Even In The Midst Of A Tragedy, The Cancellation Of Wimbledon Is Still Shocking - UBITENNIS
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Even In The Midst Of A Tragedy, The Cancellation Of Wimbledon Is Still Shocking

After 46 consecutive Championships, from Connors-Rosewall to Djokovic-Federer, for me this feels like the interruption of a religious experience, a small trauma. I’ve spent two years of my life at SW19, with countless indelible memories.

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Novak Djokovic - Wimbledon 2019 (via Twitter. @wimbledon)

And then Wimbledon was gone too. Even the Championships, which from their 1877 onset (won by Spencer Gore) had only suffered extended hiatuses during the two World Wars, skipping the 1915-1918 and 1940-1945 editions (in 1940 the Lutwaffe released a bomb that destroyed Centre Court almost entirely). The Championships, which from 1946, when the 6-foot-5 Frenchman Ivan Petra triumphed, had taken place 74 times in a row, had to give way to the Coronavirus, in a third World War against an invisible enemy that isn’t involving just a few nations like the previous two, but rather the whole planet.

 

I’m fully aware that there are far worse predicaments than the cancellation of the Championship on Church Road. I’m fully aware that health is the most important thing in life, and that too many have had to relinquish it forever. I’m fully aware that too many families have lost their loved ones without even getting a chance to say goodbye or to bury them, without even getting a chance to know where their bodies were taken. I’m fully aware that these are the real tragedies. I’m fully aware that many families will keep suffering the consequences of this terrible virus, torn between the excruciating memory of the departed and the financial hardship of the present, which threaten to erase entire companies along with their employees.

I’m fully aware that I can call myself very lucky for having a home that is spacious enough to allow for seven members of my family to share the quarantine together without enduring the hardships that have gnawed at those who happen to live in narrower quarters and who have perhaps been plagued by a lack of food and medicine supplies.

I’m fully aware that so many of us, millions of us, still don’t know whether we have contracted the virus or not, or whether we have been, because we haven’t had the chance to get tested, nor do we know when we will.

I’m fully aware that just the fact of not experiencing any symptoms – so far – is a stroke of luck.

I’m also fully aware that not having lost any of my closest friends or relatives is also a stroke of luck, and an immeasurable one.

Therefore, it wouldn’t make any sense, while the pandemic is still raging and no one knows when it will be eradicated from our lives – I fear it won’t be until the science will provide us with a vaccine able to suppress potential relapses – it wouldn’t make any sense to show too much grief over the cancellation of sports in the midst of all of this, or for the disappearance of tennis from clubs and tournaments, taking away a chance for escapism from tragic daily updates.

I’m fully aware that the survival of UbiTennis isn’t a priority during this emergency, even though over 20 people risk losing a source of income.

As a matter of fact, I’m not going to complain that the about 12 years of hard work poured into making this website journalistically credible and financially self-sufficient are now slated for a major setback. I accept it, and I’m aware that many others are going to suffer a lot more – we remain optimistic, even if we were to lose the whole season, and, with it, a whole year of advertising.

I’ve fought for all the young people who have contributed with their greatest effort for the development of UbiTennis.com, UbiTennis.net, and UbiTennis.es, I’ve fought to create a future for them rather than for an aged man such as myself, especially considered that my children have taken different career paths. I’ve launched into this, and my collaborators have too, with a full awareness of the bumps we would have met on the road, without deluding ourselves too much. Now that we were about to catch a breath, with 5 million of unique users on the Italian version of the website and a more and more competent staff, this virus pretty darn wrong-footed us like a Federer tweener.

I have to say that, to my utter surprise, the website held up amazingly well in March, as we kept receiving between 30,000 and 40,000 visits per day, despite the lack of tournament play. This is why I need to thank once again those who are still contributing to the website, as we still have a stash of 30 unpublished material – I’m not talking about archive stuff, but rather of interviews to important figures of the game, a series of featured videos on all-time champions complete with data and anecdotes, didactic material, podcast plans, statistics, and feel-good tennis tales.

After this long preamble, allow me to say that yours truly – I’m so jealous of Gianni Clerici for co-opting the “Scribe” moniker for himself, I hate calling myself “yours truly” or emplying periphrases like “the author of this article” – while aware of everything that might have happened to me, is quite unsettled by the idea of staying home-bound and not going to Wimbledon after having done so for 46 editions in a row – almost a lifetime. Since 1974, from Connors’ steamrolling of Ken Rosewall to Djokovic saving two match points against Federer, I had never missed a single day, let alone an edition.

Two weeks multiplied per 46 years means 92 weeks, and when early arrivals, late departures, and rain delays to a third Monday are factored in (let’s not forget about the 2012 Olympics either), it means that two years of my life have been spent at SW19, from daylight to dusk. I can’t quite explain why, but this cancellation hit me harder than those of Monte Carlo (46 consecutive editions), Rome (48), and Roland Garros (44).

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that, when those three vanished, I was still looking ahead to Wimbledon, the tournament that takes place in the bona fide temple of tennis, the only one whose every final I recollect with no effort, and of which I treasure so many stories, so many details, so many anecdotes, so many people, so much life. I will miss it deeply. On first thought, I’d written “terribly” rather than “deeply”, but I immediately corrected myself, because, as I said, there are far more terrible things (and privations), but the fact remains that for over half of my life going to Wimbledon was just a hair below a pilgrimage for a devotee. Actually, a pilgrimage feels like an apt analogy to end on, because I would gladly get to Church Road on foot just to see it happen once more.

Translated from Italian by Tommaso Villa

 

Grand Slam

2020 US Open Champions To Get $3 Million Payout Amid COVID-19 Crises

A full breakdown of what players will win in every round of the tournament have been revealed.

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This year’s US Open will see their prize money pool slashed by $3.6 million compared to 2019 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has published a breakdown of the earnings players will be receiving at the Grand Slam which will start at the end of this month. Similar to other tour events such as the Western and Southern Open, earnings for early tournament losers will be increased compared to 12 months ago and those going further on in the tournament will see theirs going in the opposite direction.

Singles champions in both the men’s and women’s draws will take home $3 million, which is a $850,000 drop compared to what the winners took home in 2019. Last year the US Open had the highest prize money pool in Grand Slam history at $57 million. As for the runner-up their reward will be $1.5M, which is a fall of $400,000.

“We’re proud to be able to offer a player compensation package that maintains nearly 95 percent of the prize pool from 2019,” USTA CEO Mike Dowse said in a statement. “The prize money distribution for the 2020 US Open is the result of close collaboration between the USTA, WTA and ATP, and represents a commitment to supporting players and their financial well-being during an unprecedented time.”

The only increase when it comes to the singles tournament is related to the first round where the losers will take home 5% more ($61,000) than what they would have won at the same stage last year. The second and third round prize money remains unchanged.

On Tuesday the US Open suffered a blow when reigning champion Rafael Nadal confirmed that he wouldn’t be playing this year due to ongoing concerns about the virus. Joining the likes of Ash Barty, Nick Kyrgios and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who have also confirmed they will not be playing in Flushing Meadows.

“The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it,” Nadal wrote on Instagram.
“This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.”

Due to the pandemic this year’s competition is taking place behind closed doors in what is a heavy financial blow for the USTA, who relies deeply on the revenues generated in New York. Which attracted more than 700,000 fans in 2019. The event usually brings in $400M in revenue annually, which makes up roughly 80% of the USTA’s tally.

Prize money breakdown

Result20192020Difference
Champion$3,850,000$3,000,000-$850,000
Runner-up$1,900,000$1,500,000-$400,000
SF$960,000$800,000-$160,000
QF$500,000$425,000-$75,000
R4$280,000$250,000-$30,000
R3$163,000$163,000$0
R2$100,000$100,000$0
R1$58,000$61,000+$3000

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ATP

More Top Names Expected To Withdraw From US Open, Warns Andy Murray

Who will be the next tennis star to announce their withdrawal?

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Former world No.1 Andy Murray believes some male players will follow Ash Barty in withdrawing from next month’s US Open over travelling and COVID-19 concerns.

 

The British tennis star told reporters on Thursday he had heard that some ‘top players’ will not be playing in the Grand Slam without elaborating further. This year’s US Open will take place without fans for the first time in history due to the pandemic. Players will be restricted as to where they can stay or visit whilst based inside what is being described as a ‘protective bubble.’ Murray has already committed to playing at the event but he is less certain about some of his rivals.

I have heard some of the top male players aren’t going to play. I would expect that would be the case,” he said.
“It’s everyone’s personal decision. If they don’t feel safe, and don’t feel comfortable, travelling and going there and putting themselves and their team at an increased risk, then it’s completely understandable.”

In recent months both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have cast doubts about travelling to America and hinted that they may instead focus their intention on the European clay swing. Although no official decision has been disclosed to the public. Both of them are currently on the entry list for the Western and Southern Open, which takes place at the same venue as the US Open the week before. Roger Federer and Gael Monfils are the only two top 10 players not entered into the event.

Despite New York seeing a much more steady rate of COVID-19 infections compared to other parts of America, many players have voiced concerns over travelling there during the pandemic. The US government has already said that athletes are excluded from quarantine rules and the same is likely to be applied to events in Europe too.

All of the players will have some reservations and it’s whether or not you feel comfortable taking that risk,” said Murray.
“Like I said the other day, my feeling is once we are inside that bubble they created, we will be okay. It’s more the international travel, and getting there which I will be a bit concerned about it.”

Amid the uncertainty surrounding who will play at the US Open, Murray believes when the Tour resumes there will be a series of upsets. Paving way for what he describes as ‘interesting results’ at the major event.

“You just can’t replicate matches in practice, it just isn’t the same,” the three-time Grand Slam champion commented. “It is different on the body, on the mind. The pressure is just different and no matter how hard you try to make your practices as challenging and difficult as matches, they just aren’t.
“Some players who have had injury lay-offs will probably be a little bit more experienced in terms of coming back after a long period, but it’s an opportunity for players. There will be upsets for sure. Going into the US Open with potentially only one or two matches in the Cincinnati event in New York, it will make for some interesting results.”

The US Open will start on August 31st. In the men’s draw world No.2 Nadal is the reigning champion.

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Grand Slam

Ash Barty To Skip US Open Over ‘Significant Risks’ As Former Champion Signs On

The Australian has become the first top name to pull out of New York, but how many others will follow?

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This year’s US Open will take place without the presence of the women’s world No.1 due to ongoing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Ash Barty has become the first top 10 player to officially confirm that they will not be playing at the New York major next month. The Australian released a statement on Thursday saying she felt uncomfortable travelling to the region because of the ‘significant risk’ posed by the virus. In recent weeks there has been speculation that Barty may withdraw from the event.

“My team and I have decided that we won’t be travelling to the US for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year,” Barty said.
“I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don’t feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.
“I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the US next year.”

America has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases nationally with new daily cases regularly exceeding the 50,000 mark. Although the situation in New York, where the US Open is held, is better than many other states. Earlier this week America exceeded 150,000 deaths related to COVID-19 in what is the highest figure in the world.

It is unclear when the 24-year-old will return to competitive tennis, but she is expected to play at the French Open where she will be deafening her title. Barty hasn’t played a match on the WTA Tour since her semi-final loss to Petra Kvitova at the Doha Open in February.

“I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks,” she said.

Barty leads the WTA rankings by more than 2000 points with a tally of 8717.

Osaka to play

On the same day as Barty’s announcement, it was confirmed that Naomi Osaka would be playing at the Grand Slam following recent speculation. A report by Opencourt.ca said the 2018 champion is yet to sign up for the event, which has a deadline of August 3rd, and hasn’t entered to play in the Western and Southern Open.

In a statement issued to Reuters by Osaka’s management, they have now dismissed those claims. Saying the two-time Grand Slam winner would actually be playing at both events. Although it is unclear as to why the Japanese player didn’t sign up for the Western and Southern Open before the deadline.

Osaka hasn’t played in any exhibition events during the Tour Break and the last competitive match was during her country’s Fed Cup tie with Spain in February.

Reuters didn’t publish any quotes issued by Osaka’s management team.

Others in doubt

There are also doubts surrounding other members of the top 10 on the women’s Tour. Simona Halep, who pulled out of next week’s Palermo Open due to ‘travelling anxiety,’ is looking increasingly likely she will stick to European clay over the summer. The Romanian has said she is yet to make a decision but has signed on to play a clay-court tournament in Prague, which started three weeks before the US Open.

“It’s too early to make a decision, right now she would have to quarantine for two weeks after coming back from New York, so it’s a difficult situation. I’m more optimistic with regards to the French Open, I live in Paris and still wear a mask in public, but the situation has improved a lot and I think that a 50-60% capacity event might actually happen.” Halep’s manager Virginia Ruzici told UbiTennis earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Elina Svitolina has previously mentioned one of her potential plans includes returning to tennis in Madrid after the US Open. Hinting that she may focus her attention solely on the european swing ahead of the French Open.

“Considering how things are today, I think I will start in Madrid and will not play at the US Open,” Ukrainian Tennis portal btu.org.ua quoted Svitolina as saying on July 14th. “So this is what I think at the moment, but so it is not a 100% final decision.”

Angelique Kerber is another former Grand Slam winner yet to commit to the event.

The US Open will get underway on August 31st.

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