Venus Williams Targeting US Open, Rome And Doubles With Serena In Return - UBITENNIS
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Venus Williams Targeting US Open, Rome And Doubles With Serena In Return

The 40-year-old tennis veteran speaks out about her plans for the rest of 2020 amid the threat posed by COVID-19.

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Venus Williams (image by Nicole Gotwols from Miami Open Marketing)

Former world No.1 Venus Williams has vowed to return to competitive tennis as soon as possible despite having nerves about the threat posed by COVID-19.

 

The seven-time Grand Slam champion has confirmed that she intends to play at the US Open should it get the go ahead in what will be her 22nd main draw appearance there. The tournament is set to start on August 31st and will take place behind closed doors for the first time in history. Players participating will be subjected to numerous COVID-19 testing throughout. A move that has been praised by Williams.

“Right now a crowd would be dangerous,” she said during a Q and A session on her YouTube channel. “I really want to play tennis and go back to work like most people. I want to do what I do well. I don’t want to sit at home and not have that goal of challenge.”
“If it is safe to play I really want to play at the US Open,” she added.

Williams, who turned 40 last month, is yet to officially lay out her schedule for the remainder of 2020. However, it appears that she will be heading to Europe to play on the clay after saying she was hoping to also play at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. One of the two Premier events sandwiched between the US Open and French Open. Williams has only won the Rome title once, which was back in 1999 when she defeated Mary Pierce in the final.

“I hope so, right now there is a travel ban. It could be lifted, who knows?” She commented on playing in Europe. “But hopefully there will be some exceptions made for athletes. When I saw that Rome was on the calendar I literally cried tears of joy.”

At present the WTA Tour will officially resume on August 3rd at the Palermo Open in Italy. Then the week after the North American swing will start in Lexington. Although there has been fresh doubts cast on American tournaments after one report claims the Citi Open in Washington could be cancelled this week.

The COVID threat

Whilst Williams is eager to return back to competition, she admits to having some anxiety about travelling during a pandemic given her health. She suffers from Sjogren’s syndrome, which is an auto-immune disease. It has been reported that some people with auto-immune diseases could be more vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease.

“In the beginning I wasn’t afraid (of catching COVID-19). I made up my mind that I’m not getting it, mind over matter.” Williams explained. “I was really serious about self-isolation and lately I’m more than anything afraid of being asymptomatic. That’s my biggest fear right now and not being able to play.”
“When you venture out to the world and play tennis you do start to get nervous about that. I’m a person with a pre-existing condition and I need to be more careful than most people. Am I nervous? In the last few days, yes but before no.”

Despite the inevitable nerves during what is an uncertain time, Williams has vowed to return to the doubles court alongside her sister Serena in the future. Together the duo has won 22 WTA titles with 14 of those being in the majors. Making them joint-second most successful women’s doubles pairing in Grand Slam history.

“I can’t wait to play doubles with Serena. We just have had a blast at the doubles court. We have got a lot of success,” Williams stated. “I noticed that the thing I missed the most is playing doubles. I am looking forward to joining her on the doubles court and I just don’t care whom I play against. Who’s across the net, as long as there’s a net and there’s a match. Right?”

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Roger Federer trains with Dominic Stricker in Dubai

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Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has been training hard with his compatriot Dominic Stricker in Dubai, where he traditionally spends his off-season. Federer published a photo on his social media with Dominic Stricker, who won the Roland Garros Junior title and current world junior number three. 

 

Stricker made a comment on his Instagram account: 

“What three weeks. I really enjoyed every single minute in Dubai. What a great start to the new season. I am looking forward to playing some tournaments. Thanks to Roger Federer and his team for these great practices”, said Dominic Stricker. 

Federer will skip the Australian Open, but he may make his come-back in Rotterdam or Dubai. His main goals for the 2021 season are Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympi Games in Tokyo. He has pulled out of the Australian Open because his wife Mirka did not approve of the quarantine conditions set out for his family. 

“Roger had two options. He could come with the whole family and quarantine. The problem is that Mirka and his children could not leave the room. They would have to stay 14 days in the room”, said Australian Open director of player relations Andre Sa. 

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The Rotterdam ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament will be held behind closed doors

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Organisers announced that the 48th edition of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament will be held behind closed doors from 1 to 7 March 2021 because of the current epidemiological situation and the measures to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 

The tickets already sold for the 2021 edition will be moved to the 49th edition in 2022. It does not mean that there will not be fans in the arena. In the event that this turns out to be possible, fans, who have already bought the tickets, will be contacted. Because the capacity is expected to be limited with the latest information regarding the situation in the Netherlands, this will be announced at a later stage. It has alreaady decided to postpone the tickets from 2021 to 2022. 

“As much as we regret it, we are making the decision now to move all tickets for the coming edition to 2022. That way, every fan has the certainty that he or she can attend the tournament next year at the seat and the day he or she wants. Should it turn out last minute that we can offer tickets for 2021, we will give the people who have already tickets now the opportunity to be there”, said Rotterdam tournament Director Richard Kraijcek. 

The star-studded Rotterdam already features 2020 ATP Finals champion Danil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev (winner in Doha, Adelaide, Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Vienna in 2020), three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, former top 10 player and 2017 ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin, 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori and 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner. 

Medvedev will play in the Dutch city for the fourth time in his career. He made his debut at this tournament in 2018 as a qualifier, when he was ranked world number 57. He returned to Rotterdam in 2016 as world number 16. He reached the semifinal before losing to Gael Monfils, who went on to win the tournament. 

Wawrinka will make his fifth appearance in Rotterdam. The Swiss player has won 16 ATP titles, including Rotterdam in 2015, when he beat Tomas Berdych in the final. He won the Australian Open in 2014, Roland Garros in 2015 and the US Open in 2016 and reached a career-high of world number 3. He is one of the few players besides the big three to win multiple Grand Slam titles in the last decade. Wawrinka is now ranked world number 18. 

Nishikori will play in Rotterdam for the second time. The Japanese player reached the semifinal in 2019, when he was beaten by Wawrinka in three sets. Nishikori will chase the 13th title of his career. He claimed his first tournament in Delray Beach in 2008 and won five of his twelve titles in indoor court tournaments.  Sinner made his debut in Rotterdam in 2019 and beat then world number 10 David Goffin in straight sets, but he lost to Pablo Carreno Busta in the tie-break of the third set. World number 37 Sinner is the youngest player in the top 100 and won his first ATP Tour title in Sofia last November. 

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Dominic Thiem hopes that tennis will get back to normal in 2021

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World number 3 Dominic Thiem has travelled to Adelaide, where he is serving a two-week quarantine before heading to Melbourne for the second edition of the ATP Cup and the Australian Open. 

 

Thiem is aiming to win a second Grand Slam title after claiming the US Open trophy last September beating Alexander Zverev in the final. He clinched his Grand Slam title in his fourth final. 

“I have been on vacation a little longer than usual, and the training went well. For the first two and a half weeks, I only did fitness.  The presence of physio Alex Stober since the days before Christmas was very helpful. In the first week, I can play with a training partner and two others in the second set. We can also go out from the third week, probably for the first time without a mask since Indian Wells 2020. That is sensational. I hope that we can play throughout the entire year and repeat the results from the previous couple of years”,said Thiem.

Last year Thiem came back from two sets down to beat Zverev in a five-set tie-break at last September’s US Open after 4 hours and 2 minutes. He became the second Austrian player to win a Grand Slam title after Thomas Muster, who won the French Open in 1995. 

The Austrian player lost a five-set quarter final to Diego Schwartzman at the French Open in five hours and eight minutes. He was not able to reach the Roland Garros semifinal for the first time in five years. Thiem qualified for the semifinal in Paris in 2016 and 2017 and two consecutive finals in 2018 and 2019, finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal both times. 

Thiem hopes that tennis will be back to normal after the pandemic affected the 2020 season. 

“I hope that we can play throughout the entire year and repeat the results from the previous couple of years. I also wish our lives get back to normal by the summer months”, said Thiem. 

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