The first Grand Slam of 2021 provided the tennis world with plenty of tears and jubilation throughout it’s two-week period. There was epic match comebacks, injury misfortunes and victories for those who has been absent from the game in recent months due to a variety of issues. UbiTennis looks back at those emotional moments that took place during the Australian Open.
Gael Monfils in tears after his first round loss
Prior to the pandemic, Monfils had won two consecutive titles in Montpellier and Rotterdam. But since the tour restart, he’s now 0-6, and lost in five sets in the opening round to Emil Ruusuvuori. His comments are in French, but he was asking for “mercy” during his press conference.
“I don’t have any confidence. I would like to get out of this nightmare but I can’t,” Monfils said.
“I don’t know when it’s going to end. It’s hard. Every time I get here I feel judged, I’ve lost again. I can’t serve, I’m playing badly. I’m being honest and it’s going to take time.”
Bianca Andreescu wins her first match in 16 months
The 2019 US Open champion didn’t play at all in 2020, due to injuries and pandemic restrictions. She’s described many low moments she experienced during that time. And after going through 14 days of hard quarantine upon arrival in Melbourne, with her coach testing positive for COVID-19, the Canadian was holding back tears after winning her opening round in three sets.
“I feel pretty damn good,” Andreescu said afterwards in an on-court interview. “I mean the match wasn’t easy at all and I’m super, super happy with how I fought it out, especially towards the end.”
Alexei Popyrin saves match points to stun David Goffin
This was the first exciting match to take place in front of a full audience in nearly a year, as Aussies packed Court 3 to cheer on the comeback win of the 21-year-old Australian. Popyrin saved four match points in the fourth set tiebreak, and the crowd reaction to his victory sounded amazing.
“I think it just shows that the work I did in pre-season, the mentality that I’ve taken on this year is all paying off, and my game is improving, and I can feel that,” Popryin commented on his victory.
Thanasi Kokkinakis wins his first match since 2019
Kokkinakis’ struggles with injuries over the years are well-documented, so it’s understandable the 24-year-old Aussie was brought to tears in picking up his first tour-level win in 18 months, especially at his home Slam.
“At 5-0 (in the third set) I felt this massive roar and cheer from the crowd and I started tearing up,” Kokkinakis said.
“It was a bit of a soft moment but there was just so much stuff behind the scenes to get back to that point that not a lot of people realise.
“I definitely got a bit emotional.
“I had a lot of friends and family there watching. They probably made up about 90 per cent of the stands, so I’m appreciative of that.
“Just playing with that energy and crowd and being able to win – there was so much work behind the scenes and so much pain – it’s just a massive relief.”
In the second round Kokkinakis took Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets before getting knocked out of the tournament.
Venus Williams suffers a nasty ankle injury
This was hard to watch. Venus screamed out in pain and hobbled around the court after injuring her ankle. And she had arrived on court with an injured knee. After a long timeout to address both injuries, with a despondent Venus in tears, she showed her grit by finding a way to finish out the match in the event’s most inspiring moment.
“You can’t always prepare for the triumph of the disaster in sports or in life. “You can’t control it all. What you can control is how you handle the ups and the downs,” Williams later wrote on Instagram.
“No matter the outcome I always hold my head high and I leave everything I have on the court.
“I never look back in regrets because no matter the odds I give it all.
“You don’t have to look back when you leave it all out there. Always look forward, the deepest dream you could be…”
Nick Kyrgios saved two match points in a five-set epic
In another emotional moment involving an Australian, Kyrgios’ epic 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 win over Ugo Humbert was a thrilling affair on Nick’s favorite court, John Cain Area.
“If you were in my head, I was just thinking about all the s*** I was going to cop if I lost that match,” Kyrgios told the Nine Network after the match.
“I don’t know how I did that, honestly, it’s one of the craziest matches I’ve ever played.”
Kyrgios lost in the third round to Dominic Thiem.
Donna Vekic in tears after ousting Kaia Kanepi
Vekic was immediately in tears after converting her own match point, advancing to the second week of the tournament despite losing six straight matches coming into this event.
Matteo Berrettini battles through pain to defeat Khachanov
The Italian suffered an abdominal injury during the third set, and was teary-eyed after closing out the match in straights. He would have to withdraw from his fourth round match against Stefanos Tsitsipas due to the injury.
““I felt something on my ab. I thought that [it] wasn’t something really big, but the next day when I woke up I felt it was big. So I spoke to the doctors and they told me, ‘Look, it can get [much] worse’. So it’s not worth trying. I’m not 100 per cent. To beat these guys, you have to be 100 per cent. I think it’s not really professional to step [onto court] when you’re not the best.” Berrettini commented on his injury.
Stefanos Tsitsipas fights back to defeat Rafael Nadal
Tsitsipas became only the second man to ever do so at a Grand Slam event, and described himself as “speechless” when interviewed after the match.
Serena Williams’ wave goodbye after her semifinal loss
This felt like more than simply “See you next year, Melbourne.” Serena stopped her stride as she exited the court, waving and placing a hand to her heart. After being asked about the moment in press, she broke down and quickly exited the room.
Only Double Vaccinated Players Will Be Allowed To Play Australian Open – Government Minister
Players will not be exempt from a ‘universal application’ applied to those wishing to travel to the country.
A high ranking official from the Australian government has confirmed for the first time that players will not be allowed to enter the country next year if they have not been double vaccinated against COVID-19.
Immigration minister Alex Hawke has stated that there will be no exemptions in force for tennis players hoping to play in the Australian Open amid recent speculation. According to Andrey Rublev, he had been told that unvaccinated players could be allowed to play but will have to enter into a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. However, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday that it was unlikely visas would be issued to those who are unvaccinated.
Trying to clarify the current situation, Hawke has told ABC radio that all entrants into the country will be required to be vaccinated regardless of who they are. His comments come before Tennis Australia has made any official announcement regarding the tournament and it’s entry requirements.
“The government in establishing its borders has said that you’ll need to be double vaccinated to visit Australia. That’s a universal application, not just to tennis players. I mean that every visitor to Australia will need to be double vaccinated,” Hawke said on ABC radio.
The move raises further questions about the prospect of Novak Djokovic being able to attend the Australian Open. The 20-time Grand Slam champion recently said he doesn’t want to reveal his vaccination status to the public. In the past he said he was against the idea of being forced to have a vaccination but rejects allegations that he is an anti-vaxxer.
“I don’t have a message to Novak. I have a message to everybody that wishes to visit Australia. He’ll need to be double vaccinated,” Hawke later added.
Unlike other sports, tennis’ governing bodies have not issued any public statements outlining the vaccination rates among players on their Tour’s. Reuters news agency estimates the vaccination rate is 65% for the ATP and 60% for the WTA based on recent media reports. However, The Age newspaper reports those who are double vaccinated are below half with 35% for the ATP and 40% for the WTA.
As for the suggestion that players who had already contracted COVID-19 should be allowed into the country regardless of their vaccine status, the president of the Victorian Australian Medical Association has dismissed the idea.
“I understand he [Djokovic] had it [coronavirus] but, believe it or not, the immunity from the vaccination is better than the immunity from catching the disease,” Dr Roderick McRae told The Age.
“I think there is an element of standards [here]. It’s important our leaders make these decisions in our interests and it [banning unvaccinated travellers] demonstrates to the community just how important we take this.”
The Australian Open will begin on January 17th. Djokovic and Naomi Osaka are the reigning champions.
Victorian Premier: Unvaccinated Players Likely To Be Refused Visas To Play Australian Open
The government official has issued a warning ahead of the Grand Slam but one player say they have been told something different…
The head of the Victorian Government has said there is a good chance that any player who is unvaccinated will be refused entry into Australia next year and be excluded from the Australian Open.
Daniel Andrews has insisted that no deals will be cut with the players where they could receive special treatment in order for them to enter the region. Recently local officials implemented a health mandate in Victoria requiring essential workers to be vaccinated, including professional athletes. The move has prompted speculation over the implications that will have on the upcoming Australian Open which will get underway in January.
Andrews, who has been the Premier of Victoria since 2014, will not be the person who has the final say as to if unvaccinated players will be allowed to enter the country. That will be decided by the national government. However, in a press conference on Tuesday he cast serious doubt over their chances.
“I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“If they did get a visa, they’d probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks when no other players will have to.
“AFL players have to be vaccinated, but they’re Aussies, they’re not coming from other countries.
“I don’t think any other tennis player, or golfer, or Formula One driver, will even get a visa to get here.
“Professional sport is part of that authorised worker list and they have to be double dose vaccinated.”
The warning comes less than 24 hours after Blic newspaper published an interview with world No.1 Novak Djokovic who admits he is unsure about playing at the tennis major. Djokovic declined to reveal his vaccination status and has accused the media of causing a divide between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. He has won the Australian Open men‘s title a record nine times.
“I won’t disclose whether I am vaccinated or not. It is a private matter, I think it is inappropriate to ask a person that. Too many people allow themselves the freedom to ask and then to judge. Whatever you say – I have, I have not, maybe, I do not know or I am thinking about it – they will use it against you,” he said.
Tennis Australia has not commented on Andrews’ statement and it is unclear as to when a final decision will be made. Although Djokovic believes a final decision could come in two weeks time.
Meanwhile, Andrey Rublev has contradicted what Andrews has said during a press conference in Moscow. Speaking to reporters the Russian says it is his understanding that unvaccinated players will be allowed to play the Australian Open but they will be forced to enter into a 14-day quarantine. Meaning they will miss tournaments such as the ATP Cup leading up to the Grand Slam.
“If athletes do not want to stay in quarantine for two weeks, then they must be vaccinated. As far as I know, Australians recognize many vaccines. If you do not get vaccinated, then you will not be able to leave the room for two weeks. Then you won’t be able to play either the ATP Cup or the tournaments before the Australian Open.” Said Rublev.
Besides the players, local fans attending the Australian Open could also be refused entry if they are unvaccinated and their freedoms won’t be relaxed until ‘well into 2022.’ Andrews said he doubts crowds at the Australian Grand Prix, which takes place three months after the Melbourne major, will not include those are are not double jabbed.
“Why would you get the system going, have the thing up and running and then essentially pull down all of the architecture that you’ve built, the culture that you’ve changed – why would you change that four or five weeks later?” He said.
“For example, the Grand Prix is in April, I don’t think there will be crowds at the Grand Prix made up of people who have not been double dosed.”
The Australian Open is set to get underway on January 17th.
Grand Slam Matches Among 38 Suspicious Betting Alerts Over Past Three Months
The body is charge of monitoring match-fixing in the sport has issued their latest findings.
The International Tennis Integrity Agency has confirmed they have received ‘match alerts’ concerning a quartet of matches which took place at Grand Slam tournaments during the third quarter of 2021.
Two matches played at Wimbledon and a further two which took place at the US Open were flagged up, according to their quarterly report which was public on Tuesday. The names of the individuals involved in those matches are not made public whilst the ITIA investigate the matter. The alerts are received through their confidential Memoranda of Understanding with the regulated betting industry.
A total of 38 betting alerts were issued to the ITIA during the third quarter with the most coming from matches played on the Challenger Tour (13). There were also nine suspicious matches from ITF $25,000 tournaments on the men’s Tour and another seven linked to $15,000 events. To put that into context the women’s ITF Tour reported a total of three overall.
“It is important to note that an alert on its own is not evidence of match fixing,” the ITIA stated in their report.
“Unusual betting patterns can occur for many reasons other than match fixing – for example incorrect odds-setting; well-informed betting; player fitness, fatigue or form; playing conditions and personal circumstances.”
Five players have been sanctioned within the past three months for match-fixing offences with the most high-profile being Temur Ismailov from Uzbekistan. Ismailov, who reached a ranking high of 397th in 2016, was issued with a life ban after being found guilty of offences in addition to another suspension he was already serving.
The ITIA has also provisionally suspended six Moroccans and one Pervian player in connection with possible violations of anti-corruption rules.
The ITIA was created by the international governing bodies to investigate allegations against players and hand out sanctions. It is currently in the process of merging with the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP) and will oversee the global administration of the TADP from January 1st if it receives Board approval.
Number of alerts (third quarter of 2021 only)
- Wimbledon: 2
- US Open: 2
- ATP Challenger: 13
- ATP World Tour: 250 1
- Davis Cup: 1
- M25 Men’s – World Tennis Tour: 9
- M15 Men’s – World Tennis Tour: 7
- W15 Women’s – World Tennis Tour: 2
- W80 Women’s – World Tennis Tour: 1
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