Old Habits Die Hard For Some In Palermo - UBITENNIS
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Old Habits Die Hard For Some In Palermo

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic even a traditional post-match gesture is now not frown upon.

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As the players return to competitive tennis for the first time in five months this week some are still not used to the new post-match rules.

 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are a series of protocols in place at this tournament and ones that will follow on the WTA Tour. In Palermo specifically players are prohibited from showing on site, signing autographs and posing with fans. Something which would have been routine at the start of this year. However, old habits are hard to break for some.

Sara Errani celebrated her marathon first round win over Sorana Cirstea by throwing her wristbands to fans. Something which has always been traditionally done by the winner of matches. However, such a well-meaning gesture is prohibited at the event due to the potential transmission of illnesses. Although all players have been COVID-19 tested and cleared before playing.

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Fortunately for Errani, she isn’t the only person to unintentionally go against protocol. Qualifier Kaja Juvan did the same on Tuesday following her shock 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, win over second seed Markéta Vondroušová. The win was Juvan’s first ever over a top 20 player.

Apart from a stern glare from the match umpires, neither Errani or Juvan will be penalised in any way for doing something that is a force of habit.

Tournament director Oliviero Palma has told AFP that he is ‘proud’ that Palermo is hosting the return of tennis and the protocols implemented at the event are ones that can be copied at other events. However, he admits that it could be more challenging in certain parts of the world. Most notably America, which will host the US Open whilst there is a rise in OVID-19 cases in some areas of the country.

“The protocol is good, it’s applicable everywhere, so far it’s safe, it works. But we’re in a quiet part of the world. I understand the difficulties that the US Open could have with many more people,” he said. “But New York’s budget is not Palermo’s budget.”

Heading into the second round of the tournament on Wednesday, five out of the eight seeded players remain in the draw. Besides Vondroušová, Maria Sakkari (3) and Elise Mertens (5) have been knocked out of the tournament.

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Paul Annacone On Why Nadal’s French Open Record Should Be Considered As ‘Greatest In History’

The former mentor of Pete Sampras explains why he believes no player will become the GOAT in tennis.

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One of America’s most prominent tennis coaches believes that Rafael Nadal’s run at the French Open is unlikely to be repeated again as he weighs in on the Great All All Time Debate.

 

Paul Annacone, who is a former top 20 player that went on to coach the likes of Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, has hailed the world No.2 during an interview with Tennis Magazine Italia. Earlier this month Nadal became the first player – male or female – to win the same Grand Slam tournament for a 13th time following his triumph at the French Open. Overall, he has won 100 out of 102 matches with his two losses being to Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling.

Nadal’s latest triumph has added fire to the continuous debate over which player should be considered as the GOAT out of the Big Three. A group that also includes Federer who also has 20 Grand Slam titles to his name, as well as world No.1 Novak Djokovic. Some have argued that Nadal’s dominance at the same event could be a negative because the player who receives the honour should have it based on a variety of events. Although Annacone has dismissed this view.

“I understand the concept, but just considering that having won a Grand Slam 13 times could be a flaw in some way is madness,” he said.
“Indeed, I believe it can be considered the greatest achievement in the history of the sport.
“it is a goal that I cannot even think can be beaten.”

The 57-year-old is a critic of the subjective GOAT debate and believes that a player’s place in history should be based on the records they set alone. He revealed that Sampras once said to him that he considered finishing six separate seasons as world No.1 a greater achievement than the Grand Slam titles he has won. Sampras’ year-end tally is currently a record on the ATP Tour but it is likely that Djokovic will equal it at the end of 2020.

“I don’t believe in the concept of ‘greatest of all time’. I think we can debate, if anything, the “most successful”, who has achieved the most in their career. And to do this we can consider yes, the Slams won, the weeks spent at the top of the ranking, the number of Masters 1000 tournaments, the Davis Cups … .” Annacone explains.
“Most people tend to consider Grand Slam wins as the most important meter, and so do the players themselves. But I’m not sure: for example, once Pete Sampras told me that his biggest success was not the 14 Slams, or the 7 Wimbledon’s, but the 6 years in a row as number one in the world at the end of the year.’

Instead of GOAT Annacone has his own acronym that he feels is more fitting to the debate. In his view one of the Big Three will earn the right to be called the ‘MAOAT’ which stands for the Most Accomplished Of All Time.

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Ugo Humbert beats Alex De Minaur in Antwerp final to claim his second career title

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Frenchman Ugo Humbert beat Alex De Minaur 6-1 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 37 minutes to claim his second career title at the European Open in Antwerp.

 

Humbert broke serve in the second game and held his serve  at deuce to open up a 3-0 lead. The Frenchman got his double break in the sixth game on his fifth chance in the sixth game to close out the opening set 6-1 after 37 minutes.

Humbert was not able to convert the only break points of the second set at 4-4. Both players traded three mini-breaks in the tie-break. Humbert claimed his fourth mini-break to win the tie-break on his first match point with a forehand drop volley. 

Humbert has become the third French player to win the Antwerp title after Richard Gasquet in 2016 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2017. On Saturday the 22-year-old French player saved four match points in his 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 win over Daniel Evans in a 3-hour and 12 minute semifinal. He is the fourth player to save a match point en route to an ATP Tour title after Jiri Vesely in the quarter final and the semifinal in Pune, Reilly Opelka in the semifinal in Delray Beach and Novak Djokovic in the Dubai semifinal against Gael Monfils. 

Humbert and De Minaur were playing the fifth youngest final on the ATP Tour in 2020. 

“This was a very important week for me. I have managed to get back to the level I wanted to play at and play another final, which is great for me. I am very happy with where I am. This is a huge step in the right direction”, said Humbert. 

Humbert, who reached the Antwerp semifinal for the second consecutive year, explained the reason for his improvement this year. 

“It is a lot of improvement, a lot of work. I think I am a different player. I am more powerful. I am feeling good here on the court and in my career. I just enjoy to play tennis and to be in the tournament again. I try to improve my game. It was a lot of fun today, so I didn’t feel the pressure”, said Himbert.

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Aryna Sabalenka claims her seventh career title with a straight set win over Victoria Azarenka in Ostrava

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World number 12 Aryna Sabalenka beat two-time Australian Open Victoria Azarenka 6-2 6-2 after 68 minutes in the all-Belarusian final at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open to claim her seventh WTA title.

 

Azarenka and Sabalenka met twice in the past. They were tied 1-1 in their previous two head-to-head matches. Sabalenka beat Azarenka in three sets at the 2019 US Open. Azarenka avenged this defeat beating her 22-year-old compatriot in straight sets at the 2020 US Open last September. 

Azarenka has made a successful come-back this year winning the Western and Southern Open in New York and finishing runner-up to Naomi Osaka at the US Open. 

Earlier this week Azarenka won six consecutive sets after losing the first set in the opening round against Barbora Krejikova. Sabalenka came back from 2-5 down in the decisive set against Coco Gauff and won the final 12 games against Sara Sorribes Tormo after losing the first ten. 

Sabalenka got her first break at love in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. The 2020 Doha Qatar Open went up a double break after two deuces to win the opening set 6-2. 

Sabalenka reeled off seven of eight points to break serve at love in the third game to open up a 4-1 lead. Azarenka called a medical time-out to treat a problem on her neck, but she was able to pull one break back at 15 in the sixth game for 2-4. Sabalenka earned her third break to open up a 5-2 lead and served out the win on her third championships point. 

Sabalenka has claimed her seventh career title and her fifth in the autumn tournaments. She is just 35 points away from the top 10. Azarenka will end her successful 2020 season in the 14th spot of the WTA Ranking.  

Sabalenka will also team up with her teammate Elise Mertens in the doubles final against Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani. 

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