Simona Halep On Raducanu, Romania and The COVID-19 Vaccine - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep On Raducanu, Romania and The COVID-19 Vaccine

The number one seed met with the media ahead of her first match at the Transylvania Open.

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Simona Halep (image via https://twitter.com/TransylvaniaOpn)

Simona Halep is on home soil this week playing at the Transylvania Open in Cluj-Napoca. On Monday afternoon she spoke to reporters ahead of her campaign about a variety of topics.

 

The world No.18 paid tribute to Emma Raducanu’s ‘unbelievable’ achievement at the US Open where the Brit became the first qualifier in history to win a major title. Raducanu won 10 matches in a row in New York without dropping a set in what was only her second main draw appearance at a Grand Slam.

”What she achieved is unbelievable and credit to her because she played so well and she was mentally strong through all her matches,” said Halep. “She played very fast tennis and close to the baseline plus she has great movement on the court”.

Halep continued to talk highly of the young 18-year-old and gave her thoughts on what it means for Romania and the future of Romanian tennis. Raducanu’s father was born in the country.

”I think she is able to achieve everything and now she has the experience of winning the biggest tournament in tennis. I think she can become top 10 easily and sooner than everybody thinks,” she stated.
“She has a bright future and she will be one of the best players in the world”.

Hope for fans

Halep was asked to give her opinion on the fact that the tournament will be played without fans due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Romania. Whilst not happy with the decision, she understands that health and safety are the number one priority.

”It’s sad that this decision was taken because they (tournament organisers) did everything right to have fans with the stadium being so big. Personally, I don’t see an issue with that but when it comes to health they decide but hopefully we are waiting to see on a daily basis if it changes and hopefully we can have some fans by the end of the tournament”.

The 30-year-old enters this week with a win-loss record of 18-9 during what has been a rollercoaster season. She was forced to miss almost three months of the Tour between May-August due to a calf injury. Since returning, she has reached the fourth round of the US Open and the quarter-finals of the Kremlin Cup.

This year was a tough year with the injuries that I suffered and I struggled a lot just to come back but I am happy to be back on the court and happy that I can play again,” Halep reflected.
“I am healthy again and the positives are that I was able to come back and play some tournaments and some matches. It wasn’t easy coming back as I missed 3-4 months and didn’t play an official match. I still struggle but I am super confident next year will be better and I still love the sport and love being on the court”.

Playing on home soil

Halep will face compatriot Gabriela Elena Ruse in the first round. She gave her thoughts on the recent rise of Romanian tennis on the women’s side with six Romanians in the main draw.

”I think it’s a great performance for Romania to have so many girls here and in the top 100 as well. I face a very young opponent who is Romanian and she has played a lot this year and really well so she has a lot of confidence but I have nothing to lose. Romania is in a good place right now in regards to tennis”. She said.

The top seed also spoke about the experience of playing in Romania and how excited she is to play despite the fact there won’t be any fans in the stands.

“ I’m excited to play in Romania, I played two times in Bucharest in 2014 and 2016 and I had great success and in Cluj, the organizers are really good and the conditions are great and hopefully I can feel in a good position for Wednesday”.

The Constanta native was also asked what it would mean to her if she was able to take home the title on home soil.

” It will mean a lot and it will be great to win a title but it’s still early and I want to take it one match at a time and if it happens it will be a huge thing”. She stated.

The Australian Open

A big topic of discussion recently has been the Australian Open who has been going back and forth in regards to who would be allowed in the country and who would be allowed to play.

An email was sent to the players yesterday outlining the latest plans, saying that players who are vaccinated and not vaccinated will have two totally different experiences.

Players who are vaccinated will have total freedom while players who are not will be subject to a hard 14-day quarantine. A move which has received full backing from Halep.

”For me, it was the best news and I am actually looking forward to going and playing in the first grand slam of the year. These decisions are taken by the government of Australia but I am pro-vaccine and I think players should do it if they want because it is much easier if you are vaccinated because you don’t have restrictions”. She concluded.

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Australia fights back from losing the first match to reach the Davis Cup final

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Australia fought back from losing the first singles match to beat Croatia 2-1 reaching its first Davis Cup in 19 years. 

 

Alex De Minaur cruised past Marin Cilic 6-2 6-2 in just 44 minutes to send the semifinal to decisive doubles match. Cilic made 10 double faults, as De Minaur broke four times to draw level to 2-2 in his head-to-head matches. De Minaur has improved his Davis Cup hard-court singles record to 10-1 in the Davis Cup. 

“This is what this team is about, that never say-die attitude. I have had a couple of instances when I have been in this position and I feel like my back is against the wall, and there is only a wall to break through, and that’s going forward steam ahead and just going after every single point. My job was to keep us alive, and I am happy to do anything I can do for my country”, said De Minaur. 

Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell came back from one set down to beat Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 6-4. Thompson and Purcell broke twice and never dropped a service game to come back from losing the first-set tie-break. 

The first set went on serve with no breaks of serve en route to the tie-break. Mektic and Pavic earned three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-3. 

Thompson and Purcell broke serve in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead and held serve in the 12th game to force the match to the decider. The Australian team broke again in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held their next two service games to close out the third set 6-4. 

Australia won its 28th and last title in 2003. 

“I am so proud. Australia has a rich history in this competition. We have been fortunate to win it all on a number of occasions. I know what it meant to me as a player to play a final, and I am glad these guys can play it”, said Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt. 

Australia will face either Italy or Canada in the final. 

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Borna Coric beats Thanasi Kokkinakis to give Croatia a 1-0 lead against Australia in Davis Cup semifinal in Malaga

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Borna Coric beat Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4 6-3 after 1 hour and 32 minutes with a break in each set to give Croatia a 1-0 lead over Australia in the first match of the semifinal of the Davis Cup by Rakuten in Malaga. 

 

Coric hit 19 winners to just 9 unforced errors. 

Kokkinakis saved a break point in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. The Croatian player converted his third break point at deuce in the 10th game to close out the first set 6-4. 

Coric faced the only break point at the second set and earned the only break in the sixth game to seal the win 6-4 6-3. 

“This means a lot to me. I was watching the guys playing Davis Cup when I was injured and doing my rehab. To play for Croatia is an amazing feeling for me. I was turning to my coach in the first set and saying: ‘I don’t know what to do against his serve’, but I started to read it later on, and thankfully I was serving well myself. When I was younger, I did not serve so well and I needed to improve it. After my shoulder injury I did not know whether I would be able to serve again at all, but I did so much work on it that I serve even better now then I used to”, said Coric.

Alex De Minaur will face 2018 Davis Cup champion Marin Cilic. In their previous head-to-head matches Cilic leads 2-1 over De Minaur and beat the Australian player 6-1 5-7 6-4 in the Group Stage of the Davis Cup finals. 

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Bianca Andreescu Reunites With Former Coach Ahead Of New Season 

How will the Grand Slam champion fair on the Tour with her latest mentor?

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has brought a familiar face back into her team as she bids to return to her best form in 2023. 

 

Andreescu, who is currently ranked 45th in the WTA rankings, has appointed Christophe Lambert as her latest coach. Lambert had been working as the performance director at Tennis New Zealand and resigned from that position to work with the former US Open champion. He had also previously worked for Tennis Canada and during that time he was a private coach for Andreescu in 2016. 

“Bianca asked me to coach her and I accepted the job. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Lambert told sport.co.nz. 

Lambert, who has also spent time working with the Chinese Davis Cup team and for the British LTA, has stayed in contact with Andreescu ever since coaching her six years ago. 

“It wasn’t like every week or every month. It’s always good to have people calling you when you are up, but when she was down I was checking on her and giving her my opinion.” He said. 

Andreescu had been working with Dutch coach Sven Groeneveld for over a year before they decided to end their collaboration in October. Groeneveld has a wealth of experience in the sport after working with a series of top names, including Maria Sharapova. 

This season the former world No.4 has won 20 out of 33 matches played with her best performance being a run to the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. However, her record against top 10 opposition was 2-5.

“I’m just taking it day by day, and it’s a great way to end off the year as well, just bringing back all the emotions that fire a lot in me,” Andreescu recently told reporters in Glasgow at the Billie Jean King Cup. “I think I’m going to have a great preseason. Next year I really think I can crack the top 10 again.”

Andreescu, who has been hampered by injury issues in recent years, hasn’t won a singles title of any sort since 2019. 

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