Bianca Andreescu Commits To Title Defence At US Open As Others Play The Waiting Game - UBITENNIS
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Bianca Andreescu Commits To Title Defence At US Open As Others Play The Waiting Game

The Canadian believes the USTA has come up with ‘the best plan’ to ensure player safety at the major event.

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World No.6 Bianca Andreescu has confirmed that she intends to play at the US Open amid concerns that some of her rivals may choose to skip the event due to COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Andreescu is the defending champion at Flushing Meadows after defeating Serena Williams in the final last year. Becoming the first Canadian player in history to win a Grand Slam title at singles level. Taking to Twitter, the 20-year-old said she plans to make the most of tennis resuming later this year. On Wednesday the revised provisional schedule for 2020 was published with competitive tennis set to start during the first week of August in Palermo, Italy.

“The US Open will always hold a very special place in my heart. Arthur Ashe is where I won my first grand slam title and I treasure so many unforgettable moments at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Since then, we’ve seen sports, and the world as we know it, come to a halt due to the spread of COVID-19,” Andreescu wrote.
“I can’t stress enough that the health and safety of, not only the players, but of all those involved in making tennis happen again this season is, and has always been, of the utmost importance.”

It has been more than seven months since Andreescu last played a match on the Tour after missing the start of this season due to a knee injury. She was due to return to action at the Credit One Bank International in Charleston. An exhibition tournament set to feature some of the best players in North America. However, tournament organisers have announced she has withdrawn from competition. Although it is believed that her decision was due to logistics and is not a physical issue.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s US Open will not have any qualifying rounds and the size of the doubles draw has been cut. Players will be subject to testing throughout their stay in New York in which they will essentially be kept in a ‘bubble.’ Also this year, the Western and Southern Open have been relocated to Flushing meadows and will take place prior to the Grand Slam. Both events will take place behind closed doors.

“I have no doubt that the USTA has come up with the best plan to ensure our safety as we look to the return of tennis in 2020. The decision, I know was not made lightly and I completely support and understand every players personal opinions on the matter and their comfort level traveling near and far to compete on the world’s biggest stage,” Andreescu said.
“Returning to life as we once knew it is no longer an option but, I plan to make the most of the opportunity to get back on the court, re-connect with players and friends and hopefully bring tennis back to the millions of fans across the globe safely.”

Others still on the fence

Despite Andreescu’s confidence in the event, others are sticking to the cautious side. World No.2 Simona Halep, who is the reigning Wimbledon champion, has previously cast doubt on her travelling to New York this year. It had been originally reported that the Romanian plans to play tournaments in just Europe, but a spokesperson from her team has since said that no final decision has been made yet.

“Given the conditions outlined in the US Open this morning, as of today I do not currently plan to play in NYC,” Halep said in a press release issued to Christopher Clarey from The New York Times.
“However, as we know, this situation is fluid and the conditions may change and improve before the entry deadline in July.’
“I would like to underline that my decision is not set in stone.” She added.

Another top women’s name yet to make her final decision is Petra Kvitova. The Czech says she is hoping that the current health situation in the American city improved in the coming week to make her final decision ‘easier.’ Since making her grand slam main draw debut in 2008, Kvitova has never missed the US Open.

“I would like to congratulate the U.S. Open on their hard work and vision in getting to this point and for putting player safety at the centre of their plans,” she told Reuters via e-mail.
“Hopefully the COVID-19 numbers and conditions around travel restrictions continue to improve in order to make the decision to play an easy one.”

On the other hand, Serena Williams has declared that she would be playing at the tournament. Doing so by recording a video statement that was played during the USTA’s virtual press conference yesterday. The American will be bidding to win a record-equalling 24th major title and become the first woman ever to have won a Grand Slam in four different decades.

“I really cannot wait to return in New York and play the US Open 2020,” the six-time champion said. “I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everything is perfect and everyone is safe. It’s going to be exciting.”

The US Open will get underway on August 31st.

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Dominic Thiem hopes that tennis will get back to normal in 2020

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World number 3 Dominic Thiem has travelled to Adelaide, where he is serving a two-week quarantine before heading to Melbourne for the second edition of the ATP Cup and the Australian Open. 

 

Thiem is aiming to win a second Grand Slam title after claiming the US Open trophy last September beating Alexander Zverev in the final. He clinched his Grand Slam title in his fourth final. 

“I have been on vacation a little longer than usual, and the training went well. For the first two and a half weeks, I only did fitness.  The presence of physio Alex Stober since the days before Christmas was very helpful. In the first week, I can play with a training partner and two others in the second set. We can also go out from the third week, probably for the first time without a mask since Indian Wells 2020. That is sensational. I hope that we can play throughout the entire year and repeat the results from the previous couple of years”,said Thiem.

Last year Thiem came back from two sets down to beat Zverev in a five-set tie-break at last September’s US Open after 4 hours and 2 minutes. He became the second Austrian player to win a Grand Slam title after Thomas Muster, who won the French Open in 1995. 

The Austrian player lost a five-set quarter final to Diego Schwartzman at the French Open in five hours and eight minutes. He was not able to reach the Roland Garros semifinal for the first time in five years. Thiem qualified for the semifinal in Paris in 2016 and 2017 and two consecutive finals in 2018 and 2019, finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal both times. 

Thiem hopes that tennis will be back to normal after the pandemic affected the 2020 season. 

“I hope that we can play throughout the entire year and repeat the results from the previous couple of years. I also wish our lives get back to normal by the summer months”, said Thiem. 

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Andrea Gaudenzi thinks that tennis will survive the retirement of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic

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Andrea Gaudenzi talked to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport about the many challenges he had to face in his first year as ATP Chairman and his expectations for the 2021 season, which will end with the ATP Finals in Turin. Gaudenzi attended the official press conference of the ATP Finals in Turin yesterday. 

 

“There was only a positive aspect in a very difficult season for everyone, but I am optimist and I try to see the positive side. We have managed to reunite the different institutions in the world of tennis. We have worked in close cooperation with the WTA and the ITF. There are too many different rules and it’s now time to overcome them. The governing bodies of tennis and the Grand Slams are getting together and working collaboratevely on the long-term future of tennis. The future is uncertain, but we are working to better plan next season. We are open to discussions with Novak Djokovic and PTPA, but the time has come for unity. We cannot make the necessary changes if there are divisions. We must fight together to defend the most important interests”, said Andrea Gaudenzi. 

Gaudenzi revealed that the ATP Rankings could be back to normal soon. 

“Next March we hope to resume the traditional ATP Ranking and the ATP Race to Turin that considers the results achieved in the 2021 season as long as we are able to stage a high number of tournaments. We will update the calendar every three month. Hopefully we will get back to normal by autumn thanks to the vaccine. It was a very hard period. All tournaments that took place after the lockdown have suffered losses. The Grand Slam and Masters 1000 tournaments have resisted to the challenges caused by the pandemic, but the ATP 250 tournaments are facing a very difficult period. We are ready to help these events”. 

The Italian former player is not very worried about the future of tennis after the retirement of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. 

“I started playing tennis during the era of Pete Sampras and André Agassi. Many people said that tennis would have not survived their retirement and it would have been very difficult to match between Sampras and Agassi. Their longevity is incredible though, and of course they will be missed whenever they decide to retire, but historic tournament like Wimbledon and Rome have maintained their tradition and are extremely popular events among fans. I think the game is a great product, so eventually tennis will create new stars. If you look back, the sport has always generated amazing rivalries”. 

Italian tennis is going to grow in popularity thanks to the ATP Finals and a new generation of players like Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner. 

“Jannik Sinner is a very talented player. I think that he has a great future. We expect him to play in Turin in the future”.

Gaudenzi is very confident that the ATP Finals in Turin will be a successful event. 

“Turin is doing a great job. We are very ambitious. We have set a very high standard in London, where the ATP Finals attracted 3 million spectators in 12 years. We are confident that Turin will do even better. We can guarantee the quality of the show to the fans, who buy the ticket”. 

Gaudenzi was asked about the rule changes aimed at increasing the appeal of tennis among a new generation of fans. The ATP Chairman is focused on creating a product that can help promote tennis during a period of change for the media environment. 

“I am in favour of the changes to the traditional tennis rules. Our goal is to deliver a good product for the new media platforms. We have to focus on fans. We have to deliver a better experience in terms of media and data distribution. We need to work more closely with the other organisations, specifically the WTA, the ITF and the Grand Slams because together, we can invest more in technology and innovation and we can provide a better experience to the fans”. 

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Francesca Jones reaches the Australian Open main draw despite a rare genetic impairment

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British tennis player Francesca Jones has reached the main draw of the 2021 Australian Open. It was a remarkable achievement for the 20-year-old British player, who suffers from a rare genetic impairment, the ectodactily-ectodermal dysplasia syndrome. 

 

The player from Bradford was born with a congenital condition. Jones only has three fingers and a thumb on each hand, three toes on one foot and four toes on the other. This rare genetic conetic often affects the fingers and toes and requires adaptive surgery. 

As she was a child, doctors told her that she could never pursue a tennis career. She has already underwent ten operations. 

Jones joined the Sanchez Casal Academy in Barcelona at the age of 10. 

At the Australian Open qualifying tournament in Dubai Jones beat Monica Nicolescu 6-3 6-2, Jana Fett 7-6 (9-7) 2-6 6-1 and Lu jiajing 6-0 6-1 to advance to her first main draw of a Grand Slam tournament. In the third qualifying match Jones played against Lu, who is ranked 40 positions ahead of the British player in the WTA Ranking and has more experience. 

The British player is the only one of British five entrants to get through the opening round of the qualifying tournament. She is ranked world number 241 and has never played in a Grand Slam Main draw. 

“The way I see it is that I am just playing the game with a different set of cards, but it doesn’t mean those cards still can’t win the game. Doctors said I would never become a professional. When someone says to you at eight, nine years old that you can’t do something, I suppose most people would be heartbroken, but I just tried it on the chin and see how I could prove that person wrong and also prove to myself that I could do what I wanted to, and encourage the others to do so too, because I think there are so many children that are limited by what others say”, said Jones to the BBC.

Jones will travel from Dubai to the Australian Open and start the 14-day mandatory quarantine. 

“I am overjoyed and am really looking forward to Australia now. I have never been there and I am sure it will be a great experience. Every draw will be fascinating. I look forward to every match I can play, whether it’s Serena Williams or a qualifier”, said Francesca Jones. 

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