Rafael Nadal starts his Rome title defense against US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal starts his Rome title defense against US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta

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Nine-time Rome Internazionali d’Italia champion Rafael Nadal will play his come-back match on the ATP Tour against this year’s US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta at the Foro Italico in Rome. Carreno Busta reached his second semifinal at the US Open this week and claimed his first doubles title at the Western and Southern Open last month. Nadal beat Carreno Busta in the third round at this year’s Australian Open last January.

 

Nadal won the past two editions of the Rome tournament and is on a 10-match winning streak in the Eternal City.

Nadal could face last month’s Western and Southern Open finalist Milos Raonic in the third round and either Andrey Rublev or Diego Schwartzman in the quarter final. The King of Clay did not a set en route to winning the title in Acapulco against Frances Tiafoe at his most recent tournament last February. 

The Mallorcan legend shares the same bottom half of the draw with 2019 Nitto ATP champion and last year’s Rome semifinalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will start his Rome campaign against either reignin Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner or Benoit Paire. Tsitsipas shares the third quarter of the quarter with Fabio Fognini, Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov. 

Four-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic will make his debut against either Salvatore Caruso or a qualifier in the second round and coul face Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime. Djokovic could meet fifth seed Gael Monfils or 2008 Rome finalist Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final. The Serb will play in his first tournament after the disqualification in New Yprk. 

Local star Matteo Berrettini will take on either Jan Lennard Struff or a qualifier in the second round. David Goffin, 2018 Paris Bercy champion Karen Khachanov and 2020 Cordoba and Rio de Janeiro champion Christian Garin have been drawn in Berrettini’s section of the draw. 

Danil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem have pulled out the Rome tournament after reaching the semifinals at the US Open this week. 

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REPORT: French Open Attendance To Be More Than Halved Amid COVID-19 Threat

It is understood that the number of fans allowed to attend daily has been cut by roughly 55%.

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This year’s French Open has been forced to dramatically reduce their initial plans for 11,500 daily visitors, according to information obtained by L’Equipe newspaper.

 

The number has reportedly been cut to just 5000 following a ‘governmental decision’ linked to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Organisers had originally set out plans for three separate zones with two holding up to 5000 people and an additional welcoming 1500. However, it has now emerged the new number will only be applied to one specific zone where the premier Philippe-Chatrier Court is located. Meaning that it is possible that matches played on courts Suzanne-Lenglen and Simonne-Mathieu will not be opened to the public.

In recent days France has seen a rise in coronavirus cases and reported 9784 new infections in the country on Wednesday. A slight dip of France’s all-time high of 10,561 which was recorded last Saturday. It is understood that the decision to reduce the crowd size at Roland Garros is also based on spikes in other countries apart from France.

There has been no official comment from the French Tennis Federation (FFT) but L’Equipe reports that the change has been made in line with new local government guidance. The ruling will have no impact on next week’s qualifying tournament which is being played behind closed doors.

Leading up to the clay-court major some players have voiced caution about attending the event with crowds. Outspoken player Nick Kyrgios, who is not playing in Paris this year, went as far as accusing organisers of not taking the pandemic seriously enough. Former champion Simona Halep has also voiced her own concerns.

“I just read that they will have fans,” Halep told reporters earlier this week. “But I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be very strict.
“We cannot be with the fans, we cannot be with the people that are not in the bubble, so I think they will be separate. Hopefully it’s going to be safe, and we will feel like here, like in the bubble.”

The French Open will start on September 28th. Rafael Nadal and Ash Barty are the reigning champions but Barty will not be defending her title due to travelling concerns related to COVID-19.

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Jannik Sinner: “I played a great match against Tsitsipas and I am thrilled”

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Jannik Sinner upset Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1 6-7 6-2 in 2 hours and 13 minutes in the battle between Next Gen ATP champions on the famous Pietrangeli Court at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome to score his second win over a top ten player. 

 

Sinner won his first Masters 1000 match in 2019 in Rome against Steve Johnson. 

Sinner set up a third round match against former Rome semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, who cruised past Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1 6-0. 

Sinner won 11 of the first 14 games before Tsitsipas fought back to win the second set at the tie-break forcing the match to the third set.

Sinner converted on 7 of 14 break points and dropped serve twice from three break point opportunities. The Italian teenager broke three times and lost two points on serve to win the opening set 6-1 in 30 minutes. Sinner earned his first break in the opening game with a forehand winner, but he wasted two more break point chances in the third game before winning four consecutive points at 3-1. Sinner rallied from 15-40 down in the seventh game to break serve after a double fault from Tsitsipas. 

Sinner went up a break in the second game of the second setto build up a 5-2 lead and served for the match in the ninth game. Tsitsipas broke back to draw level to 5-5 and earned another break at 5-5 to serve for the set. Sinner broke back to force the second set to the tie-break. Tsitsipas saved two match points at 6-7 and 8-9 and won the tie-break 11-9 after Sinner made a forehand error. 

Tsitsipas reeled off 16 consective points on serve and broke serve with a forehand down the line winner. Sinner got another break and held serve at love to build up a 4-0 lead. Sinner closed out the match with another hold at love. 

“Tsitsipas is obviously a very experienced player. I played against him last year in Rome. I just wanted to play my game and move better. In the beginning, I was feeling great and I knew it was his first match on clay. When I served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, I hit one double fault and the tie-break and could have gone either way. I tried to start strongly in the third set. While you are young, you can achieve many things within a year. I think I have improved everything, especially the serve. I served a little bit better today, changing rotation and everything. Playing against Tsitsipas is never easy. Last year was my first test against a top 10 player, while I knew I had the level to compete better against him today. It was a great match, and I am thrilled. I have improved a lot since my last match against Tsitsipas”, said Sinner. 

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‘Her Values Are Not What Tennis Stands For’ – Andy Murray Backs Calls To Rename Margaret Court Arena

The British tennis star is the latest top name to hit out at Court over her history of anti-gay comments.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has said the Australian Open should consider renaming one of their premier courts after Margaret Court due to her controversial views.

 

The former world No.1 says 78-year-old Court, who holds the record for most singles Grand Slam titles won, doesn’t represent the values of the sport. Despite being one of Australia’s most decorated tennis players of all time, Court has a history of making various anti-gay views but maintains that she is not homophobic. She once said that the women’s tour was ‘full of lesbians‘ and during her playing career described rival Martina Navratilova as a ‘bad role model’ due to her sexuality. In other incidents she also boycotted Qantas airlines due to their support of marriage equality and publicly criticised former player Casey Dellacqua for having a baby with her same-sex partner.

Murray joins a list of figures calling for a change along with Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe who both held an on-court protest back in January calling for the name change. The Brit argues that the controversy surrounding Court takes focus away from tennis and this should not be the case. This year the Australian was honoured at the Melbourne major with a low-key event to mark the 50th anniversary of her calendar Grand Slam.

“She has obviously offended and upset a lot of people over the years. I think the players certainly have spoken up, which is a positive thing,” Murray told pridelife.com.
“As far as renaming the venue. I think that yes, it’s something the sport should consider. I don’t know who makes the final decision on that but I don’t think her values are what tennis stands for. When you get to the Australian Open you want to concentrate on the tennis. Court’s views detract from that.”

Tennis Australia, who oversees the Australian Open, has previously distanced themselves from Court’s views. In a statement previously issued they said the decision to recognise the 50th anniversary of her triumph was solely due to her achievements and they do not endorse her views.

“Court was given a ceremony at the Australian Open this year to mark her achievements in the game, but the reception she received from the public was lukewarm,” Murray commented.

The issue of gay rights is rarely spoken about in the world of men’s tennis. Unlike the women’s game there are no openly gay male players and only a handful have publicly spoken about their sexuality in recent years. The most well known being former top 100 American player Brian Vahaly who came out after he retired from the sport.

“I think, certainly in men’s tennis, there have been a number of players who have come out as gay, but not while they’re competing. I think there’s still a stigma around it which obviously shouldn’t be the case,” said Murray.

There are various theories about the reasons where there may be no openly gay players on the Tour. Murray says he has never witnessed or heard homophobic comments whilst playing in the sport, but admits that it may be different if somebody did come out.

“I wouldn’t say that I have heard it in the locker room. If more gay men came out it’s something you might see more of potentially,” he explained.
“There have been a few things said in articles I’ve read where players have made homophobic comments, but I’ve not been in the presence of anyone when they have made homophobic comments in the locker room.”

Murray will return to action in less than two weeks time at the French Open in Paris.

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