Andy Murray Back Restrictions On Unvaccinated Players At Australian Open, Announces Davis Cup Withdrawal - UBITENNIS
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Andy Murray Back Restrictions On Unvaccinated Players At Australian Open, Announces Davis Cup Withdrawal

The former world No.1 shares his view concerning next year’s Grand Slam and gives an update on his plans for the rest of the season.

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Andy Murray (image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Andy Murray says he will support any government decision concerning stricter measures being in place for players who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 at the upcoming Australian Open.

 

Recently the Victorian government, who are in charge of the state where the Grand Slam is located, announced a brand new health mandate requiring key workers to be vaccinated. These include all professional athletes. However, it is the national government of Australia who will have the final say regarding if unvaccinated players will be allowed into the country next year.

Earlier this week Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula urged all players to have their COVID-19 vaccine in order to have the best chance of playing in the tournament. Tennis Australia is yet to finalise the rules and it is believed that discussions are still underway.

Questioned about the situation following his straight sets defeat to Alexander Zverev in Indian Wells, Murray says he has no problem with such rules being implemented. It is reported that vaccinated players may be allowed to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Australia, according to ABC News.

My understanding is if you’re unvaccinated you’re still allowed to play, it’s just the rules are going to be different,” said Murray.
“You might just have to leave (for Australia) a few weeks earlier than everyone else. That’s the player’s choice. If the local government puts that in place then I would support that.
“It would be great if more players got vaccinated.
“Australia in particular has been very, very strict over there. The public there have had to endure a painful 18 months or whatever.
“If people are going to come into the country and potentially risk an outbreak in their community, that’s understandable.”

Zverev, who has not publicly disclosed his vaccination status, has also expressed his backing to the measures in a somewhat diplomatic way. The German beat Murray 6-4, 7-6(4), in their clash on Tuesday by coming back from a break down in both sets.

I fully respect the decisions of players that are not vaccinated,” Zverev said.
“I also do respect the decision that the Australian government is giving.
“I don’t want to be in the middle of something which I kind of am not involved in, because I don’t have that issue of the two-week quarantine … I don’t want to go against anybody here.”

The Australian Open main draw will begin on January 17th with Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka being the reigning champions.

‘I’m not sure if I deserve to play’

Looking ahead to the rest of the season after his latest match, Murray has confirmed to BBC Sport that he doesn’t plan to play in the Davis Cup finals next month. The former world No.1 has represented Great Britain in 21 ties since 2005 and was instrumental in guiding his team to the title in 2015.

Murray says he is unsure if he is good enough to make the team this year despite an increase in his form in recent weeks. He is currently ranked 121st in the world and is the fourth highest ranked British player on the ATP Tour.

“I also don’t feel right now I would be playing,” he told BBC Sport. “Obviously that would be up to Leon (Smith) but I’m not sure I deserve to play in that team.
“Cam [Norrie] and Dan [Evans] have had a great year. Liam Broady’s in and around the top 100 now and we’ve got very strong doubles as well.
“Right now, I’m not planning on playing the Davis Cup and with the late finish to it, and early departure to Australia, with my schedule between now and the end of the year, I am going to have to rest and take a break and give my body a chance to breathe.
“And I want to make sure in the off season I get to spend as much time with my family as I can because I have been away from that recently and that will be case when I go to Australia as well.”

Great Britain will start their Davis Cup campaign by playing in Innsbruck which is one of the cities selected to hold the Group stages. They will play France and Czech Republic for a chance to progress to the knockout stages which will be held in Madrid, Spain.

Murray will shortly be heading back to Europe where he will be playing tournaments in Antwerp and Vienna after being given wildcards.

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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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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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