Scrapping 2020 Season ‘The Right Thing To Do,’ Says Two-Time Grand Slam Finalist - UBITENNIS
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Scrapping 2020 Season ‘The Right Thing To Do,’ Says Two-Time Grand Slam Finalist

Former world No.4 Todd Martin sets out his case on why there shouldn’t be any more professional tennis events this year.

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The CEO Of The International Tennis Hall of Fame has called for this year’s tennis season to be officially cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Todd Martin, who peaked at a ranking high of fourth in the world during his career, believes such a decision would pave the way for a ‘clearer path’ in regards to the immediate future of the sport. All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Tour’s have a resume date of July 13th, but the suspension is expected to be extended in the coming weeks. As a result of the crises, Wimbledon have already been cancelled for the first time since 1945.

Speaking with Tennis365, Martin argues that scrapping the remainder of this year’s calendar would be the easiest option for both organizers and fans. However, both the ATP and WTA are not giving up on their hopes of restarting the sport. Furthermore, lower ranked players will be eager to return to action earlier than later in order to start earning again. Unlike team sports, tennis players have no contract as such and therefore don’t earn money during breaks. Unless they have alternative sources of income such as endorsements.

“Clarity comes from making a decisive decision that allows you to stand still. Once you make that decisive decision, you start to see a clearer path,” Martin told Tennis365.
“The easiest decisive decision we can make right now is to abandon 2020 and, to a point that is probably the right thing to do, but only because it gives the clarity to make all the important decisions and lay the groundwork for the future of the sport.
“Our sport has taken on tremendous amounts of water and we have to think about what does that means for the future.”

Martin has also become the latest tennis figure to cast doubt over the chances of the US Open taking place. A tournament which he reached the final at back in 1999. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has said they are optimistic about holding the event with a final decision set to be made during June. The tournament takes place in New York, which is the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in America. Part of the Billie Jean Tennis Center has been transformed into a temporary hospital to treat those affected.

“I don’t imagine it is possible,” he commented on the chances of the US Open taking place as planned.
“I served on the USTA board for six years and while there is always a way to consider putting on a different event, when you are talking about a massive core of your revenue stream going away (without spectators) it’s going to be tough.
“Also, you don’t know what the impact would be on sponsorship, as they expect a lot of hospitality for their clients when they sponsor the event, so there is a lot of revenue there that will be lost.”

In a recent interview with Inside Tennis, USTA chief Michael Dowse has confirmed that numerous options are on the table. Including changing the date and even relocating the event from Flushing Meadows. Should the second option take place, the most likely venue will be Indian Wells in California. The home of the BNP Paribas Open.

“Nothing is off the table,” Dowse told the magazine on April 30th.
“There’s too much speculation – we’ll know so much more in June. In reality it’s certainly possible to play without fans. No formal decision has been made about Indian Wells. Whatever we do, we’ll have to do it in alignment with the owners of Indian Wells, and the ATP and the WTA. These days the most energy is on social distancing.”

Such a move would be highly welcomed by officials in the region. USA Today estimates the cancellation of this year’s BNP Paribas Open resulted in a loss of $400 million for the Coachella Valley economy in terms of tourism.

ATP

World No.32 Davidovich Fokina Replaces Long-Time Coach With Verdasco

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Fernando Verdasco was spotted earlier this week briefly watching Ons Jabeur play at the French Open but his focus this year is on another player.

The former top 10 player has landed a new coaching job after being hired by compatriot Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Somebody who he once played a Tour-level doubles match alongside back in 2020. Fokina has opted to stop working with Jorge Aguirre, who has been his mentor since he was a child.

The change comes after what has been a mixed start to the season for Fokina who has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of 11 tournaments played before the start of Roland Garros. His sole win over a top 20 player occurred at the start of 2024 when he beat Hubert Hurkacz at the United Cup.  

“I will be very brief. I have left it with Jorge (Aguirre) and I start with Verdasco, with whom I have had a good relationship for years. He has not officially retired, but I knew that he was training other players and it was time,” Fokina told reporters after beating Valentin Vacherot in the first round of the French Open.
“It was time to close a stage and start a new one. With his experience, Verdasco can help me a lot to face the games, to assume that pressure and tension of the competition.”

Verdasco has won seven ATP titles during his career and reached the semi-finals of the 2009 Australian Open. At this year’s Madrid Open, he briefly helped Jabeur whose main coach Issam Jellali was unable to attend the tournament. 

Fokina will next play Casper Ruud in Roland Garros.

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Grand Slam Quarter-Finalist Van De Zandschulp Pondering Retirement After French Open Exit

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image via https://x.com/Boticvdz/

Botic van de Zandschulp has revealed he is losing his passion for tennis and is considering retiring from the sport following his exit from the French Open on Monday.

The 29-year-old was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Fabio Fognini, who eased his way to a 6-1, 6-1, 7-5, victory. It is the second Grand Slam in a row where he has fallen at the first hurdle with the 2022 Wimbledon championships being the last major event where he won back-to-back matches.   

“I don’t look forward to competitions at all anymore,” Zandschulp told Dutch media.
“I have been asking myself more and more lately whether I want to continue.
“You have to do work that you enjoy. Everyone has a bad day every now and then. But if there are too many, then you have to ask yourself whether you want to continue.” 

Zandschulp has been the top-ranked player in his country with his most notable achievement being a run to the quarter-finals of the 2021 US Open. The former world No.22 is a two-time runner-up at the Munich Open but is yet to win an ATP Tour title. He has registered a total of six wins over top 10 players, including Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev. 

However, recent difficulties on the Tour have left the Dutchman questioning if he wants to continue playing.  

“I like the training. Those are great days. But when I get up in the morning, I no longer look forward to the matches at all.” He commented.

Zandschulp’s remarks could be a reaction to his frustrating loss to Fognini. However, he confirmed that he has been considering retiring for a long time. 

“It was the worst match I have played in my life,” he said. 
“Of course, it is now fresh after the match. That plays a role in my mind, but the thoughts of quitting have been there for a long time. It is not an easy life as a tennis player. You really live your life, play thirty weeks a year and travel from pillar to post.
“If you don’t play, someone else will pass you by (in the rankings). That’s why I now play extra tournaments instead of charging myself at home.”

Zandschulp is currently ranked 102nd in the world and is scheduled to play in the French Open doubles event on Tuesday.

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“It’s Purely Psychological” – Maria Sakkari Berates ‘Unacceptable’ French Open Defeat

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Maria Sakkari - Roma 2023 (foto Francesca Micheli, Ubitennis)

Greece’s Maria Sakkari said she felt ‘intense anxiety’ before her first round match at the French Open after crashing out of the draw on Monday.  

The sixth seed suffered a shock 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, loss to Varvara Gracheva who is currently ranked 88th in the world. Sakkari produced a costly 39 unforced errors and dropped serve five times in her latest match. It is the first time she has lost her opening match at a tournament since February.  

Heading into Paris, the 28-year-old had produced encouraging results on the Tour after reaching the semi-finals in Charleston before making fourth round appearances at WTA 1000 events in Madrid and Rome. 

 “It’s the first time I don’t know what to say…” Sakkari told SDNA
“I’ve been very well these days. It was very sudden for me too, I started feeling intense anxiety before the match. I would really like to give the right answers, but all I have to say is that I have been very well these days. No matter what set I played, no matter what practice I did, everyone could see that I was fine. It’s definitely psychological, purely. It’s nothing else.” 

Since appearing in two Grand Slam semi-finals in 2021, Sakkari has struggled to make an impact at the major events. Her defeat to Gracheva makes it the fourth time she has lost in the first round of a Grand Slam since the start of last year. Overall, she has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of her nine most recent appearances at these tournaments. 

 “I won the first set and I kept getting nervous. My pulse was very high throughout the match, especially until the middle of the third set,” she said of her latest performance.
“I was feeling a panic, it’s not like I won the first set and relaxed. Maybe if I had broken the first game of the second set things would have been different. But what can we say now?’  
“It’s purely psychological, I’m not hiding. I will not look for excuses. I put too much pressure on myself, not to lose another game in the first or second round of a Grand Slam. Everyone around me tries to tell me that it happened in New York too, but then I recovered. However, it is not the same. I’ve recovered and I’m playing well in the other tournaments, but it’s proven that I’m not playing well in the Grand Slams. I feel it’s one thing, another thing.” 

Whilst praising her opponent, Sakkari describes her defeat as ‘unacceptable’ and hopes it will serve as a wake-up call for her.  

She now heads to the grass season with a win-loss record of 19-10 so far this year.

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