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The Slow And Successful Rise Of Veronika Kudermetova

Let us look at the long path to success at high levels of the current Russian number two, who just finished as the runner-up in Abu Dhabi.

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Veronika Kudermetova - Roland Garros 2019 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)
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THE EARLY YEARS

Veronika Kudermetova was born on April 24, 1997 in Kazan, the capital of the Tatar Republic, and is the daughter of a hockey player, Eduard Kudermetov. Having a professional athlete as a parent put sports at the centre of family life, and led Veronika to move around Russia, following her father’s transfers from one club to another. 

 

As a child, Veronika started playing tennis by chance; here’s how she explained it in an interview: “I spent the summer in the countryside, and a friend of mine invited me to try tennis, because she was bored playing by herself. Not only had I never picked up a racquet in my hands, but I had absolutely no idea what it was. However, the idea seemed more attractive to me than working in my grandmother’s garden. I had a lot of energy and, surprisingly, I even managed to hit the ball. I really liked the feeling that the game gave me.” 

This happened when she was seven years old, but she probably would have met tennis soon anyway, because her dad plays recreationally, and with great passion. Eduard himself recalls endless matches played with teammates during pre-seasons held in Finland which lasted until one or two in the morning, since the sun never goes down during summers beyond the Arctic Circle.

After all, in addition to Veronika, the younger daughter Polina also plays tennis: according to her father, Polina could actually prove to be the Serena Williams of the family, being the younger but more gifted sister. At the moment, Polina (born in June 2003) is 4th in the junior rankings and has just reached the semi-finals at the 2020 French Open.

In her own junior years, however, Veronika encountered the typical difficulties faced by young Russian players of her generation. In fact, it is known that the many valuable players that emerged in the early 2000s were the result of a precise sports policy wanted by Boris Yeltsin himself. At the time, recruiting and training were endowed with considerable funds, which went to help the clubs and players – there were therefore good conditions to support the crucial developing phase, the one that requires teenagers to travel without any immediate economic return. After the end of the Yeltsin era (he died in 2007), things changed, and the players had to proceed with little financial aid. Kudermetova’s father tried in part to find a solution: when he moved to play in Moscow, he asked as part of the contract that his daughter could play at a quality tennis club, in order to be taken care of by competent coaches – economic difficulties persisted when it came to international travel, though.

Kudermetova’s junior career was good but did not reach the heights of some of her peers. She won some Grade 4 tournaments, but in the higher-level ones (Grade 1 and grade A) she was often downed by Belinda Bencic and Daria Kasatkina: the Swiss beat her twice in the tournament of Santa Croce (once in the final) and also at the Trofeo Bonfiglio, while Daria defeated her at the Yeltsin Cup. On the other hand, she won the 2013 junior Fed Cup as the second-best player on the team behind Kasatkina. 

Her best junior ranking was the 22nd spot reached in 2013, aged 16. In that same year, two of her peers dominated the Slams: Ana Konjuh won the two titles on hardcourts, Belinda Bencic those in Europe. The class of 1997 would then win two more majors in 2014 (Kasatkina at Roland Garros, Ostapenko at Wimbledon) and one in 2015 (Paula Badosa, again at Roland Garros), leaving little to younger and/or older competition. 

With such rivals, it wasn’t easy for Kudermetova to stand out. However, she remained a player not to be underestimated, and with decent prospects. But with little help from the federation, she had to give up longer trips and select the tournaments she entered. 

This is why her father, who after retiring from hockey had become a member of her team, looked for alternative solutions: in 2012, he found support from the Austrian federation – the idea was to switch sides and play for Austria. This is why Veronika moved to Vienna for a couple of months, but reluctantly so – she didn’t like the idea of ​​changing her citizenship. Her father has said that at a certain point she explicitly told him that she would either play as a Russian or stop playing tennis altogether; the family then returned to Moscow. Perhaps these obstacles contributed to the decision of turning pro at age 16 to only play ITF tournaments. The start of her professional career, however, would turn out not to be easy.  

On page 3, her early pro years

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Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Rotterdam Due To Back Injury

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from Rotterdam due to ongoing back problems.

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Rafael Nadal (@WeAreTennisITA - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal has announced his withdrawal from next week’s ATP 500 event in Rotterdam due to a back injury.

 

The Spaniard’s back problems have started since before the Australian Open which he managed to play the tournament in Melbourne with the problem.

Eventually Nadal lost in his Australian Open quarter-final to Stefanos Tsitsipas from 2 sets to love up.

Despite playing in Melbourne, Nadal’s back problems continue to derail his schedule as he has now withdrawn from Rotterdam.

In a statement on Twitter, Nadal said that after consulting his doctor it was not the best idea to play Rotterdam.

“It is with great sadness that I have to forfeit from Rotterdam. As most of the fans know, I suffered back problems in Australia that started in Adelaide and continued in Melbourne,” Nadal said.

“We found a temporary solution that allowed me to play without pain in the second week of the tournament. Once I got back to Spain I visited my doctor and together with my team they’ve advised not to play this upcoming week.”

Nadal’s 10 year hiatus from the tournament continues as he looks to recover from the problem as soon as possible.

The 20-time grand slam champion’s main priority will be the clay-court swing where he can win a record-breaking 21st grand slam title.

Nadal’s next scheduled tournament will be the Miami Masters in late-March.

Meanwhile Nadal could now lose his world number two ranking next week as the top seed which is now Daniil Medvedev could replace him there.

The recent Australian Open finalist will need to reach the final if he wants to become the world number two but will face stiff competition in Holland from the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Milos Raonic.

The tournament will start on the 1st of March.

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John Isner not happy with the cut in prize money for Miami Masters

John Isner took to Twitter to raise some issues about the ATP and latest state of affairs in Tennis.

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The American took to social media to vent his frustration saying it doesn’t make sense.

 

John Isner took to twitter today after hearing the news that the Miami Open will be cutting its prize money down with the singles champion only taking $300,110 with a first round loser only winning $10,000 in prize money.

Isner and many other players on tour believe the tournament should be forced to due an audit to truly reveal what their finances are and to see if they are hiding anything.

“How about a true audit to see how much tourneys are actually hurting and then a money formula after the event to reconcile?”

“Amazing we still don’t have this in a lot of our big events. How does that make any sense?” 

He also tweeted about the promoters saying the system the ATP uses is broken.

The American also spoke of the unfairness in the cuts the players are taking in comparison to the actual events.

“So players should take a 60% cut and 80% champions cut while ATP executives keep full salaries, benefits, and expense accounts? Make that make sense. Seems just a little bit hypocritical, don’t ya think?”.

Isner finally believes the players should benefit from the tournament not just in the short term but over a long tenure.

““Tennis is plagued by conflict and lack of transparency”

The tournament is scheduled for March 23rd at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and the tournament has confirmed they won’t be doing a quarantine like the Australian Open.

The players will need to provide a negative PCR test to board a flight to the US and once they land they will be tested once again and isolate until a negative result is shown.

The players will only be allowed at the hotel and the venue and any player who doesn’t respect the rules will be subject to penalties and be withdrawn from the tournament.

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Lleyton Hewitt ‘Hugely Honoured’ To Be Elected To Hall Of Fame

The class of 2021 have been confirmed with The Original 9 of women’s tennis also being inducted.

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Former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt celebrated his 40th birthday by being notified that he will be inducted into the prestigious Tennis Hall of Fame.

 

The Australian tennis star will be inducted into the player category after coming in first place in a vote by tennis fans that took place last year and being selected by the official voting group of media, historians and Hall of Famers. Hewitt was one of five candidates up for the vote. He is the first person from his country to enter the Hall of Fame since wheelchair tennis player David Hall did so in 2015.

Hewitt played in 46 ATP finals during his career in which he won 30 titles. In the Grand Slams he defeated Pete Sampras at the 2001 US Open to clinch his maiden major trophy. In the following year he triumphed at the Wimbledon Championships. It was during 2001 when he topped the ATP rankings at the age of 20 to become the youngest player to ever do so since the system was implemented in 1973. A record that he still holds this present day. Hewitt spent a total of 80 weeks as world No.1 which is 10 times longer than John Newcombe, who is the only other Australian man to have held the top spot for multiple weeks.

“The Hall of Famers are people who I admired so much throughout my career – especially people like [Tony] Roche and [John] Newcombe and Rod [Laver] and so many others,” Hewitt said in a statement. “They were all motivating factors in my career and to be recognised alongside them in tennis history is an incredible honour.”

In the Davis Cup Hewitt was instrumental in helping his country win two titles. He holds the Australian Davis Cup record for most ties played (43), most years played (19) and the most total wins in the competition (59). After retiring from the sport he became captain of the team.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome these tennis greats into the International Tennis Hall of Fame,” Hall of Fame President Stan Smith said. “Lleyton Hewitt always competed hard until the last ball was hit, and this is very apparent in the Hall of Fame resume he built, which includes a Wimbledon trophy, a US Open trophy, two Davis Cups, and being World No. 1.”

Original 9 also receive recognition

Also inducted into the class of 2021 are the Original 9 who played a pivotal role in the formation of women’s tennis. The group, who are the first to make the hall of fame, made history in 1970 after signing $1 contracts with Gladys Heldman to take part in a tournament. At the time both playing opportunities and prize money for women were significantly different to that of their male counterparts. The event led to the formation of the Virginia Slims Circuit and then to the birth of the WTA Tour.

“The Original 9 were true trailblazers in tennis history,” said Smith. “It took a lot of courage to do what they did, and we have today’s incredible WTA Tour to thank for it, as well as opportunities for women in so many other sports.”

The members of the Original 9 are Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Julie Heldman, Billie Jean King, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Judy Tegart Dalton and Kerry Melville Reid.

Finally, tennis coach Dennis Van der Meer will be inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously after passing away in 2019.

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