LTA Criticised Over COVID-19 Rules As Andy Murray Links Positive Test To National Center - UBITENNIS
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LTA Criticised Over COVID-19 Rules As Andy Murray Links Positive Test To National Center

Murray is one of two British players to criticize their national body for allegedly slacking their rules over Christmas.

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The governing body of British Tennis has defended their policy concerning COVID-19 after two of their top players questioned their management of the rules.

 

Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has hit out at the LTA after he was forced to miss the Australian Open due to a positive result. Players have to quarantine in the country for 14 days before they are allowed to play in professional tournaments. Murray said he felt unwell for roughly a week but has since recovered and is now in Italy where he will play in a Challenger tournament.

Speaking to British media over the weekend, Murray has implied that the only way he would have caught the virus is at the National Tennis Center in Roehampton. The venue where some of the country’s top players have been practicing during the off-season and is also where the Battle of the Brits tournament took place in December.

Murray says the protocols implemented were somewhat relaxed during the Christmas period where there was a series of positive tests. Including fellow player Paul Jubb and even a doctor who was working at the facility. BBC Sport has also reported that others have privately raised concerns about the lack of social distancing and mask wearing.

“When we went to the NTC in April, if there are six indoor courts, you could only practise on one, three and five. There wasn’t any testing at that time, but the gym was closed and it was restricted access,” said Murray.
“Whereas after Christmas you have an indoor venue where they are using all six courts, there were tonnes of people in the gym, and it was just totally different.
“Now it’s kind of back to what it was in April, which is good. It’s a completely different building. All the communal areas are severely restricted, like the lunch hall; there’s probably seven or eight seats maximum in there now, before there would have been 30 to 40.
“But the reality is that it happened too late because there were quite a number of cases between Christmas, New Year and the players going off to Australia.”

The accusations of questionable management of the protocols at the NTC from Murray is also backed up by another player. Following his semi-final win at the Murray River Open, Dan Evans agreed that rules were lax during the Christmas period. The 30-year-old, who won his first ATP title on Sunday, didn’t catch the virus.

I think the Christmas period and the new year period they maybe slackened a little bit,” he said.
“The doctor had COVID, as well, so that coincided with I think players then getting it when she was isolating. It wasn’t ideal, but I can’t speak to say that they were lax or not because I wasn’t really privy to see it.”

One of the problems Evans believed occurred was the rules surrounding who could play at the center to begin with. He says the focus should have been placed on players who are preparing for the upcoming season and tournaments but he saw people playing there weren’t doing such a thing.

On the other hand, others have hailed the LTA for their management. Murray’s brother Jamie said the outbreak of cases was ‘unfortunate’ but stated that he doesn’t hold the LTA accountable. Pointing out that over Christmas there was a surge in cases around the UK and players were travelling to the NTC from various hotspots.

“It’s just a shame that in this moment they had some positive tests and it happened to be Andy, which is obviously a big shame with the amount of work that he’s put in to get to this point to prepare himself for Australia, and all that’s down the drain,” Jamie told The Press Association.
“I was gutted for him, obviously, as was he, I’m sure, very frustrated.”

Responding to the allegations, the LTA has issued a statement outlining that they always followed government recommendations throughout and have done their best to minimise the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak. Although they did not address the allegation of a lapse in rules during the Christmas period which both Murray and Evans have mentioned.

“We have consistently applied the stringent and appropriate restrictions, testing and other protocols for elite training centres in line with government guidance,” the LTA said in a statement.
“We have worked closely with Public Health England in order to keep the centre open since April for both training and as a host venue for over 1000 competitive matches across 17 tournaments on site.
“Our protocols are regularly communicated to everyone using the venue and we expect them to be adhered to in the player lounge and all other areas of the building.”

Opened in 2007 the NTC has 20 courts, a high performance gym and ice baths. It provides training services for the British Men’s, Women’s & Wheelchair high performance teams, coach education and competitions.

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Kim Clijsters Handed Wildcards For Top American Tournaments

The four-time Grand Slam champion says she is ‘excited’ to be returning to the Tour.

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Former world No.1 Kim Clijsters isn’t giving up on her comeback to tennis anytime soon after confirming that she will play at the Miami Open later this month.

 

The Belgian has been awarded with a wildcard to play at the prestigious WTA 1000 event which is held at the Hard Rock Stadium. It will be the first tournament Clijsters has played since the US Open last year and the first time she has played in Miami since 2012. She is a two-time winner in Miami after triumphing in 2005 when she was unseeded in the draw, as well as 2010.

“The Miami Open was always a favorite stop on tour for me,” said Clijsters. “I have great memories and also had great results there. I’m excited to be coming back to Miami.”

Clijsters is currently in the process of her second comeback to the Tour. She first retired from the sport in May 2007 before returning two years later. She would continue playing for another five years before calling it quits at the 2012 US Open following a lengthy battle with injuries. Last year she played in a total of three tournaments but lost her opening matches to Garbine Muguruza in Dubai, Johanna Konta in Monterrey and Ekaterina Alexandrova at the US Open.

James Blake, who is the tournament director of the Miami Open, has hailed the return of Clijsters to the tournament. Paying tribute to her both on and off the court.

“We are very excited to have Kim returning to Miami,” he said. “She is a tremendous player and an even better person. Plus, it’s not often you get the opportunity to see someone who has been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame compete at an event of this level.”

After Miami, Clijsters will kick-off her clay court campaign in the country after receiving a pass to play at the Charleston Open which takes place the week after Miami. It will be the first time in her career she has played at the event which has been part of the women’s Tour for more than 30 years.

Clijsters has won 41 WTA titles so far in her career with the most recent occurring back in 2011 at the Australian Open. She has spent a total of 20 weeks as world No.1 which is a longer period than Venus Williams, Jennifer Capriati and Jelena Jankovic.

The Miami Open will get underway on March 22nd.

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Andy Murray – “It’s Just Not Good Enough”

The three-time Grand Slam champion spoke to the media about his current form and plans for the coming weeks following his loss in Rotterdam on Wednesday.

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After falling to world number 8 Andrey Rublev in the second round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament Andy Murray shed light on his current form on the Tour.

 

The former world No.1 fell 7-5, 6-2, to the Russian in what was only his second match on the ATP Tour this season. Murray missed the Australian Open at the start of the year after testing positive for COVID-19 and subsequently turned to the Challenger Tour. Against Rublev, the illustrated Brit illustrated glimmers of her usual grit but admits that there is still more work that needs to be done as he aims to return back into the world’s top 100 for the first time since 2018. Below is a summary of the key quotes from Murray in his latest press conference :-

He started by answering what positives he could take from the match despite the loss.

“From the positive side I thought I moved well for the first hour or so. He (Rublev) is one of the bigger hitters on the tour and in the first set I felt like he wasn’t getting that many free points from the back of the court and he’s having to work hard to get the ball through me so I thought that was positive. I did some things quite well in the first set but when it mattered I didn’t play well.”

Murray would continue to add what he felt he did wrong and what was the main reason he lost to such a young talented player who in the second set basically dominated from start to finish.

“It’s just not good enough and your playing one of the best players in the world like in those moments they come up with something great to win those points it’s understandable and you expect that but I felt in the moment at the end of the first set that I blew it. The second set he was for sure much better than me no question about that, there are things like I’m not used to making those errors in those moments and I find it quite frustrating mentally and find myself looking back on those moments little bit too much which affected me a bit in the second set, I’m disappointed and felt like I should have won that first set”

He was then asked about his upcoming schedule and the fact there aren’t a lot of hard court tournaments left before the clay court swing.

“So I don’t play well on clay is that the suggestion”

He would continue his answer and say the following.

“I want to play as much as I can but baring in mind that I still have to be smart with the decisions about which tournaments I play and how many events in a row I play, the last time I played four weeks in a row and a lot of consecutive matches I picked up an issue and I need to be mindful of that but I wanna try and play. Next week, I will have off, I will go home now and then hopefully be able to play in Dubai and Miami and than see from there. There is the option to play the full clay court swing, there’s the option to drop down and play challengers to get more matches and build more robustness in my body, I kinda feel like I want to play at this level because I learned a lot from a match like tonight even though I lost.”

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Clara Tauson reaches her first WTA Tour quarter final in Lyon

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Former world junior number 1 and 2019 Australian Open Junior champion Clara Tauson advanced to her first WTA Tour quarter final with a 6-2 6-3 win over Timea Babos after 71 minutes at the Open 6ème Sens-Metropole in Lyon.

 

The 18-year-old Danish rising star came back from a break down in each set. Tauson converted her match point with an ace. 

Babos earned an immediate break to take a 2-0 lead in the opening set. Tauson reeled off six consecutive games with three breaks to win the opening set 6-2. 

Babos broke serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Tauson got back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Tauson reeled off three consecutive games from 3-3 with a break in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. 

Earlier this week Tauson beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 6-4 in the opening round. The Danish player beat a top 50 player for the second time in her career. She won the 2019 Australian Open Junior tournament beating Leylah Fernandez. Last year she upset Jennifer Brady (Australian Open finalist in 2021) at Roland Garros. 

“It’s only the second time I have played a top 50 player, so I don’t have a lot of experience with that, but we can say it’s gone well these two times. Going into these matches, I just try to play as free as I can and show what I can do. I actually called my dad after the match and he said: ‘What, did you win ? She has won so many matches indoors. I had hoped that I would be drawn to play either her or Fiona Ferro because they are two really good players. I definitely want to play Simona Halep. She is just a champion. She plays 100 percent every tournament she plays and no matter what the score, she is always there. I love watching Petra Kvitova play. I want to play like her”, said Tauson

Tauson set up a quarter final against Camila Giorgi, who came back from one set down to Nina Stojanovic 1-6 6-1 7-5 after 2 hours and 22 minutes. 

Giorgi earned her second break of the third set in the seventh game but Stojanovic broke back to draw level to 5-5. The Italian player saved two match points at 5-6 15-40 to hold serve at deuce. Giorgi did not convert her first match point at 6-4 but converted her second chance at 7-5. 

Another former world junior number 1 Clara Burel overcame Alizé Cornet 6-1 1-6 6-3 to score the best win of her career by ranking. 

Burel went up a 4-0 lead with a double break in the third set. Cornet pulled the break back to 3-4. Burel converted her third break point on the fourth deuce to win the decider 6-3. 

Burel set up a match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich for a spot in the quarter final. 

Last year’s Palermo champion Fiona Ferro reached the quarter final after Tereza Martincova withdrew from the match while she was trailing 6-2 4-1. 

Viktorja Golubic rallied from one set down to beat Vera Lapko 5-7 6-4 6-3. 

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