Italian National Championships To Be Revived Amid Coronavirus Lock-In - UBITENNIS
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Italian National Championships To Be Revived Amid Coronavirus Lock-In

The event will be the first of a local 5-tournament tour due to take place in Italy during the summer. Fabio Fognini’s presence still doubtful. Governmental approval to allow sports events is still pending

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Fabio Fognini - Italy - South Korea, 2020 Davis Cup (photo Felice Calabrò)

The impossibility to travel internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted several initiatives to organize small events with local players to offer some of the pros a chance to play matches waiting for the ATP and WTA Tours to resume. In Italy, MEF Tennis Event, a company that has been organizing national and international tournaments for the past 10 years, has decided to launch the MEF Tennis Tour, a summer circuit that will see four events take place in Italy starting on 15 June.

 

The first event of the MEF Tennis Tour will be the 2020 edition of the “Campionati Italiani Assoluti”, an old and prestigious national event that used to crown the “National Champion” in Italy that was discontinued in 2004. The list of winners for the event sees 2-time Major champion Nicola Pietrangeli, and former Top-10 Corrado Barazzutti and former Davis Cup captain Fausto Gardini all appear seven times each, with Lucia Valerio and Lea Pericoli dominate the competition among the ladies with 10 titles apiece. Furthermore, in 1970 a memorable five-set final between 20-year-old up-and-comer Adriano Panatta and the 36-year-old veteran Pietrangeli is widely considered to have been the “changing of the guard” between two generations of Italian players.

“While we wait for a new confirmed date for the 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia next September – explains the President of the Italian Tennis Federation (FIT) Angelo Binaghi – we are thrilled to see through the launch of a new circuit of events with a new edition of the ‘Campionati Assoluti’. These events will provide our players the opportunity to compete at the top level in maximum safety, and it will give our fans the chance to enjoy exciting live matches on television”.

The event will take place in Todi, a small village near Perugia in Central Italy, on the clay courts of the local Tennis Club. The men’s tournament will have a 32-player draw while the women’s event will see 16 players compete for the national title. Italian free-to-air television SuperTennis will broadcast all matches live in Italy, and the feed will also be available in streaming through the tournament’s website and social media accounts. ATP n. 11 Fabio Fognini was announced to be among the participants by FIT, but the player later issued a note saying his participation is still not confirmed. There will be however most Italian top ATP and WTA players, including some of the top juniors in the country who will be able to avail of some of the four wild-cards made available to FIT Technical Directors Filippo Volandri and Tathiana Garbin.

At the moment sporting events, even behind closed doors, are still prohibited in Italy as a measure to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease, but the Government is due to review its policy within the next few weeks. The event is therefore pending governmental approval, but it will be ready to go as soon as a decision on the matter is made by the Executive.

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Hubert Hurkacz and Pablo Carreno Busta reach the final at the Moselle Open in Metz

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Top two seeds Hubert Hurkacz and Pablo Carreno Busta reached the final at the Moselle Open in Metz, an ATP 250 tournament.

 

Hubert Hurkacz reached the final at the Moselle Open with a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Hurkacz won 79% of points of his first service points to extend his winning record to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against Gojowczyk. 

Hurkacz saved a break point in both the first and third games of the opening set. Gojowczyk fended off in the fourth and eighth games at deuce. Hurkacz earned his first break at deuce in the 10th game to win the first set 6-4. 

Gojowzyk earned an early break in the first game to take a 1-0 lead at the start of the second set. Hurkacz converted his second break point at deuce in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Gojowczyk saved two match points in the 12th game to hold serve for 6-6 at deuce. Gojowczyk earned an early mini-break to take a 1-0 lead. Hurkacz won five consecutive points to take a 5-1 lead with three mini-breaks. Gojowczyk pulled one of the two breaks back for 3-5 and saved one of the three match points, but Hurkacz earned his fourth mini-break to win the tie-break 7-4. 

Hurkacz won Delray Beach before he claimed his first Masters 1000 title in Miami. Last July the Polish player reached the semifinal at Wimbledon and is currently ninth in the ATP Race to Turin. 

Gojowczyk got through the qualifying round to reach the fourth round at the US Open. The German player won his only ATP Tour title in Metz in 2017. 

“I think I played a couple of really good points in important moments, so that was good from my side. The atmosphere was amazing today. Thanks to the music group. They were amazing and made it great and the fans enjoyed it”, said Hurkacz. 

Second seed Pablo Carreno Busta battled past Gael Monfils 7-5 7-6 (10-8) after 1 hour and 49 minutes to reach his third tour-level final. Carreno Busta bounced back from 1-4 down in the first set and fended off four set points at 3-6, 4-6 5-6 6-7 in the tie-break of the second set. The Spanish player sealed the win, when Monfils hit a forehand win

Carreno Busta drew level to 3-3 in his six head-to-head matches against Monfils. 

“It’s a long time since we have played with this kind of atmosphere. It was amazing. At the beginning it was really tough. Then I started to play better and made the rallies longer from the baseline and I think it was key to try and push a little bit”, said Carreno Busta. Carreno Busta was playing in his first ATP Tour level semifinal since Dubai in 2020. 

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Petra Kvitova set semifinal against Anett Kontaveit in Ostrava

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Anett Kontaveit upset this year’s Olympic singles gold medallist Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-3 after 74 minutes in the quarter finals of the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. Kontaveit set up a semifinal clash against two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. 

 

Kontaveit has extended her winning streak against Bencic to 2-0. The Estonian had beaten her Swiss rival in the third round of the 2020 Australian Open. 

Kontaveit scored her fourth win over a top 20 player this year. She won the second WTA title of her career in Cleveland before the US Open. 

Kontaveit hit 29 winners to just 18 unforced errors and converted five of her eight break points. Bencic produced 12 winners to 18 unforced errors. 

In the first set Kontaveit broke serve in the fourth and sixth games to race out to a 5-1 lead and earned a set point in the seventh game. Bencic fired a winner to save the set point. The Swiss player fended off another set point at 5-3. 

Bencic pulled both breaks back to get back on seve at 5-4. However, Kontaveit converted the first of her three set points. Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the third set. Kontaveit hit a backhand winner down the line to break serve for 4-2 in the sixth game. She held serve at love for 5-2 and sealed the win in the ninth game on her second match point with a crosscourt backhand winner. 

Petra Kvitova knocked out Jill Teichmann 6-4 6-4. The Czech player saved seven of the eight break points she faced. 

Kvitova saved five break points in the fourth game of the first set to hold serve for 2-2. The Czech player earned the break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead, as Teichmann sent her forehand long. Kvitova hit her forehand to earn three set points and converted her second chance by forcing an error. 

Kvitova earned an early break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Teichmann broke straight back to draw to 2-2. Kvitova hit a series of backhands to get her second break in the fifth game for 3-2 and saved three break points to hold serve for 4-2. The home player earned three set points with a backhand winner at 5-4. After missing her first match point with a double fault, she converted her second chance with an unreturnable serve. 

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Iga Swiatek sets up semifinal against Maria Sakkari in Ostrava

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Last year’s Roland Garros Iga Swiatk reached the first semifinal since May in Rome with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 win over Elena Rybakova after 1 hour and 41 minutes. 

 

Swiatek earned the first break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Rybakina broke back with a crosscourt backhand to draw level to 3-3. Swiatek held serve easily for 6-6 to set up a tie-break. 

Swiatek earned the first set point at 6-5 and converted her chance when Rybakina sent a backhand wide. 

Swiatek raced out to a 5-1 lead with a double break. Rybakina pulled one break back for 2-5 with a backhand down the line winner on break point. Swiatek sealed the second set 6-2 on the third match point. 

Swiatek set up a semifinal clash against Maria Sakkari, who secured a place in her sixth semifinal of the season with a 7-5 6-3 win over Tereza Martincova after 1 hour and 36 minutes. Sakkari has extended her head-to-head lead to 3-0. Sakkari has reached a career-high of world number 12 after reaching two Grand Slam semifinals at Roland Garros and at the US Open. 

Sakkari earned an early break in the first game. The Greek faced two break points in the 10th game of the first game, when she was broken at 5-4 in the first set. Sakkari converted her third break point in the 11th game to win the first set 7-5. 

Sakkari broke twice in the third and ninth games to win the second set 6-3. She has lost all her five semifinals in 2021 so far.  

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