Tennis Shift Its Focus To Domestic Tours Amid COVID-19 Uncertainty - UBITENNIS
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Tennis Shift Its Focus To Domestic Tours Amid COVID-19 Uncertainty

As anxiety grows over the chances of the 2020 season being resumed, some federations are taking things into their own hands to fill the void.

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By the end of the year it is possible that the likes of Rafael Nadal and Co will be returning to competitive tennis but it may not be in the way many expect.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the sport to a standstill since March with doubts also being raised over its potential return date of July 13th. Highlighted by the recent decision to suspend the WTA Rogers Cup until 2021. Part of the venue of the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, which is set to host the US Open during the summer, has been turned into a temporary hospital to help New York cope with the virus. Meanwhile, both the ATP and WTA are looking into various scenarios which will allow them to resume the Tour again. Although neither of them have a start date.

Unlike the Premier League or the La Liga, is it a lot more complex for tennis to get going again. The prospect of holding an event featuring players all over the world has many questions. Due to different countries having their own policies to fight the pandemic, some players may have less travel restrictions than others. Furthermore, there are concerns about the risk of the virus being spread among players. Former world No.1 Amelie Mauresmo said she believes the Tour can’t resume safely until a vaccine is created.

Amid the uncertainty, national tennis federations are exploring other options. Newspaper Marca have reported that the Royal Spanish Tennis Federation (RFET) is hoping to host a domestic men’s tournament that features their best players such as Nadal. The idea being that their players will be able to build up their match fitness again during the suspension. It has been reported that RFET vice-president Tomas Carbonell is planning for 8-10 tournaments to take place at clubs and academies across the country.

The plans have since been confirmed by world No.97 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. In an Instagram live chat on Monday, the 20-year-old described it as a ‘private national circuit.’ On the ATP Tour there are nine Spanish players in the top 100.

In Latin America the Argentinian tennis community is also pressing ahead with a similar event. La Nacion have reported that a WhatsApp group, including both players and coaches have mentioned a national tournament as a way to support them during the pandemic. Kevin Konfederak, who is the coach of world No.35 Guido Pella, believes that event will act as a motivation.

“It is likely that in a moment here we will have the clubs open, but we will still not be able to travel. So, a local tournament can act as motivation and training. It would be good to put it together with the (Argentinian tennis) Association,’ he said.
“There will be no economic incentives for ATP, of course, but imagine how nice it is for a boy who usually plays Futures rankings, to see himself in the same box as an elite player.’
“We are going to make a document with a potential competition system and we will present it in the AAT. There is no date why not we know, but we do want to have something armed by the time we are free. Taking health precautions, with health as a priority.”

Other countries considering a similar approach include the Czech Republic. Last week, two-time grand slam champion Petra Kvitova returned to training after the Czech government reopened sports grounds to ease its COVID-19 measures.

“Frankly, it feels very weird, motivation is at zero right now, and I don’t know what to aim my training at,” Kvitova said in a recording provided by her Sparta Prague club.
“So I’m rather trying to keep my body in shape,” the world number 12 added.

The idea of putting on a domestic event is undoubtedly more straightforward due to the travelling of players. For example on Monday Spain allowed some construction workers to return back to their jobs. Something other countries have not done due to being in different stages of the pandemic. It will be months before every country is at the same level.

Although none of these events have been publicly given the green light, they do echo the same view. Which is the chances of the ATP/WTA Tours resuming in July are low.

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World No.1 Ash Barty Outlines Ultimate Career Goal

The 24-year-old has named the tournament she dreams of winning.

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Reigning French Open champion Ash Barty has made clear the one thing she wants to achieve before hanging up her racket for good.

 

The world No.1 is dreaming of adding to her Grand Slam tally in the future, but her sights aren’t set on her home tournament at the Australian Open. Which hasn’t been won by a local female player since Chris O’Neal back in 1978. Instead, her dream lies with the All England Club which hosts the Wimbledon Championships.

My dream is winning Wimbledon. Without a doubt,” AFP quoted Barty as saying during an interview with broadcaster ABC.
“It took a long time for me to say that out loud. It took a long time for me to have the courage to say that out loud, but that’s what I want. That’s what I want to work towards.
“Being able to win junior Wimbledon was really special, but it just gave me a taste of what it’s really like.”

It was at Wimbledon where Barty first rose to prominence by winning the girls title at the age of 15 in 2011. Becoming the first indigenous Australian to win a title of any sort at the event since 1980. Progressing onto the senior circuit, she is yet to get the breakthrough she wants with her best result being a run to the fourth round last year despite being the top seed.

Barty will not have a chance of winning the grass-court major this year after it was cancelled for the first time since the Second World War due to COVID-19. She is also set to miss the upcoming US Open due to travelling concerns related to the virus and its unpredictability.

“That was a massive part of it for our team – accepting that this is something greater than what we can control, we can’t do anything about it,” she commented on skipping New York.
“We just have to play our part and do the right thing. And then hope we get an opportunity some time in the year to get back to some kind of normal.”

The 24-year-old isn’t the only top name missing from this year’s US Open. Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens are the two other top 10 women’s players that have pulled out so far. Meanwhile, Simona Halep is yet to reach a decision. As for the men, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka will not be playing.

Prior to the five-month break in tennis due to the Pandemic, Barty started the season winning 11 out of 14 matches. She won the Adelaide International before reaching the semi-finals at both the Australian Open and Doha Open.

Barty currently leads the WTA rankings by 2641 points ahead of second place Halep.

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Elise Mertens beats Camila Giorgi to reach her third quarter final in 2020

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Number 3 seed Elise Mertens from Belgium edged Last week’s Palermo semifinalist Camila Giorgi 6-4 6-2 in 1 hour and 44 minutes to secure her spot in the quarter final at the Prague Open. 

 

Mertens reached her third quarter final of the 2020 season after Shenzhen and Auckland and scored her second win in as many matches against Giorgi. 

Giorgi got an early break in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead, as Mertens hit her backhand into the net. Mertens broke straight back in the third game for 1-2. Giorgi saved two break points in the fifth game. 

Mertens broke for the second time in a eight-deuce seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held her next two service games and served out the first set 6-4 with a backhand pass. 

Mertens got the first break of the second set in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. The Belgian player saved four break-back points in the sixth game to open up a 4-2 lead before breaking serve in the seventh game. The 2019 Doha champion hit her third ace on her first match point setting up a quarter final clash against either Tamara Zidansek or Canadian wildcard Eugenie Bouchard.   

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Simona Halep makes a winning start to her Prague Open campaign

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Number 1 seed and last year’s Wimbledon champion Simona Halep edged past Polona Hercog 6-1 1-6 7-6 (7-3) in two and a half hours in the opening round of the Prague Open on her seventh match point after 2 hours and 31 minutes. Halep played her first match since claiming her 20th title in Dubai. 

 

Halep wasted six match points before claiming the win in the tie-break of the third set to secure his spot in the Round of 16. Halep won four points more than Hercog and saved five of the 11 break points he faced. 

Both players traded breaks in the second and third games of the opening set. Halep earned two consecutive breaks in the fourth and sixth games to win the first set 6-1, as Hercog made 12 unforced errors to only two winners. 

Hercog came back from a break down early in the second set to get three consecutive breaks and won the second set 6-1. 

Both players traded breaks in the fourth and fifth games of the decider. Halep earned another break to open up a 5-3 lead. Hercog broke back in the ninth game and saved six match points in the 10th and 12th games to set up a decisive tie-break. Halep claimed the tie-break 7-3. 

Before the five-month break Halep lost to Garbine Muguruza in the semifinal of the Australian Open and won the Dubai final. 

Last week’s Palermo semifinalist Camila Giorgi came back from one set down to beat Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk 4-6 6-2 7-6 (7-4) after 2 hours and 14 minutes. Giorgi converted six of her eight break points. 

Kostyuk earned the first break in the fourth game. Giorgi broke straight back in the fifth game. Both players traded breaks in the sixth and seventh games. Giorgi saved a break point in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Kostyuk broke for the third time in the 10th game to win the first set 6-4 after 44 minutes. 

Giorgi broke twice in a row to race out to a 4-0 lead, Kostyuk pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4, but Giorgi broke again in the seventh game to win the second set 6-2 in 31 minutes. 

Kostyuk broke serve in the third game of the decider to open up a 3-0 lead. Giorgi broke back to draw level to 3-3. In the eighth game the Italian star fended off another break. The set came down to the tie-break. Giorgi opened up a 4-2 lead. Both players traded mini-breaks. Giorgi earned two match points and converted her first chance to win the tie-break 7-4. 

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