Video Chat With Steve Flink: US Open A Major Doubt And Tour Suspension Hurts Williams More Than Federer - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Grand Slam

Video Chat With Steve Flink: US Open A Major Doubt And Tour Suspension Hurts Williams More Than Federer

Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta speaks with hall of famer Steve Flink about where the sport could be heading once the tour resumes and the impact the suspension is having on the top players.




In light of the Covid-19 outbreak, the world of tennis has been left waiting and wondering as to when the Tour will resume.


Steve Flink from The Tennis Channel speaks with Ubitennis about various topics in the sport, including when the next grand slam tournament may take place. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has recently stated that they are hopeful to host the US Open as scheduled. However, their optimism has been disputed by many including Flink. At present the Billie Jean Tennis Center has been turned into a temporary hospital to help treat those affected by the pandemic.

“I think it is increasingly likely that the US Open will be cancelled. Everything is already cancelled up until July.” Said Flink.
“It’s hard for me to see how they (the USTA) would be comfortable to bring 23,000 people to the Arthur Ashe stadium. Plus all of those thousands walking around the ground. I don’t think they will feel it will be quite safe enough to play this year.”

If the US Open doesn’t take place, when might the tour resume? ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi told Italian reporters on Wednesday that his organisation has come up with ‘around 50’ possible scenarios about the 2020 calendar. Meanwhile, Steve Simon from the WTA has said similar plans are also underway for women’s tennis. Both organisations have said they are committed to working together throughout the process.

Weighing in on the complex and unfamiliar situation being faced, Flink believes this year’s calendar should be cancelled is no tennis played up until a certain point. Although one of the options being considered included expanding the Tour into November and December which is when the off-season would usually take place.

“I like the idea that once we reached a certain point in the calendar everybody would say ‘we are just done and we will come back stronger next year.’ I think it is a little less messy than the other way.” He commented. “On the other hand, I understand why they would consider November and December because it is an option they have to explore.”

The big guns

Due to the suspension, speculation has mounted about which member of the Big Three is suffering the most. The majority of experts are learning towards 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer, who will turn 39 in August. Prior to the suspension of the Tour, Federer announced a brief hiatus after undergoing knee surgery.

“Out of the three considering the age difference you have to think that this hurts Federer more than the other two. Who, if we are lucky to go ahead with the majors without this kind of disruption again, will be able to get back on their feet and win again. With Nadal winning Roland Garros and Djokovic could win everywhere. But with Federer this year looked to be his last opportunity to win Wimbledon again.”

However, Scanagatta believes Serena Williams will be at an even greater disadvantage than Federer due to the suspension. The American won her first title as a mother earlier this year at the ASB Classic before crashing out in the third round of the Australian Open.

“For Serena Williams it is even worse than Federer because for her to keep up her form and condition she needs to have a perfect condition to win and play well,” he said. “While for Federer he is a more natural athlete and doesn’t need to practice as much to be fit.’
“For Serena this one-year stop is worse than it is for Federer.”

Flink and Scanagatta are both veterans of tennis journalism. Prior to this season, both have attended every Wimbledon championship for 40 consecutive years.

The full video chat between the two can be watched below. Other topics they cover includes the players next in line to take over from the Big Three, how The Tennis Channel is operating with no tournaments to broadcast and some memorable historical moments.

Grand Slam

Government Minister Sheds Light On Australian Open Schedule

A member of the Victorian Government has given a new update concerning the first Grand Slam of 2021.




It is likely that the Australian Open will not be getting underway on its planned date of January 18th following recent comments by a government minister.


Negotiations between Tennis Australia and local officials are ongoing amid uncertainty over when the Grand Slam event will start. Last week plans for next year suffered a heavy blow after it was confirmed that players will not be allowed to enter the country in December as previously hoped. Instead they can enter from January 1st but will then have to go through a 14-day quarantine where they will not be allowed to play any competitive tennis.

In the wake of the ruling, speculation is mounting that the Australian Open will be delayed. If not, players will only have a four-day period between finishing their quarantine and playing their first tournament of the new year.

Martin Pakula, who is the sports minister for the Victorian Government, said on Wednesday that it was likely there would be a slight delay to the start of the competition due to what he describes as ‘very complex negotiations.’

“I still think it’s much more likely that it will be a shorter rather than longer delay. I don’t want to unduly repeat myself but these are very complex negotiations,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Pakula as saying.
“I’m still confident we’ll have an Australian Open, and we’ll have one in the early part of the year.”

It is also still unclear as to what will be happening to other tournaments that were set to be held in the country such as the ATP Cup, Brisbane International and others. Tennis Australia had previously said they intend to relocate some of their events to Melbourne in order to minimise travel. However, due to the delay in players arriving those plans are in doubt. If they were held after the Australian Open, it would have a significant impact on both the ATP and WTA Tour calendars.

“There’s a number of potential dates on the table. I’ve seen reports that suggest that it’s likely to be delayed by a week or two. I think that’s still most likely,” said Pakula. “But it’s not the only option. As you know, the French Open was delayed by many months and Wimbledon didn’t occur at all.
“I still think it’s much more likely that it will be a shorter [delay] rather than a longer one.”

Pakula has also confirmed that the conditions of the ‘biosecure bubble’ which players will be kept in are yet to be finalized. Although he says there will be a rigorous testing system in place.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said over the weekend that a date for the Australian Open should be confirmed within 14 days.

Continue Reading

Grand Slam

Rafael Nadal Urges Calm Over Australian Open As Officials Search For Solution

The world No.2 has confirmed his intentions to play at the Grand Slam but there are fresh doubts over when it will be getting underway.




20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has urged his peers to remain patient amid growing uncertainty over what the start of the 2021 season in Australia will look like.


Earlier this week it was confirmed that the government of Victoria refused a plan for 550 players to travel to the region next month in a move that could force a delay to the start of the Australian Open. Instead players will not be allowed to arrive until January 1st and then they will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine process. As it stands during that time they are reportedly allowed to train but not play in tournaments.

The ATP has already acknowledged that ‘new challenges’ have arisen in an internal letter issued to their players. Should the Australian Open dates remain unchanged, there will only be a four-day break between quarantine ending and the Grand Slam starting.

Questioned about the situation following his exit from the ATP Finals on Saturday, Nadal said he and others just need to ‘accept the situation’ by respecting any decision taken by the government.

“I don’t know what’s the situation going to be yet,” he said. “We need to wait about what the (state) government there in Victoria says.
“We can’t do much from ATP position or just wait. We have nobody to say what they feel is better for his country.
“We just need to be patient and accept the situation that we are facing. That is difficult for everyone. We need to be flexible to understand the situation and to find a way to play as many tournaments as possible next year.”

The head of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, has tried to allay concerns in a statement released on Sunday. Providing an update on the current situation, he says a plan taking into account the ‘needs of the players, fans, partners and staff’ is currently being drawn up alongside the Victorian Government. Although it is unclear as to when it will be finalised or what the final decision will be.

“We are continuing our urgent talks with local health authorities regarding quarantining and bio-security requirements and are confident we will have decisions soon,” said Tiley.
“Tennis Australia is acutely aware of the need for certainty, but also conscious of reaching a solution with the State Government that ensures the safety of the entire community.”

The Australian Open isn’t the only issue, it is what will happen with other events such as the ATP Cup. Originally it was hoped that various tournaments which usually take place around the country would be moved to Melbourne in order to minimise travelling. Now due to the later than planned arrival dates and quarantine, it is possible some of these events could be axed. So far the only event confirmed to have the chop is the Australian Open junior tournament, which will take place later in the year.

Amid the uncertainty, Nadal says he is hopeful that the Tour would return to a degree of normality in the future.

“Hopefully with the vaccine, that ends soon and we can come back at least to close to normal in a couple of months, but now is a difficult situation,” Nadal concluded.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this week’s ATP Finals is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in its history.

Continue Reading

Grand Slam

Bombshell Puts Australian Tennis Events In Doubt

It is looking increasingly likely that players will not be allowed to play any tournament leading up to the first Grand Slam of 2021.




The start of the 2021 tennis season has been dealt a massive blow as it has emerged that players hoping to travel to Australia next month will not be allowed to.


It is being reported that initial plans by Tennis Australia to allow roughly 550 players to enter their ‘bubble’ within the coming weeks have been blocked by the government in a move which may force the cancellation of any tournament set to take place prior to the Australian Open. A plan had been set out for players to arrive in December so they can enter into a mandatory 14-day quarantine. However, it now appears that the proposal has been denied due to COVID-19 protocols.

Unless there is a change of heart, players will not be allowed into the country until January 1st and then they will have to go through quarantine. Then under the current schedule the Australian Open will start just four days after. Players are not allowed to play any tournaments whilst in quarantine. The ATP, which is the governing body of men’s tennis, has issued an internal statement acknowledging that there are ‘new challenges’ concerning arrival times.

“In discussions with Tennis Australia over the past 24 hours, we have been informed there are some new challenges around the previously planned arrival dates for players and team members,” the ATP told its members.
“We continue to work with Tennis Australia on confirming plans for January, and we will provide an update as soon as more information is available in the coming days.
“We understand there is uncertainty about the start of the 2021 season, and we are working as hard as possible to deliver the best possible calendar of events to players, maximising points, jobs and prize money opportunities.”

Less than a week before the bombshell, Tennis Australia confirmed their desire to relocate various tournaments to Melbourne due to travel restrictions. The idea was for events usually held in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart to be moved to the area. However, it is now unclear as to what if any will go ahead now.

There have been rumours of the Australian summer potentially being extended into February which will allow for more events outside of the Australian Open to take place in the region. However, this has not been confirmed and there is no indication yet that the date of the Grand Slam will be moved back.

“Whether (players) need to be here in December… I don’t know that that necessarily means there isn’t an Australian Open,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Wednesday.
“Whether there are lead-in tournaments, that’s to be worked through.”
“It has to be done safely, it has to be done properly. We are working very, very closely with Tennis Australia. They are working (with) all of their partners and we’re confident that we’ll finish up with an Australian Open.” He later added.

There is yet to be any public comment from Tennis Australia regarding the latest development. Although the CEO of the organisation, Craig Tiley, has confirmed to The Tennis Channel that the tune-up events for the Australian Open are now in jeopardy.

The Australian Open is scheduled to start on January 18th.

Continue Reading