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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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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