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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Who were the best players never to win a Grand Slam title ?

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The ESPN.com website made a survey with top tennis experts to come up with a list of the best players, who were never able to win a Grand Slam title.

 

The list of candidates to join this list are Dominic Thiem (two time Roland Garros champion and 2019 Australian Open runner-up), Milos Raonic (Wimbledon finalist in 2016), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2008 Australian Open finalist) and Kei Nishikori (2014 US Open finalist).

The popular ESPN.com sports website restricts the survey to players, who have already retired from tennis.

The eight contenders are ranked alphabetically.

Guillermo Coria reached a career-high of world number 3. At Grand Slam level the Argentinian player reached the French Open final, two US Open quarter finals and won titles in Hamburg and Monte-Carlo. He was nicknamed the “Wizard” (the Magician) of red dirt.

“He was called the “King of Clay before Rafa. He was lightning fast, and he is still considered one of the best returners ever”, said tennis ESPN analyst Sam Gore.

Coria lost to Gaston Gaudio in the final of the 2004 French Open. The Argentine player served for the match twice and did not convert on two match points. He had a 31-match winning streak on clay between 2003 and 2004 and reached six of the eightclay-court Masters Series finals.

Nikolay Davydenko reached four Grand Slam semifinals (two each at the French and the US Opens and won three Masters series titles (Paris Bercy 2006, Miami 2008 and Shanghai 209) and the ATP Finals in London 2009. The Ukrainian player beat Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro at the 2009 ATP Finals in London to win the biggest title of his career. He was one of the most consistent players on the Tour and played 99 matches on the ATP Tour in 2006 and reached the quarter finals or better at 8 of 12 Grand Slam tournaments starting with the 2005 Australian Open. He lost to Roger Federer four times in a row in one quarter final and in three semifinals at Grand Slam tournaments.

David Ferrer reached the French Open final 2013 finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal and quarter finals or better 17 times. He is the second best Spanish player with 27 titles behind his friend Rafael Nadal, who beat David 26 times in their 32 head-to-head matches.

“Ferrer gets it for his longevity and maximization of potential. Nobody in our body has squeezed their sponge like David, at least not for a very long time”, said Todd Matin, Chef Executive Officer of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Todd Martin reached two Grand Slam finals (Australian Open in 1994 and the US Open in 1999) and four other semifinals. At the 1999 US Open Martin produced a come-back win against Greg Rusedski in the fourth round after midnight en route to reaching the final.

In the 1996 Wimbledon semifinals Martin let slip a 5-1 lead slip away against Malivai Washington, who won the decisive fifth set 10-8. Washington then lost to Richard Kraijcek in the final.

Miroslav Mecir reached two Grand Slam finals at the 1986 US Open and at the 1989 Australian Open and the semifinals at the French Open, Wimbledon and at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988. Mecir beat Wilander in the 1988 Wimbledon quarter finals. This was the only Grand Slam defeat for Wilander that year. Mecir was nicknamed the Big Cat.

“He was a great mover, especially for a man of his size. He could play on every surface”, said Mecir.

Argentina’s David Nalbandian reached the Wimbledon final in 2002 in just his second year on the ATP Tour and four other Grand Slam semifinals. He won the 2005 ATP Finals title with a win over Roger Federer after 8-6 in the fifth set.

“He had wonderful technique off both sides, a massive talent who had great feel, an excellent serve, and knew when to use the drop-shot”, said Tennis Commentator Annabel Croft.

Marcelo Rios reached the 1998 Australian Open final and three more Grand Slam quarter finals. He won the 1998 Grand Slam Cup. The Chilean player was the only world number 1 player, who never won a Grand Slam title and the first South American player to reach the world number 1 spot.

“Rios is the most talented player that I have seen first hand who did no twin a major. I watched him make so many players uncomfortable. He did it without playing outside himself or his abilities”, said Tennis Channel analyst Paul Annacone.  

Robin Soderling reached the final at Roland Garros in 2009 and 2010 and won the 2010 Masters 1000 title in Paris Bercy. He was the first player to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros ending the Spaniard’s 31-match French Open winning streak. The Swedish player was forced to retire from professional tennis at the age of 31 after contracting a bout of mononucleosis. Soderling won titles on every surface but grass.

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Organisers still hope to stage Rome Masters next September

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The organisers of the Internazionali d’Italia still hope to stage their tournament later this year. They sent an email to ticket holders saying they are hopeful of holding their tournament next September. This is a good sign that shows their willingness to continue their tradition after a difficult year for Italy, one of the worst hit countries by the global coronavirus pandemic.

 

“Dear friends, as you may have already read in the media, in the middle of June ATP and WTA, the two associations that manage the world tennis calendar, should communicate when and with which program the International circuit of 2020 will restart. The hypotesis at the moment is that the Internazionali BNL d’Italia can take place in September, but we must wait for the ceratinty, linked to the extraordinary situation of the Coronavirus. We therefore hope to be able to give you more information on the tournament and on the use of the tickets purchased by you as soon as possible. We hope like you to be able to return to play, to participate and to cheer for our favourite players”.

Rafael Nadal won nine editions of the Rome Masters in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2018 and 2019. Last year the Spanish legend beat Novak Djokovic 6-0 4-6 6-1. The King of Clay beat Novak Djokovic in three finals in 2009, 2012 and 2019 and Roger Federer in 2006 and 2013. Djovovic won four titles in the Italian city in 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2015. Alexander Zverev won the first Masters 1000 title of his career beating Djokovic.

On the women’s side Karolina Pliskova won the Premier 5 tournament beating Joanna Konta. Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova were the most successuful players in the last decade. Williams won three titles in the Italian capital in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Sharapova triumphed in 2011, 2012 and 2015. Elina Svitolina beat Simona Halep in two consecutive finals in 2017 and 2018.

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Fabio Fognini celebrates his 33nd birthday

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Fabio Fognini celebrates his 33rd birthday today at home with his wife Flavia Pennetta (US Open champion in 2015) and his two children Federico and Farah.

 

The second best Italian player talked with Italian tennis journalist Federica Cocchi in an interview to Sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport about his family life during the coronavirus pandemic.

“In this difficult period I am enjoying my life at home with my children. I was not used to staying for a long time at home. Farah was born on 23 December. I see her grow. I spend a lot of time with Federico. We are playing golf and watching Tom and Jerry on television. I am the first to fall asleep”, said Fognini.

 Fognini talked to Novak Djokovic in a Live Instagram chat. Novak celebrated his 33rd birthday two days before Fognini.

“He was born 48 hours before me. We had a good chat together. We have known each other since we were 14 years old. We were kids. I already knew that he would become a great player. He had a strong character. I think that he has more chances to win bid tournaments than Federer and Nadal, but Federer is the most beautiful player to watch”.

He spent the lockdown period in his native town Arma di Taggia where he started training again.

Fognini won nine ATP titles (eight on clay and one on hard court) and clinched his first Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo last year.

“I miss tournaments. I train one or two hours a day. It’s very difficult to remained focused without goals. We thought we would have been unvincible, but we are nothing when we face Nature”, said Fognini.

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