‘A Class Act’ - Players Hail Wimbledon Following Decision To Hand Out £10m From 2020 Championships - UBITENNIS
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‘A Class Act’ – Players Hail Wimbledon Following Decision To Hand Out £10m From 2020 Championships

The All England Lawn Tennis Club has announced that players who would had qualified to play this year’s tournament will receive payouts of up to £25,000.

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There has been an outpouring of praise from the world of tennis after the Wimbledon Championships announced they will hand out prize money to those who would have played in this year’s championships.

 

620 players are set to benefit from a prize money pool of £10M despite the event being cancelled for the first time since 1945 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike the other Grand Slams, Wimbledon was covered by pandemic insurance. The payments from players ranges from £5000 for those who would have played in the quad wheelchair events to £25,000 for those who would have played in the singles main draw (based on their current ranking).

“Immediately following the cancellation of The Championships, we turned our attention to how we could assist those who help make Wimbledon happen,” AELTC chairman Richard Lewis said in a statement.
“We know these months of uncertainty have been very worrying for these groups, including the players, many of whom have faced financial difficulty during this period and who would have quite rightly anticipated the opportunity to earn prize money at Wimbledon based on their world ranking.’
“We are pleased that our insurance policy has allowed us to recognise the impact of the cancellation on the players and that we are now in a position to offer this payment as a reward for the hard work they have invested in building their ranking to a point where they would have gained direct entry into The Championships 2020.”

The move comes after other governing bodies of the sport created their own funds to help support players during the pandemic. Unlike team sports, those on the Tour rely on prize money to fund their careers unless they have any sponsorship deals. For those lower ranked players, they have been unable to earn an income since March.

In the wake of the announcement, many top names in the sport praised Wimbledon for their gesture. Kim Clijsters, who played her first Grand Slam main draw match at the Wimbledon back in 1999, describes the move as a ‘class act.’

“Amazing news — always a class act and leader of our sport !! Well done Wimbledon – can’t wait to be back next year!” She wrote on Twitter.

Others to speak out from the WTA Tour includes Kristina Mladenovic, who wrote on social media ‘Amazing gesture Wimbledon, you have always been classy.’ Sachia Vickery said the donation shows the grass-court event is ‘leading by an amazing example’ by supporting all players. Meanwhile, Kirsten Flipkens called it a ‘nice gesture.

On the men’s Tour, Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko made a jibe at the US Open during his response to the news. The US Open is still going ahead as planned amid a rise in COVID-19 in some areas of the country. The event will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history.

“Hats off to Wimbledon. This is how you take care of your players. US Open should follow instead of pushing this nonsense. We can resume the tour later when conditions are better,” Lacko wrote.

Feliciano Lopez, who is also the tournament director of the Madrid Open, was another to pay tribute.

“Incredible gesture from Wimbledon with the players. We appreciate this comprehension and generosity in these times of uncertainty. Hats off to you once again,” he said.

Players are not the only group to receive charitable donations from the All England Lawn Tennis Club. In recent weeks they have also donated £1.2M to charities and organisations supporting vulnerable people during the pandemic.

The 134th Wimbledon Championships are expected to be held from 28 June to 11 July next year.

Breakdown of payouts

  • £25,000 for the 256 players in the singles main draws
  • £12,500 for the 224 players in singles qualifying
  • £6,250 for the 120 players in main draw doubles
  • £6,000 for the 16 players in the wheelchair events
  • £5,000 for four players in the quad wheelchair events

Grand Slam

Roland Garros Day 3 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

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Rain is forecast to subside by late morning, so the new roof above Court Philippe-Chatrier should remain open most of the day.

Novak Djokovic will play his first match at a Major since his default at the US Open.

 

But Tuesday’s most intriguing matchups feature home favorites.  A pair of French veterans will be underdogs against two top 10 men’s seeds, while the women’s French No.1 tries to bounce back after one of the bigger chokes in recent memory.  And a day after two ATP top 10 seeds were upset, two other top 10 men look to rebound after disappointing losses in New York.   By the end of the day, the first round of singles play should be complete in Paris.

Denis Shapovalov (9) vs. Gilles Simon

The 21-year-old Canadian has taken his career to the next level over the past year.  It started with his title win last October in Stockholm, then reaching the final of his first Masters 1,000 event in this city.  A few weeks ago, Denis achieved his first Major quarterfinal in New York.  He immediately backed that up with a semifinal run in Rome, where he went down in defeat to Diego Schwartzman in one of the best matches of this abbreviated season.  Simon is nearly 15 years older than Denis, with his best tennis clearly behind him.  Gilles has lost more matches than he’s won over the last two seasons.  However, the lack of pace in his ball, paired with his variety, can still be effective.  That was evident last summer at Queens Club, where he upset Kevin Anderson and Daniil Medvedev on his way to the final.  Their only previous meeting was last year in this same city, at the Paris Indoors, but they only played four games before Simon retired.  The speed and harder ball striking of Shapovalov make him the favorite to advance.

Roberto Bautista Agut (10) vs. Richard Gasquet

Like his fellow countryman Simon, Gasquet displayed last summer that he’s still capable of some great play.  Gasquet reached a Masters 1,000 semifinal last August in Cincinnati, which included a three-set win over Bautista Agut in the quarters.  But the Spaniard avenged that loss at this year’s event, on his way to the final.  Roberto is 6-2 against Richard, though they’ve never met on clay.  After going 4-7 in his first seven appearances at his country’s Major, Gasquet has fared a bit better of late, even reaching the quarters four years ago.  And he hasn’t lost a first round match at Roland Garros since a decade ago.  But in slow conditions against a player who excels at collecting errors from his opponents, that may change today.

Kristina Mladenovic vs. Laura Siegemund

It’s been a rough few weeks for Mladenovic.  Earlier this month at the US Open, she was up 6-1, 5-1 over Varvara Gracheva, and even reached match point.  But she would eventually lose the second set in a tiebreak, and went down 6-0 in the third.  That same week, she was forced to withdraw from the doubles event, where she was the top seed alongside Timea Babos, due to contact with Benoit Paire, who had tested positive for COVID-19.  This will be her first match since leaving quarantine in the New York bubble, facing the pressure of being the top-ranked Frenchwoman in Paris.  And she faces a player who is accomplished on clay.  All three WTA finals Siegemund has played in her career have been on this surface.  Like Mladenovic, Siegemund has found more success of late in doubles.  In Kiki’s absence, Laura went on to win this year’s US Open women’s doubles title alongside Vera Zvonareva.  Siegemund was the star of that championship match, dominating at the net.  While Mladenovic is the more accomplished singles player, and reached a quarterfinal here three years ago, Siegemund has won two of their three meetings.  All three matches have been close, with two contested on clay.  Kiki claimed their most recent encounter, last May in the qualifying rounds of Madrid.  Their polar opposite experiences at the US Open could prove to be the difference today.  Mladenovic may struggle to shrug off her New York frustration, while Siegemund should be inspired by her doubles glory.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) vs. Jaume Munar

Tsitsipas is another player who has some heartbreak to recover from.  At this event a year ago, he was defeated by Stan Wawrinka in a five-set, five-hour epic.  Obviously gutted by the loss, he would go on to lose in the first round of the next two Majors.  At the US Open a few weeks ago, Stefanos was up two-sets-to-one and 5-1 in the fourth over Borna Coric, before failing to convert six match points and losing in a fifth set tiebreak.  And just two days ago in the final of Hamburg, he served for the championship at 5-3 in the third, but dropped the next four games and the title to Andrey Rublev.  That’s scar tissue on top of scar tissue.  And while his opponent today is ranked outside the top 100, Munar can play on the clay.  He earned 30 match wins on this surface at all levels last season.  And Jaume was a finalist in the junior event here six years ago, losing to Rublev.  This is a tricky opening round for a man who cannot be fresh physically or emotionally, but I expect Tsitsipas to fight his way through and advance.  His talent and recuperative abilities have gotten him through challenging obstacles before.

Matteo Berrettini (7) vs. Vasek Pospisil

Both of these players are coming off fourth round runs at the US Open.  For Pospisil, it was a career highlight.  The 30-year-old Canadian hadn’t advanced beyond the second round of a Major in over five years, when he was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon.  His victories over Milos Raonic and Roberto Bautista Agut were most impressive.  For Berrettini, it was a disappointment.  A semifinalist in 2019, he was defeated by the same man he had beaten in the fourth round a year prior: the aforementioned Andrey Rublev.  Despite Pospisil’s recent success, Berrettini is a strong favorite in their first career meeting.  Matteo’s power is a force on all surfaces, while Vasek is 0-6 lifetime at the French Open. 

Other Notable Matches on Day 3:

2016 champion Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Mikael Ymer, a 22-year-old from Sweden who won 39 matches and four titles on the Challenger circuit last year.

Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin (4) vs. Liudmila Samsonova, a 21-year-old Russian looking for her first win at a Slam.  How will Kenin respond after her 6-0, 6-0 thumping in Rome at the hands of Victoria Azarenka?

2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko vs. Madison Brengle.  Ostapenko leads their head-to-head 2-1, though she’s 0-3 in Paris outside of her 2017 title run.

2017 semifinalist Karolina Pliskova (2) vs. Mayar Sherif (Q), a 24-year-old from Egypt making her Major debut.  The winner will play either Ostapenko or Brengle.

2018 runner-up Sloane Stephens (29) vs. Vitalia Diatchenko, a 30-year-old Russian who is 4-13 in her career at Majors.

Tuesday’s full schedule is here.

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Roland Garros Day 2 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

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Early rain is forecast to subside by midday, which would allow the new roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier to remain open (rolandgarros.com)

Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal will chase history starting today in Paris.

 

For Serena, this is her 10th attempt at securing what has become an elusive 24th Major title.  For Nadal, it’s his second bid to tie Roger Federer for most men’s Major singles titles.  Also on Monday, the sport’s newest Major champion, Dominic Thiem, plays his first match since achieving that feat.  In a tough opening round draw, he faces another US Open champion, Marin Cilic.  They are joined today by fellow Slam champs Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Monday will be a busy day around the grounds of Roland Garros.

Dominic Thiem (3) vs. Marin Cilic

Just like yesterday, the men’s lineup is headlined by a meeting between two Major winners: the 2014 and 2020 US Open champions.  In this unusual 2020, Thiem is back on court for another Major just 15 days after his US Open triumph.  But Thiem should be fresh, coming off a rarity in his career: taking two weeks off.  And this is Dominic’s best Slam: he’s reached the semifinals or better the last four years, and was the runner-up to Nadal the last two years.  By contrast, this has been the worst Major for Cilic, though he has reached the quarterfinals twice since 2017.  But it’s been a rough two seasons for Marin, who has not advanced beyond the fourth round of a Slam since 2018.  Over the last two years, Cilic is just 7-5 on this surface.  And he’s 0-3 lifetime against Thiem, which includes a four-set loss just a few weeks ago at the US Open.  There’s no evidence to support a different outcome today.

Svetlana Kuznetsova (28) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

This should be quite the battle between two Russian veterans.  Kuznetsova was the champion here in 2009, though she hasn’t gone beyond the fourth round since 2014.  Pavlyuchenkova has reached six Major quarterfinals in her career, including here in 2011, though she’s never advanced farther.  Anastasia has actually been the better player in recent years.  She reached two finals last fall, and the quarters of the Australian Open in January.  Kuznetsova is just 1-7 at Majors in the last three years, yet she’s shown glimpses of her best tennis outside the Slams.  She was the finalist in Cincinnati a year ago, and reached the semifinals of Doha earlier this year.  Kuznetsova leads their head-to-head 6-3, which includes their only meeting on clay, four years ago in Paris.  The clay certainly favors the former champion, who is the favorite in what could be a grueling encounter between two great fighters.

Gael Monfils (8) vs. Alexander Bublik

Well this is guaranteed to be entertaining.  Both these unorthodox players prioritize having fun on court, sometimes at the expense of logic.  Expect to see underhand serves, tweeners, and plenty of wry smiles.  Monfils has reached the quarters or better here four times, though not since 2014.  And while he won back-to-back hard court titles in February, the Frenchman is 0-2 on clay this month.  23-year-old Bublik is only 4-8 in his career at the Majors, but did reach the quarters of Hamburg last week as a lucky loser.  And he owns victories this year over top 20 players Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.  However, Monfils has not lost in the first round of his home Slam since his debut 15 years ago.  I don’t see that changing today, as there’s nothing Bublik does significantly better than Monfils.  Their first career meeting should further reveal that.

Marketa Vondrousova (15) vs. Iga Swiatek

21-year-old Vondrousova was a surprise finalist here last June.  She stormed through six rounds without dropping a set, taking out four seeded players along the way.  Marketa would only play three more matches in 2019, as wrist surgery interrupted her upward trajectory.  She started this season just 3-7, but regained some form two weeks ago in Rome, where she walloped Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-0 on her way to the semifinals.  Her opponent today is another of the WTA’s most promising stars: a 19-year-old from Poland who has already reached the round of 16 at two Majors.  That includes last year at this event.  Like Vondrousova, Swiatek had surgery following last year’s US Open, due to a foot injury.  But Iga did not lose any momentum, advancing to the fourth round of the Australian Open in her first tournament back.  This will be the first of what will hopefully be many matches between two engaging players with plenty of variety in their games.  Vondrousova will surely feel pressure to back up her result here from a year ago, though that may be a bit alleviated with the knowledge she will not immediately lose her ranking points due to the current rankings freeze.  But Swiatek is a tough first round draw, and it would not be surprising for the teenager to defeat the 2019 runner-up.

Madison Keys (12) vs. Shuai Zhang

The last time these two played, Keys left the court in tears.  After winning the first set in the fourth round of the 2016 Australian Open, a left leg injury hampered the American, who toughed out the match but lost in three.  This marked the first Major quarterfinal for Zhang, who had never won a match at a Slam prior to the event.  Shuai was ranked outside the top 100 at the time, and had recently considered retirement due to her struggles on tour.  Zhang would go on to reach another Major quarterfinal last year Wimbledon, though she’s only 4-8 lifetime at Roland Garros.  But Keys has become one of the WTA’s more consistent performers at Grand Slam events.  She hasn’t lost an opening round match since 2014, and has advanced to the quarters or better the last two years in Paris.  Zhang owns a 3-2 record against Keys at all levels, though Madison claimed their only clay court meeting seven years ago in Rome.  Madison retired from the US Open a few weeks ago with a neck issue, and hasn’t played since.  Zhang meanwhile earned three clay court wins last week in Strasbourg.  But if Keys is healthy, she has the tools to dictate the outcome, and overcome the painful memories of their last encounter.

Other Notable Matches on Day 2:

Three-time champion Serena Williams (6) vs. Kristie Ahn.  These Americans played just a few weeks ago in this same round of the US Open, with Serena prevailing in straight sets.

12-time champion Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Egor Gerasimov, a 27-year-old from Belarus.  While Gerasimov is 3-0 in the first round of his last three Majors, Nadal’s Roland Garros record of 93-2 is the real story.

2016 champion Garbine Muguruza (11) vs. Tamara Zidansek, a 22-year-old Slovenian who reached the final of a clay court event last year in Nuremberg.

A champion in Strasbourg just two days ago, Eliva Svitolina (3) vs. Varvara Grecheva, a 20-year-old Russian who came back from 6-1, 5-1 down to upset Kiki Mladenovic at the US Open.

Daniil Medvedev (4) vs. Marton Fucsovics.  Medvedev leads their head-to-head 3-0, though Daniil is 0-3 in his career at the French Open.

Monday’s full schedule is here.

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Roland Garros Day 1 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

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Court Philippe-Chatrier with its new roof closed (rolandgarros.com)

In this unique year, the French Open will begin on the 27th of September, four months later its usual start date.

 

This is the only Major which begins on a Sunday, with first round singles matches spread across the first three days of the tournament.  And extra time may be required to complete matches, with rain in the forecast throughout the next 10 days.  Fortunately for players scheduled on Court Philippe-Chatrier, the French Open finally has a retractable roof over its main stadium.  And the addition of lights on the other courts will allow matches to extend later into the evening.  This will truly be a one-of-a-kind autumn fortnight, with 1,000 fans allowed on Court Philippe-Chatrier only, and the conditions wetter and colder than late-spring in Paris.

Each day for the next 15 days, we’ll go in-depth on the most prominent matches of the day.

Stan Wawrinka (16) vs. Andy Murray (WC)

This is a blockbuster first round matchup between a pair of three-time Major champions.  They played an epic, over four-and-a-half-hour semifinal here in 2017, which Wawrinka won in five sets.  And neither player has been the same since, as both suffered injuries which they link back to that encounter.  Wawrinka had knee surgery two months later, derailing his career for the better part of two years.  Murray endured multiple hip surgeries and nearly retired from the sport.  This is only Andy’s sixth singles match at a Major in the last three years.  In Murray’s second match back in 2018, he upset Wawrinka as a wild card at Eastbourne.  They also played an excellent championship match last fall in Antwerp, where Andy won his first tour title since March of 2017.  Overall Murray leads their head-to-head 12-8, but Stan has the edge 4-1 on clay.  They’ve split six previous meetings at Slams.  After playing five matches in the New York bubble, Murray did not partake in a clay court lead-in event.  Wawrinka skipped New York and chose instead to play Challenger events on clay, winning a title in Prague.  But Stan lost in the opening round of Rome to breakout Italian star Lorenzo Musetti.  With little match play in the last few weeks, both veterans should be fully fresh for this battle.  On a clay court, the odds are in Wawrinka’s favor.  And the slower conditions shouldn’t bother the 2015 champion, who prefers having more time to set up his thumping strikes.

Johanna Konta (9) vs. Coco Gauff

The British No.1 was a semifinalist here a year ago, while the 16-year-old American is making her French Open main draw debut.  Gauff secured her first WTA-level clay court win just last week in Rome.  That’s actually Coco’s only victory in her last five matches, as her second serve and unforced error woes have subdued her game.  In her first round loss to Anastasija Sevastova at the US Open, she hit 13 double faults and 41 unforced errors.  By contrast, Konta is one of the WTA’ best servers.  At last month’s Western & Southern Open, Jo didn’t drop her serve through her first three matches, until facing eventual champion (and excellent returner) Victoria Azarenka.  While the heavier balls in Paris will make Konta’s serve a bit less effective, her vast clay court experience compared to that of Gauff’s makes Jo a strong favorite in their first career meeting.

David Goffin (11) vs. Jannik Sinner

Their first and only clash occurred earlier this year on an indoor hard court in Rotterdam, where the 19-year-old Italian prevailed after two tight sets.  Sinner is one of the ATP’s most promising young prospects, and was the champion of last year’s Next Gen Finals.  He possesses offensive weaponry that may take him to the top of the game in years to come.  However, Jannik is still an unproven commodity in best-of-five at the Majors.  He’s only earned one match win at a Slam.  And we saw his body fail him after going up two sets against Karen Khachanov earlier this month at the US Open.  Sinner won just two total games in third and fourth sets, as he struggled to move about the court.  Goffin is the fitter and more experienced player, who has reached the third round in Paris the last five years.  The juxtaposition between Sinner’s firepower and Goffin’s speed should make for an entertaining contest, but I like David’s chances to advance.

Anett Kontaveit (17) vs. Caroline Garcia

This is a rematch from just last week in Rome, where Kontaveit prevailed in 6-3, 7-6(1).  Overall she is 2-1 against Garcia, with Anett also claiming their other recent clay court meeting.  Kontaveit is one of the WTA’s winningest players in this truncated season, with 23 match wins.  The 24-year-old Estonian reached a clay final just last month in Palermo.  Garcia actually has a losing record on the year, though she played some of her best tennis in a long time in upsetting top-seeded Karolina Pliskova at the US Open.  Caroline’s best performance at a Major came here three years ago, when she was a quarterfinalist at her home Slam.  But in her last eight Major appearances, Garcia is a disappointing 8-8.  Despite showing some signs of regaining her top level, Caroline is the underdog against the in-form and more consistent Kontaveit.

Dan Evans (32) vs. Kei Nishikori

Nishikori is a three-time quarterfinalist in Paris, but this is only Kei’s fifth match since last August, when elbow surgery ended his 2019 early.  Nishikori is a meager 1-3 since returning.  His opponent today has never won a match at Roland Garros.  Evans actually hasn’t earned a main draw win on clay since April of 2017.  That includes two losses over the last two weeks, to Hubert Hurkacz and Stefanos Tsitsipas.  Despite his dreadful record on this surface, the British No.1 reached a career-high ranking earlier this year, coming off a stellar 2019 where he accumulated 55 match wins at all levels.  Nishikori is 2-1 against Evans, though they haven’t played in three years, and never on clay.  Most notably, Evans upset Nishikori as a qualifier in the opening round of the 2013 US Open.  Dan is certainly the more match-tough player, so an extended affair will favor the Brit.  But Evans’ lack of confidence on the clay makes it difficult to favor him over a player of Kei’s caliber.

Other Notable Matches on Day 1:

2018 champion Simona Halep (1) vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo, a 23-year-old Spaniard who defeated Naomi Osaka on clay earlier this year.

US Open women’s runner-up Victoria Azarenka (10) vs. Danka Kovinic, a 25-year-old from Montenegro who upset Belinda Bencic two weeks ago in Rome.

US Open men’s runner-up Sascha Zverev (6) vs. Dennis Novak, a 27-year-old Austrian.  How will Zverev perform just 14 days after the heartbreaking loss of his first Major final to another Austrian in a fifth-set tiebreak?

Rome finalist Diego Schwartzman (12) vs. Miomir Kecmanovic, who won his first ATP title a week ago on the clay of Kitzbuhel.

In her 23rd French Open appearance, 2002 finalist Venus Williams vs. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who defeated Venus at this event six years ago.

Sunday’s full schedule is here.

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