Chinese State Media Posts ‘Letter’ Allegedly Written By Peng Shuai But WTA Chief Doubts Its Authenticity - UBITENNIS
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Chinese State Media Posts ‘Letter’ Allegedly Written By Peng Shuai But WTA Chief Doubts Its Authenticity

It has been claimed that Shuai, who hasn’t been seen for two weeks, has sent a letter to the WTA.

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The ongoing situation involving former world No.1 doubles player Peng Shuai has taken a dramatic turn after China Global Television Network claims the tennis star said she never made those allegations in the first place.

 

More than a week ago Shuai published a harrowing post on her Weibo account claiming that she was sexually assaulted by the former vice-premier of China, Zhang Gaoli. She claimed that the former political figure coerced her into sex and they had an affair for an intermitted period of 10 years. A sensational claim in the country where it is extremely rare that members of the country’s communist party are accused of such acts.

In the aftermath of the post, which was published on November 2nd, authorities took it down within 30 minutes. It was also widely reported that Shuai’s Weibo account was temporarily blocked and users were prevented from commenting on any of her posts. Furthermore, search phrases such as Shuai’s name and even tennis were briefly restricted in the country in a move to stop the post spreading across the internet.

Since Shuai’s post there has been no public comment from her which has prompted widespread concern. So much so that the WTA issued a statement on Sunday calling for a fair investigation. The ATP, which is the governing body of men’s tennis, later backed those calls.

Now for the first time, China’s top officials have acknowledged the situation. On Wednesday GCTV issued what they say is a ‘letter’ from Shuai which she has sent to the WTA. She has allegedly complained that the WTA statement was released without her consent, her allegations of sexual assault are untrue and she is not missing.

“Hello everyone this is Peng Shuai. Regarding the recent news released on the official website of the WTA, the content has not been confirmed or verified by myself and it was released without my consent,” the letter reads.
“The news in that release, including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true. I’m not missing, nor am I unsafe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine. Thank you again for caring about me.’
“If the WTA publishes any more news about me, please verify it with me, and release it with my consent. As a professional tennis player, I thank you all for your companionship and consideration. I hope to promote Chinese tennis with you all if I have the chance in the future. I hope Chinese tennis will become better and better. Once again, thank you for your consideration.”

GCTN is the international division of China Central Television. A media organisation which is under the control of the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party.

‘I have a hard time believing that’

Following the letter which was claimed to be written by Shuai, the head of the WTA Tour has issued a statement saying that he is not convinced it was written by her. Steve Simon said the latest development has increased his concerns about her safety and whereabouts. The tennis chief wrote that ‘voices of women need to be heard and respected, not censored nor dictated to.’

“The statement released today by Chinese state media concerning Peng Shuai only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts,” said Simon.
“I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her. Peng Shuai displayed incredible courage in describing an allegation of sexual assault against a former top official in the Chinese government. The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable proof that she is safe. I have repeatedly tried to reach her via numerous forms of communication, to no avail.
Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source. Her allegation of sexual assault must be respected, investigated with full transparency and without censorship.
The voices of women need to be heard and respected, not censored nor dictated to.”

China is the host country of several top tennis tournaments on the women’s Tour, including the WTA Finals which is set to return to the country next year.

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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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