Gabriela Sabatini: "I was a shy person. Tennis helped me express myself" - UBITENNIS
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Gabriela Sabatini: “I was a shy person. Tennis helped me express myself”

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Gabriela Sabatini looked back on her professional career before her 50th anniversary in an interview to Newspaper La Nacion.

 

The Argentine player was one of the best players in the early 1990s and won the biggest title of her career at the 1990 US Open at the age of 20 beating her German rival Steffi Graf 6-2 7-6 after dropping one set in the whole tournament against Mary Joe Fernandez.

In 1985 Sabatini became one of the youngest ever players to reach the semifinals of the French Open, where she lost to US legend Chris Evert at the age of 15. Sabatini won her maiden top-level singles title later that year in Tokyo.

“It was an incredible feeling to play on Centre Court at Roland Garros at the age of 15. I did not even realize who my rival was, even though Chris Evert was one of the best players in the world, when I started playing tennis. I enjoyed playing a semifinal at Roland Garros and I did not fully realize what really meant to play against such a big player”

Sabatini also won the women’s doubles title at Wimbledon in 1988, two WTA Finals crowns in 1988 and 1994 and lost the Olympic singles final against Graf in Seoul 1988. With her Olympic gold medal in the South Korean capital the German legend won the Golden Grand Slam. In the same year Graf and Sabatini won the doubles title at Wimbledon.

“The Olympic Games were a unique experience, because tennis players do not have many opportunities to play for their country. At that time the Olympic tournament did not give points for the WTA Eanking, but it was rewarding to represent Argentina and share this experience with other players. We were in the same family and we ate together, This gave me a lot of energy. I was more motivated than ever when I came back from this experience. At the Olympic Games you really breathe the true spirit of sport”. 

In 1991 Sabatini came two points away from winning the Wimbledon title before Graf won the third set 8-6.

Gabriela reached her first US Open final in 1988 as a teenager losing to Graf in three sets. The German became the third player in history to win all Grand Slam titles in the same year after Maureen Connolly in 1953 and Margaret Smith Court in 1970. Sabatini won 37 WTA titles and reached a career-high of world number 3. Her career also included eleven Grand Slam singles semifinals.

Sabatini and Graf met 40 times from 1985 to 1995. Graf beat her South American player 29 times.

Sabatini won four trophies at the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome in 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1992. The Argentine player had a special relationship to the Rome tournament and Italian crowd, also thanks to her Italian origin. Her grandfather David Sabbatini was born in Potenza Picena in the Marche region and immigrated to Argentina at the end of 19th century.

In 1987 she lost to Graf in the final of the Rome tournament in three sets before winning four of the next five editions and 23 of her 24 matches at the Foro Italico. In 1990 Sabatini lost to Martina Navratilova in the semifinal. In 1991 and 1992 Sabatini beat then world number 1 Monica Seles in straight sets.

“I felt at home in New York and Rome. There are places where I feel very well, even outside the tennis court. In these cities the crowd is very supportive and this gave me a lot of energy. My relatives came to Rome to attend my matches. I went to town of origin of my grandfather. It was nice to visit the home of my father’s grandmother”. 

Sabatini played her last singles match on 14th October 1996, when she lost in straight sets to Jennifer Capriati in the first round of the European Indoors.

She has dedicated her years after the end of her tennis career to her perfume line since retiring at the age of 26. She has become a successful businesswoman. She has had a place in the Hall of Fame in Newport since 2006.

“I am happy to be where I am today, to have experienced what I have experienced. Tennis gave me a lot more than it took away. It gave me the opportunity to travel, get to know the world, meet the world. I was an introverted and scared person. I was paralyzed by the fear of having to speak publicly as a tournament winner and speak to the press. I could not play freely any more. My head was completely closed. Tennis helped me express myself. This sport gave me the chance to travel around the world. ”, said Sabatini to Sebastian Torok, a tennis writer for the Argentine Newspaper La Nacion.

Sabatini was planning to celebrate her 50th birthday in Zurich but she has been forced to stay in Miami after the outbreak of the coronavirus.

“I am spending these days in Miami. It’s difficult to get through this strange period. I cannot complain. I stay in Miami in a comfortable place, where we can practice sport outdoors. I am here waiting the period, when I can return to Switzerland. My thoughts go to those, who are getting through a difficult period because of the economic crisis”.

Sabatini said that tennis must face other priorities before restarting the international calendar. She cast her dubts that the tennis season will resume this year.

“In the coming months I think it will be difficult to hold any sporting event. I have my doubts that something can be done this year in tennis”, concluded Sabatini.

 

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Simona Halep ‘Happy To Be Back’ Amid Uncertainty Over US Open Plans

The Romanian still has reservations about her future plans after taking her first international flight in five months.

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World No.2 Simona Halep admits the prospect of travelling from Europe to America will be ‘mentally tough’ as she ponders whether or not to play at the US Open.

 

The reigning Wimbledon champion is set to return to competitive tennis in the Czech Republic where she will play her first tournament in five months at the Prague Open. Halep was originally due to make her return in Palermo but withdrew from the event due to ‘travelling anxiety’ despite being assured she wouldn’t have to go through quarantine. Speculation has mounted in recent weeks about if the Romanian would travel to the US Open later this year with the 28-year-old confirming she will make her final decision after Prague.

“I haven’t made the final decision yet,” AFP quoted Halep as telling reporters during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
“The travelling from Europe is a little bit tough with changing flights — we don’t have straight flights — so it’s going to be tough for me personally, mentally,” she told a video conference.
“I don’t want to put myself into that stress. As I said I haven’t decided yet, but the conditions are tough for me at this moment.”

Three members of the top 10 on the women’s Tour have already pulled out of the New York major, which will be played behind closed doors for the first time in history. Ash Barty, Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina have all withdrawn from the major due to concerns. In comparison, only one member of the top 10 on the men’s Tour, Rafael Nadal, has withdrawn specifically related to COVID-19 concerns.

Prague is Halep’s first international trip after being in lockdown in Romania since February. A country which reported 1,378 new coronavirus cases and 50 new related deaths on Friday in what was their highest 24-hour figure since the pandemic began.

“I’m a bit nervous but things are very controlled here and very safe so I feel safe,” she said upon arrival in the Czech capital.
“I’m happy to be back, I’m happy to be healthy.”

It will be double duty for Halep in Prague. Besides being the top seed in the singles draw, she will also be playing the doubles alongside local favourite Barbora Strycova. Who reached the semi-final of Wimbledon last year before losing to Serena Williams. It is the first time ever the two are playing alongside each other on the Tour.

“I’m sure we will have fun. I’m sure that she will understand if I miss easy balls at the net, and I hope we’ll enjoy it.” Halep commented on their collaboration.

Halep will start her singles campaign against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.

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Dominic Thiem: “This year’s US Open will be less important than the 2020 Australian Open”

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Dominic Thiem is planning to travel to New York to play at the Western and Southern Open and at the US Open. Thiem feels that he could decide to pull out of the US tournaments and stay in Europe to prepare for Rome and the French Open, if it would be necessary to be in quarantine on his return to Europe. 

 

“When the tour resumes, I will be ready. If it is not played, I will be a little more time at home. I see in a neutral way. Tennis is one of the biggest sports in the world, and others like Formula 1 and basketball have already returned. It’s time for tennis to continue this trend”, said Thiem in an interview to the Standard. 

Thiem is keen on taking part at the US Open despite the restrictions. The Austrian player is bidding to win his first Grand Slam title after losing three consecutive finals at the French Open in 2018 and 2019 and at the Australian Open in 2020. He came close to winning the Melbourne final against Novak Djokovic last January when he was leading by two sets to one. Djokovic came back to win the final in five sets. 

Thiem is aiming at his first Grand Slam title in New York.  

“The expectations for me are quite high. All of us will have a completely new experience. There will be no spectators, a very small team, staying only in the hotel. You have to be honest and keep in mind that many top players will not attend the tournament. That means going far in this tournament it would be worth much less than normal compared to the Australian Open this year. Despite that, I am looking forward to playing”, continued Thiem. 

Thiem is planning to play in Kitzbuhel, Rome and Roland Garros. He will be able to play in Kitzbuhel only if the Austrian tournament will be postponed by one week to avoid the clash with the second week of the US Open. After the Madrid Mutua Open was cancelled, there are rumours that Kitzbuhel could be moved into Madrid’s vacated week. 

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Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino: “The enthusiasm for the ATP Finals in Turin has always been great from the beginning”

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Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino talked in an interview to Italian tennis channel Supertennis during the sixtieth edition of the Golden Raquet about the ATP Finals, which will be held at the Alpitour in Turin from 2021 to 2026. On 24th April 2019 Turin was chosen as the venue of the ATP Finals. The Piedmont city beat the competition of London, Manchester, Tokyo, Singapore. 

 

The ATP Finals will mark a sign of hope after a difficult period in Italy during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“What we are experiencing is an important moment for Italian tennis, with a decisive post-covid recovery and above all with the continuation of a path that brings us closer to an event of global relevance with the Finals in Turin in 2021. I am delighted to be able to see local favourite Lorenzo Sonego play. He has recently been appointed ambassador of Turin. I am just happy that clubs return to live their nolmancy, also because they all accompany us on the journey towards November 2002”, said Appendino. 

Appendino is happy for the important goal achieved by the Italian Tennis Federation thanks to the help of the Italian Sports Committee, the Governemnt and the Municipal Administration. 

“The goal to host the ATP Finals is the result of a great team work. The Italian Tennis Federation made an excellent work. The success of the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome and the Next Gen Finals in Milan helped give more credibility to Turin. There has always had great enthusiasm for the ATP Finals from the beginning. It’s a great opportunity to host the ATP Finals for five years. The whole city will be involved. We will host build-up events to promote the ATP Finals. The great results achieved by Italian players Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego have helped us achieve our goal to host the ATP Finals”. 

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