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.

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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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Marco Cecchinato saves seven break points he faced to beat Dominic Thiem in Geneva

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Marco Cecchinato saved all seven break points he faced to beat 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem 6-3 6-4 in 1 hour and 34 minutes in the opening round of the Gonet Geveva Open. 

 

Cecchinato avenged his defeat against Thiem, who beat the Italian player in straight sets in the Roland Garros semifinal in 2018. 

Thiem missed the second part of the 2021 season due to a wrist injury. The Austrian player made his come-back last March at the ATP Challenger tournament in Marbella and he has not scored a single win in his six matches. 

Cecchinato saved two break points in a long third game after four deuces in the third game of the second set. Cecchinato dropped just three points in his remaining two service games to close out the first set 6-3. 

Cecchinato missed a break point at 1-1 in the second set before saving five break points in the fourth game to hold serve after four deuces. Cecchinato earned the decisive break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held his next two service games easily to seal the second set 6-3 after 1 hour and 33 minutes. 

Cecchinato set up a second round match against Kamil Majchrzak, who overcame Alexander Bublik 6-1 6-7 (4-7) 6-3. 

John Millman cruied past John Millman 6-3 6-1 setting up a second match against Danil Medvedev, who will play his first clay-court match of the year after a hernia problem. Federico Delbonis edged past Lithuanian wild card Rikardas Berankis 6-4 6-4. Last year’s Winston Salem champion Ilya Ivashka came back from one set down to beat Marcos Giron 4-6 6-3 6-2. 

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Daniil Medvedev ‘Happy To Play Wimbledon’ If Ban Is Lifted

The world No.2 says he is willing to speak with other players about the situation ahead of his return to action following surgery.

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Daniil Medvedev (RUS) in action against Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Daniil Medvedev says he is still hopeful that he might be able to play at this year’s Wimbledon Championships should officials at The All England Club decide to change their stance.

 

At present the reigning US Open champion will not be allowed to play at the grass court major due to his nationality. Officials at the Grand Slam have confirmed that Russian and Belarussian players have been banned from the event due to the war in Ukraine. Ian Hewitt, who is the chairman of The AELTC, said the action was taken in order to prevent ‘the propaganda machine of the Russian regime’ from potentially benefiting from their players’ success.

The ban is a controversial move for the sport which until now had a united approach when it came to allowing those players participate in tournaments but only as neutral athletes. Former Wimbledon champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokopvic and Andy Murray have all expressed some degree of opposition to the decision. Meanwhile, the ATP and WTA are considering the possibility of removing the allocation of ranking points at the event.

Speaking about the ban ahead of this week’s Geneva Open, Medvedev acknowledges that it is a ‘tricky situation’ but is still hopeful that a u-turn could occur which would allow him to play. The 26-year-old has made four main draw appearances at Wimbledon with his best result being a run to the fourth round last year.

“There has been a lot of talk around it. I just tried to follow what’s happening because I don’t have any decisions to make. It’s right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved,” news agency AFP quoted Medvedev as telling reporters in Switzerland.
“It’s a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody’s going to give a different opinion.
“I can play: I’m going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament.
“I cannot play: well, I’m going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play.”

The former world No.1 has been among a group of Russian players who have previously called for peace in the region. Although none of them have gone as far as publicly condemning the actions of their government. Something which has drawn criticism from Ukraine’s Elina Svitoliva.

“I had some time to follow what is happening, yeah, it’s very upsetting,” Medvedev commented on the war.

Geneva will be the first event Medvedev has played in since reaching the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. He took time away from the Tour to undergo hernia surgery but has confirmed he intends to play at next week’s French Open despite his lack of match play on the clay.

During his time at those events, the tennis star says he is more than happy to speak with other players about the Wimbledon ban should they want to.

“Since I haven’t been on the tour, I haven’t talked to any of them face to face. It was the first time when I came here on Saturday when I can talk to players, and if they start talking about this, we can discuss,” he said.
“I don’t know exactly what’s happening, what’s going to happen, if there are going to be more decisions made.
“Same about Wimbledon. I don’t know if this decision is 100 percent, and it’s over.”

Granted a bye in the first round, Medvedev will start his Geneva campaign against either Richard Gasquet or John Millman.

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Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic win their fourth ATP Masters 1000 doubles title

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Defending champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic battled past John Isner and Diego Schwartzman 6-2 6-7 (6-7) 12-10 to claim their fourth ATP Masters 1000 doubles title together at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Mektic and Pavic broke twice to win a one-sided opening set 6-2. Both teams went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break of the second set. The Croatians earned a championship point at 6-5 in the tie-break, but Schwartzman hit a pair of forehand winners to force a Match Tie-Break. 

Both teams did not convert match points before Mektic and Pavic won the final two points to seal the Match Tie-Break 11-9. 

Isner became the first player to reach three Masters 1000 doubles finals with three different players in the same year. The US player won two consecutive Sunshine Double trophies in Indian Wells with Jack Sock and the Miami Open with Hubert Hurkacz.  Mektic and Pavic won nine ATP Tour titles last year and finished the 2021 season as the world number 1 team in the ATP Doubles Rannking. They had not won a title so far in 2022 before the Rome tournament, but they showed their form this week, as they dropped just one set during the tournament. The Croatian Doubles team beat Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in the semifinal on Saturday.

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