Tour Shutdown Exposes Inequality As Well As Opportunity For Tennis, Says All-Time Great King - UBITENNIS
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Tour Shutdown Exposes Inequality As Well As Opportunity For Tennis, Says All-Time Great King

The tennis legend shares her opinion on the current situation players are facing on the Tour.

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Billie Jean King has called for tennis’ governing bodies to work together to help resolve what she describes as financial inequality in the sport.

 

King, who won 39 grand slam titles during her record-breaking career, spoke out about the current situation players are facing with The Tennis Channel. All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended until at least July due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaving the lower ranked players unable to earn any income. Unlike team sports, in the world of tennis the primary source of income comes from playing in tournaments. For those higher in the rankings, they are also supported by other incentives such as sponsorships or endorsements.

“Some money has gone out to the players but we need to think about more,” Eurosport quoted King as saying.
“The people who have to drive that are the top players. Because they have the big box, they have the money, it’s really important for them to step up.”

Discussions are currently underway in regards to financially supporting players during the lockdown with different ideas being exchanged. Last week, Novak Djokovic sent a letter to his fellow players on the tour asking those in the top 100 to help financially support a fund aimed at those ranked between No. 250-700. The Serbian is hoping the fund will be in the region of $4-$4.5 million with money also coming from the ATP, as well as the grand slam events. Meanwhile, the WTA is also working on their own plans.

The move comes after numerous players spoke out about the financial hardship they are currently facing. World No.371 Sofia Shapatava set up an online petition on change.org calling for support from the ITF, WTA and ATP. Meanwhile, in an interview with Sky Sports British player Tara Moore said more needs to be done to protect players like herself.

“There needs to be an organisation that that ITF, ATP and WTA are held accountable to so players can have a voice. At the moment tennis is not about players, it’s about numbers. If they don’t help players out now then one-third of the tour will not coming back. It’s a never ending cycle,” said Moore.
“If nothing changes with how the Tour is set up I would tell junior players to go to college, use their talents to get a good education, rather than going straight into professional tennis.”

Despite the complex situation, 78-year-old King believes it could make the sport stronger in the long term if the world of tennis unites. The American founded the WTA Tour back in 1973 and has been an instrumental figure in the campaign for equal prize money in tennis.

“This is a good time to reset and to have one voice in the sport, which we really never had. We need that desperately,” she told the Tennis Channel. “I hope they will all work together more after the COVID-19 situation calms down.
“Maybe some day, and I didn’t think it is possible, we might have a Commissioner. I don’t know. We are not the biggest sport in the world, we don’t have as much money as say soccer. So we need to stick together and everyone needs to help each other.
“The thing that’s also good is it shows the inequities that go on. So this is a good time to reset and think about how we want our sport to look in the future. What can we do to make it better, stronger and more secure?”

At present, professional tennis is set to resume on July 13th. However, it is possible that the date could be pushed back further in the coming weeks.

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REPORT: French Open Qualifying Match Under Investigation Over Irregular Betting Patterns

An unusual number of bets were placed on the match in three different countries.

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A first round match at this week’s French Open qualifying tournament is being looked into after an abnormally high number of bets was placed, according to a leading French newspaper.

 

L’Equipe have cited police sources saying that the clash between eighth seed Bernabé Zapata Miralles and Dudi Sela has flagged up irregular patterns. Miralles defeated his Israeli rival 6-3, 6-0, in less than an hour. It is understood that the focus of the investigation is on the second set which lasted less than 20 minutes. A total of 32 points was placed in that set with Sela only winning seven of those.

According to the source, an unusually high number of bets were placed on the match in three different countries – Cyprus, Ukraine and Armenia. Prompting judicial authorities to look into the possibility that the match could have been fixed but at present no formal investigation has been confirmed.

“There is no business,” the French Tennis Federation (FFT) was quoted by Le Parisien as saying on the matter.

37-year-old Sela is currently ranked outside the world’s top 400 but managed to get into the qualifying draw with the use of a protected ranking. He has only played in two singles tournaments so far this season with the other being at the Australian Open where he also lost in the first round of qualifying.

Sela confirmed in January that 2022 would be his last as a professional. A former top 30 player, he has reached the final of two ATP events in China (2008) and Atlanta (2014). He also reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2009 and has beaten three top 10 players during his career.

Meanwhile, Miralles sealed his place in the French Open main draw on Thursday after coming from a set down to beat Luca Nardi 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that either player has been involved in match-fixing. According to statistics from L’Equipe, there has been a 177% increase in online bets concerning the French Open over a five-year period to 128M euros in 2021.

This year players who lose in the first round of qualifying at the French Open will earn €14,000, which is a 40% increase on 2021.

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“Healthy Mind In A Healthy Body”: Asics To Include Psychological Support In Sponsored Players’ Contracts

Matteo Berrettini and Iga Swiatek are among those who will benefit from the help of mental health experts

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Iga Swiatek - Roma 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

by Andrea Mastronuzzi, translated by Massimo Volpati

The more the years pass, the more professional sport assumes the contours of a job like many others (certainly more profitable, but in some ways even more stressful), and the more officials realise how essential it is to be able to count on mental coaches or psychologists. Both to withstand external pressures and to achieve one’s goals and therefore endure another type of pressure, which comes from one’s inner self. 

 

Tennis players increasingly talk about their difficulties in terms of mental strength and underline the crucial role played by the psychologists who support them: From women’s world No.1 Iga Swiatek (she also spoke about it in the press conference after her victory over Andreescu in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open) to Denis Shapovalov, Alex de Minaur and Naomi Osaka. The new queen of women’s tennis, signed up by ASICS, will be able to take full benefit from psychological support provided by the Japanese company.

It is no coincidence that ASICS is the first sponsor to include this aid in the partnership agreements it has entered into with its tennis players. The company name is in fact the acronym of a variant of the famous Latin phrase “mens (which becomes anima) sana in corpore sano”, namely “healthy mind in healthy body.” The brand collaborated with some researchers from Kings College London on the realisation of a study (“State of Mind”) which allowed to identify a positive link between tennis and mental health. In the wake of these results, ASICS has set up a facility in Paris where fans are offered the opportunity to play tennis and deal with their psychological state at the same time.

In addition to its initiatives centred on mental health, ASICS has kicked off a mental health support project involving their sponsored professional tennis players. Among these there are Matteo Berrettini, David Goffin and de Minaur. Everyone will rely on a team of experts made available by the Japanese brand and led by Daria Abramovicz (who spoke with ubitennis.net last year) who has been working with Swiatek for some time. The young psychologist said that “by offering confidential support, it is possible to help normalize what is normal and assist players along their journey towards a healthy mind in a healthy body”.

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Richard Gasquet upsets Danil Medvedev in Geneva

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Richard Gasquet upset Danil Medvedev 6-2 7-6 (7-5) with three breaks of serve in 90 minutes to reach the second round at the Gonet Geneva Open. 

 

Gasquet scored his first win over an opponent ranked in the top 2 since he beat world number 1 Roger Federer at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 2005. 

Medvedev had beaten Gasquet in their only previous head-to-head match at the 2021 US Open en route to his first Grand Slam title. 

Medvedev was playing his first match since Miami in March after undegoing hernia surgery.

Gasquet won six consecutive games from 2-2 in the first set and built up a 6-2 2-0 lead.  

Medveved dropped his serve after three double faults with three double faults. The Russian player broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3 and held serve at love with an ace. 

Medvedev recovered from a mini-break down in the tie-break. Gasquet earned his third mini-break to win the tie-break 7-5. 

The Frenchman will face Kamil Majchrzak, who cruised past Marco Cecchinato 6-2 6-3.

Thanasi Kokkinakis earned his first win on clay in seven years with a 6-4 6-3 win over Fabio Fognini in 1 hour and 28 minutes. 

Kokkinakis went up a break to take a 4-1 lead. Fognini broke back in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4.  Kokkinakis broke serve at love in the tenth game to claim the first set 6-4. 

Fognini made two double faults and missed three game points before dropping serve in the second game of the second set. Kokkinakis did not face any break points in his remaining four service games. 

Christopher O’Connell edged past Albert Ramos Vinolas 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to set up a second round match against Reilly Opelka. 

Paulo Sousa cruised past 2021 semifinalist Pablo Andujar 6-1 6-4. Sousa will face Nikoloz Basilashvili, who was leading 6-4 before Facundo Bagnis retired from the match.

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