Grand Slam Champions Andy Murray, Angelique Kerber To Play Virtual Madrid Open - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam Champions Andy Murray, Angelique Kerber To Play Virtual Madrid Open

32 tennis players will battle it out to see who is the best in the world of online gaming in a special event aimed at raising money for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In the coming weeks some of the world’s best tennis players will be swapping their rackets for game controllers and it will all be for a good cause.

 

The organisers of the Madrid Open have announced the launch of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro. A online gaming tournament that will feature professional players from both the ATP and WTA Tours battling it out in the world of online gaming. The initiative has come to fruition after the Madrid Open was cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At present all competitive tennis tournaments have been suspended until July 13th.

“The birth of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro highlights the tournament’s technological, youthful and innovative side, which has been one of its hallmarks since it began in 2009 and it is fitting for the current circumstances.” Tournament director Felciano Lopez said in a statement.

A total of 32 players are set to be featured in the first of its kind event. 16 in the women’s draw and 16 in the men’s. Three-time grand slam champion and former world No.1 Andy Murray has been confirmed as one of the first top names to play in the tournament. Murray last won the Madrid Open back in 2015 when he defeated Rafael Nadal in the final. The only other male confirmed to play so far is France’s Lucas Pouille.

Fellow ex world No.1 Angleique Kerber is looking forward to the challenge of battling her rivals without having to leave her house. The German has won 12 WTA titles so far in her career.

“The Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro is a new challenge for us the players, and something that I have never been done before”, explained Kerber. “It’s exciting and a good opportunity to compete from home in a new format. I’m looking forward to participating!”.

Representing the home nation will be Carla Suarez Navarro, who is contemplating whether or not to delay her retirement until 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The 31-year-old has been ranked as high as sixth in the world.

“Forming part of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro is an honour”, said Carla Suárez. “The tournament has always been innovative and this is another example of that. We’re going through some exceptional circumstances and any way of collaborating will always be welcome. This is a difficult time for everyone, so we should be united as far as we can.”

The four-day tournament aims to raise money for players struggling financially due to the suspension. A total of 150,000 euros will be up for grabs in each draw with the winners deciding how much money they will donate. An additional 50,000 euros “will all go towards reducing the social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.“

Questioned about the virtual tournament on Wednesday, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi gave a cautious welcome to the initiative. Although he said it will not make up for the real thing.

“I think it’s a good initiative, but it can’t make up for the real thing. It works better for other sports such as the F1 or the Moto GP,” he commented.
“I’m definitely not against something of the sort during these sad times, but it’s not a definitive solution, even though those who organise this sort of things should be thanked for the income they generate.”

The online tournament will take place between April 27-30.

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Anett Kontaveit beats Petra Martic to reach the final in Palermo

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World number 22 Anett Kontaveit from Estonia upset number 1 seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4 to reach the final at the Ladies Open in Palermo. 

 

Martic has scored her third win in her seven matches against top 20 players after beating Belinda Bencic and Elina Svitolina. 

Kontaveit avenged her defeat against Martic in their only previous match played in Dubai last February before the lockdown. 

Kontaveit had to fight to hold her serve in the first game of the opening set at deuce and took control of the match by breaking in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. 

Martic won only 56% on her first serve in the opening set. Kontaveit came back from 0-30 down to hold serve in the seventh game before breaking for the second time in the eighth game to win the first set 6-2. 

Martic earned an early break in the first game of the second set at deuce, but Kontaveit broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. The Estonian player saved a break point before holding serve to take a 2-1 lead. Kontaveit saved five of the six break points she faced. Kontaveit broke for the second time in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Martic held serve at 2-5 down before breaking serve at 15 in the ninth game to claw her way back to 4-5. The Croatian player received a medical time-out before Kontaveit for the third time in the tenth game at love to close out the second set 6-4. 

Kontaveit will chase her second title in tomorrow’s final three years after winning in S’Hertogenbosch in 2017.

“I felt like I played a very good match today. I was quite aggressive, consistent, and I served especially well in the first set. It got a bit close in the end, but I played a good game at 5-4 and I am happy to be in the final”, said Kontaveit. 

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Anett Kontaveit beats Elisabetta Cocciaretto to reach the semifinal at the Palermo Ladies Open

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Number 4 seed and world number 22 Anett Kontaveit ended Italian teenager Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-1 4-6 6-1 to reach the semifinals at the 31st edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo. Kontaveit broke serve seven times and hit five aces. 

 

Kontaveit, who reached the Australian Open quarter final, broke twice and saved two break points in the second game to race out to a 4-0 lead. Cocciaretto got her first game on the scoreboard in the sixth game to avoid the bagel before Kontaveit served out the first set in the next game. 

Cocciaretto earned an early break in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead. Cocciaretto earned three game points for 5-2 in the seventh game, but Kontaveit broke back in a marathon seventh game. The second set ended with four consecutive breaks, as Cocciaretto claimed the second set 6-4. 

Kontaveit broke three times to cruise through to a 6-1 win in the third set after 1 hour and 54 minutes. The Estonian player set up a semifinal clash against Martic in a re-match of last February’s quarter final in Dubai. 

“It was really tough tonight. She played great and she had the home crowd definitely behind her. I am really happy with how I fought in the third set and that I managed to turn it around in the end”, said Kontaveit. 

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Petra Martic secures her spot in the semifinal in Palermo after hard-fought win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich

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Top seed and world number 15 Petra Martic from Croatia secured her spot in the semifinal at the 31st edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo after a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-3) win over former world number 30 Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus. Martic produced 54 winners to 23 unforced errors. 

 

Martic fought back from a break down in the opening set and secured a hard-fought win on her fourth match points, as she served for the match twice in the second tie-break. 

The first set went on serve in the first eight games before Sasnovich broke serve in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. Martic broke straight back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. The Croatian player fended off three break points at 5-5 and did not convert her first set point in Sasnovich’s service game. 

Martic led 5-3 in the tie-break, but Sasnovich won the next two points to draw level to 5-5. Martic hit a forehand that forced a Sasnovich error and an unreturned serve to close out the tie-break after 75 minutes. 

Martic broke twice in the first and fifth games to build up a 4-1 lead in the second set. Sasnovich pulled one of the two breaks back in the sixth game. Sasnovich trailed 40-15 at 5-4 on Martic’s serve, but she saved both match points. The Belarusian player later fended off another match point after deuce to draw level to 5-5. Martic broke again in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead, but Sasnovich broke straight back at 15 to force the second set to the second tie-break. Martic won five of the final six points to win the tie-break 7-3 reaching her second semifinal of the season after Dubai. 

“Overall, it was a great fight. I knew she was not going to give up until the match was over, and that’s what she proved once again. I think today was better than yesterday. There was some things that I was happy with, some things that I am not really happy with, but I am really just happy that I managed to win this match in two sets. I had two tough matches and my body’s holding up well. I have no major issues, just maybe soreness that I am sure we all have in the first tournament back. It feels nice to be reminded of how it feels to be that kind of tired, but all in all, I am happy. I had some good weeks of practice and it’s paying off”, said Martic. 

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