REPORT: Simona Halep Set To Skip US Open - UBITENNIS
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REPORT: Simona Halep Set To Skip US Open

News sources in Romania have said the former world No.1 will not be travelling to New York.

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Wimbledon champion Simona Halep is set to be one of the first high profile names to officially withdraw from this year’s US Open amid concerns over safety measures, according to two Romanian sources.

 

The speculation was triggered by a social media post from Nedelcu Iulian, who is a cameraman for Romanian channel Pro TV that has recently been filming Halep in training. According to Iulian, the former world No.1 has decided to finish off 2020 by playing tournaments in Europe only. Including the French Open which will take place a couple weeks after New York. Therefore she will also be absent from the Asian swing, which is the region where the COVID-19 outbreak started.

Since then the Romanian branch of Eurosport have reported that Halep has confirmed to Pro TV that this is her intended plan. Although there has been no public announcement. During a recent email exchange with The New York Time, she admitted that she ‘has strong concerns’ over the measures that will be in place at the event. Those measures are yet to be confirmed by the USTA but are likely to include restricting how many members of a player’s team can be on site and holding the tournament behind closed doors.

“I definitely have strong concerns about going there with those conditions. Not only because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. But also because of the risk of travel, potential quarantine, and then the changes around the tournament,” Halep said.

Coach Darren Cahill has also previously highlighted the issue during an interview with The Reuters News Agency. In the view of the Australian he believes that many players on the Tour could encounter problems in New York.

“From Simona’s point of view, you got to fly over from Romania, you need to spend four weeks in this one hotel in New York, and you can only bring one person,” said Cahill.
“Normally you have a physio, a hitting partner, trainer and maybe a coach or two. You’ve got to basically stay in this bubble with only one person for three or four weeks, and you have to be professional and compete at the highest level.
“So now there are going to be a lot of players that have an issue with that for sure.”

It has been feared that a series of top names could opt to not play the US Open this year due to the worldwide health crises. Novak Djokovic has previously admitted that one option he is considering for the upcoming weeks is concentrating fully on the clay. Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios has branded the decision to hold the event as ‘selfish’ in light of current events.

Reports of Halep’s absence will be a major blow to the USTA, who have already struck an agreement with the ATP and WTA to host the event. They will not make an official statement concerning the 2020 tournament until the plan is approved by state officials in New York.

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Venus Williams Explains Met Gala Photo With Maria Sharapova

The former world No.1 says she and her sister Serena have ‘respect and love’ for Sharapova.

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Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams at the 20201 Met Gala (image via Instagram)

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams says there are no hard feelings between her, her sister Serena and Maria Sharapova after the trio took a photo together at the Met Gala.

 

The former world No.1s was seen smiling and laughing together at the New York fundraising event with both of the Williams sisters uploading a photo of them all on their Instagram story. Prompting surprise from some fans considering the at times icy rivalry between Serena and Sharapova that dates back to the 2004 Wimbledon Championships.

In her 2017 autobiography, Unstoppable: My Life So Far, Sharapova mentioned Serena’s name more than 100 times. She says the American hated her for beating her at Wimbledon that year and that the two were ‘not friends.’

“What I heard when I came in to the locker room was Serena Williams bawling,” Sharapova wrote.
“Guttural sobs. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there.
“I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds … I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment.
“But mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry. She’s never forgiven me for it.”

Responding to the claims, Serena hit back at the book in 2018 by describing it as ‘hearsay’ and said she never had any ‘negative feelings’ towards Sharapova. The two clashed on the Tour no fewer than 22 times with Serena winning 20 of those meetings.

“So I don’t have any negative feelings towards her, which again, was a little disappointing to see in that hearsay book,” Williams commented back in 2018. “So I have always, you know, and especially having a daughter, like, I feel like negativity is taught. One of the things I always say, I feel like women, especially, should bring each other up.”

Three years later and it now seems that all parties have put their disagreements behind them. At the Met Gala they were seen getting on pretty well. Besides posing for a photo together, they were also seen together in the bathroom at the event. A photo taken by pop star Anitta and rapper Saweetie which showed them in the background.

Speaking about the event for the first time, 41-year-old Williams said she wishes Sharapova was still playing before adding that they still ‘respect and love’ each other.

“First of all, Serena and I were talking about Maria the day before,” the 41-year-old explained on Instagram.
“We were like, ‘Damn, I wish Maria was still playing.’
“And we saw her, and we both told her separately, ‘Oh my gosh, we were just talking about you yesterday, we wish you were still on tour.’
“We were so happy to see each other. There was hugs, there was laughing, there were stories, and there was a photo.
“So the backstory is that even though us players compete really hard of the court for years, we still respect and love each other, and love Maria
.”

Williams, Serena and Sharapova have won a total of 35 Grand Slam singles titles between them.

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Belinda Bencic cruises past Zarina Diyas to reach the quarter final in Luxemburg

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This year’s Olympic champion Belinda Bencic cruised past Zarina Diyas 6-1 6-3 to reach the quarter final at the WTA Tournament in Luxemburg 

 

Bencic broke three times and converted her second set point to win the first set 6-1. Diyas earned her first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Bencic broke broke straight back in the fourth game and sealed the second set 6-3 with another break in the sixth game. 

The Swiss player sealed the second set on her second match point. 

Bencic set up a match against Liudmila Samsonova, who beat the Swiss player in the Berlin final last June. Former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko beat Arianne Hartono 6-2 4-6 6-1. Hartono started the first set with a break in the opening game. Ostapenko broke straight back on the second game and earned two breaks in the sixth and eighth games to win the first set 6-2. Both Hartono and Ostapenko won a service game at love. Hartono broke serve at 2-2 and raced out to 4-2. The Dutch player hit some winners and broke Ostapenko at 4-3. Ostapenko broke twice in the fourth and sixth games to win the third set 6-1. 

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Emma Raducanu Launches Own Weibo Account With Viral Video

In her first video, the teenage sensation promised to play in China next year.

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Emma Raducanu reacts after winning a Women's Singles semifinal match at the 2021 US Open, Thursday, Sep. 9, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu is gaining a rapidly growing fan base in China with her first video on the social media account Weibo surpassing one million views in less than two days.

 

The 18-year-old has become one of the most talked about athletes in the world of tennis following her unprecedented run to the US Open title. At the Grand Slam she didn’t drop a single set in 10 matches played to become the first qualifier in history to ever win a major title. Even more remarkable was the fact Raducanu was playing in a Grand Slam main draw for only the second time in her career.

In her native UK bookmakers are already tipping the youngster as a strong contender to win this year’s prestigious BBC Sports personality of the Year award. Although it isn’t just Britain where she is proving to be a hit. Raducanu was actually born in Canada to a Romanian father and Chinese mother who both work in the finance section. The family moved to the UK when Raducanu was two-years-old.

“My mum comes from a Chinese background. They have very good self-belief. It’s not necessarily about telling everyone how good you are, but it’s about believing it within yourself. I really respect that about the culture,” she said.
“She’s always instilled a lot of discipline and respect for other people into me, so I think that having parents like I do, they always push me, they have high expectations so I’ve always tried to live up to that. And I just hope I did them proud this week and I’m going to keep trying to go, keep going.”

Shortly after her US Open win, the world No.23 delivered a message in mandarin which was posted on the tournament’s Weibo account. SportsPro Media reports that the video generated more than 11 million impressions.

Now Raducanu has launched her own Weibo account with a video message to her fans. Shine.cn, which is a website powered by Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily, said that the British player has promised to play in the country next year. This season’s Asian swing has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Shine also said she spoke with a slight ‘accent from northeast China’ where her mother is from.

According to the latest view count, the video has been watched more than 1.22 million times since it was published. The view count may look impressive but it is by no means a one off. The Guardian newspaper recently reported that two hashtags related to Raducanu on Weibo have been viewed at least 200M times each as a result of her US Open win. These hashtags were ‘18-year-old ethnic Chinese young player wins US open championship‘ and ‘Raducanu.’

Despite her relative inexperience on the Tour, many are tipping Raducanu to become one of the most marketable athletes in the world. Her ability to interact with the Chinese market will play a significant role in those considering the country has invested millions into the sport and hosts a series of prestigious women’s events. However, in the immediate future the teenager says her focus is on the tennis.

“I have a few days’ rest and recovery – I think needed after the last seven weeks,” she told CNBC’s Closing Bell earlier this week.
“But then I am straight back to training and hungry to get better and come back out and play some more tournaments.”

Besides Weibo, Raducanu also has over 583,000 followers on Twitter, 1.9M Instagram followers and 63,000 followers on her official Facebook page.

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