Two-Time Champion Timea Babos To Skip Australian Open Over COVID-19 Rules - UBITENNIS
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Two-Time Champion Timea Babos To Skip Australian Open Over COVID-19 Rules

The tennis star explains her decision to not play at the Melbourne major.

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Timea Babos at the 2021 French Open (image via https://twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Hungary’s Timea Babos says she will not play at next month’s Australian Open due to uncertainty over the procedures regarding COVID-19.

 

The 28-year-old former world No.1 doubles player issued a statement on Instagram in which she said she, ‘cannot identify with the Australian government’s COVID-19 measures.’ Players attending the Melbourne major in 2022 are required to be double vaccinated against the virus unless they are eligible for a medical exemption. The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam in history to make a vaccination mandatory in order to play but the rules have been implemented due to a ruling by the Victorian government which is the region where the tournament is held in.

However, it appears that Babos’ decision not to play isn’t due to her vaccination status. Instead, she says the rules regarding potential positive cases at the event have not been made clear and there is a lot of ambiguity. During an interview with Hungarian newspaper Blikk, the tennis star says the threat of possible quarantine and the ongoing developments regarding the virus has put her off attending. Health officials are currently researching a new strain of the virus called Omicron, which has been confirmed as more transmittable but no evidence has suggested that it is more severe than the Delta variant so far with some suggesting the opposite.

“I’m not financially well with this decision, but money, success is not everything,” Babos told Blikk. “I simply cannot identify with the Australian Government’s epidemiological measures, the possible quarantine obligation, and the Covid camps are also deterred. What happens if there is a case of coronavirus in the tournament? Are contacts being blocked again or excluded from the competition like at the 2020 US Open? There is no regular information about this, so all the hard work would go to the trash if you had to spend two weeks in quarantine.”

This year’s Australian Open required players to enter into a two-week quarantine upon arrival in the country. However, Tennis Australia confirmed this will not happen again with players just required to take a COVD-19 test before and on arrival. Furthermore, New South Wales has issued guidance saying fully vaccinated people arriving in the state must self-isolate for 72 hours but it is unclear if players will be exempt from this.

“Last year, the whole tournament wasn’t exactly the best, I was only let out of my hotel room for five hours a day, which had to include training, conditioning and meals,” Babos reflected. “They promise it will be different now, but that’s not how I see it when I read the news. I’m sorry it turned out that way, but I think I made a good decision.”

Babos won the women’s Australian Open doubles title in 2018 and 2020 with Kristina Mladenovic and the duo also reached the final in 2019. It is the first time she has missed the tournament since 2012.

According to Blikk, Babos caught COVID-19 twice this year.

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Compelling Matchups Scheduled All Around the Grounds on Thursday

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A look at the grounds of The All-England Club (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 4 play is headlined by top names such as Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.  Those names are all considerable favorites in their second round matches, so other matchups on Thursday’s schedule may be more compelling and competitive.  And with many of those encounters scheduled at the same time, multiple screens are recommended.

 

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s five most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Filip Krajinovic (26) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Second on No.2 Court

Despite his usual poor behavior, Kyrgios survived in five on Tuesday against British wild card Paul Jubb, who is ranked outside the top 200 in the world.  But Nick is in strong form this month, with an 8-3 record on grass, having reached the semifinals of both Stuttgart and Halle.  Krajinovic is also in the midst of a strong grass court season, coming off a run to the final of Queen’s Club.  Like Kyrgios, he also required five sets to advance in the first round.  That was actually Filip’s first-ever win at SW19, as he was 0-4 prior to this fortnight.  Krygios leads their head-to-head 3-0 at all levels, though they haven’t played since 2015.  On grass, Nick’s formidable firepower should be plenty to prevail again over Filip, as long as he can maintain his composure.


Elena Rybakina (17) vs. Bianca Andreescu – Second on Court 12

On Tuesday, Andreescu achieved her first career victory at The Championships.  Bianca had only played five tour-level matches on grass ahead of this year, though she’s now 5-2 on grass this month.  Rybakina reached the fourth round of Wimbledon a year ago, but lost two of her three grass court matches coming into this event.  In their first career meeting, I give the slight edge to Andreescu based on recent form.  And while Elena has accumulated 22 wins this season, only four of them have come at Majors, and none of those four against a top player like Bianca.


Barbora Krejcikova (13) vs. Viktorija Golubic – Second on Court 18

This is only Krejickova’s fourth singles match since February due to an elbow injury.  Her opening round victory was her first since returning to the tour.  Golubic was a surprise quarterfinalist here a year ago, when she defeated both Danielle Collins and Madison Keys.  Yet she has not been able to follow-up on that result, as she has a losing record since that run.  They have split four previous meetings at all levels.  Their most recent clash occurred two years ago in Dubai, with Barbora prevailing 6-1, 6-2.  But her lack of match play, along with Viktorija’s grass prowess, make Krejcikova an underdog on this day.  While results on other surfaces have not followed, Golubic is now 13-7 on grass since last season, which includes a semifinal appearance earlier this month in Nottingham.


Karolina Pliskova (6) vs. Katie Boulter (WC) – 1:30pm on Centre Court

Pliskova was the runner-up a year ago, losing the championship match to Ash Barty 6-3 in the third.  Unfortunately a hand injury forced her to miss the first two months of 2022, and she’s only 9-10 this season as a result.  Boulter is a 25-year-old Brit who pushed Aryna Sabalenka to three sets at last year’s event, and is 8-3 on grass at all levels this season.  And just like week, Boulter beat Pliskova on grass in Eastbourne 6-4 in the third.  Now can Katie repeat that result on her country’s most prestigious court?  She’ll certainly have the full support of the Centre Court audience, and her experience last year on this court could prove extremely valuable.  Considering Pliskova has only twice won back-to-back matches this year, an upset on Thursday feels entirely possible.


Alex de Minaur (19) vs. Jack Draper – Third on No.1 Court

This could easily become the most competitive show court match of the day.  And the British crowd will be vociferously behind Draper, especially late in the day on the tournament’s second biggest court.  Jack is a 20-year-old Brit who last year took a set off Novak Djokovic on Centre Court.  And he’s collected 31 match wins at all levels this season, which includes four Challenger titles as well as a semifinal run just last week in Eastbourne.  But de Minaur is also having a strong season.  The Australian has 25 wins, all at tour level, and was also a semifinalist in Eastbourne.  Both players won their first round matches in straight sets, so they’re surely feeling fresh and confident.  While Alex’s defensive skills will force Jack to strike some extra balls, Draper’s offensive weapons will be rewarded on this surface.  And the crowd’s encouragement may be the x-factor Draper needs to prevail.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Jordan Thompson – Tsitsipas prevailed in four sets on Tuesday, bringing his Wimbledon record to just 4-4.  He’s 1-0 against Thompson, who is only 8-12 this season at tour level.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Ricardas Berankis – Nadal is now 31-3 on the year, and seemed rather unbothered by his chronic foot injury in the opening round.  Earlier this season in Australia, he defeated Berankis in straight sets.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove (LL) – A victory for Swiatek on Thursday would be her 37th consecutive win, tying her with Martina Hingis for the longest women’s singles win streak across the past three decades.  Lesley is a 30-year-old ranked 138th in the world who at last year’s Wimbledon earned for first-ever main draw win at a Major by defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Simona Halep (16) vs. Kirsten Flipkens – Halep is on an eight-match win streak at Wimbledon, dating back to her title run in 2019.  36-year-old Flipkens has said this will be her last-ever singles tournament.  She was a semifinalist here in 2013. 

Coco Gauff (11) vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu – Gauff scarcely survived the first round, overcoming Elena-Gabriela Ruse 7-5 in the third.  But Coco should be able to settle into the tournament from here, especially against Buzarnescu.  She’s currently 127th in the world, and on Tuesday won her first WTA-level match in nearly a year.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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WIMBLEDON: Day Two Talking Points as Rafa Nadal wins but Serena Williams falls agonisingly short

Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams had contrasting results on day two of Wimbledon.

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Serena Williams (@USTA - Twitter)

Yesterday at SW19 again saw crowds flock to see the world’s most recognised tennis faces.

 

And it did not disappoint.

Contrasting comebacks for the sport’s stars

Two-time champion Rafa Nadal was playing at Wimbledon for the first time in three years.

And the Spaniard showed some majestic touches on his return to the surface.

He stormed into two sets to love lead against Argentina’s Francisco Cerúndolo, 6-4, 6-3.

But the Argentine fought back to take the third 6-3.

The crowd sensing an upset on the cards where cheering every time Nadal staved off some dangerous moments.

In particular, midway through the fourth as Cerúndolo was up 4-3 and had a sniff on the Spanish legend’s serve.

But he came through and went onto break the 23-year-old from Buenos Aires, and made no mistake in serving for the match.

6-4 in the fourth as the 22-time Grand Slam champion breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The win keeps alive his hopes of winning an unprecedented calendar Grand Slam after taking the Australian and French Open titles.

Meanwhile, for Serena Williams it wasn’t to be a fairytale comeback after a year away from the sport.

But she did play very well against an inspired Harmony Tan.

A nervous start saw the American surrender her serve. 

She then come back to lead in the opening set before losing it 7-5.

We then witnessed the Serena of old as she dominated the Frenchwoman to take it 6-1.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion then came out of the blocks fast in the third, forging a 3-1 lead.

But she was pegged back by the plucky Tan and it took some vintage Serena to seize the break, meaning the 40-year-old would serve for the match.

Some loose serves cost her the game and Serena was forced to save a match point as a final set tie-break was the only way to separate the two.

The tennis icon zoomed into a 4-0 lead and looked the likely winner but Tan again fought back with some sublime shots of her own.

In her first match on Centre Court and with such little Grand Slam pedigree, Tan continued to relish the big stage as she saw off some nerves to take the breaker 10-7 and the biggest win of her career.

This was arguably the match of the tournament so far.

Serena can hold her head up high as it was a strong performance and a couple of points here or there and we would have been talking about a stunning win.

Another good day for the Brits

More Brits are through to round two!

Jack Draper continued his impressive form as he saw off Zizou Bergs in straight sets.

The Belgian going down 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

And Ryan Peniston, fresh from making the quarter-finals of Queen’s is also through.

He saw off Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen comfortably 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Katie Boulter beat Frenchwoman Clara Burel 7-5, 6-3.

And Heather Watson beat Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch 6-7 (7-9, 7-5, 6-2.

But British number two Dan Evans was left stunned after he lost to Australia’s Jason Kubler in straight sets 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.

Iga breaks Venus’ record

One stat that seemed to fly under the radar with Rafa and Serena taking all the headlines was Poland’s Iga Świątek breaking Venus Williams 35-match unbeaten run.

The pole extended her own streak to 36 with a convincing performance against Croatia’s Jana Fett.

The world number one opening Centre Court in style 6-0, 6-3.

There were also wins for 2019 champion Simona Halep, fifth seed Maria Sakkari, Paula Badosa, Coco Gauff and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Grigor exits along with Sloane Stephens

Former semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov was forced to pull out injured after being a set up and 5-2 down in the second set against American Steve Johnson.

Whilst, former US Open champion Sloane Stephens slumped to China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-6 (7-1), 7-5.

And the oldest man in the draw, Feliciano Lopez who in doing so, equalled Roger Federer’s record of 81 main draw appearances at Grand Slams.

But the Spaniard lost in straight sets to Botic van de Zandschulp.

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Andy Murray Faces John Isner in the Second Round

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Andy Murray during his first round victory on Monday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Six years ago, Andy Murray won his third Major title at The Championships, and ended that year by achieving another career milestone: becoming the No.1 player in the world for the first time.  Unfortunately, the following years were filled with injuries and surgeries.  In 2022, despite an ab injury he suffered leading up to this fortnight, Murray appears as fit as he’s been since his last Slam title run in 2016.  But in the second round, 2018 semifinalist John Isner stands in his way.

 

Wednesday’s Centre Court schedule is headlined by the same three names as Monday, as Murray shares the stage with defending champion Novak Djokovic and US Open champion Emma Raducanu.  Other action on Wednesday features 2018 champ Angelique Kerber, Roland Garros finalist Casper Ruud, and two multi-time champions in 2022: Ons Jabeur and Carlos Alcaraz.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s five most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Casper Ruud (3) vs. Ugo Humbert – 11:00am on No.2 Court

Ruud has become a formidable player on both clay and hard courts, yet his first round victory on Monday was only his third career win on grass, and his eighth match on the surface overall.  By contrast, Humbert is quite accomplished on grass.  Ugo advanced to the second week of this tournament in 2019, and went 8-2 on this surface last season, which included a title run in Halle.  But after battling injuries and fatigue in recent months, the 24-year-old Frenchman is just 7-17 this year, and only 2-3 on grass.  Humbert leads their head-to-head 2-1.  He has prevailed in both their hard court meetings, while Ruud prevailed on clay.  All three of their matches have gone to a deciding set.  But despite his lack of experience on grass, Casper should be favored to even their head-to-head based on recent form.


Angelique Kerber (15) vs. Magda Linette – Second on No.2 Court

Kerber is now 37-12 lifetime at Wimbledon, but she also has a recent history of losing early at Majors.  Angie has failed to make the second week in eight of her last 12 Slam appearances.  And Linette upset a top seed just a month ago at a Major, when she took out Ons Jabeur in the first round of Roland Garros.  However, Magda has only played accumulated seven tour-level win on grass in her career.  Their only previous encounter occurred earlier this year on clay in Strasbourg, with Kerber prevailing in three.  On grass, a much stronger surface for Angie, the 2018 champion should be able to prevail comfortably.


Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis – 1:30pm on Centre Court

Djokovic overcame a stern test in the opening round from Soonwoo Kwon, eventually winning 6-4 in the fourth.  That was Novak’s 80th win at The Championships, making him the only player to ever win 80 matches at every Major.  On the same day, Kokkinakis procured his first-ever victory at SW19, and only his fourth tour-level win on grass.  Thanasi’s battles with injuries are well-documented, but the Australian has been healthy and more active on tour the past 18 months than he has in many years.  Earlier this season in his hometown of Adelaide, he captured his first ATP title.  But defeating the three-time defending champion, who is 61-3 in the second round of Majors, would be a monumental upset.  While Kokkinakis has some weapons that can provide Djokovic with another test, Novak remains a considerable favorite to advance.


Emma Raducanu (10) vs. Caroline Garcia – Second on Centre Court

Raducanu overcame a lot of pressure in the opening round, as well as a tough opponent in Alison Van Uytvanck, who was 12-2 on grass this season at all levels.  But the 19-year-old’s draw gets no easier on Wednesday.  Garcia is a former top five player who won her second French Open doubles titles a few weeks ago, and is currently on a six-match win streak in singles.  Last week on the grass of Bad Homburg, Caroline won tight three-setters over both Alize Cornet and Bianca Andreescu to win her first singles title in three years.  When these players met earlier this year in Indian Wells, Raducanu was victorious 6-1 in the third.  If Emma can continue to withstand the overwhelming attention she’s currently receiving from the British public and press, she possesses enough firepower and consistency to collect another win over the Frenchwoman.


John Isner (20) vs. Andy Murray – Third on Centre Court

While they have not played in nearly six years, their history has been completely one-sided.  Murray is 8-0 against Isner, and has secured 20 of 24 sets contested.  And John did not arrive in London with much form.  The 37-year-old is just 14-12 on the year, and played no grass court warmup events.  On Monday, he required five sets to get past a player ranked outside the top 200.  While Isner’s serve always makes him a threat to pull out a tight match, gaining his first victory over an in-form Murray on Wednesday would be surprising.  Andy is coming off a run to the final of Stuttgart earlier this month, and appeared uninhibited on Monday by the ab injury that forced him to withdraw from Queen’s Club. 


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Anett Kontaveit (2) vs. Jule Niemeier – On Monday, the second seed broke a three-match losing streak, and also won her first match on grass in over a year.  Niemeier is a 22-year-old who in the opening round claimed her first main draw victory at a Major.

Carlos Alcaraz (5) vs. Tallon Griekspoor – Alcaraz defeated Jan-Lennard Struff on Monday 6-4 in the fifth, which is only his second career win on this surface.  Griekspoor took out Fabio Fognini in four, and has never advanced beyond the second round of a Slam.   

Ons Jabeur (3) vs. Katarzyna Kawa (Q) – Jabeur is now 31-9 on the year, and has taken 16 of her last 18 matches on grass.  Kawa is a 29-year-old who had never earned a win at a Major prior to this tournament.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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