Rafael Nadal Says No To Playing US Open Today, Urges ATP To Resume Tour When Fair For All - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Says No To Playing US Open Today, Urges ATP To Resume Tour When Fair For All

The king of clay has voiced his opinion on when the ATP Tour should start again as he sends a stark warning to the governing body of men’s tennis.

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19-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has called upon the governing body of men’s tennis to lead by example when dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and warned against resuming the 2020 season too early in his strongest remarks yet.

 

All tennis tournaments have been either suspended or cancelled up until July 31st due to the worldwide health crises. Leaving officials pondering when and how the Tour will resume. Earlier this week it has been reported that players have been invited to a zoom call with the ATP next Wednesday where they are expected to put forward a schedule for the rest of the season. Although nothing has been made public yet.

One of the main sticking points is the US Open, where Nadal is the reigning champion. The United States Tennis Association has in recent weeks looked at numerous options ranging from holding it behind closed doors to even moving it to another location out of New York. A state which has recorded over 374,000 cases and 24,000 deaths related to the virus.

“It’s not an ideal situation. If you asked me today if I wanted to travel to New York and play I would say no,” Nadal told members of the International Tennis Writers Association on Thursday during a press conference on Zoom. “But in a couple of months I don’t know how the situation will improve. Hopefully it will be in the right way. I’m sure the people who organise the event, the USTA, want a safe event.’
“I am confident that they will make the right decision at the right moment. To be sure that if the tournament is going to be played, it will be under safe circumstances. If not, in my opinion, it doesn’t make sense. We need to be responsible.”

Should the Tour get going again, Nadal could face a tough six weeks of tennis with the French Open aiming to take place shortly after the New York major. Also the defending champion at Roland Garros, Nadal has a total of 4000 points to defend at those two events alone. French Open tournament director Guy Forget has recently told reporters that he is hoping to open it up to fans in some capacity as long as the government approves it.

“I admire the French federation for their positivity and that they want to move forward with their tournament. But today the situation is difficult to predict so we need to step back and see how it improves,” said Nadal.
“To come back when it will be safe to come back. For it to be safe and fair for everyone.”

It is also plausible the 34-year-old may opt to play one out of the two majors with him most likely favouring the clay-court grand slam that he has won a record 12 times. Asked directly what he would choose if he was in such a situation, he played down any speculation.

“I can’t predict much. I am just following the information. If a moment arrives where I have to decide, I will decide with my team about the things that are happening. If the moment arrives, we’re going to make decisions about what will be the best for my tennis, my future and my body.”

The Tour must respect all players

As pressure mounts for a decisive decision to be made regarding the remainder of the 2020 season, Nadal has issued his own stance on the matter. Saying that the Tour should be opened up to all players before it resumes. Tennis has the complexity of worldwide travel with players having to congregate in one place. To add to the difficulty, various countries has their own laws regarding how their people should quarantine prior and following travel.

Should this not happen, the world No.2 has openly voiced his opposition to holding tournaments. A potential thorn in the side of the ATP, who rely heavily on the support of the record-breaking Big Three contingent. Furthermore, he is also a key member of the influential Player Council, which is headed by world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

“If we are not able to organise a tournament that is not safe enough or fair enough where every player from every part of the world needs to have the chance to play the tournament we can’t play, that’s my feeling.” Nadal states.
“My feeling is that we need to wait a little bit more. We are in a worldwide sport. For me it is not the same as football or a tournament that can be played in one country. When you mix people from all over the world the complications are completely different. I am a little bit worried about that.”
“But I am positive. I hope to keep receiving positive news, but I don’t know when we will be playing again. Today is not worrying me much, what worries me is returning to normal life.”

However, should push come to shove and the king of clay was given the ultimatum that he can play whilst players from other countries were restricted to, he would do so. Although he would be far from happy if that scenario does happen.

“We need to be clear. We need to be responsible, we need to be sending strong messages and a positive example for society,” Nadal argues. “We are suffering from an unprecedented situation and my feeling is that we need to come back (to the Tour) when all players are able to travel and are safe to do so.”
“If not, I probably will still play, but my feeling would be that we (the ATP) are not being 100 percent correct. I want to see my sport being 100 percent fair and correct. Especially under the circumstances.”

When he does eventually return to competitive tennis, Nadal has played down any concerns over his current match fitness. His last match took place in February when he defeated Taylor Fritz to win his 85th ATP title in Mexico. Overall, he has won 13 out of 16 matches played so far in 2020.

“I think the last couple of years I have learned to play good tennis without the need to play a lot of matches. I think I can find a way to compete at the very highest level without being able to play a lot of matches before,” He commented on his future return.
“I have played a small amount of tournaments in the last couple of years. I think it is all about making the right preparations.’
“I’m confident that I have enough time to prepare myself and organize my calendar. I hope that I will be competitive again.”

Nadal has been spending his time away from the tour in Mallorca.

Grand Slam

Australian Open Considering Switching Women’s Final To Sunday In Future

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The Australian Open could become the first Grand Slam to break away from the tradition of women playing their singles final first. 

 

According to a report from the Australian Associated Press, tournament chief Craig Tiley is open to making such a move which wouldn’t require any approval from either the WTA or ATP. However, they would likely need to consult with players first and no changes are set to be made in 2025. 

The reasoning for making such a change is due to the women’s final usually being shorter than the men’s best with it being a best-of-three set match. Compared to the men who play the best-of-five. Their thinking is that due to the length of men’s matches increasing in recent years, staging it on a Saturday would enable more people to watch the entire match compred to a Sunday when many are consious about staying up late due to the working week starting on Monday. 

This year’s Australian Open saw Jannik Sinner bounce back from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in a epic encounter that lasted three hours and 46 minuites. Meanwhile, Aryna Sabalenka required an hour and 17 mnuites to beat China’s Qinwen Zheng and capture the title. 

Should such a switch take place, it is estimated that the Sunday finale would end at around 10:30pm local time instead of after midnight, which would make it more appealing to fans. Furthermore, it could throw the women’s final more into the spotlight. 

However, there will be obstacles that need to be addressed. The most significant for the Australian Open will be trying to ensure that their 48-hour recovery period between best-of-five-set men’s matches will still be followed. 

This year was the first time in history that the Melbourne major took place over 15 days with play starting on a Sunday. Organisers claimed that the move was done in order to prevent the number of late-night finishes. However, it has little effect on any matches that took place after the first round. 

It is throught that now the event is held over 15 days, it gives more room for organisers to schedule the men’s final for a Saturday. The proposal was discussed during this year’s Australian Open’s official debrief. 

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It Wasn’t The Same Old Story On Sunday Down Under

Jannik Sinner won his first Grand Slam title on Sunday.

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(@janniksin - Twitter)

It’s been the same old story at the Australian Open for a long time in the men’s game.

 

One of the greats almost always would take the top prize Down Under. Either Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer or even Stan Wawrinka always prevailed since 2006 at Melbourne.

And then came Jannik Sinner in 2024.

None of the other superstars were still around for Sunday’s final.

A DIFFERENT AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Yes, this time it was a different Australian Open.

But actually Sinner may have written his own story when he upended Djokovic in the semifinals. Without that experience, the slender Italian may not have been able to handle the pressure that Daniil Medvedev sent his way in the final.

Sinner was ready for the finish line after shocking Djokovic in the semifinals. It just took time to get there.

Sinner played within himself most of the last three sets of the final. A first-time Grand Slam finalist, Sinner played as if he belonged there in those three sets.

But, oh, those first two sets when Medvedev dominated play with his backhand from the middle of the court. Backhands usually are reserved for the backhand side of the court, but not with the tall Russian on the court.

SINNER DIDN’T PLAY HIS GAME AT FIRST

In a similar manner as women’s champion Aryna Sabalenka, Sinner followed up a big semifinal win with his own Australian Open title. Only, Sinner had to fight for five sets to accomplish his dream Down Under with a 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Medvedev.

Sinner appeared to play far differently from his victory over Djokovic when he controlled the court with his aggressive play and power.

This time, Sinner started things conservatively with few aggressive winners, repeatedly leaving the corners wide open for Medvedev’s crafty, but hard hit strokes. Medvedev made Sinner  pay a price with a style of play that was just the opposite.

Medvedev played close to the baseline and aggressively hopped on balls with his backhand in whip-lash fashion. He hardly had to move as he conserved energy.

THE STRATEGY ALMOST WORKED TO PERFECTION

Medvedev’s strategy worked like a charm until Sinner served the ninth game of the third set as Medvedev once needed only six points for a possible Grand Slam title. Sinner managed to overcome a deuce score to win that game.

Medvedev fell behind 30-0 serving the 10th game of the set and then Sinner got his first set point. Sinner made it stand up and it was a new game after that.

Sinner didn’t appear to be ready for Medvedev’s game the first two sets, but the Italian then came alive. He became prepared for Medvedev, even after losing the first two sets.

Of course, Sabalenka got her boost from a surprising, but solid win over talented Coco Graff in the women’s semifinals. Sabalenka then was never really challenged by Qinwen Zheng in the final.

Sinner’s final was much different.  He was somewhat lucky to escape with  a win.

Medvedev almost wrapped up the title in the ninth game, but it didn’t happen. As a result, Sinner may have started his own success story in Grand Slam finals.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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Australian Open Daily Preview: Daniil Medvedev Plays Jannik Sinner for the Men’s Singles Championship

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Daniil Medvedev during Friday’s semifinals (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

The men’s singles and women’s doubles championship matches are on Sunday in Melbourne.

 

Across the last 10 hard court Majors, Daniil Medvedev has now advanced to six championship matches, half of which have come in Melbourne.  In those finals, Medvedev is a meek 1-4.  However, this is the first time Medvedev is looking across the net at a man not named Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, the two winningest male singles players of all-time at Grand Slam events.

And Medvedev can thank Jannik Sinner for that, who for the third time in their last four meetings, defeated Djokovic in Friday’s semifinals to reach his first Major final.  Since adding Darren Cahill to his team 18 months ago, one of tennis’s best coaches of all-time, Sinner’s game has continually and significantly improved, most evident in his three victories over Djokovic since November.  On Sunday, the most dominant male player of this fortnight looks to break more new ground in his young career.

Earlier on Sunday, in the women’s doubles championship match, it’s Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko (11) vs. Su-Wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens (2).  This is a first Major final for Kichenok, and a first in doubles for Ostapenko.  Su-Wei has won seven Majors in doubles, including her first mixed title earlier this week, and is 7-1 at this stage of Majors.  Mertens has won three Majors in women’s doubles, including Wimbledon in 2021 alongside Su-Wei.


Jannik Sinner (4) vs. Daniil Medvedev (3) – Not Before 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Through six rounds, Sinner has dropped just one of 19 sets, which came against Djokovic in the semis.  But even that match was a rather comfortable win for the Italian, who lost only six games in the three sets he claimed.  Jannik has not just been the best ATP player this fortnight: he’s been the best ATP player since the last Major, with a record of 26-2.  The 22-year-old is 10-4 in ATP finals, with this of course being by far the biggest of his career to date.

Medvedev endured a much more complicated path to this final, completing 25 out of a possible 30 sets, which included three five-setters.  Two of those came in the last two rounds, against Hubert Hurkacz and Sascha Zverev.  Daniil has spent six more hours on court than Jannik, and has played for over 11 hours during the second week alone.  He is 20-16 in ATP Finals, with all 20 titles coming at different events.  But Medvedev can be rather streaky in finals: after losing five in a row, he won seven of eight, yet has now lost his last three.

And those last two losses came at the hands of Sinner, who beat him in both Beijing and Vienna.  Jannik also defeated Daniil in the semifinals of the ATP Finals in November, though all three of those recent matches were tight.  Prior to that, Medvedev had dominated their head-to-head 6-0, which includes two finals earlier in 2023.  All ten of their meetings have taken place on hard courts, and this is their first at a Major.

Based on their recent history, as well as their individual form this fortnight, I favor Sinner to win his first Major on Sunday.  While he’ll surely be nervous in the biggest match of his life, and could experience an emotional letdown coming off ending Novak’s undefeated record of 20-0 in Australian Open semis and finals, Jannik will be the much fresher player on this day.  Plus, he will feel confident after those three recent wins over Daniil, who has a lot of scar tissue to overcome in Major finals.  And after facing Medvedev so much within the past year, Sinner is well-versed on how to take advantage of Daniil’s deep return position.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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