Recent mixed messages over social justice in tennis have left more questions than answers in regards to tennis’ call for unity.
It was on Thursday, where the sporting world made their stance clear in regards to how important social justice and inequality is.
First the Milwaukee Bucks and the NBA boycotted a few days of play after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, 35 minutes away from where the Bucks play.
Then baseball and other major American sports organisations made their stance clear by following the NBA’s example.
Finally we get to tennis, where Naomi Osaka decided to boycott her Western and Southern Open semi-final as her and Coco Gauff have refused to remain silent on how important social justice is and sharing the message that black people’s lives do indeed matter.
What followed was beyond Osaka’s wildest dreams as the ATP and WTA united in joining the world number 10’s boycott and paused play for the day.
It was an unexpected and a perfect scenario for Osaka as she said after her eventual semi-final win yesterday over Elise Mertens, “I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. Then I got a call from Steve Simon and he said he was really supportive.,” Osaka was quoted as saying by Courtney Nguyen.
“My one thing I didn’t want people to blame me for the one day break if it messed up their schedule. But everyone I talked to was really supportive.”
This was now Tennis’ chance to lead by example and show the world that tennis is taking social justice seriously. The US Open followed by showing a video of the importance of black tennis players in the past.
However Tennis’ united stance did not last long as during yesterday’s press conferences with Naomi Osaka, Elise Mertens and Victoria Azarenka, WTA’s moderator reiterated that questions should stick with tennis.
A disappointing setback, with that same tone seem to be missing when other issues have been brought up in previous press conferences such as the Belarus protests.
In addition, Victoria Azarenka refused to answer the question about tennis’ pause to celebrate social justice with also there being speculation that the male tennis players were not best pleased that tennis was paused for a day without their consultation.
This latest obstacle shows that tennis is more divided than ever before with Naomi Osaka’s hopes of long-term longevity fading pretty quickly.
Now ahead of Novak Djokovic’s and Vasek Posipisil’s players association, that may not include women, there seems to be no united way forward.
A few months ago Roger Federer’s idea of an ATP-WTA merger received a positive reaction from WTA’s players as they looked to negotiate equal pay at all events amongst other potential obstacles ahead of a big move in tennis.
Now, ahead of the US Open, the players and tennis governing bodies seem more split than before on tennis’s direction on the future of the sport and it’s position on social issues.
Naomi Osaka made her voice known on Thursday through her actions and was hoping that her colleagues would back her up for the long term.
Her colleagues supported her through their words but not through their actions. Now tennis has more problems to solve and more questions to answer.
Dominic Stricker cruises past Luca Nardi at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah
Third seed Dominic Stricker cruised past Luca Nardi 4-1 4-1 4-2 in 54 minutes in the fastest match in the history of the Next Gen Finals at the Next Gen ATP Finals at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah bouncing back from his defeat in the first match against Flavio Cobolli on Tuesday.
Stricker converted four of his six break points and hit 13 winners, including 3 aces.
Stricker came back from 15-40 down in the first game after two double faults from Nardi and broke serve with a return winner on the deciding point to take a 1-0 lead. The world number 94 saved three break-back-back points in the second game from 15-40 down before breaking for the second time in the fifth game to win the first set 4-1.
Stricker broke serve at 30 in the second game of the second set and held serve at love in the third game to race out to a 3-0 lead. Stricker served it out on his second set point.
Stricker earned an early break in the first game of the third set on the deciding point and held his next service games. Nardi saved the first match point but he hit his backhand into the net on the second match point after the longest rally of the match.
“We had a long discussion yesterday evening about how to do it today. I think it was really good that we talked a lot after what maybe was not my best performance. Now to come out today like that, I think nobody expected that. I am just happy that I did it and now I am going to try my best to recover for the third group match”, said Stricker. Stricker is now 1-1 in Green Group. The Swiss player is aiming to reach his second consecutive semifinal at the Next Gen Finals. He is looking to crown a good year after reaching the fourth round at the US Open.
Jannik Sinner, Arnaldi End Italy’s 47-Year Wait For Davis Cup Title
An in-form Jannik Sinner has secured Italy’s first Davis Cup title in almost half a century after crushing Alex de Minaur in straight sets.
The world No.4 headed into the crucial match with his country boasting a 1-0 lead over Australia after Matteo Arnaldi won his clash against Alexi Popryin in three sets. Taking on a fiery de Minaur, a composed Sinner surged to a 6-3, 6-0, victory in Malaga to hand his country an unassailable lead and the title. The dominant performance saw Sinner produce a total of 25 winners with 18 of them coming from his forehand side. It is the sixth time he has beaten de Minaur on the Tour and he is yet to lose against him.
“It helps a lot to play for the whole team,” Sinner said of his latest win. “It has been an incredible thing for all of us and we are really happy.”
Sinner first broke three games into his encounter with de Minaur after the Australian hit a lob shot that landed out. In control of proceedings, he rallied his way to 5-3 before opening up a 40-0 lead against his opponent’s serve. With three set points at his disposal, Sinner converted his second with the help of another unforced error coming from across the court.
Closing in on the historic victory, the 22-year-old was in clinical form throughout the second frame as he raced to a 5-0 lead in under 30 minutes. Destroying whatever hopes Australia had of a shock comeback. Sinner closed out the match on his third attempt after a De Minaur backhand drifted wide, prompting an almighty smile on his face.
“Thanks to Australia. I know with the new format it is a little bit different to have to all come to one place. it means a lot.” Said Sinner.
In the first match of the day, Arnaldi ousted Popryin 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, in a two-and-a-half-hour marathon. The world No.44, who made his Davis Cup debut in September, held his nerve throughout a tense deciding set where he saved all eight break points he faced. Overall, he hit a total of 40 winners past Popryin and was visibly emotional afterward.
“This match was very important and emotional for a few reasons,” Arnaldi told reporters.
“This year for me was the first time playing for my country. I played when I was junior, but Davis Cup is just different.’
“And three weeks ago, an important person passed away. I think he gave me the power to try to stay there (in the match). It wasn’t easy to play, but they gave me the power at the end to try to win.”
It is the second time in history Italy has won the Davis Cup and the first since 1976. The triumph caps off what has been a memorable week for the team who 24 hours earlier beat Novak Djokovic’s Serbia in the semi-finals with Sinner saving three match points against the world No.1 in the singles.
“I’m really thankful and proud to have these guys,” Italian captain Filippo Volandri commented.
“We have had to manage with a lot of emergencies during these past two years but we did it and we did it like a family.” He added.
Italy, who has become the 11th country in history to win Multiple Davis Cup titles, currently has six players in the ATP top 100 with four of those being in the top 50.
Alexander Zverev Deserves More Respect According To Boris Becker
According to Boris Becker, Alexander Zverev deserves more respect from tennis journalists.
Boris Becker has claimed that Alexander Zverev deserves more respect despite Zverev failing to live up to his potential at Grand Slams.
Zverev has only reached one Grand Slam final in his career despite being a regular inside the world’s top ten as well as performing at regular ATP events.
This season Zverev played a limited schedule after recovering from an ankle injury but still managed to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.
However most critics have been loud when judging Zverev’s career as it was looking likely that he would be a regular Grand Slam champion.
The German has failed to live up to expectations but former Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes Zverev deserves more respect.
Speaking to Eurosport Becker also said that Zverev’s father being the coach is a more than successful approach when it comes to the former US Open finalist’s career, “In my opinion, he doesn’t get enough respect from the tennis experts internationally,” Becker explained.
“They’re all talking about the young three or four, but don’t give Zverev, Medvedev or Rublev enough respect. He’s playing with his fist in his pocket a little bit, wants everyone show that he is not a thing of the past, but that his best time is yet to come.
“Surely his father knows best what is good for his son, but if you look into the box at the competition, you can also see changes.”
Becker has followed Zverev for most of his career so knows that the best is yet to come from the German.
Alexander Zverev will look to prove himself next season when he starts his 2024 season when he represents Germany at the United Cup.
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