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Coronavirus Risk Not Severe Enough To Deny Struggling Players Earning Opportunities

Most tennis players struggle to break even during an average year, so they desperately need opportunities to earn money in 2020.

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Danielle Collins at the 2019 Australian Open (photo @Sport Vision - Chryslène Caillaud)

According to a 2015 professional circuit review by the ITF, it costs the average tennis player about $160,000 per year (including coaching costs) to compete.

 

By anyone’s estimation, that is a lot, so it should come as no great surprise that only around 160 men and 150 women earned enough in 2013 to break even from prize money alone.

Even though prize money has increased a bit since then, most professional players still do not have a lot of money in the bank to fall back on when times are hard. And a total suspension of the tennis tours due to a global pandemic is about as difficult as it gets.

However, the number of people infected with coronavirus is falling all the time, and the risk level associated with the disease is rapidly dwindling, so it is now time for professional sport to resume.

Naturally, precautions are needed. But sports such as football have shown exactly how to put these in place in order to hold events safely. Admittedly, tennis is one of the most complicated sports to organise responsibly due to its global nature.

Despite this, the ATP, WTA and ITF governing bodies have a responsibility to enable players to have the opportunities they need to earn enough money to pay all of their living costs.

That is why, whatever you have heard some of the top players say about it, the USTA is doing the right thing by continuing to plan for the US Open to take place on the dates it is scheduled for, from 31 August to 13 September.

Vickery Speaks Out

Sachia Vickery, the World No.158, summed up the situation in the most effective way when she responded to comments made by Novak Djokovic that it would be “impossible” to play at Flushing Meadows due to the restrictions imposed by the USTA.

“He should go and play a 60k (lower-level ITF tournament) in Troy, Alabama and then come back and let us know how hard the conditions are,” Vickery told Sky Sports.

“It’s a little selfish to say that in a way because there are so many players who cannot afford to have seven or eight people travel with them in their team. Most of us are used to travelling with just one or two people.”

The American later added on Twitter, “Make no mistake he (Djokovic) has earned everything he’s worked for in his career and he’s incredible , my point is not all players have the luxury of traveling with an entire entourage so if they have to make a few restrictions in order for everyone to make a living it’s understandable.”

Danielle Collins, the World No.51, expressed a similar view in an Instagram story post. “No one has been able to play sanctioned events or make money since February,” she said. “This is a massive opportunity for players to start making money again, and here we have the top player in the world saying only being able to bring one person with [him] will be too difficult.”

Top Players Do Not Have Money Concerns

Novak Djokovic (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Collins’ last point about Djokovic being the top player in the world is an important one because it is obvious that the Serbian does not have to worry about money. He can decide whether or not to compete based entirely on whether he feels comfortable doing so.

Furthermore, the decisions made by Djokovic and other players about whether to compete when tennis resumes should not be criticised. They should be free to make whatever choice they want. However, top players should not go around telling the media about all the reasons why tournaments should not take place because their negative views on the matter do not help anyone.

They can think they want about the situation, but they should keep it to themselves and let the rest of the tour get on with the business of earning enough money to live by.

As Boris Becker put it when he spoke to Eurosport Germany’s Vocal Podcast, “I am concerned about the profession of a tennis player. Not about the first hundred players of the world, who hopefully have enough money in their accounts and don’t need next week’s prize money. But a thousand players, who also call themselves tennis pros, they have nothing to work for at the moment. If this break lasts any longer, they will have to look for another job. They have to feed themselves and pay the rent.”

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WIMBLEDON: Day Four Talking Points Katie Boulter stuns former world no1 Karolina Pliskova

Katie Boulter caused a big upset on day four at Wimbledon.

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(@katiecboulter - Twitter)

Yesterday was a much better day for British tennis.

 

25-year-old Katie Boulter beat former world number one Karolina Pliskova down in Eastbourne last week, and she repeated the trick on the biggest stage in the world: Centre Court.

She played the match of her life to down last year’s Wimbledon finalist winning 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, rebounding from a set down.

After the match, she dedicated the win to her grandma who passed away this week.

Boulter is into the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.

There was more good news for British tennis as Liam Broady stunned 12th seed Diego Schwartzman.

The Brit battled back to win in five sets 6-2, 4-6, 0-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 with an impressive performance.

Broady makes it into round three of Wimbledon for the first time.

And coming back for the fourth day in a row after fading light could not have been easy for Heather Watson.

But she got the job done, sealing the solitary game she needed to beat China’s Qiang Wang 7-5, 6-4.

She has now given herself a real shot of making week two of Wimbledon.

Iga, Coco, and Rafa through

Elsewhere, world number one Iga Świątek overcame a second set blip to beat Holland’s Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove.

Although ranked well outside the top 100, she put up a gallant fight, going down on Court One, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

The win extends the Pole’s winning streak to 37 matches.

And two-time champion Rafa Nadal had a scare of his own as he rolled through the first two sets.

But a successful junior player, Ričardas Berankis, now 32, played above his level to take the third set.

For the second match in a row, Nadal conceded the third set when two sets up and cruising.

This extended his time on the court. But he wasn’t to be denied, prevailing in four sets, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

The main worry being when more dangerous opponents, than Berankis, in all due respect face the Spaniard, he can ill afford to drop cheap sets when ahead and in the driving seat.

And Coco Gauff beat 34-year-old Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu easily in straight sets,winning 6-2, 6-3.

Best of the rest

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas continued his good form on grass, after capuring a first title on the surface last week at the Mallorca Open.

He streamed past Australia’s Jordan Thompson, triumphing in straight sets 6-2, 6-3, 7-5.

Spain’s Paula Badosa, young star Amanda Anisimova and former champion Simona Halep are also through.

But Brits Jack Draper and Harriet Dart exited to Alex de Minaur and Jessica Pegula, respectively.

And Denis Shapovalov was the major casualty from the men’s draw on Thursday as he surprisingly went down to American Brandon Nakashima in four sets.

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Ons Jabeur On Carrying The Expectations Of A Nation At Wimbledon

The world No.2 is yet to drop a set in the tournament as she eyes a major breakthrough this year at Wimbledon.

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Ons Jabeur (TUN) - Credit: AELTC/Jon Super

Ons Jabeur has got accustomed to knowing that how she performs in the sport will be closely monitored by her home country and its neighbors.

The 27-year-old is a trailblazer for Tunisian tennis after achieving a series of milestones. She is the first Arab woman to win a Tour title, crack the top 10 and reach the quarter-final of a major. Back home she is known by the nickname ‘Minister of Happiness’ which was created by her fellow Tunisians. There is plenty of love for Jabeur but there is also just as much expectation for her to do well.

“Everybody is following me, expecting me to do better and better. I hope I continue being that person that gives them what they’re expecting,” she said.
“I’m just trying my best to break records, to really open the path for the next generation.”

 

At a ranking high of No.2 in the world, Jabeur is trying to rewrite Wimbledon history for the second year in a row. In 2021 she became the first Arab woman to reach the last eight. This year she looks to be in solid form after playing three matches without dropping a set. Her latest win was on Friday when she disposed of Diane Parry 6-2, 6-3. She is yet to lose any more than eight games in a match so far.

“I love playing here (at Wimbledon). I want to keep it (matches) as short as I can. For now, I’m just enjoying really playing on grass,” she said.
“I want to play my best tennis. Obviously, if you’re too comfortable, it’s not that good as well. I’m trying to keep focused.”

Jabeur has already won 33 matches this year, which is the second-highest tally on the Tour after Iga Swiatek. She has featured in four finals, winning titles on the clay in Madrid and Grass in Berlin.

Although like every other tennis player it is a Grand Slam that she desires the most. This year’s Wimbledon is her 21st appearance in the main draw of a major.

It would mean a lot for me, for my family and for my country,” she said of possibly winning Wimbledon. “I just want to keep proving that nothing is impossible and if you put something in your mind, you can achieve it.


At SW19 Jabeur’s next test will be against Belgium’s Elise Mertens. A player who she lost to in straight sets at the US Open last September. Mertens defeated 15th seed and former champion Angelique Kerber 6-4, 7-5, in her third round match.

“I am playing the tennis that I love to see. Obviously, there are a few things to improve. I want to be challenged for the next round, for sure, and see how I handle that pressure.” Jabeur concluded.

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Novak Djokovic Equals Laver’s Grass-Court Winning Streak With Emphatic Wimbledon Win

The world No.3 was in ruthless form as he dropped only seven game in his latest match at The All England Club.

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Novak Djokovic (SRB)- Credit: AELTC/Ian Walton

Novak Djokovic has breezed into the fourth round of Wimbledon after dismissing fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in straight sets.

 

The reigning champion was in top form from the onset as he stormed to a 6-0, 6-3, 6-4, win in under two hours. It is the third time in a row he has beaten Kecmanovic on the Tour and the first on grass. In what was a largely clinical display from the former world No.1, Djokovic hit 36 winners and six aces.

“I thought it started off very well, very strong with a lot of good intensity. Good focus,” said Djokovic. “I know Miomir quite well, we train together a lot. I’m really glad that he, alongside a couple of other (Serbian) players is doing well. I wish him all the best. Hopefully, I will get to play against him many more times on the biggest courts.

In only the third all-Serbian men’s match in the Open Era at Wimbledon, Djokovic got off to a perfect start by steamrolling his way through the opener in just 25 minutes. Dropping just six points on his serve and 12 overall in the set. It is the first time he has bagel a player at Wimbledon since doing so against David Goffin in 2019.

Fortunately for Kecmanovic and the Center Court crowd, the second frame was much more competitive with the world No.30 producing glimmers of the tennis that has taken him to two Masters 1000 quarter-finals earlier this year. Three times in two separate games Djokovic had a break point chance but failed to convert.

Continuing to wear down his compatriot, the top seed eventually secured a breakthrough whilst leading 4-3. Playing behind the baseline he slipped on the grass during a rally whilst having another break point chance but this time Kecmanovic hit the ball out to hand him the advantage. Djokovic went on to close out the set with a backhand lob. 

The only blip in the match for Djokovic occurred when he was trying to close the match out. After easing his way to a double break advantage in the third set, he dropped serve for the first time. However, he prevailed on his second chance to serve the match out to seal his 330th Grand Slam main draw win. 

“It means that I have been playing for quite a few years which I’m very grateful for and I’m very blessed to be in this position to compete at the highest level,” Djokovic replied when asked about winning tally ay major events.
“I’m very proud of my consistency at this level.”

Friday’s win is Djokovic’s 24th in a row on the grass which puts him level with tennis great Rod Laver on the all-time list. Only Bjorn Borg (41) and Roger Federer (65) have ever won more matches on the surface. It is the 55th time in his career he has reached the last 16 of a major tournament. 

So far in this year’s draw, he has only dropped one set in three matches played. That was in the first round against South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo.

“I think I’ve been playing better and better as the tournament progresses. It is something you wish for as a player that you raise your level of tennis up a notch,” he said.
“I know I can always do better. I always expect the highest from myself but so far, so good. I look forward to the next challenge.”

Djokovic will play Dutch sensation Tim van Rijthoven in the fourth round.

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