nishikori said in a video published on his personal app.
“I think that it is good for every athlete that it was not a cancellation and that it was postponed. Of course, for those who were well prepared, I think there are things that are difficult, but in this situation I think there are players who can not practice well and there are various differences coming out. ‘
“I’m glad to see the Olympics in Tokyo in 2021, and I’ll be preparing myself for a good opportunity a year later, and look forward to this period. Let’s all work together and do our best so that this painful situation can be cured as soon as possible.” He added.

Yoshihto Nishioka had planned his 2020 around peaking in Tokyo this summer. The world No.48 was set to make his debut at the games at the age of 24. Earlier this year he reached only the second ATP final of his career at the Delray Beach Open

“I was looking forward to the Olympics very much,” he wrote on Twitter in Japanese.
“This year’s goal was to put the Olympics first, but more should now be put on human health.’
“I really want to maintain this ranking for next year.’

Petra Kvitova has hailed the decision as the right move. Four years ago, she won a bronze medal after defeating Madison Keys. She is one of only two Czech players to win an olympic medal in singles competition during the Open Era. The other was Jana Novotna back in 1996.

Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens described it as a ‘logical move.’ Her only taste of the event was back in 2016, where she stunned Venus Williams in three sets en route to the third round in Rio de Janeiro.

“I think it is only a logical decision. No matter how difficult for all athletes (and specifically the athletes who have been working towards this goal for 4 years), health ALWAYS comes first,” she said.

ITF and USTA give full backing

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) oversees the running of the Olympic tennis event and qualification criteria. It is yet to be confirmed if there will be any changes made to who can participate in the games next year. At present ranking points are not on offer at the event. Although it has been previously suggested that this may change in the future.

“The global health situation continues to evolve at an extraordinary pace and we are faced with an unprecedented situation that calls for responsible leadership and making informed decisions. Whilst this is a bitter disappointment for all those who have been preparing and training hard, we all understand that the protection of human life, health and safety, comes first.” ITF President David Haggerty said.
“The ITF supports this decision and will continue to collaborate fully with the IOC and the IPC going forward to 2021. We look forward to seeing all athletes, volunteers and fans when it is safe for us to meet and participate at our best at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

In North America, The United States Tennis Association (USTA) sympathised with the frustration of athletes training for the event. America is the world leader when it comes to Olympic tennis. The country has won 24 medals over the past 28 years with 14 of those being gold.

“The decision to postpone the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo was obviously a difficult one, and we under the frustration and disappointment that so many of the athletes are experiencing right now,” the USTA said in a statement published by Tennis World USA.
“Ultimately, though, with the ongoing and evolving situation surrounding the COVID-19 virus, this was the most prudent and appropriate decision. The USTA is in full support of this move, as the health and safety of the athletes, fans, volunteers, staff and all those involved with Tokyo 2020 are the highest priority.”

The dates for the 2021 Games are yet to be confirmed. Should it mirror this year, they are set to take place between Wimbledon and the US Open.

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Gael Monfils advances to Australian Open fourth round without dropping a set

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Gael Monfils has reached the second week at the Australian Open with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 6-3 win over Cristian Garin. 

 

Garin saved an early break point and took a 4-2 lead in the tie-break with an early mini-break in the opening set, but Monfils came back by winning five consecutive points to claim the tie-break 7-4. 

Monfils earned two early breaks in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead in the second set. Garin pulled one break back at love in the fifth game for 1-4, but Monfils broke for the third time to close out the second set 6-1. 

Both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games of the third set. Monfils broke in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, when Garin made three unforced errors. The Frenchman saved a break point in a 18-point game in the sixth game and held serve with his 17th ace and broke serve to close out the match with a forehand volley winner. 

The Frenchman has not dropped a set so far this week and recorded five sets at 6-1 or better this week. Earlier this year he won the Adelaide International 1 title.

“It was a tough match, the conditions were different today. It was hot. It was quicker. I felt that I needed to adapt the game plan a little bit. He was playing well. He was playing well. I had to battle  and was very lucky and fortunate to win this breaker in the first set, and I just think I was solid enough to win in straight sets”, said Monfils. 

Monfils will be aiming to reach his 10th Grand Slam quarter final against Miomir Kecmanovic, who beat Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 6-2 7-5. 

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Pablo Carreno Busta reaches the fourth round at the Australian Open for the third time in his career

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Pablo Carreno Busta reaches the second week in Melbourne after a four-set win over Sebastian Korda

 

Pablo Carreno Busta beat Sebastian Korda 6-4 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 in their first head-to-head match after 3 hours and 27 minutes to advance to the fourth round at the Australian Open in Melbourne for the third time in his career after achieving this feat in 2018 and 2019. 

Carreno Busta will take on Matteo Berrettini, who beat reigning Next Gen ATP champion Carlos Alcaraz 6-2 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 2-6 7-6 (10-5). 

Carreno Busta earned his first break in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. Korda broke straight back on his third break point in the ninth game. Carreno Busta broke again on his eighth set point to seal the first set 6-4. 

The Spanish player hit 18 winners to just 8 unforced errors and got the crucial break in the 12th game to close out the second set 7-5. 

Korda came back from 3-5 down to win a tight tie-break 8-6 in the third set. 

Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the fourth set. Carreno Busta earned two breaks in the fifth and eighth games to close out the fourth set when Korda hit a forehand wide. 

Carreno Busta reached the US Open semifinals twice in 2017 and 2020 and won two ATP Tour titles in Hamburg and Marbella in 2021. 

Korda was aiming to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the third time after achieving this feat at Roland Garros in 2020 and Wimbledon in 2021. 

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Denis Shapovalov Handles Opelka To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round

The Canadian managed to get past his 6ft 11 American opponent in a match that lasted over three hours.

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Denis Shapovalov - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Denis Shapovalov is into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 23rd seed Reilly Opelka 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes on Margeret Court Arena.

 

The Canadian hit 39 winners and served 10 aces while limiting Opelka to just 17 aces. In contrast the American finished the match with a costly 46 unforced errors as Shapovalov booked his spot in the second week of the tournament.

” I think I did a really good job against Reilly (Opelka) today and I took a lot of my chances and managed to get a read on his serve,” said the world No.14.

Both players were doing a good job early on when it came to holding serve and at 3-3 it was the Toronto native who had three chances to break. On his third opportunity broke serve with his trademark backhand winner.

However, that break didn’t last long for Shapovalov as he struggled to consolidate the break and ultimately gave the break right back with a poor service game and it was back on serve at 4-4.

The first was decided by a tiebreaker and Shapovalov got the crucial break to take a 3-1 lead in the breaker which was enough for him to take the first set.

The second frame was much like the first with both players holding serve until 3-3 when Opelka broke serve. He was able to consolidate and serve out the set to level the match.

The third set stayed on serve until 3-2 and the momentum swung back in the Canadians favor. He got the break of serve this time using his forehand to great effect and served out the third to take a two sets to one lead.

Just like the third set the fourth set had no breaks until 3-2 when again the number 14 seed broke Opelka serve again and that break of serve was enough for him to serve out the match and the win.

After the match in his post-match interview, he was asked how he was able to limit his opponent to just 17 aces in the match.

” It’s never easy against Reilly (Opelka) but I am happy I was able to pull through and make it to the next round”. He said.

Shapovalov will face the number three seed Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.

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