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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French Open: Jack Draper Serves Up Trouble and is Upset by Dutch Qualifier De Jong

Brit Draper loses his longest ever tennis match in only his second five-setter of his career.

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Jack Draper crashed out at the first hurdle at the French Open after a 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 6-3 loss to world number 176 Jesper de Jong – a qualifier who had come through three rounds to reach the main draw – who next faces third seed Carlos Alcaraz. 

In a titanic tussle lasting over four hours, the British number two could not find any rhythm on his serve, getting just 50% of his first deliveries in while winning only 51% of his second serves – resulting in him being broken an alarming nine times over the five sets.

“My serve has been a problem this year,” said Draper after the match. “I’m trying to change it to make it better, and obviously I’ve made those changes in the last few weeks. So, it’s not comfortable, especially in a grand slam playing in a fifth set on a second serve. You know, the confidence isn’t there at the moment on my serve, and it’s a problem I’m going to have to work on with coaches and see where I can make it more consistent because, yeah, it’s really letting me down.”

Dutchman De Jong took the opening two sets and was heading for a surprising routine victory before Draper showed some admirable fight to win the third on a tie-breaker before taking control of the fourth to push the match into a decider after a one-hour rain delay.

Draper, still only 22 with huge potential, still has time to understand how to navigate the fluctuations of long five setters and will be disappointed with the outcome of the fifth when he threw in yet another double-fault at 30-40 down in the seventh game to hand his opponent the initiative.  “I battled my way back, started playing a decent level. There was a lot of ebbs and flows in the match. That’s five-set tennis. I’m kind of learning that the more I play,” he added. 

Elsewhere in other results, sixth seed Andrey Rublev dropped a set in a tough battle against Japan’s Taro Daniel and next faces Spain’s Pedro Martinez, while eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz survived going two sets to one down before coming through easily in five against Shintaro Mochizuki from Japan. 

Bulgaria’s 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov recorded a routine win against American Aleksandar Kovacevic and French veteran, and wildcard Richard Gasquet was arguably more impressive in his straight sets win over Borna Coric of Croatia and potentially plays second seed Jannik Sinner next. 

However, in perhaps the biggest upset of the day, French number one and 17th seed Ugo Humbert lost 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego in a match close to three hours and in front of home fans on Suzanne-Lenglen stadium court. 

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Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard claims his first ATP title in Lyon

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Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard battled past sixth seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-4 1-6 7-6 (9-7) in a thrilling final at the Open Parc tournament in Lyon. 

Mpetchi Perricard saved four break points in the first game of the opening set to hold serve at deuce. Etcheverry converted his third break point in the fifth game and held serve at love to take a 4-2 lead. Mpetchi Perricard won four consecutive games to clinch the first set 6-4. 

Etcheverry broke three times to win the second set 6-1. 

The third set went on serve until the 11th game when Mpetchi Perricard converted his third break point to take a 6-5 lead. Etcheverry broke straight back to draw level to 6-6. Mpetchi Perricard was a point away from defeat at 6-7 in the tie-break of the third set, but he reeled off the final three points to win the tie-break 9-7 on his second championship point. 

Mpetchi Perricard won three Challenger Tour titles this year in Nottingham, Cuernavaca and Acapulco. He beat Lorenzo Sonego, Yoshihito Nishioka, Hugo Gaston and Alexander Bublik en route to his first ATP Tour title in Lyon.

Mpetchi Perricard is the son of footballer player Ghislain Mpetchi, who is of Congolese origin. He sister Daphnée Perricard is also a tennis player. 

“It was crazy. It was a very good final. I was down in the second set, but I managed to do better. I am very happy to win this tournament and now I have a lot of confidence for Roland Garros”, said Mpetchi Perricard.

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Casper Ruud claims the third title of his career in Geneva

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Casper Ruud claimed the third title of his career at the Gonet Geneva Open after his previous triumphs at this tournament in 2021 and 2022. 

Ruud did double duty after rain postponed his semifinal match to Saturday. Ruud saved a match point to beat Flavio Cobolli 1-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) in the semifinal. He returned less than three hours to defeat Tomas Machac 7-5 6-3 in the final. Ruud clinched the ATP Tour title of his career. 

Machac went up a break in the third game of the first set to take a 3-1 lead. Ruud won three consecutive games from 4-5 down with two breaks in the first set after Machac committed a double fault while he was holding a set point on serve at 5-4. 

Ruud broke serve in the second game of the second set. The Norwegian player held on his next service games and served out the win on his first match point in 1 hour and 47 minutes. 

Ruud improved to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against Machac. “It was a challenging week. All the matches are tough, no matter who will play. It was tough to find a groove. The weather has been a bit challenging all week, but today was fantastic. I feel very happy to win again to win again here in Geneva. It’s been a very good season so far”, said Ruud. 

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