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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Fabio Fognini is planning to return in Kitzbuhel

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Fabio Fognini is currently training in Puglia to prepare his return to the ATP Tour in Kitzbuhel next September after undergoing ankle surgery two months ago. His coach Corrado Barazzutti confirmed that Fognini will not play in the Cincinnati Masters 1000 tournament and at the US Open. 

 

Fabio knows what he has to do to recover from the injury and is working very hard. He trains every day from 10 to 14.30. I am happy with his committment and his hard work”, said Barazzutti, who is also the Italian Davis Cup captain. 

“I think that Fabio will be ready in two weeks. We will work for four weeks in Rome to prepare for Kitzbuhel, which will mark his come-back. If everything goes to plan, Fabio will play there. We are confident because his preparation is going well well”. 

Fognini is spending his time with his wife Flavia Pennetta and his children Federico and Farah. “I think that spending with his family will be very positive for Fabio. They give him the strength to overcome the recovery from injury. Living with injuries is normal for all athletes, but it is not very easy. He is now more relaxed”, concluded Barazzutti

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REPORT: Madrid Open To Be Axed Amid COVID-19 Concerns In Latest Setback For Tennis

Hopes of Spain holding their top tennis event in 2020 are over.

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The world of tennis is set to suffer another severe blow with multiple media sources confirming that organisers of Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament will officially cancel their event on Tuesday. 

 

The Mutua Madrid Open will be removed from the 2020 calendar following a meeting involving tournament owner Iron Tiriac. Recently doubts have been cast on the event after local health officials called for it to be suspended due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Although the final decision was up to Tiriac and his team. It had been due to take place between September 12 to 20, following the conclusion of the US Open. 

“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September,” tournament director Feliciano Lopez told L’Equipe over the weekend. 

Spain has seen their rate of COVID-19 cases rapidly rise since the country ended its lockdown. According to El Pais, the number of cases recorded within 24 hours is eight times the amount compared to 40 days ago. Rising from 334 (June 20) to 2,789 (between July 29 and 30). On Friday July 31st there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

Held at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open is a key event for both men and women. It is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. Last year each of the singles champions took home €1,202,520 in prize money. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The demise of Madrid this year is another setback for what is becoming a rapidly thinning 2020 tennis calendar. Within the past two weeks China has confirmed that they will not be hosting any tournaments this year, Japan’s scrapped it’s premier women’s event and the Italian Open has been advised to not allow any fans to their event this year. 

As a result of the latest development, only two WTA clay-court events will take place after the US Open leading up to Roland Garros. They are both set to get underway on September 21st in Rome and Strasbourg. As for the men, Rome will be their only point of call. 

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Alexander Zverev and Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova claim UTS title

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Alexander Zverev and Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova took the Ultimate Tennis Showdown titles in the Sudden Death. 

 

Zverev beat Felix Auger Aliassime 19-10 11-13 11-18 18-8 2-1. The German took the early lead in the final pulling away to 9-4 at halfway in the first quarter. The umpire made an overrule decision to give Auger Aliassime an ace. Zverev held on to win the first quarter 19-10. 

Auger Aliassime took a 9-4 lead in the second quarter, but Zverev used his next point x2 card to claw his way back to 8-9. Auger Aliassime led 12-9 with a minute to play. Zverev came back to 11-12. Auger Aliassime hit a passing shot to win the second set 13-11. 

In the third quarter both players were level at 8-8. Zverev used his Next Point x 2 card to take a 10-9 lead. Auger Aliassime won both his Nex point x2 cards to take a 13-10 lead en route to winning the third quarter 18-11. 

Zverev won both points against Felix Auger Aliassime’s Winner x3 Card and took a 7-3 lead in the fourth quarter. He held his own service points to pull away to 9-3. Auger Aliassime clawed his way back to 8-10. The Canadian player did not use his Next Pointx2 card with a forehand error. Zverev cruised to 18-8 forcing the match to the Sudden Death. 

Auger Aliassime won the first point with a powerful serve. Zverev hit an unreturnable first serve to save a championship point and converted his first own match point to become the second UTS men’s champion, as Auger Aliassime netted a backhand. 

“It was high-quality. It was intense. He was winning more cards in the middle of the set and then running away with it. I needed to focus a little better on the important points”, said Zverev. 

Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova also needed the Sudden Death to win the women’s final beating French player Alizé Cornet 16-8 12-11 11-14 9-16 3-1. Pavlyuchenkova led two quarters to love, before saving a championships point before taking the win in the sudden death. 

Pavlyuchenkova won two consecutive points on her own serve and two straight on Cornet’s serve at 5-5 in the first quarter. Cornet was the first to play a card with a take away one serve option, but Pavlyuchenkova won both of those points to cruise through to a 11-5 lead. Cornet dropped eight consecutive points, but she played a next point counts two card and converted one to claw her way back to 7-12. Pavlyuchenkova pulled away to 16-8. 

Cornet earned a 5-2 lead in the second quarter. Pavlyuchenkova used each of her cards and won two of those points to take a 6-5 lead, but she netted a backhand on one of the double points. As Cornet was serving at 11-9, Pavlyuchenkova fired two consecutive winners to draw level to 11-11. The Russian player won the deciding point to claim the second quarter 12-11. 

In the third quarter Pavlyuchenkova raced out to a 4-0 lead. Pavlyuchenkova used her card to force Cornet to serve and volley. The French player won both of her serve and volley points. Pavlyuchenkova hit two big serves to take a two-point lead at 8-8. Cornet won six of the next seven points to win the third quarter 14-11. 

Cornet started well in the fourth quarter and pulled away to a 8-3 lead, as Pavlyuchenkova missed an overhead that would have been worth two points. Cornet extended her lead to 11-5. Pavlyuchenkova showed signs of a comeback, but Cornet took the fourth quarter 16-9 forcing the match to the Sudden Death. 

Cornet saved one match point in the Sudden Death by forcing Pavlyuchenkova into a forehand error. Cornet attempted a drop-shot on her championships point. Pavlyuchenkova survived a long rally on her second championships point to claim the title. 

“I love winning no matter what it is. It’s just nice. There were so much nerves. Ihated the sudden death. I practiced it, but practice is much different. Now it was full on”, said Pavlyuchenkova. 

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