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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Rafael Nadal To Skip ATP Cup Ahead Of Australian Open

Where will the former world No.1 play his first tournament of 2022?

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WASHINGTON, USA - August 4: Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Citi Open Tennis Tournament at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center on August 4, 2021 in Washington, USA (Photo by Peter Staples)

20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will not be starting his season at the ATP Cup in Australia, according to a leading sports newspaper.

 

Marca has reported that the former world No.1 has opted to not play in the team event which is set to get underway on January 1st. Nadal is currently on the comeback from a foot injury and hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since August. Next month he will return to action in Abu Dhabi at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship which is an exhibition event.

“I am very happy to be back at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi,” Nadal said in a video released earlier this week. “I hope to see you soon there.”

It is understood that due to his off-season schedule Nadal has chosen to pass on the team event but it is unclear as to what or if he will play in any other events leading up to the Australian Open which will begin on January 17th. Besides the ATP Cup, four ATP 250 events will be staged in the lead up to the Grand Slam.

The 35-year-old isn’t the only top Spanish name set to miss the ATP Cup. It has also been reported that rising star Carlos Alcaraz and Marcel Granollerswill not be playing as they intend to arrive in Australia at a later date. Instead the team will be headed by Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta. Unlike the Davis Cup, the ATP Cup offers both ranking points and prize money to players.

Nadal has won 24 out of 29 matches played on the Tour this year before ending his season due to injury. He won the Italian Masters and Barcelona Open to increase his career ATP title tally to 88. In the majors he reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of the French Open.

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Former Australian Davis Cup Players Slam Organisers Over Reported Move To Abu Dhabi

Todd Woodbridge and Sam Groth has hit out at the rumoured changes.

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TORINO, ITALY - NOVEMBER 29: Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2021 at Pala Alpitour on November 29, 2021 in Torino, Italy. (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

The most successful Australian doubles player in Davis Cup history has said he doesn’t believe the historic team event will still be going in five years time.

 

Todd Woodbridge, who played in 32 Davis Cup ties during his career, has called for the tennis administrators who approved changes to be made to the event to resign from their positions. In 2018 at the International Tennis Federation’s ATM, officials voted in favour of transforming the event into a weeklong finals. The changes are being overseen by investment firm Kosmos who has pledged to invest $3bn over a 25-year period.

This year’s ATP Finals is taking place across three cities in Europe with the final being held in Madrid for the second time in a row. However, it is understood that Kosmos will reveal their plans to the ITF this week to move the event to Abu Dhabi. According to The Telegraph, Kosmos are set to purpose the group stages to be held in Europe with the eight qualified teams then having to travel to Abu Dhabi. It is reported that the deal to move the event to the Middle East, which Kosmos founder Gerald Pique reportedly struck himself, is the only ‘viable option’ being presented. Although there are concerns from some.

Reacting to the development, Woodbridge has blasted the move during an interview with Wide World of Sports. The former world No.1 doubles player has accused Kosmos of destroying the competition and not paying any consideration to its history.

There is an announcement coming in the next few days that it (the Davis Cup Finals) will be moved to Abu Dhabi. It will be a 14 day event finishing in mid December. What player in their right mind is going to go to Abu Dhabi and give themselves two weeks off before starting the new season?” Woodbridge commented.
“The people who are making these decisions really need to look at themselves because this event I don’t think will be with us in five year times.”

Joining Woodbridge in his opposition is former world No.53 Sam Groth who claims that players are being attracted to play the event due to ‘payment on the backside.’ He has also accused world No.1 Novak Djokovic of double standards.

I can tell you the sort of players who are going to show up to a 14-day event in Abu Dhabi and it is the ones that are currently defending the event that I’m sure are having some payment on the backside to support what is now called the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals,” said Groth.
“This is not the Davis Cup but the players who are going to turn up are exactly like Novak Djokovic up who has refuted Lleyton’s comments about the tournament needing a change, it needs to be adjusted and needs to be played in different cities. I don’t have facts on this but I believe there is something going on with this group (Kosmos) is spending a lot of money and they have big financial backers in Abu Dhabi. Also for a guy who wants a shorter season and to support something that goes into mid December it is very contradictory.”

The International Tennis Federation will formally announce the new location of the Davis Cup Finals on Sunday in what will be a joint media presentation with Kosmos.

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Croatia beats Italy to book semifinal spot in the Davis Cup

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Croatia upset Italy 2-1 in the quarter finals of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals at the Pala Alpitour in Turin to reach the semifinal, as Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic beat Fabio Fognini and Jannik Sinner 6-3 6-4 in the decisive double match. 

 

Borna Gojo gave Croatia an early 1-0 lead over Italy in the quarter finals of the Davis Cup quarter finals at the Pala Alpitour in Turin after his 7-6 (7-2) 2-6 6-2 win against Lorenzo Sonego after 2 hours and 19 minutes. 

Sonego went up a 4-1 lead with a break in the fourth game, but he did not convert a double break point in the sixth game. Gojo broke back at 30 in the seventh game. The Croatian player won five consecutive points from 2-2 to win the tie-break 7-2. 

Sonego went up a 4-0 lead with a double break in the second set. The world number 27 player saved three break-back points. He held serve in the seventh game with two aces to seal the set 6-2. 

Gojo earned a break in the fourth game of the third set to take a 3-1 lead and held serve for 4-1. Sonego earned two break-back points in the seventh game, but Gojo saved them with a backhand volley and a first serve. The world number 279 held serve with an ace to open up a 5-2 lead and sealed the decisive set 6-2 with his second break.

“It feels amazing. We knew we had to get one point from the two singles.The support was unbelievable. They are so loud. Some of my best friends and family are here and I want to thank them with all my heart for comng”, said Gojo. 

Jannik Sinner came back from one set down to edge Marin Cilic 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 drawing level the tie to 1-1. 

Cilic rallied from 15-40 down to break serve on his second opportunity in the fourth game of the opening set. Both players held their next service games. Cilic served out the first set 6-3 in the ninth game after recovering from 0-30 down.

Sinner battled back from a set and a break down. Cilic served for the match when he was leading 5-4 in the second set. Sinner fought back from the brink, breaking to love before winning the tie-break 7-4. 

Sinner broke serve to love at the start of the third set. Cilic converted his third break-back point in the second game to draw level to 1-1. Both players went on serve until the seventh game, when Sinner earned his second break to take a 4-3 lead. The Italian star held his serve before earning two match points at 5-3. Cilic saved the first chance with a forehand inside-out. Sinner broke serve on his second match point.  

“The most important thing is that we are are still here. It is the most important amazing feeling. We will try to do the best in the doubles. I just tried to stay there. It was not easy trying to break him for the match, but I just tried my best”, said Sinner. 

Olympic champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic beat Fabio Fognini and Jannik Sinner 6-3 6-4 after 1 hour and 20 minutes to secure Croatia a spot in the semifinals. 

The Croatian team earned the first break in the fourth game at deuce to take a 3-1 lead. Sinner and Fognini saved five set points to hold serve at deuce in the eighth game. Mektic and Pavic did not face any break points to close out the first set 6-3 after 38 minutes. 

The Italian team saved a break point in the third game of the second set. Croatia earned the break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 after Fognini made a double fault and did not face a break point in their next service games to win the 42-minute second set 6-4 on their first match point, as Pavic fired an ace.  

Italy did not earn any break points, while Croatia converted two of their eight chances.

Croatia will face either Serbia or Kazakhstan in the semifinal in Madrid. 

“Honestly, it feels incredible. I don’s think anyone expected us to get this far and it feels amazing to be going in Madrid”, said Mektic. 

Croatia is bidding for a third Davis Cup title and the second in three editions after claiming this tournament in 2018. 

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