ANALYSIS: How China Has Reacted To The WTA’s Suspension - UBITENNIS
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ANALYSIS: How China Has Reacted To The WTA’s Suspension

News of the suspension has reportedly been censored on social media website Weibo, state-run media outlets have run editorials blasting the west and the Chinese Tennis Association has issued a statement which is nowhere to be seen on its official site.

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In the aftermath of the WTA announcing that they have suspended all of their tournaments in China and Hong Kong over concerns about the welfare of Peng Shuai there has been a familiar trend from Chinese officials.

 

On Wednesday WTA CEO Steve Simon said the Asian nation has failed to address his organisations concerns about the former world No.1 doubles player who accused a former senior political official of sexual assault in a Weibo Post published on November 2nd. Shuai vanished from the public eye shortly after but returned a couple weeks later with photos and photos of her being uploaded online. Most of which were published by media which is overseen by China’s Communist Party.

One of the first to react to the suspension was Hu Xijin who is the editor-in-chief of the Global Times. The English-language branch of China’s People Daily newspaper which has one of the largest circulations in the world. On Twitter, which is banned in his home country, Xijin claimed the WTA suspension is linked to a western attack on China.

“WTA is coercing Peng Shuai to support the west’s attack on the Chinese system. They are depriving Peng Shuai’s freedom of expression, demanding that her description of her current situation meets their expectation,” he wrote.

The Global Times is known for writing various editorials which is usually from a nationalistic perspective. Since the publication of Shuai’s post, their Chinese branch has not written a single article about the topic. In fact, no top Chinese media outlet has done so with them all being regulated by the government.

Continuing his attack on Simon and the WTA, Xijin claimed that the suspension would not have a significant financial impact on the governing body because those tournaments had a ‘slim chance of being held due to COVID-19.’ A bold prediction considering most of those events will not take place until the second half of 2022. In 2019 nine WTA tournaments in China had a combined prize money pool of more than $30M.

“Steve Simon is boycotting in a high profile manner some events that only had a slim chance of being held due to COVID-19. For one thing, it will not bring additional economic losses to the WTA, for another, it garner attention from western countries for himself and the WTA,” Xijin wrote in another Tweet.

China Global Television Network (CGTN) is the international division of the China Central Television (CCTV), which is owned by the state. They have published just two articles about Shuai this year. One was about her meeting with the IOC that made made no reference to her allegations. The other was an editorial published on Wednesday titled ‘Politicizing sports is a lose-lose policy.’ It was written by American analyst Andrew Korybko who is based in Russia and the website note that the article does not necessarily reflect their view. It is one of the first articles published on a Chinese government-back website that acknowledged Shuai’s post. Although it was minimal to say the very least.

“Peng took some time for herself after her social media post last month, which unexpectedly generated a disproportionate amount of global attention from ill-intended foreign observers. She’s since reappeared in the public eye and even spoken to Olympic officials.” It reads.

As for the Chinese Tennis Association, they have also issued a statement. Although there has been no mention of it on their official website. Instead, it came up via Global Times through their social media sites and on their website. An unsurprising situation considering China has censored Shuai’s allegations. Coincidentally The Global Times said they have exclusively obtained the statement. So exclusive that it wasn’t even published on any Chinese-language website first?

“The Chinese Tennis Association (CTA) expressed its indignation and firm opposition on Thursday to the unilateral decision made by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) on Wednesday to suspend tournaments in China, citing so-called concerns about the well-being of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai,” the statement reads.

As for the Chinese government they have stayed largely silent on the issue throughout and nothing has been heard from Zhang Gaoli. The former vice-premier who Shuai accused of sexual abuse. During a press conference foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, responded by saying “We’ve already expressed our view. We’ve always been against behaviours politicising sports.”

As China continues to argue that they are being ill treated by the west, evidence of censorship is still visible. Kerry Allen is a China media analyst for the BBC. After the WTA’s announced the suspension of China, posts on their Weibo account (the main social media network in China) have been restricted. Meaning users could not comment or share them. Something which has happened to Shuai’s account. According to the New York Times, people in China are now using code names in order to talk about Shuai online to avoid being censored by authorities.

In a separate development the IOC confirmed that they had a second meeting with Shuai who they say is “safe and well, given the difficult situation she is in.” The governing body said they have offered her ‘wide-ranging’ support and have already agreed to meet with her in Beijing in January. Just weeks before China holds the Winter Olympic Games.

The IOC statement didn’t mention if their meeting with Shuai was before or after the WTA’s announcement.

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Jannik Sinner takes the positives from his defeat against Stefanos Tsitsipas

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Jannik Sinner has taken the positives from his straight-set defeat against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter final at the Australian Open. The Italian 20-year-old star believes that the experience will help him to continue improving. 

 

“It’s a positive tournament. I think that what I have to improve is tennis in general. I have to serve better. I have to serve better, I have to do everything more, especially when you play against the top guys. My goal is to play many matches like this, important matches against the best guys in the world, and then we see and then I grow. I think it was good. I played matches, and I had a good experience. Let’s see what I can do here next year. I think I can go back with a positive mindset, knowing that I have to improve many things. There is a lot of work”, said Sinner. 

Sinner praised Tsisipas, who has extended his win-loss record to 3-1 in the four head-to-head matches against his Italian opponent. 

“I think he played better than me than me today. He served better. He moved the ball better than me. He was moving better than me. It’s tough to play against him when he plays like that. I could not generate the power that I would have wanted. I was trying to move him, but I was maybe a little bit too far back because he played incredible today. I didn’t have many chances. Especially he was serving well, so returning his serves was not easy. My return serves were not so good, especially when he had second serves, or I played very short or I missed. This is why he didn’t play so many second serves. I tried to step a little bit closer, tried to open the court, but today it was tough. I know what what I have to improve many things. This was a lesson for me”, said Sinner. 

Sinner, who was making his third appearance at the Australian Open, dropped just one set en route to his second Grand Slam quarter final two years after losing to Rafael Nadal in this stage at Roland Garros in 2020. 

“In the past few months I have matured as a player in many aspects, but above alla s a person. This is the most important aspect. 

Sinner has become the fifth Italian male player to advance to the last eight in Melbourne after Matteo Berrettini, who beat Gael Monfils in five sets reaching the semifinal the previous day. Berrettini has reached at least the quarter finals at all four Grand Slam tournaments. With a win over Rafael Nadal in the semifinal of the Australian Open, Berrrettini would become joint second Italian player for most Grand Slam semifinals in history alongside Adriano Panatta, who won Roland Garros in 1976. Sinner reached a career-high world number 10 last November. When Berrettini was that age, he had never been inside the top 500. 

Sinner has a bigger respect for his friend Berrettini on and off the court. 

“I enjoy watching Matteo’s matches. I admire him as a player and as a person. We are good friends I wish him all the best for the next matches. During the ATP Cup we practiced on the court and I now know him better. I have learnt a lot from training with him. Matteo is a very good guy. We get along well. Our rivalry is helping us to push beyond our limits”, said Sinner.

Sinner will return to the court to play at the Rotterdam ATP 500 indoor-court tournament. 

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Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis secure the semifinal spot in the Australian Open doubles tournament

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Australian wild cards Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios knocked out sixth seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus 7-5 3-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 15 minutes to advance to the semifinals in the doubles tournament on Kia Arena at the Australian Open in Melbourne. 

 

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios hit 25 aces and won 86% of their first service points. 

Kokkinakis and Kirgyos, who won the Wimbledon Junior title in the doubles together, earned the only break in the 11th game to claim the first set 7-5. The Aussies fired 13 aces and won 91% of his first serve points. 

Puetz and Venus broke Kyrgios in the second game at deuce in the second game and saved four break points to hold serve at deuce for 3-0. The early break was enough for Puetz and Venus to seal the second set. 

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis broke Puetz to love to open up a 3-1 lead. The home team fended off a break point in the seventh game to move ahead 5-2 and closed out the third set 6-3 with a double break in the ninth game.

The Aussie doubles team have never won a doubles Grand Slam title, but have won a singles ATP title each with different players. Kyrgios won the 2018 ATP Tour title with Jack Sock, while Kokkinakis claimed the Brisbane International with Jordan Thompson in 2017. 

“We are stoked with the win. We came big in the big points”, said Kokkinakis. 

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios recorded their third consecutive win against a seeded team to reach their first Grand Slam semifinal. 

“It’s been incredible. Another tough win. I think that’s probably the toghest pair that we have played. They brought some serious tennis today and it wasn’t easy”, said Kyrgios. 

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis set up a semifinal clash against Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, who took down John Peers and Filip Polasek 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in 1 hour and 49 minutes. Granollers and Zeballos fended off a set point on serve at 5-6 30-40 in the first set, before breaking twice in the second set to close out the match. The Argentine and Spanish team have won six titles as a team, including four Masters 1000 tournaments in Montreal 2019, Rome 2020, Madrid and Cincinnati in 2021. 

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“It was crazy” – Kaia Kanepi Ousts Australian Open Second Seed Aryna Sabalenka In An Epic

The Estonian is through to the last eight at Melbourne Park for the first time in her career.

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World number 115 Kaia Kanepi produced one of the shocks of the tournament to send Aryna Sabalenka crashing out.

 

The 36-year-old Estonian saw three match points come and go but prevailed in the super tie-break to seal it; 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (10-7).

Through to the quarter finals for the first time in her career, she will face Poland’s Iga Świątek. The 2020 French Open champion saw off Sorana Cîrstea in three sets.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1485600320264847364

The first set saw power tennis from both players out on Margaret Court Arena. 

Kanepi held serve right up till 5-5, when Sabalenka turned the screw.

The Belarussian was pushed to deuce on her own service game but did enough to edge ahead.

She then applied enough pressure, opening up three break-points and only needing one, took the first set 7-5.

But the veteran Estonian roared back in the second set, nailing a huge break of serve to go 1-0 ahead.

Kanepi secured the double break, soon steaming ahead at 4-0 and eventually pocketed the set 6-2.

The 23-year-old from Minsk was beginning to look jaded in the deciding set, as Kanepi took an immediate break of serve.

She soon went 4-2 ahead but Sabalenka fought back for 4-4, as the set went back on serve.

Kanepi got the decisive break to move 5-4 ahead and serve for the match.

Nerves got to the Estonian, however, as Sabalenka saved four match points.

Three times at deuce, and on her third break point, Sabalenka levelled the set for 5-5.

Both players held serve, under enormous pressure, to send the match to a super tie-break.

Kanepi surged into a 5-2 lead but Sabalenka played clutch to level at 5-5.

It was soon 7-7, but the pressure got to Sabalenka, and Kanepi won three straight points to win the biggest match of her career.

https://twitter.com/KanepiKaia/status/1485614786473861122

Kanepi said she was shocked to have won. “Actually, I thought I was going to lose it after the match points I had on my serve.”

“It was really difficult to come back. I don’t know how I managed to do it.

“I was really tight. My hand was shaking when I started serving. I didn’t make any first serves in, and that added to the pressure. It was crazy.”

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