COVID-19 Pandemic Hands Venus Williams ‘Unexpected Lesson’ - UBITENNIS
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COVID-19 Pandemic Hands Venus Williams ‘Unexpected Lesson’

The former world No.1 opens up about her experiences this year.

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The mayhem caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has given former world No.1 Venus Williams a fresh perspective on tennis as she vows to continue playing on the Tour.

 

Earlier this year the entire sport came to a halt for weeks due to the pandemic and Williams spent a total of three months at her home for the first time since she was 17. On the court, she has endured a dismal time by winning just one match in eight tournaments played. Doing so at the Lexington Open against Victoria Azarenka during the summer.

Despite the results, Williams says her love for the sport has intensified during the Tour lockdown. Writing a reflective article on her year, the five-time Grand Slam winner says she received an ‘unexpected lesson’ in appreciation.

“At the end of those three months, I longed for tennis,” she wrote. “With months without the game and no clear timeline on when it was coming back, I found a new appreciation for tennis. I discovered true excitement in my craft, in being good at something. Sport is in my soul and tennis is in my blood. I appreciate this years’ unexpected lesson in appreciation.”

Elaborating further, Williams says the biggest issue for her on the Tour has been playing without fans cheering her on. Due to the pandemic tournaments such as the US Open took place behind closed doors for the first time in history. Meanwhile, others did allow spectators but at a reduced capacity. An approach that is expected to continue into next year with the Australian Open currently aiming to fill 25% of the capacity of their three premier courts.

“Playing without fans was a drag, continues to be a drag, and will forever be a drag until we can get our fans back safely! The fans are ones that give us athletes a chance to have a job. If the fans don’t watch, if no one cares, we are irrelevant. There is no sport without fans,” Williams explains.
“I am an introvert, I always found the fans overwhelming in a way, more than I could handle. I was wrong. I thought I was playing for me, but all along I was playing for them. The echo of empty stadiums rang louder with each contest. The silence was too much to bear. Right now I can’t handle not being without the fans.”

As well as the no fans, players have been abiding by stricter rules than ever before regarding what they can or can’t go. ‘Bubbles’ have been set up across the world at events to prevent them from catching or potentially spreading COVID-19.

Whilst the bubble approach has been praised. Various players have talked about the mental toll it takes on them. Williams is the latest to express her view by voicing her support for the approach but adds that she finds it both lonely and trying at times.

“Being in a bubble is no fun. It isn’t until your freedom is taken away from you that you know what freedom is! It’s so strange to be told where you can go, where you can’t go, who you can sit next to, how long you can stay someplace….its ALOT! Being in a bubble is a small price to ask for health and wellness for not only yourself but for the world. Still, I must say, it’s trying!” she concluded.

At the age of 40 Williams is the second oldest player on the WTA Tour to have an official ranking after Hungary’s Greta Arn. She hasn’t won a WTA singles title of any sort since the 2016 Taiwan Open.

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Adrian Mannarino sets up quarter final match against Radu Albot at the Singapore Open

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Top seed Adrian Mannarino beat Roberto Marcora 6-3 7-5 to advance to the quarter finals at the Singapore Tennis Open. 

 

Mannarino converted his second break point at deuce in the fifth game of the opening set after six deuces to take a 3-2 lead, as Marcora hit his forehand into the net. The Frenchman earned three set points in the ninth game. Marcora saved the first two chances, but Mannarino sealed the first set on his third chance after 50 minutes. 

Marcora went down 0-40 in the second game of the second set, but he saved all three break points to hold serve at deuce. Mannarino held his serve in the next games and earned two match points on return in the 12th game. He sealed the win, as Marcora sent his backhand into the net. 

“At this stage there is no easy match. I never played against Marcora before, but I knew he had a couple of good games before. In the second set, he got used to the pace and was winning points in the big moments and it looked like it could go either way. I am pretty happy that I managed to keep my focus and win the second set”, said Mannarino. 

Mannarino set up a quarter final against Moldova’s Radu Albot, who fended off three match points to beat Yannick Hanfmann after 2 hours and 42 minutes. Albot fended off match points at 4-5 15-40 and in the second set and at 6-7 in the tie-break. 

Australia’s Matthew Ebden cruised past his compatriot John Millman 6-4 6-1 in 72 minutes. Soonwoo Kwon won 31 of his 38 first service points to beat Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3 6-4 setting up a quarter final against Marin Cilic. Soonwoo Kwon claimed his third ATP Challenger Tour title in Biella beating Italian Next Gen star Lorenzo Musetti.

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Benoit Paire beats Nicholas Jerry to move into the quarter final at the Cirdoba Open

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Benoit Paire claimed a 6-2 6-4 win over Nicholas Jarry after 1 hour and 17 minutes to advance to the quarter finals at the Cordoba Open. Paire has improved his head-to-head record against Jarry to 4-0. 

 

The Frenchman fended off the eight break points he faced and broke twice in the third and fifth games and once in the second set. 

“I am really happy because I didn’t make too many double faults. I saw I was number one at the Australian Open with only one match and 23 double faults, so I am really happy to save it. Even when I was under pressure in the second set, I tried to push a little bit more. I am really happy about how I saved my break points in the second set. He made some mistakes on a few, but I was happy to fight. I did not say anything”,said Paire. 

Paire set up a quarter final against Federico Coria, the younger brother of former world number 3 Guillerrmo Coria. 

Federico Coria came back from one set down to beat Francesco Cerundolo from Argentina, who won three ATP Challenger titles in 2020. Coria reached the quarter final at Rio Open and qualified for his first Masters 1000 main draw in Rome. Slovakia’s Jozef Kovalik rallied from one set down to beat Chilean qualifier Marcelo Tomas Vera 4-6 6-2 6-3 after 2 hours and 12 minutes setting up a quarter final match against Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis, who beat his compatriot Federico Delbonis 6-4 7-5. 

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Iga Swiatek reaches her first WTA Tour semifinal since her Roland Garros triumph

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Iga Swiatek has advanced to her first semifinal since her Roland Garros title last October, when Danielle Collins was forced to retire as she was trailing 2-6 0-3 in the second set. 

 

The 19-year-old Polish player fired 17 aces and and won all 10 points on Collins’ second serve. She held three hard fought service games at deuce at 2-0 and 5-2 in the first set and 1-0 in the second set. 

Swiatek earned an early break to open up a 3-0 lead. Collins broke back in the fifth game for 2-3, but Swiatek broke twice in the sixth and eighth games of the first set and once in the second game of the second set to build up a 6-2 3-0 lead, before Collins was forced to retire following a medical time-out. 

Swiatek set up a semifinal clash against Jill Teichmann, who battled past Anastasjia Sevastova 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 7-5 after 2  hours and 57 minutes. Sevastova saved five match points in the tie-break of the second set. Teichmann faced two match points, as she was serving at 4-5 in the third set. 

Sixteen year-old qualifier Coco Gauff came back from 2-6 2-4 down to beat Shelby Rogers 2-6 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 50 minutes. 

Rogers broke twice in a row in the fifth and seventh games to win the first set 6-2 and earned two of the three breaks at the start of the start of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. Gauff rallied from 2-4 down by winning four consecutive games with two consecutive breaks to take a 6-4 lead. The third set started with a trade of breaks. Rogers broke at love in the fifth game to take a 4-2 lead. Gauff reeled off four games with two consecutive breaks to close out the third set 6-4. The 16-year-old US player won 14 of her 38 WTA main draw and qualifying matches in three sets and came back from one set down in 10 matches.

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