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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Diego Schwartzman Receives Threats On Social Media Following Shock Davis Cup Defeat

The world No.15 is the latest player to speak out about recieving abusive messages on social media.

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The weekend has been an emotional rollercoaster for Diego Schwartzman, who suffered ‘one of the worst’ losses of his career before helping secure victory for his country in their Davis Cup tie against Belarus.

 

On Saturday the world No.15 was stunned by unranked 18-year-old Daniil Ostapenkov who is yet to play a professional match on the pro Tour. Ostapenkov is currently ranked 63 in the world on the junior circuit. The comprehensive victory shocked the Argentinian team who was hosting the tie at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.

Despite the shock upset, Schwartman managed to redeem himself the following day when he defeated Alexander Zgirovsky 6-1, 6-2. That victory handed his country an unassailable 3-1 lead in their tie and secured their place in the 2022 Davis Cup qualifiers which will take place next March.

Not only playing Davis, but in Buenos Aires, with a lot of people you don’t see, it’s not easy. My level can be and has to be much better. After the game on Saturday I had a difficult day in the spirit of being able to get up and enjoy with the group,” La Nacion quoted Schwartzman as saying.
“The most normal thing was that we won the series. It’s what everyone expected. But when you have a very difficult day at work like it was on Saturday and then you win, it excites you because you have some internal things withheld.”

Between those two matches, Schwartzman revealed that he was trolled on social media by some people unhappy about his loss in the tie. The 2020 French Open semi-finalist said he received criticism and even threats from some asking him to leave his home country. Something he admits affected him at times.

“It was one of the worst days of my career,” Schwartzman commented on his loss to Zgirovsky. “I lost to an unranked, inexperienced player. All that already affects (me) a lot. Although 80 or 90 percent of the people are always encouraging (me), there was a minority who criticized me with bad intentions.’
“I received threats, insults and requests not to return to Argentina. More or less, it affects (me)”.

Schwartzman is not the first player to speak out about online abuse. During the US Open Shelby Rogers said she was expecting to receive ‘death threats’ following her loss to Emma Raducanu who went on to win the title. Sloane Stephens has also previously spoken out about being the victim of racism online.

The 29-year-old says he has previously tried to interact with those who have trolled him on social media to find out why they are doing so.

Sometimes I start to answer some messages and I ask those people if they realize what they are sending,” Schwartzman said during his press conference. “The vast majority apologize and say they had not realized it. But at the moment it hurts. That very ill-intentioned criticism is the only bad thing about social networks.”

Schwartzman has won four ATP titles and earned more than $10M in prize money so far in his career.

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Jasmine Paolini lifts her first WTA title in Portoroz

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Jasmine Paolini claimed the first WTA Tour title of her career in Portoroz. The Italian player came back from two breaks down in the opening set to beat Alison Riske 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in the final after 1 hour and 45 minutes.

 

“I think it’s been an amazing week here in Portoroz. I just feel very happy. It’s a big achievement for me, to win my first title. On hardcourts, it’s special. I think I was maybe a bit relaxed. I understood more about the game. I tried to change the rhythm of the game with higher balls, and I think that was the key”, said Paolini. 

Paolini beat Dayana Yastremska in the first round, Sorana Cristea in the quarter final, and Yulia Putintseva. The 25-year-old Italian player beat three top 50 players in a row in her final three matches this week. 

After a trade of breaks in the opening two games, Riske went up a double break to take a 5-2 lead. Paolini pulled one break back in the eight game from 3-5. The Italian broke at love in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5, as Riske was serving for the set. Riske rallied from 2-5 to 4-5 in the tie-break. 

Paolini earned two set points at 6-4 and converted her first set point when Riske sent an overhead long. Paolini broke serve in the fifth game with a forehand winner down the line to take a 3-2 lead. Paolini won the final five games and sealed the second set 6-2 with an error-forcing forehand.

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Clare Tauson claims her second WTA Tour title at the age of 18

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World number 70 Clare Tauson has won the second WTA Tour title of her career at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open this season beating Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 4-6 6-4 in the final after 2 hours and 3 minutes. 

 

Tauson enjoyed a great week in which she up number 4 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-1) in the second round and this year’s Olympic finalist Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 2-6 6-4 in the semifinals. Tauson won her first title as a qualifer in another indoor tournament in Lyon last March in just her second Tour-level tournament. Tauson also won the WTA 125 trophy in Chicago last August beating Emma Raducanu, who went on to win the US Open last week. 

Tauson is one of the four players born in 2002 ranked in the the tpè 100 alongside Raducanu, the other US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez and Marta Kostyuk. 

The Danish teenager is the seventh player to claim more trophies, joining Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty, Barbora Krejikova, Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek, Danielle Collins and Daria Kasakina. 

Ostapenko won the Luxembourg tournament on her debut at this tournament in 2019 and had been undefeated before today’s tournament. 

Tauson has become the fourth player to successfully defend the Luxembourg title after Jana Novotna, Martina Navratilova and Kim Cljisters. 

Ostapenko hit a smash to break Tauson to take a 6-3 lead. The Latvian player earned an early break to take a 2-1 lead. Tauson broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Ostapenko fired return winners to take a 2-1 lead with a break. Tauson broke back with two straight return winners. Tauson fended off two break points to hold serve after a marathon five-deuce for 3-2. Ostapenko was broken after a fourth double fault, when she was serving to stay in the match at 4-5. 

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