Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour Fiasco Sparks Anger With A Little Bit Of Sympathy Among Players - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour Fiasco Sparks Anger With A Little Bit Of Sympathy Among Players

The ongoing silence from the world No.1 on the incident is only adding fuel to the fire as he awaits the results of his own test.

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24 hours have passed since the future of the Adria Tour was thrown into serious doubt following its first positive COVID-19 test and still the world of tennis awaits some sort of response from its founder Novak Djokovic.

 

On Sunday evening the Croatian leg of the Tour came to an abrupt end when it was confirmed that participant Grigor Dimitrov had contracted the virus. Who previously withdrew from the tournament due to ‘fatigue’ on Saturday. Organizers were quick to react by scrapping Djokovic’s final clash with Andrey Rublev, but unfortunately the damage had already been done.

The hope of Dimitrov being a one-off were ended this morning when further tests revealed another three people had contracted COVID-19. They are world No.33 Borna Coric, Dimitrov’s coach Kristijan Groh and Djokovic’s fitness coach Marko Paniki. Furthermore, Marin Cilic, Alexander Zverev and Rublev have all confirmed that they will go into self-isolation.

“I deeply apologise to anyone that I have potentially put at risk by playing this tour. I will proceed to follow the self-isolating guidelines advised by our doctors. As an added precaution, my team and I will continue with regular testing. I wish everyone who has tested positive a speedy recovery. Stay safe.” Zverev said in a statement.

Djokovic now finds himself in the firing line following the breakout after also previously being criticised for the lack of social distancing protocols at the Belgrade event. In a recent interview with Eurosport, the Serbian explained that the current situation in the Balkan region is different to the West with their own policies. So from that perspective, technically nothing was done wrong in his opinion. Although some of his rivals differ with their views.

“I don’t think you should be having a players’ party and dancing all over each other and then two very good players test positive,” Dan Evans told British reporters ahead of the Battle of the Brits tournament.
“He (Djokovic) should feel some responsibility for his event and how it has transpired.
“It is a poor example to set, even if the guidelines in that country are not two metres. It is not a joke is it?”

Andy Murray, who has played Djokovic in seven grand slam finals, points out the complexity of international travel. Organizers throughout the Adria Tour have stressed throughout that their events are being played in accordance with local rules. However, they failed to factor in the international travel aspect with players going to and from various countries. They continued to hold events that would see players interact with members of the public face-to-face or attend parties together. On Monday afternoon Croatian media confirmed a five-year-old boy had caught COVID-19. He was at one stage in close contact with the players whilst attending a private meal with his family, according to jutarnji.hr.

“Once you start to bring international travel into it, with players and team members from all different parts of the world coming in, you need to make sure you’re taking all the correct measures, safety measures, all the precautions that you can, to try avoid a situation like they got into over there,” Murray commented.

Some would argue that it is too harsh to blame this all on one person and undoubtedly this is the last thing Djokovic wanted to happen. Nevertheless the majority of the backlash is coming his way. Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, he is also a vital figure in men’s tennis. Besides being the world No.1 and founder of the Adria Tour, he is also president of the ATP Players Council.

Therefore he is expected to lead by example, which is why his decision over his own COVID-19 testing is both baffling and poor. On Sunday evening he decided against undergoing a voluntary test (it was optional because he doesn’t show any symptoms) and instead chose to travel back to Belgrade in Serbia. Whilst most of the players who he played alongside got tested. Players were given this option after Dimitrov’s announcement.

Outspoken Australian Kick Kyrgios was another to voice his anger towards Djokovic. Not that it is the first time he has done so. Kyrgios said it was a ‘bonehead decision‘ to go ahead with the Tour.

Amid the criticism, not everybody is gunning after Djokovic and even questioning his suitability for being the president of the ATP Players Council. France’s Richard Gasquet believes responsibility lies with the local authorities, who authorised the event to go ahead as it did. Gasquet is currently playing in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) which is being played without a crowd.

“Djokovic is not the culprit. It was not he who put a gun on the guys’ temples to demand that there be 5,000 spectators. It was the government that chose to accommodate these 5,000 people in one place. But it is sure that with all these people, it was delusional … It was the only place in the world where we saw an audience like that.” He told L’Equipe.

Djokovic will find out tomorrow if he has tested positive for COVID-19 and make his first public statement. Working out to be between roughly 36-48 hours after Dimitrov’s positive test announcement. He faces some difficult questions to answer in the coming days with many believing that the Adria Tour can no longer continue.

A positive COVID-19 test in tennis was always inevitable, but many feel that Djokovic’s event took too many unnecessary risks and lacked adequate procedures to address the threat of a pandemic among international travellers (the players). Something that seems almost certain to come back and haunt him over the coming days.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Major Champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka Square Off

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Andy Murray practicing this past week in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

For the second consecutive week, a combined ATP Masters/WTA 1000 event is being staged in North America.  This week, it’s the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The singles draws in American’s heartland are loaded: the ATP draw features 14 of the world’s top 16, while the WTA draw features all 16 top-ranked players.

 

Most notably, Serena Williams will play what is assumedly the next-to-last event of her career, and will face reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the first round.  And Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals due to his ongoing left foot issues.

Monday’s action is headlined by Major champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, who will play each other for the 22nd time. 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Stan Wawrinka (PR) vs. Andy Murray – Third on Center Court

Their rivalry dates all the way back to 2005, when Wawrinka defeated Murray in Davis Cup.  Their most prominent encounter took place in the 2017 Roland Garros semifinals, when Stan outlasted Andy in a five-setter that lasted over four-and-a-half hours.  And neither man has been the same since that grueling battle.  Just weeks later, Murray’s hip problems derailed his career, while Wawrinka would undergo knee surgery.  Both men have now battled multiple serious injuries over the last five years.  Overall Andy is 12-9 against Stan, and 8-4 on hard courts.  Murray has gritted his way to 22 victories this year, while Stan is only 3-7 since returning from foot surgery this spring.  Based on current form, as well as Murray’s history at this event, where he is a two-time champion, the Brit is the favorite on Monday.


Matteo Berrettini (12) vs. Frances Tiafoe – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

Berrettini returned from surgery on his right hand in June, and promptly went on a 12-match win streak.  However, he unfortunately missed Wimbledon due to testing positive for COVID-19.  And last week in Montreal, Matteo lost in the opening round, though that one-sided loss to Pablo Carreno Busta doesn’t look quite as bad after Pablo’s fantastic run to his first Masters 1000 title concluded on Sunday.  Meanwhile, it’s been a disappointing year for Tiafoe, who is only 20-17 and has suffered some painful losses.  At Wimbledon, he lost a four-and-a-half hour fourth round match to David Goffin despite having a two-sets-to-one lead.  And just last week in Montreal, Frances was up 4-0 in the third over Taylor Fritz before losing the last six games of the match.  Their only previous meeting occurred four years ago on clay in Rome, where Matteo was victorious in his home country in straight sets.  Can Tiafoe avenge that loss in his own home country?  Frances often excels during night matches in the United States, with his five-set win over Andrey Rublev at last year’s US Open serving as a prime example.  But Matteo has been the much stronger performer for a few years now, and his potent serve/forehand combo makes him the favorite.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Amanda Anisimova vs. Daria Kasatkina (9) – Anisimova has reached the second week of every Major this season, while Kasatkina has won 18 of her last 24 matches, which includes a title run this month in San Jose.  Amanda leads their head-to-head 2-0, and dominated Daria 6-2, 6-0 at the beginning of this year.

Jil Teichmann vs. Petra Kvitova – Teichmann was a surprise finalist here a year ago.  Kvitova is only 17-15 this season, though she did win a title on grass in June.  They’ve played three times since last year, with Jil claiming two of those three matches.

Denis Shapovalov vs. Grigor Dimitrov (16) – Shapovalov has now lost nine of his last 10 matches dating back to May.  Meanwhile it’s been over four months since Dimitrov has won more than two matches in a row.  Grigor is 2-1 against Denis, and 2-0 on hard courts.

Sloane Stephens (WC) vs. Alize Cornet – It’s been a streaky season for Stephens, with nine of her 11 victories coming at just two events.  Cornet has achieved two noteworthy results this season: reaching her first Major quarterfinal in Melbourne, and ending Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak at Wimbledon.  This is their first career meeting.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Canada Daily Preview: Championship Sunday Features Halep/Haddad Maia and Hurkacz/Carreno Busta

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Hubi Hurkacz this week in Montreal (twitter.com/OBNmontreal)

On Sunday in Toronto, Simona Halep plays for her third title at this event.  She faces a surging 26-year-old in Beatriz Haddad Maia, who has already defeated four top 15 players this week, including world No.1 Iga Swiatek.

 

In Montreal, Hubi Hurkacz is vying for his second Masters 1000 title, after winning his first last year in Miami.  In Sunday’s championship match, he plays Pablo Carreno Busta, who at 31-years-old has reached his first Masters 1000 final in his 52nd appearance.


Beatriz Haddad Maia vs. Simona Halep (15) – 1:30pm on Centre Court in Toronto

What a season Haddad Maia is having.  She started the year ranked 83rd in the world, but with 43 match wins and three titles at all levels, she will debut inside the top 16 on Monday.  She is the first Brazilian to reach a WTA 1000 singles final.  Beatriz credits her 2022 success to focusing on being more aggressive.  But Halep is a player who has achieved much success by absorbing her opponents’ power and using it against them.  And after a solid yet underwhelming season, Simona says her fire is back this week in Toronto.  This will be her fourth meeting with Haddad Maia, and her third this year.  She leads Beatriz 2-1, though they split their two 2022 encounters.  In a match of this magnitude, which is new territory for Haddad Maia, Halep’s experience and more consistent style make her the favorite to win her third title in Canada.


Hubert Hurkacz (8) vs. Pablo Carreno Busta – Not Before 4:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

Hubi’s path to this final has been a complicated one.  All four of his matches went the distance, and he even had to save a match point against Albert Ramos-Vinolas.  Meanwhile, Pablo had advanced to his first Masters 1000 final rather decisively, only dropping one set to this stage.  Hurkacz and Carreno Busta are 1-1 at tour level, as each earned a hard court victory over the other last year.  Three of the four sets they contested were decided by tiebreaks, which is not surprising given their contrasting styles.  Hubi will look to dictate matters with his serve, while Pablo will look to extend points and force Hurkacz into long baseline rallies.   However, Hubi often doesn’t mind participating in long rallies.  As impressive as Carreno Busta’s level has been this week, Hurkacz has been the better player this season.  Hubi’s serve and powerful groundstrokes make him a slight favorite to win his second Masters 1000 crown.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula (3) vs. Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez – Gauff and Pegula were finalists this year at Roland Garros.  If they win on Sunday, Gauff will become the new world No.1 in doubles, and be the youngest player to do so since Martina Hingis.  Melichar-Martinez and Perez have already defeated three seeded teams this week.

Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski (3) vs. Dan Evans and John Peers – Koolhof and Skupski lead the year-to-date doubles rankings, and are playing for their sixth title of the season.  This is only the second event in 2022 for Evans and Peers as a team.  Evans was also a semifinalist this week in singles.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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ATP Montreal: Ruud Thrashes Auger-Aliassime To Reach Semis, Mixed Results For Brits

Casper Ruud eased past Felix Auger-Aliassime to set up a semi-final meeting with Hubert Hurkacz in Montreal.

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Casper Ruud (@OBNmontreal - Twitter)

Casper Ruud only dropped three games against Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach the semi-finals in Montreal.

 

The Norwegian is into the semi-finals in Canada after a dominant performance over home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Ruud dominated from the start of the match as he produced a sublime performance only committing nine unforced errors throughout the match to reach the last four.

Ruud has had a good season on hard courts this season and is looking to make his second consecutive hard court Masters 1000 final after reaching the final in Miami.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted he got a bit lucky but is happy to be in the last four in Canada, “It was one of those days where everything goes in one favour and luckily it was in my favour,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“With a player like Felix, you need to rely on some margins going your way. I didn’t expect them to all go on my side. It was a bit of a difficult start. I got broken but then was able to turn everything around. I hit my spots, made the shots I needed to and make him hit a lot of balls. That was the game plan and it worked well.

“The last hard-court tournament I played in was in Miami where I reached the final. I wanted to make a deep run here. I didn’t think it was too likely, being the first hard-court tournament back, but I have been playing great from the first point in the first match.”

Ruud will look to claim his first Masters 1000 title this week and rise to four in the world in the ATP rankings.

Next for Ruud is the only Masters 1000 champion left in the draw in the form of Hubert Hurkacz.

Hurkacz defeated the in-form Nick Kyrgios 7-6(4) 6-7(5) 6-1 to reach the semi-finals in Canada.

The eighth seed produced some big-serving and bold decision making as he reached his first semi-final since winning the Halle title.

Heading into their match, Ruud leads the head-to-head 1-0 where the Norwegian was victorious at Roland Garros this year.

Mixed results for British hopefuls

Meanwhile it was a mixed night for British players as Dan Evans reached his second career Masters 1000 semi-final while Jack Draper exited the tournament in the last eight.

Evans defeated Tommy Paul 1-6 6-3 6-4 to reach a landmark moment in his career in Montreal.

After his win Evans described the win as ‘extra special’ as he looks forward to a semi-final meeting with Pablo Carreno Busta, “The crowd, that’s what they buy their tickets for. That’s live sport,” Evans told the ATP website.

“You never know what’s going to happen. It was an amazing match, amazing atmosphere. I played on the court before. In the day it was amazing, but at night, there’s something about playing sport at night, it’s extra special.”

Evans will now play Carreno Busta in the last four after the Spaniard defeated British qualifier Jack Draper 7-6(4) 6-1.

Draper defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier in the week but was no match for the resilient Spaniard.

Saturday’s semi-final will be the first meeting between Evans and Carreno Busta.

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