Australian Open Qualifying Heads To The Middle East As Player Field Is Revelled
The upcoming event will be a historic one for tennis.
For the first time in Australian Open history the qualifying tournament for the ‘Happy Slam’ will not be held in the country.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine process those arriving in Australia have to go through, officials have sought the help of two other countries to stage their events. The Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha will be home to the men’s tournament. First opened in 1992, the venue usually holds the Qatar Open (ATP 250) which will not be taking place in 2021.
“It’s our pleasure to have the opportunity of hosting the qualifying rounds of the 2021 Australian Open, and we are glad to welcome all the participating players to Doha. We promise them an exceptional experience which will live up to Qatar’s globally recognised reputation as a major destination for world sports,” Karim Alami from the Qatari Tennis Federation said in a statement.
“Selecting Doha to host the 2021 Australian Open qualifiers due to coronavirus pandemic reflects the global trust in Qatar’s abilities, and we are not going to leave any stoned unturned in organising a world-class event,” he added.
Among those set to participate in the 128-player draw will be Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz who was recently named ATP Newcomer of the Year after winning three Challenger titles before his 18th birthday. Other youngsters set to play include Lorenzo Musetti and Sebastian Korda.
Also on the entry list are former top 20 players Ivo Karlovic, Ernests Gulbis and Viktor Troicki. There is a strong chance that this could be Troicki’s last time trying to qualify for the Grand Slam after being appointed the Davis Cup captain of Serbia.
“We are very grateful to our friends in Qatar for hosting the Australian Open 2021 men’s qualifying event in Doha,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.
“Staging the AO qualifying event, and providing players with the opportunity to both earn prize money and win the chance to play Grand Slam tennis during this difficult time has been a key objective in all our planning.”
A full list of entrants is yet to be published by the organisers.
UAE for the women
As for the WTA players seeking a route into the Grand Slam main draw, they will be playing their qualifying rounds at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium and Complex in Dubai. As is currently stands all 16 seeds will be ranked in the world’s top 125.
Heading the field will be Spain’s Aliona Bolsova who is yet to play in the main draw of the Australian Open. Kaja Juvan, Oceane Dodin and Greet Minnen are the highest ranked players after Bolsova.
Also taking part will be a former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard and 2019 US Open semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova. Timea Babos, Sara Errani and Timea Babos will also be playing.
“Tennis players are a regular here, both for training and time off, and they know what Dubai has to offer. We are sure they will be looking forward to the qualifying tournament here and giving off their best in a totally safe environment, with all the necessary COVID-19 precautions and protocols in place,” the Dubai Sports Council said in a statement.
Both the men’s and women’s tournaments will take place between January 10-13. A total of 16 main draw spots is up for grabs.
|Women’s qualifying entry list|
|Ranking||First Name||Last Name||Nation|
|186||Maria Camila||Osorio Serrano||COL|
SuperTennis Granted Rights To US Open Until 2027
SuperTennis will be the home for the US Open in Italy until 2027.
SuperTennis have been given exclusive rights to show the US Open in Italy until 2027 after a new agreement was reached.
The USTA and SportCast reached the agreement as announced in a press release.
SportCast are the Italian Tennis and Padel Federation Group company that manages the SuperTennis TV channel in Italy.
In the press released the USTA confirmed they reached a five year agreement with SportCast for SuperTennis to show the US Open until 2027.
The deal means that SuperTennis will show the best daily matches live and delayed alongside coverage on the SuperTenniX digital platform, which gives FITP members and subscribers access to stream all matches across the two week tournament.
It also means that the US Open joins Wimbledon, Davis Cup and a number of ATP and WTA events to be shown on SuperTennis.
Chief Commercial Officer at the USTA, Kristen Corio, had this to say on today’s announcement, “SuperTennis has proven to be a trusted home for the sport in Italy,” Corio said in the press release.
“With a number of Italian players at the forefront of this rising generation of talent, it’s an exciting time to begin this new partnership and we look forward to working together with SuperTennis to continue growing the audience for the US Open.”
Meanwhile the president of Italian Tennis and Padel Federation, Angelo Binaghi, was delighted with the latest news and talked about the impact it has on Italian tennis, “The Italian Tennis and Padel Federation continues its development policy through the promotion of great tennis in our country, and with the founding of the SuperTennis channel 15 years ago, it brought back the sport of tennis to our dedicated audience,” Binaghi said.
“Alongside providing extensive coverage of Wimbledon, we are now proud to make another tennis Grand Slam available to all Italian tennis fans. The US Open is a tournament that has recently provided some incredible stories, including the historic 2015 US Open final won by Flavia Pennetta over Roberta Vinci.
“The level of access that SuperTennis can provide to its viewers will only contribute to the further promotion of tennis and the increased support of our national tennis players.”
This year’s US Open will take place from the 28th of August until the 10th of September with Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz looking to defend their titles.
Undeterred Novak Djokovic Hopeful Of US Open Return In 2023
Novak Djokovic says he ‘really wants’ to play at this year’s US Open when it is likely he will be allowed to enter the country.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion is currently unable to enter American territory due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19. All foreign arrivals are required to be vaccinated before travelling to the country under an emergency law implemented to curb the spread of the virus. Although this law is expected to come to an end in May.
Djokovic had attempted to apply for a special exception which would have allowed him to play Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami but was refused by authorities. Even though he had the backing of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) who pledged their support on social media. Furthermore, American players who are unvaccinated are allowed to play in these events.
Speaking to CNN about his recent absence, a defiant Djokovic has insisted that he has no regrets about not being able to play. The Serbian has said in the past that he didn’t want to have the vaccine as he has concerns about the impact it might have on his body.
“I have no regrets,” Djokovic states. “I’ve learned through life that regrets only hold you back and basically make you live in the past. And I don’t want to do that. I also don’t want to live too much in the future. I want to be as much as in the present moment, but of course think about future, create a better future.”
On Monday Djokovic lost his No.1 ranking to Carlos Alcaraz who won the Indian Wells title. He has held the top spot for a total of 380 weeks so far in his career which is more than any other player – male or female – in the history of the sport.
“I congratulate Alcaraz. He absolutely deserves to come back to No.1,” Djokovic commented.
“It’s a pity that I wasn’t able to play in Indian Wells [and] Miami. I love those tournaments. I had plenty of success there. But at the same time, it is the conscious decision I made and I knew that there is always a possibility that I won’t go.”
Djokovic’s last match on American soil was back in September 2021 when he lost in the final of the US Open to Daniil Medvedev. He is a three-time champion at the Grand Slam and has also contested the final on six other occasions between 2007-2021.
The 35-year-old remains optimistic that he will return to New York later this year as long as the government emergency legislation is lifted.
“I really want to be playing there, want to be there,” Djokovic said. “I actually had in 2021 when I lost in the finals against (Daniil) Medvedev, probably one of the best moments I ever had with the New York crowd. And I’ve been fortunate to win that tournament three times, play many finals. And even though I lost that match, I received a lot of love and appreciation from people and I want to go back and I want to reconnect with the crowd there. So that’s something I’m looking forward to and hopefully it will happen.”
So far this year Djokovic has won two Tour titles in Adelaide and at the Australian Open. Out of 16 matches played, his only loss was to Medvedev at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
Wimbledon Likely To Scrap Ban On Russian Players, Says Two-Time Champion Murray
Andy Murray has told BBC Sport that he understands the ban implemented on Russian and Belarussian players competing at Wimbledon will be lifted this year.
The All England Club, as well as by British LTA, has been under pressure to conduct a u-turn on their policy following the backlash they received last year from both the ATP and WTA. In 2022 Britain became the only country on the Tour to ban players from their events as a result of the war in Ukraine which has claimed thousands of lives. Organisers said their decision to do so was based on advice from their government who voiced concern that Russia could use UK-based events as propaganda.
However, the governing bodies of men’s and women’s tennis condemned the move with both of them issuing fines to the LTA. It has been reported by The Telegraph newspaper that the WTA is willing to halve their $1M fine if athletes from the two nations are allowed to play this year. It has also been reported that officials are contemplating the possibility of requiring these players to sign some sort of contract to say they will not be making political gestures before being allowed to play. However, this has not been publicly confirmed.
Whilst there is yet to be any official statement, Murray appears confident that the ban will be lifted based on what he has heard. Murray, who donated more than £500,000 of his prize money from last season to charities supporting Ukrainian children affected by the war, has previously voiced his opposition to the 2022 ban.
“It’s a really difficult one and I do feel for the players who weren’t able to play last year – but I also understand the situation and why it’s really hard for Wimbledon to make a call on it as well,” Murray told BBC Sport.
“My understanding is that they are going to be allowed to play and I’m not going to be going nuts if that is the case.
“But if Wimbledon went down another route I would be understanding of that.”
Besides their financial penalty, Wimbledon lost their right to award ranking points last year for the first time in history. There have also been concerns that should the ban not be reversed, the rights for some events held in the UK such as Eastbourne could be removed and sold elsewhere.
Under current rules, players from Russia and Belarus are allowed to play on the Tour but only under a neutral status. They are currently suspended from all team competitions such as the Davis Cup.
Murray spoke about Wimbledon to reporters in Indian Wells ahead of his first round clash with Tomas Etcheverry of Argentina. So far this season he has won six out of nine matches played with his best run being to the final of the Qatar Open last month.
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