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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Victoria Azarenka Survives Three-Set Battle With Pegula In Berlin

Azarenka is one of two seeded players left in the draw along with Belinda Bencic.

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Victoria Azarenka is into the semifinals of the Bett1 Open after outlasting America’s Jessica Pegula 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.

 

The two-time Australian Open champion won 70% of her first service points and broke Pegula six times en route to the victory. It is only the second time Azarenka has reached the last four of a WTA tournament this season after the Doha Open back in March. This week she is bidding to reach her first Tour final on the grass since 2010 and win her first title on the surface at the age of 31.

“I’m really happy that I made it out, I played really well at the beginning of the match,” said Azarenka. “In the second set she played some good shots and I felt like I slowed down but I was glad I was able to turn it around”.

The number seven seed got off to a great start earning three chances to break in the opening game of the match and getting the early break. At 4-2 she earned the double break when the American produced a poor service game and double faulted on breakpoint. Enabling Azarenka to take the opener in just 26 minutes.

The beginning of the second set was identical to the first with the world No.16 earning three more breakpoints and breaking to take an early lead. However, Pegula fought back to earn three chances to break but Azarenka saved all three and held serve. The set stayed on serve until 4-3 when the American had another chance to break. This time a poor service game from the Belorussian gave up the break of serve.

At 6-5 with Azarenka serving to stay in the middle set Pegula found herself at set point and clinched the set after the world number 16 hit another unforced error.

Into the decider and again just like the first two sets it was the 31 year old who broke in the opening service game of the set but the world number 26 responded by breaking right back the very next game and the next two games followed suit with two breaks of serve.

At 3-3 the Azarenka had three more breakpoints and got the break once again but this time the break was enough for her to serve out the match. After the match Azarenka spoke about losing the momentum in the second set and how she was able to get it back and push through.

” I paid too much attention on the things that I didn’t take opportunities and matches on grass can go fast with one or two breaks and it’s more difficult and hopefully I can stop putting myself into too much trouble”. She said.

Azarenka will next face Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova who stunned Madison Keys in three sets – 7-6, 2-6, 7-6.

Elsewhere, Alize Cornet also continued her amazing run by beating the number six seed Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, and Belinda Bencic booked her spot in the final four beating another Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.

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David Goffin Out Of Wimbledon Following Halle Accident

It has been reported that the unfortunate injury he suffered is ‘more serious’ than a sprain.

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David Goffin has been forced to withdraw from Wimbledon after suffering an ankle injury during the Noventi Open earlier this week.

 

The former top 10 player was taking on Corentin Moutet in Halle where he slipped on the grass and subsequently hurt his right ankle. Forcing the Belgian to retire from the match at the start of the third set. Providing an update on Goffin’s health, agent Martin Roux said he is unsure how long he will be absent from the Tour for.

“Yes, David has officially withdrawn from Wimbledon following his ankle injury in Halle. For the moment we do not know more about the exact duration of unavailability, ” Roux told lesoir.be. “He is of course disappointed to miss a Grand Slam tournament, especially since he had recovered well on grass before his injury. “

Elaborating further, Roux confirmed Goffin’s injury is ‘more serious’ than a sprain and tests are ongoing to assess the extent of the damage which has been caused to the ankle. It is not the first time he has suffered a freak accident on the court. During the 2018 Rotterdam Open he hurt his eye after a tennis ball rebounded into his face, forcing him to pull out of Marseille and Indian Wells that year.

“David told me that it was more serious than a minor sprain, after exams in Belgium.”Roux added. “The ankle has not yet deflated (stopped swelling). David realizes that ice and bandages won’t be enough to play. The ligaments must be affected in one way or another. The idea is to do new exams at the end of the week in order to then have a healing protocol, especially since after Wimbledon the Olympic Games will arrive quickly. These are now his next goals. “

The 30-year-old has achieved a win-loss record of 14-13 so far in 2021 and won his fifth ATP title in Montpellier. He has also reached the semi-finals in Antalya and quarter-finals in Monte Carlo. However, recently Goffin has struggled on the Tour with Halle being the fifth tournament in a row where he has failed to win back-to-back matches.

Goffin is currently ranked 13th in the world.

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Dominic Thiem Follows Nadal In Olympic Games Snub

The world No.5 says his decision is related to his performance on the Tour so far this season.

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Dominic Thiem training at the 2021 Lyon Open (photographer Sammy Dancyger - Owned by Sport Plus Conseil - GM Sports Consulting)

Austria’s Dominic Thiem has pulled out of the Olympic Games in order to focus on his title defence at the US Open later this year.

 

The 27-year-old issued a statement on Thursday saying he was ‘not ready’ to play in Tokyo following what has been a roller-coaster start to the season. Thiem enters Wimbledon with a win-loss record of 9-8 and recently lost in the first round of the French Open. His best results so far this year were reaching the last 16 of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of the Madrid Open.

“Hi everybody, I have some sad news to share with you all. After talking with my team and analysing the situation I have taken the very difficult decision to withdraw from competing in the Tokyo Olympics,” the 27-year-old Austrian wrote on Twitter.
“For me, like all athletes, taking part in the Olympics and representing my country is a huge honour and that makes this decision even tougher.
“However, 2021 did not start as expected and I don’t feel ready to play my best in Tokyo.
“My goal is to work hard the coming weeks, give my best at Wimbledon and keep training and hopefully defend my US Open title.”

Thiem, who also skipped the 2016 Olympics, had previously said that his views on the multi-sport event have changed over recent time. During one interview with Tennis Deutschland he said it would be a ‘dream’ to play at the Olympics and he would ‘definitely play’ at the event if he had the chance to. Thiem is coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu who won a gold medal back in 2004.

The world No.5 says he hopes to be able to play at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris where the tennis tournament will be held at Roland Garros. The same venue as the French Open.

On the same day as Thiem’s announcement on Thursday, Rafael Nadal was another player to confirm he would not be travelling to Tokyo, as well as Wimbledon, in order to recover from the clay season. The Spaniard said he wants to take a break from the Tour in order to preserve his body and prolong his career on the Tour.

The Olympic tennis event will take place between July 24th – August 1st. Andy Murray is the defending champion in the men’s tournament.

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