It appears that enthusiasm for receiving the COVID-19 vaccination in the world of tennis is lukewarm after a series of players spoke cautiously about the idea of receiving one at the Miami Open.
Last year, both the ATP and WTA Tour’s were suspended for months due to the pandemic and tournaments continue to deal with the repercussions of it. Ranging from a sharp decline in prize money to strict protocols in force to help minimise the risk of an outbreak. At the Miami Open players have been placed inside a bubble which they are prohibited to leave, as well as regular testing.
Although there are no plans to vaccinate players on the Tour yet due to the global demand with each country having their own approach. For example, in Europe Great Britain has issued more than 30 million vaccinations which is three times more than France. However, should a situation occur when players can receive vaccinations, not everybody will be in favour.
“I know for the moment now it doesn’t really give you any privilege. You still have to be in the bubble,” Andrey Rublev said following his win over Marton Fucsovics at the Miami Open.
“If you ask me if I can choose and I can have the option to not have a vaccine, I will not do it.’
“There is no reason (for me not having it). Just my feelings because I have never had any vaccine since I was a kid.”
Rublev, who won more matches on the Tour than any other player except Novak Djokovic in 2020, isn’t the only player to have his doubts. Elina Svitolina is another who is sticking to the cautious side of things. The Ukrainian says she wants to wait a bit longer before having a vaccine after speaking with her friends about potential side effects. Like Rublev, she also questions if such an approach would benefit her in the sport.
“It will not really help you in many ways because you have to quarantine anyway,” she said. “The ATP and WTA, they oblige you to quarantine anyway, like 24 hours as soon as you get it.’
“Okay, you will reduce your symptoms if you get it, but still, there is a chance that you can get it. So for now it makes almost no sense to do something that has been tested for such a short period of time. For me, I will probably wait for now.”
Aryna Sabalenka says she doesn’t want her family to be vaccinated yet due to how rapidly it was produced and the impact it could have on the body. All vaccinations that have been made have been subjected to strict testing by health regulators before being given out to the public. Subsequent medical trials have also confirmed the safety of the vaccines. Although its effectiveness differs depending on the manufacturers.
“So far I don’t really trust it. It’s tough to say, but I don’t really want mine yet, actually, and I don’t want my family have it,” said Sabalenka. “I will think about this. I mean, if I will have to do it, then of course I have to do it, because our life is a travel life and I think we are the ones who actually should make it. But I will see.”
It is important to take into account the players’ country of origin with studies previously highlighting that people living in eastern Europe are less likely to be in favour of having a COVID-19 vaccination. Earlier this month an Ipsos survey conducted in partnership with the World Economic Forum found that only 42% of Russian’s were intent on getting a vaccination.
At the other end of the spectrum, other players are in favour of being vaccinated and some already have done. Including Simona Halep who contracted the virus last year.
“I’m planning on getting one,” Naomi Osaka states. “For me, I feel like whenever I’m eligible, I guess.”
Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman is another who is happy to receive an injection but only after those more in need have theirs first.
“I am going to get vaccinated when my turn comes that I would not get the vaccine before my family and the people who really need it,” he wrote on Twitter.
The New York Times’ Covid-19 vaccine tracker estimates that 552 million doses have been issued worldwide as of March 29th.
Denis Shapovalov Left ‘Frustrated’ After Early Roland Garros Exit
Denis Shapovalov has a lot thinking to do after his round one exit to Holger Rune in Paris.
Denis Shapovalov left feeling frustrated after he lost 6-1 6-3 7-6(4) to Holger Rune in the first round of Roland Garros.
The Canadian headed into the opening round with confidence after reaching the last eight in Rome.
However Shapovalov hit 53 unforced errors in an underwhelming performance as he went to an in-form Holger Rune.
Rune, who won Munich and reached the semi-finals in Lyon, played electric tennis as he moves into the second round to play Henri Laaksonen or Pedro Martinez.
As for Shapovalov he was left frustrated and admitted improvement is needed ahead of the grass court season, “For sure I wasn’t able to bring out my best performance,” Shapovalov said in his post match press conference.
“It’s definitely frustrating. It just shows I have a lot to work on. And just
excited to get back to work. Never think I’m done learning and improving.
So, yeah, it’s difficult moment, but I just keep working. I didn’t really
show up today, so it’s a little bit difficult.
“Holger is playing some great tennis, won his first title, semis last week, I believe, pushing some top guys. So yeah, for sure not taking anything away from him, obviously he’s playing great tennis.
“But I think against most players today I wouldn’t come out the winner. So, yeah, a little bit frustrating on my side and just feel like I need to improve some things. Be sure that I’m ready for the slams.”
It’s another disappointing grand slam performance from Shapovalov who recognises he must do better in the future in order to break into the world’s top 10.
Speaking of the future the grass court season is up next where Shapovalov reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
However due to the ATP’s decision to remove ranking points as a result of the ban on Russian and Belarusian players at Wimbledon, whatever happens at SW19 Shapovalov will lose a hefty amount of points.
That is a decision that the Canadian doesn’t necessarily agree with, “I haven’t decided anything yet. Been trying to focus on this tournament,” Shapovalov admitted.
“I think first of all, if you have a pro competition, that everybody should be competing. I completely understand the politics and the situation they’re in. But again, if you have a tennis tournament that’s supposed to have the best athletes in the world, it shouldn’t matter where you’re from, this and that, you know? So everybody should be competing.
“I also don’t agree with the ATP to take out all the points. The most guys it’s affecting are the guys in the top rankings. Obviously Novak, me, Hubi, Berrettini, who is not playing here, we’re going to drop a lot. I think they could have gone with it a different way, maybe keep 50 percent like they have in the past or some kind of fairness. But even a guy like Fucsovics is going to drop out of the top 100, you know.
“So it’s difficult for the players when you don’t have a chance to defend and especially on a surface like grass where it’s already so short and the players that play well on that surface they don’t have that many opportunities tom make points, so you take a huge chunk of it out, it’s super difficult for players.”
It’s a dilemma many players will face heading into Wimbledon over the next few weeks.
As for Shapovalov his next tournament will be in Stuttgart which starts on the 6th of June.
Roland Garros Daily Preview: Two Veteran Frenchmen Play Their Last Roland Garros
A pair of 37-year-old Frenchmen, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon, have announced this will be their last Roland Garros. Simon will retire at the end of this season, while this will be Tsonga’s last tournament. With both drawing formidable, seeded players in the first round, Tuesday may be the last French Open match of their long careers.
With 12 matches postponed from Monday due to rain, Tuesday will be an extra busy day in Paris. And Tuesday night’s matchup is a meeting of two men who were up two-sets-to-none last year over eventual champion Novak Djokovic: Stefanos Tsitsipas and Lorenzo Musetti.
Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s five most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule. Tuesday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.
Denis Shapovalov (14) vs. Holger Rune – 11:00am on Court 12
Shapovalov has reached the quarterfinals or better at every other Major, but he is 2-3 lifetime at Roland Garros, and is yet to get out of the second round. However, he has some significant results on this surface, including two Masters 1000 semifinals, and a victory two weeks ago over Rafael Nadal. It would seem only a matter of time before Denis makes a deep run at this event, though that may not happen this year, as his opponent on Tuesday is on a steep upward trajectory. Rune is a 19-year-old from Denmark who impressed in 2021 by taking a set off Novak Djokovic at the US Open, as well as winning four Challenger titles. He has carried that momentum into 2022, by winning another Challenger title, and then his first ATP title, both on clay. In his Munich title run, Holger upset Sascha Zverv. And just last week, he was a semifinalist in Lyon. So this is a very dangerous opening round draw for Shapovalov, especially considering his lackluster history at this event.
Casper Ruud (8) vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (WC) – Second on Court Philippe Chatrier
This match may mark the end of an illustrious career for Tsonga. The Frenchman was a Major finalist in 2008, and has won 18 ATP titles, including two at the Masters 1000 level. But injuries have severely impacted his last several seasons. Since the start of 2020, Jo is only 4-19 at all levels, and is currently ranked 297th in the world. In what will be his last tournament, he has drawn one of the ATP’s best clay court players. Ruud has accumulated seven titles on this surface, six of which have come since last May. Just a few days ago in Geneva, Casper defended his title. It would be shocking is Tsonga could pull off the upset, but hopefully Jo can at least provide the Parisian crowd with some of his signature flair and shot-making in what will likely be his swan song.
Paula Badosa (3) vs. Fiona Ferro (WC) – Third on Court Philippe Chatrier
Badosa is the third seed, and the second-highest seed remaining following Barbora Krejickova’s exit on Monday. But is she a top contender for this title? She was a quarterfinalist here a year ago, and went 17-3 on clay last season. Yet in 2022, she’s only 6-4 on this surface. Ferro made a run to the fourth round of this tournament two years ago, though she’s spent much of the past year injured, and is currently ranked outside the top 100. It would be surprising if the Frenchwoman can truly test Badosa, but Paula’s performance level could be a good indicator of just how serious her title chances are.
Pablo Carreno Busta (16) vs. Gilles Simon (WC) – Fifth on Court Simonne Mathieu
Like his friend and fellow countryman Tsonga, Simon has achieved a lot: 14 ATP Titles, and a career-high ranking of No.6. But he’s also had a rough few seasons. Gilles went 6-24 at all levels last season, and only has one tour-level win in 2022. And he also received a tough draw in the sixteenth seed, as Carreno Busta is a two-time French Open quarterfinalist, and was the runner-up last month in Barcelona on clay, where he earned impressive victories over Casper Ruud and Diego Schwartzman. Pablo is 4-2 lifetime against Gilles, and has taken their last three meetings in straight sets. All evidence indicates this will be the last match for another accomplished French player at his home Slam.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Lorenzo Musetti – Not Before 8:45pm on Court Philippe Chatrier
Last year in the fourth round, Musetti won the first two sets against Djokovic in tiebreaks. But in the last three sets, the Italian mustered only one game, eventually retiring down 4-0 in the fifth. That was a disappointing end to a breakthrough run for the 20-year-old, as it was his first appearance in the second week of a Major. And Musetti has struggled ever since. He has failed to win three consecutive main draw matches in the past year. Meanwhile, Tsitsipas has his own demons at this event. Not only did he also fail to capitalize on a two-set lead over Djokovic last year, but he also lost a heartbreaker in 2019 to Stan Wawrinka, in a five-set, five-hour epic. But Stefanos leads the ATP with 31 wins this season, 14 of which have come on clay. And he’s 2-0 against Musetti, which includes a victory last May on clay. The Greek is a heavy favorite to advance on Tuesday evening.
Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:
Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Facundo Bagnis – Medvedev is 0-1 on clay this season, having missed nearly two months of action due to hernia surgery. Bagnis is a 32-year-old from Argentina who won a Challenger event on clay two months ago.
Jelena Ostapenko (13) vs. Lucia Bronzetti – Ostapenko went on a nine-match win streak in February, but the 2017 champion is 0-5 since. Bronzetti is a 23-year-old Italian who is 9-3 this year on clay at all levels.
Andrey Rublev (7) vs. Soonwoo Kwon – Rublev won a clay title last month in Belgrade, defeating Novak Djokovic in the final. He’s 2-0 against Kwon, with both of those contests occurring in February of this year.
Simona Halep (19) vs. Nastasja Schunk (LL) – Halep is a modest 4-2 on clay this season, as her partnership with Patrick Mouratoglou is yet to pay dividends. Schunk is a 18-year-old German who has reached two ITF finals this season.
Aryna Sabalenka (7) vs. Chloe Paquet – Sabalenka is only 13-11 on the year, and this is the only Major where she’s yet to reach the second week. Paquet is a 27-year-old from France who achieved five finals at ITF events in 2021.
Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.
Rafael Nadal Sizzles Past Thompson For 299th Grand Slam Win
Rafael Nadal won his 106th match at Roland Garros to reach the second round.
Rafael Nadal eased past Jordan Thompson 6-2 6-2 6-2 to earn a 299th grand slam victory.
The 13-time champion produced an impressive display as he only dropped six games against the Australian.
Nadal earned his 299th career grand slam win and can reach a big milestone when he plays Corentin Moutet on Wednesday.
Moutet defeated Stan Wawrinka in four sets to reach the second round.
The big question heading into Nadal’s quest for a 14th Roland Garros title where about his foot and movement, whether it would be as clean and precise after his problems in Rome.
However Nadal emphatically answered those questions in the opening exchanges as he dominated the Australian from the back of the court.
Nadal took a 4-1 lead as his topspin was causing Thompson problems with the Australian’s big serve and volleying having little effect on the Spaniard.
The Australian was looking confused and had very little solutions as Nadal would take the opening set 6-2.
Nadal continued his dominance in the second set as he was winning points that seemed improbable to win.
Thompson did very little tactically to change the course of the match apart from rant to the umpire about various calls.
In business-like fashion Nadal continued the job at hand as he would break two more times and despite Thompson’s resilience, the Spaniard closed out a two sets to love advantage.
Thompson provided a much stronger resistance in the third set as he was taking the ball earlier and showed more rally tolerance.
In the end though the 21-time grand slam champion sailed through after grinding out a break in the fifth game and then securing another break in his next return game.
In his post-match press conference Nadal was pleased with his level, “I mean, happy with the performance, by the way, no? Have been a positive start,” the Spaniard said.
“Then of course I am kind of player that I always looking for something else, looking for better things. That’s what I gonna try to find on my practice tomorrow and then in the next match.”
Nadal will face Corentin Moutet in the second round after the French wildcard defeated former champion Stan Wawrinka 2-6 6-3 7-6(2) 6-3.
Wednesday’s clash will be their first meeting as Nadal looks to win a 300th grand slam match of his career.
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