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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Alexander Zverev reaches the fourth round at Roland Garros for the fifth consecutive year

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Alexander Zverev edged past Brandon Nakashima 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in a hard-fought match on Court Suzanne Lenglen to reach the fourth round for the fifth consecutive year at Roland Garros. 

 

Zverev had reached the quarter finals in 2018 and 2019 and the semifinals in 2021. 

Zverev had saved a match point and came back from two sets down to beat Sebastian Baez in the second round. 

The match between Zverev and Nakashima featured just three breaks of serve, including a trade of breaks in the third set. Zverev fended off two break points in each of the first two sets. 

Zverev broke in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead with a backhand winner and held serve to take a two-set lead. Zverev earned a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, but Nakashima broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Seven of the 12 points went against serve in the tie-break. Zverev came back from 2-4 down in the tie-break and closed out the tie-break 7-5 with a backhand winner after 2 hours and 48 minutes.

“I think I raised my level today. I prefer this compared to the second round thriller. This is much better for me. I don’t lose too much hair. I can still grow old”, said Zverev. 

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Doubles Player Dream French Open Debut Ended By Instagram Message

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral said he found out he will not be playing in Paris through social media.

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Francisco Cabral - Image via https://twitter.com/EstorilOpen/

Playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of many players’ careers but one player missed out on that opportunity due to an unfortunate situation. 

 

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral was set to play in the men’s doubles tournament for the first time at this week’s French Open. The world No.72 is currently at a career-high after winning his maiden Tour title in Estoril last month with compatriot Nuno Borges. In Paris, he entered into the draw alongside Denmark’s Holger Rune. 

However, shortly before he was set to make his Grand Slam debut Rune pulled out at the last minute. Leaving Cabral unable to look for another partner in such a short time. Rune’s withdrawal from the doubles was based on medical advice after he hurt his ankle during his second round clash against Henri Laaksonen. The Dane tripped over the court cover at the back of the court but fortunately wasn’t seriously injured and managed to continue playing. 

“Right now I feel a huge sadness because it’s a dream to play in a Grand Slam tournament. I’ve been here since Saturday training, waiting, watching games, experiencing a new world because it was my first Grand Slam and it’s another dimension and I was really, really looking forward to being able to play,” Cabral told Raquetc. “And having waited until 15 minutes before game time to know that I wasn’t going to play after all, it cost me a lot, but I did everything I could.”

Caral went on to criticize the behavior of Rune who informed him that he would not be playing in the doubles event via a message sent on Instagram. It is unclear why the two never spoke face-to-face. 

“He only told me that he had sprained his foot, that he was at the doctor’s, and that he had told him not to play the doubles. I’m sad about his attitude because he didn’t even say this to my face, he just sent me a message on Instagram. I don’t think it went well, but as I said, I couldn’t have done anything differently, so I’ll just wait for the next opportunity.” He said. 

25-year-old Cabral is targeting Wimbledon as the event where he will play his first main draw match. 

Meanwhile, Rune will continue his singles campaign at Roland Garros on Saturday when he plays Hugo Gaston in the third round. The former world No.1 junior has shot up the rankings this season to a high of 40th. 

Cabral and Rune has been replaced in the draw by Sander Arends and Szymon Walków. 

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Seven Top 10 Seeds Fail To Reach Third Round Of Women’s Draw In French Open First

The series of high-profile exits has set a new milestone but for the wrong reasons.

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Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

The first five days of this year’s French Open have been tough going for some of the world’s best players on the women’s Tour.

 

A series of shock early losses has opened up parts of the women’s draw with 14 out of the last 32 players remaining in the tournament being unseeded. Former champions Garbine Muguruza and Barbora Krejcikova fell in the first round, as well as fellow top 10 seeds Ons Jabeur and Anett Kontaveit. Then in the second round Maria Sakkari (No.4), Karolina Pliskova (No.8) and Danielle Collins (No.9) all crashed out.

Heading into the third round seven top 10 seeds have already been knocked out of the French Open which is a new record for Roland Garros. The tournament has featured draws including 10 or more seeds since 1978.

“I knew that I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets over all these years,” Sakkari said following her exit.
“At this level you always have to accept that you cannot go deep in every single tournament or every single big tournament.”

Jabeur was tipped by some as a serious contender for the title this year before losing her opening match to an inspired Magda Linette. Prior to the tournament, she boasted a 17-3 record on the clay this year, winning the Madrid Open title and reaching the final of two other events (Charleston and Rome).

“I wanted to go as far as I could in the tournament because I played well on clay in Madrid and in Rome, and it’s difficult to take that one in,” she said. ”But that’s what sport is like and you need to be smart enough to move forward and get back on court.’
“Maybe it was a good thing to lose. I would rather say this and be really tough with myself than waste all the good energy that I got from Madrid and Rome.”

In recent years the French Open women’s tournament has been full of unpredictability. The past three editions being won by players who didn’t hold a major title of any sort (in singles) coming into the draw.

One player who has managed to buckle the trend of inconsistency is world No.1 Iga Swiatek who has won 30 matches in a row. The fourth longest streak on the WTA Tour since 2000 after both of the Williams sisters and Justine Henin. Swiatek is also the first player to win 13 or more matches in a row whilst at the top of the rankings since Serena Williams back in 2015.

“I was saying from the beginning that for sure I’m going to reach a point where I’m going to lose a match, and it’s pretty normal,” Swiatek said following her 6-0, 6-2, triumph over Alison Riske.
“I have been losing matches in tennis for a long time. For sure the things we (my team) are doing right now are pretty extraordinary but I know in tennis that only one person wins in the end.’
“I will be okay with that. For sure it’s not fun to lose, but I think it wouldn’t be different than any other loss that I had, you know, in my career.”

Other top 10 seeds remaining in this year’s draw are Paula Badosa and Aryna Sabalenka.

Meanwhile, in the men’s draw all top 12 seeds have reached the third round for the first time since 2009.

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