Sloane Stephens Reflects On Mental Health In Tennis Ahead Of US Open - UBITENNIS
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Sloane Stephens Reflects On Mental Health In Tennis Ahead Of US Open

Sloane Stephens talks all things mental health ahead of the US Open.

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Sloane Stephens (@CJ_mag - Twitter)

Sloane Stephens has reflected on Tennis’ role in the battle with mental health ahead of the start of the US Open.

 

The 2017 champion is preparing for the last grand slam of the season as she prepares to take on Madison Keys in a rematch from the scene where she won her maiden grand slam.

As well as being a tennis player, Stephens is also a member of the WTA players council which plays a major role in all issues in society and how tennis can help.

One of the main issues due to the pandemic is mental health and the American recently spoke about how its effected the tennis community, “I’m on the [Women’s Tennis Association] Players’ Council, so I think we see a lot of concerns and complaints — not complaints — but like what people think about issues that have happened or things that are currently happening,” the American told People.com.

“And I think that obviously, we can do better to support each other. I think getting through that and trying to navigate this process as a competitor, but also like as just a normal human being who has feelings and emotions… Yeah, it’s been difficult. But I think everyone’s tried hard and you offer your support where you can.

“If you’re struggling and you need to get it out, why would you just sit and wallow? Maybe there’s someone else that can help you, maybe there’s someone that you can talk to, maybe there’s someone that has gone through the same thing and can offer you advice and support and whatever that may be.

“I’ve been in a place where it’s been dark and it’s been deep and it’s been sad. I’m like, ‘I need to get out of that place.’ But you know you’re stuck there if you don’t talk to anyone and no one knows what you’re going through.

“I think that younger athletes are not told enough that ‘It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be happy, it’s okay to show your emotion.’ And no one I feel like in the sports industry is comforting in that. It’s always like ‘This decision, this moment it’s going to affect you for the rest of your life.’ That’s the type of pressure people feel and they pretend to be okay. You end up in a space or a position where you just don’t feel good and you don’t feel good mentally and you don’t feel good physically. Then you can’t perform.”

Recently Venus Williams pledged 2 million dollars to free mental health therapy to ensure that tennis doesn’t struggle with these problems.

The ATP also revealed a whole range of initiatives to help players relax and look after their mental health.

It’s quite clearly a topic that still needs a lot of thought put in by tennis’ governing bodies to make players feel comfortable and be ok with talking about their mental health.

Speaking ahead of the US Open, the American is just happy to be playing in front of full capacity crowds again, “I think, at this point, everyone, like nobody has anything to lose. Like we’d just been in a pandemic,” the former champion said.

“It’s the first time we’ll have fans. There’ll be a lot of energy, the atmosphere will be great. And I think people will really look to take advantage of the situation. We’re excited that now it’s happening again. And we have fans again and we’re able to have that feeling and feel that rush again and that atmosphere and it’s exciting.”

Sloane Stephens will play her first round match against good friend Madison Keys on Monday.

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Botic Van de Zandschulp beats Joao Sousa to reach the second round in Tel Aviv

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Botic Van de Zandschulp cruised past Joao Sousa 6-2 6-3 to reach the second round at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open. Van de Zandschulp won 83% of his first serve points and hit 28 winners to Sousa’s six. 

 

The Dutchman will face Liam Broady, who Serbian wild-card Hamad Medjedovic 7-5 6-3. 

Tomas Martin Etchevery edged past 2021 Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev 6-2 6-7 (0-7) 6-4  scoring the biggest win of his career. 

Arthur Rinderknech came back from one set down to beat Romanian qualifier Marius Copil 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3. Rinderknech set up a second round against third seed Diego Schwartzman. 

Emil Ruusuvuori broke serve five times in his 6-3 6-2 win over J.J Wolf. 

Sebastian Korda beat Turkish qualifier Cem Ilkel 6-4 6-4 setting up a second round match against Maxime Cressy. Novak Djokovic is the top seed of the Tel Aviv tournament, which returns for the first time since 2021.

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Holger Rune reaches the second round at the Sofia Open

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Danish Next Gen rising star Holger Rune edged past Tim Van Rijthoven 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (8-6) to reach the second round at the Sofia Open in his first appearance at this tournament. 

 

Both players went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Rune earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

The second set started with a trade of breaks in the first two games. There was little to separate both players in the next games, which went on serve en route to the tie-break. Rune saved a set point at 5-6 in the tie-break of the second set and won the final three points to close out the second set 8-6. 

Rune won his first title in Munich and reached his maiden Grand Slam quarter final at Roland Garros. 

 “I did not want to go to three sets. I had the break and led 5-2 in the second set tie-break. If it had happened, I was going to fight for sure and try to take it in three, but I am very happy to win in two. I am really working hard every day and trying to improve any small things I can. I think today I stayed very focused all the time. I lost my focus one time on serve, when maybe I should not have been broken, but other than that I am very happy with my first match. The first match is always a  bit difficult”, said Rune. 

Australia’s Alexander Vukic beat Fabio Fognini 7-6 (13-11) 7-5 after 1 hour and 11 minutes. Vukic broke serve in the fifth game to take a 4-2 lead. Fognini converted his fourth break-back point to draw level to 4-4 before saving a break point at 5-5. Fognini went up a 6-3 lead, but he wasted six set points in the tie-break. Vukic closed out the tie-break 13-11 on his third set point. 

Fognini earned a break to take a 2-1 lead. Vukic broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2 in the fourth game. Fognini lost four consecutive points from 4-5 30-0. Vukic earned the decisive break on his first match point to seal the second set 7-5. 

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