EXCLUSIVE: Denis Istomin Doubtful 2020 Season Will Resume As He Backs Djokovic’s Vaccination Stance - UBITENNIS
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EXCLUSIVE: Denis Istomin Doubtful 2020 Season Will Resume As He Backs Djokovic’s Vaccination Stance

Ubitennis has spoken to the former top 40 tennis star about how he is coping during the Tour shutdown and what he thinks the future has in store for the sport.

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Many tennis fans know Denis Istomin thanks to his second-round victory at the 2017 Australian Open over the then world number 2 and defending champion Novak Djokovic. In the current ATP ranking, the 33-year-old Uzbek tennis player can be found in 156th place, but he has a best ranking of 33 achieved in 2012. 

Where have you been during the lockdown?

 

I have been spending this time in Almaty [city in Kazakhstan, Ed.] with my family.

Did you resume training and playing tennis in this period?

Tennis clubs in Almaty have just reopened again, so for now I am still focusing on fitness training. Most likely, I will start playing tennis again on May 25th.

During this time, did you have a chance to talk to any of your colleagues about the current situation? Nadal thinks that the ATP Tour will not resume in 2020. What is the other pros’ viewpoint on this? 

Indeed, I spoke with some colleagues who are also my friends about the current situation in which we are living. If you ask me and other players, professional tennis will not resume in 2020.

Do you think it is the same for the remaining two Grand Slam tournaments – the US Open and the French Open?

I would like them to take place. However, I think the chance that it happens is really, really low.

What do you think of the French tennis federation’s decision to postpone the event?

They took the most convenient decision for them, but they did not take the calendar or the players into consideration. In this situation, if the tournament takes place anyway, then surely it will benefit most players, since what they really want is to just be able to play.

Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal suggested the creation of a Player Relief fund to help players ranked outside the top 100 in the ATP ranking. What do you think of this initiative?

I think it is a great idea, because this is a very difficult time for all tennis players, especially those with low ranking who do not have a chance to play the Slams and the ATP tournaments – certainly, many of them are considering giving up professional tennis. I hope that the money pledged through the Fund will help motivate them to keep playing.

Dominic Thiem initially criticised the project, saying that some players are not really committed when playing minor tournaments like Futures. Do you agree with this statement?

I haven’t played Futures for quite some time, but anyway everyone is entitled to their own opinion! Surely, there are players who are not always 100% committed! Likewise, there are many players who work very hard and do not have enough money to travel to and play in those tournaments. Perhaps, these players do not even have a chance to be accompanied by a coach, given that the Futures prize money hasn’t increased by much in the last 20 years. I cannot say I fully agree or disagree with that statement. Both viewpoints make sense. The only thing I didn’t like much was that Dominic’s statement was public – he should have discussed the matter with the ATP or with the players beforehand.

Thiem as well as Matteo Berrettini said that everyone should be free to decide which charitable donations to make and to whom – for instance, hospitals or other organisations – and that the ATP should not force anyone to endorse the Player Relief Fund. What do you think about this?

I agree. Everyone’s own financial situation is different, and I believe that everyone should be able to contribute according to their available resources – no one should feel compelled. Each of us should be able to decide by themselves whom to help and how.

Novak Djokovic revealed that he would be against a potentially compulsory vaccine for COVID-19. This statement caused an uproar among many people who accused Novak to be against science. What is your viewpoint?

Let them accuse me too then! I agree with Novak! There cannot be a compulsory vaccine – every person should be able to decide whether they want to get vaccinated or not.

Do you have any idea of when ATP tournaments will resume on the tennis tour?

I think that the next two years will be really hard for the ATP tour! I hope we can start again soon, but we must be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Since the pandemic is not over yet, the main goal remains staying healthy.

What do you think of Patrick Mouratoglou’s initiative – the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (i.e., the exhibition tournament organised by him)?

It is an excellent idea! Tennis players need to play matches, no matter if they are exhibitions or actual tournaments. I hope that all tennis federations will follow his example and organise something similar for their own players.

Interview conducted by Silvia Aresi
Translation by Riccardo Superbo

 

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Liam Broady On Why He Wore Rainbow Laces During His Australian Open Match

Following his first round defeat, the Brit spoke about why he believes it is important to speak out in support of the LGBT community.

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Image via https://twitter.com/the_LTA/status/

It is sometimes the small gestures which go a long way and Liam Broady showed that during his first round match at the Australian Open.

 

Taking to the John Cain Arena for his night-time clash against Nick Kyrgios, the qualifier embarked upon a situation he had never experienced before with a boisterous crowd cheering on their home player. At times the atmosphere resembled that a football match with fans drinking beer and chanting Christiano Roinaldo’s ‘siu’ celebration. The reason as to why they were doing that particular chant was unclear.

Broady ended up falling 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, to Kyrgios who will next play the formidable Daniil Medvedev. Throughout the match the world No.128 was wearing rainbow laces and he did so for a special reason.

“I just kind of wanted to send the support. I know obviously within men’s tennis — is it a taboo? I don’t think it’s really a taboo, but I’ve seen questions before about why there aren’t any openly gay men on the tour, and I just wanted to kind of voice my support in that kind of general area,” Broady explained during his press conference.
“And the LGBTQ community, I mean, a lot of those guys have given me a lot of support throughout my career and have been there since day one, so I kind of wanted to give a thank you in my own sort of way.”

The Rainbow Laces initiative was created by LGBT charity Stonewall and initially marketed specifically towards football’s Premier League before later expanding into other sports. The idea is to get players to wear rainbow laces in order to raise awareness of LGBT representation within sport.

https://twitter.com/the_LTA/status/1483379917337534465

Tennis is renowned for having some of the most formidable LGBT athletes over the years with the likes of pioneers such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova who were among some of the first to speak openly about their sexuality. However, on the men’s Tour it is somewhat different. There are currently no openly gay players and only a small handful in the past. Although most of those players, such as Brian Vahaly, came out after retiring from the sport.

“I saw that the first openly gay footballer just came out in Australia (Josh Cavallo) a month or two ago. And it’s difficult, right? I mean, it’s a big thing to do and at the end of the day in the 21st century, it’s pretty rubbish that people don’t feel like they can be openly gay. It’s quite sad, really,” Broady continued.
“Hopefully I will help raise awareness for it and if there are people in the locker rooms and you kind of, you don’t want to force them to come out, you know, especially if they don’t want to. It’s their choice.’
“So you just got to try and support in the way you can and just let them know that everything’s okay.”

It is not the first time the 28-year-old has spoken out about LGBT rights. In 2018 he criticized Margaret Court who likened gay-rights activists to Adolf Hitlef in terms of what she claims is ‘propaganda.’ Court has a history of making anti-LGBT remarks despite insisting that she has nothing against gay people.

Broady says he doesn’t personally know of any gay player on the Tour. Although if there was, he assumed that it would be known because the sport is a ‘pretty leaky ship’ when it comes to having private details revealed online.

On Monday the Australian Open will launch their first ever Pride Day at the tournament.

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Australian Open: Pablo Carreno Busta Through But Fabio Fognini Stunned

Busta has booked his place in the second round at Melbourne Park for the sixth year in a row.

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Pablo Carreno Busta - image via https://twitter.com/SuperTennisTv/

On day one of the Australian Open, Spanish ace Pablo Carreno Busta sealed an efficient straight-sets win to take his place in the second round.

 

The Spaniard was no match for Argentinian qualifier Tomas Etcheverry coming through 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).

The 30-year-old from Giron sailed through the opening set that included two breaks in the fourth and sixth game.

Etcheverry, who won three matches to qualify for the Australian Open, improved in the second set.

However, it wasn’t enough as Carreno-Busta flicked through the gears breaking his younger opponent in the third and seventh game to seal the set.

In the third, the 2017 and 2020 US Open semi-finalist took an early break of serve, only to be pegged back by Etcheverry who forced a tie-break.

It wasn’t to be for the 22-year-old though as Carreno-Busta turned up the heat with some big groundstrokes to move into round two.

Next up for the world number 21 is Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor who thrashed a poor Fabio Fognini in straight sets.

The out of sorts Italian was beaten 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.

Having lost in the first round of the US Open in September, the former world number world number is nine is in danger of slipping outside the top 40.

Having shown much promise to win a first Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo back in 2019, the husband of former US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, looks desperately short of motivation and confidence.

Fognini is yet to go beyond the fourth-round of a major, and at 34 time is running out for him to mine the potential that made him one of the sports best juniors growing up alongside Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.

Elsewhere, former Australian Open star Lucas Pouille, was knocked out in round one by fellow Frenchman Corentin Moutet.

Wildcard Pouille has endured a glut of injuries since making the semi-finals at Melbourne Park three years ago.

The 27-year-old has now fallen to 159 in the world. 

Pouille made a bright start to take the opening set 6-3, but his lack of fitness and confidence soon showed, as he lost the following sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

Czech Jiri Vesley, also slumped out to American wildcard Stefan Kozlov 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

He will face seventh seed Matteo Berrettini next.

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Cameron Norrie Puzzled By Australian Open Defeat

It was a bad day at the office for the British number one.

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Cameron Norrie ad Indian Wells 2021 (Credits: @BNPPARIBASOPEN on Twitter)

Cameron Norrie is finding it hard to pinpoint where it all went wrong for him in his first round match at the Australian Open.

 

The 12th seed could only win seven games against Sebastian Korda as he crashed out 6-3, 6-0, 6-4, after just over 100 minutes of play. It is the third time in four appearances that Norrie has fallen in the first round at Melbourne Park but last year he did manage to reach the third round. Against his American rival, he hit 29 unforced errors compared to 23 winners and was broken five times.

I had a week off to prepare, prepared as well as I could, and I was just slow, I was missing routine backhands, which I never miss,” Norrie said during his press conference.
“I honestly can’t put a finger on it. I just need to get better and improve. Lots to work on.’
“Any time I had a chance to kind of come back, he (Korda) served his way out of it. And on the bigger points he was much better than me. I didn’t play well in any big points today.”

It has been a far from smooth start to 2022 for the 26-year-old who also suffered disappointment at the ATP Cup earlier this month. In the team tournament he lost all three of his singles matches to Alexander Zverev, Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Zverev is the only one of the trio currently ranked higher than him.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of Norrie’s latest defeat is the fact he seemed perplexed about why he played the way he did. Asked by one journalist if he was possibly suffering any lingering affects from catching COVID-19 during the festive period he replied ‘No, I think I prepared as well as I can, and I felt fine physically, fine mentally.’

Norrie was one of the breakthrough stars last year on the ATP Tour when he raced up the world rankings. He featured in six Tour finals across three different surfaces and won the biggest title of his career at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. The stellar season earned him a place at the ATP Finals as a reserve and he even played two matches following the withdrawal of Stefanos Tsitsipas due to injury.

“I don’t know why I played the way I did today. I was feeling good physically,” he said. “Yeah, I played a lot of matches (last year) but this is what we (tennis players) are paid to do and just not good enough. I just need to raise my standards, practice, matches, and execute a lot better.”

Of course, credit has to be given to Korda, who is making his debut at Melbourne Park. The American had a far from ideal preparation for the tournament after testing positive for COVID-19 which forced him to withdraw from two warm-up events.

21-year-old Korda has now beaten a top 20 player on six separate occasions. He will play France’s Corentin Moutet in the second round.

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