Reilly Opelka: Tennis Has The Worst Media And Nobody Cares About Mixed Doubles - UBITENNIS
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Reilly Opelka: Tennis Has The Worst Media And Nobody Cares About Mixed Doubles

The world No.20 has hit out at journalists over their coverage of the sport during a recent interview with Inside Tennis.

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image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN

In the era where most players are careful about what they say in case it lands them in some kind of trouble, Reilly Opelka is one who is not afraid to speak his mind.

The 24-year-old is currently the highest ranked American player on the ATP Tour at 20th in the world. Since turning pro in 2015 he has played in the main draw of 12 Grand Slam tournaments and has won two Tour titles on the hardcourts. Earlier this year he scored the biggest win of his career in Toronto after beating world No.3 Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Opelka leads the charge in trying to bring American men’s tennis back to the limelight during a time where he and his compatriots are constantly compared to the likes of tennis greats such as Pete Sampras or Andre Agassi. During the recent Laver Cup, which Europe won 13-1, questions were raised about the disparity in levels between the two continents. A situation Opelka believes is made to look worse than it is due to what he describes as bad journalism from some.

These guys are terrible – there are some bad journalists. You have some guys that just criticize. They look to be super negative. Guys that know nothing about tennis. I think we have the worst media of any sport, quite frankly,” he told Inside Tennis.

One example he refers to is a tweet from Chris Fowler who is a sports broadcaster that works for ESPN in America. During the US Open Fowler made a comment about Carlos Alcaraz’s retirement from his quarter-final match, accusing the Spaniard of ‘tapping out’ early because he was losing. Alcaraz later revealed that he had suffered a fibrillar tear in his vastus medialis and lateral quadriceps as well as an elongation in his adductor.

“This guy is on ESPN, he does college football, he shouldn’t work another tennis match,” a bluntly speaking Opelka commented. “It hurts the sport because ESPN has a lot of guys who are following football or don’t know Carlos Alcaraz…and don’t know anything about tennis and they’re like, “This young kid just completely just walked off the court, what an idiot, what a jackass.” That just can’t happen. If I’m commissioner of tennis, that’s one offense too much.”

Opelka’s frustration with media also resulted in a direct swipe at the mixed doubles discipline which he believes should be abolished due to its inability to generate ticket sales in major events. He says one unnamed journalist allegedly claimed that the 2020 French Open shouldn’t be considered a slam because there wasn’t a mixed doubles event.

“There shouldn’t even be mixed doubles. They should get rid of it completely. It doesn’t sell a ticket. No one cares about it, no one watches or wants it to be there. Just get rid of it and throw all that money into the women’s and men’s qualifying. Take care of your people that actually have potential to sell tickets. It just shocks me. The media is awful in our sport. It holds our sport back, it really does.”

Each of the four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles won this season was by a team featuring at least one American player.

Opelka is currently playing in Indian Wells which he describes as ‘his least favourite tournament.’ He will play Grigor Dimitrov in the third round on Sunday after seeing off Japan’s Taro Daniel in straight sets. As one of the most promising male players from his country, he has a direct message to those covering his and his peers’ matches.

Find something other than Sampras and Agassi, like, get over it. Quit blowing on that s–t. It’s over. Times have changed. It is 2021, we are not in the eighties and nineties, move on.” He concludes.

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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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