WTA Still Concerned About Peng Shuai After Tennis Star Denies Making Sexual Assault Claim - UBITENNIS
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WTA Still Concerned About Peng Shuai After Tennis Star Denies Making Sexual Assault Claim

Shuai has appeared in her first video interview since a publishing Weibo post accusing a senior former government official of sexual assault.

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The governing body of women’s tennis says the appearance of Peng Shuai in a video interview on Sunday still doesn’t address their concerns about her wellbeing.

 

Shuai, who won two Grand Slam doubles titles, appeared in public at a FIS Cross-Country Skiing China City Tour in Shanghai which was attended by other leading Chinese athletes. Photos and videos of the tennis player attending the event were leaked by journalists working for state-media in the country. Continuing the trend of leaked footage of Peng who briefly disappeared from public eye last month after a post on her Weibo account accused a former Chinese vice-premier of sexual assault.

On November 2nd the 35-year-old accused Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex and claimed that the two had an intermitted affair over a 10-year period. However, less than an hour later the social media post was removed and restrictions were placed on Shuai’s Weibo account. In China news about the story has been blocked and Gaoli has never responded to the allegations amid fears that authorities are censoring Shuai.

Now in a new development, the former world No.1 has said “a lot of misunderstandings” have been made about her post during her first interview. Lianhe Zaobao, a Singaporean Chinese-language newspaper, managed to briefly interview Shuai during her Shanghai Tour.

“I have never said or written that anyone sexually assaulted me. This point must be emphasised very clearly.” She told the newspaper who uploaded a video of their interview.

Elaborating further she dismissed that she was currently being monitored by authorities, saying “Why would anyone monitor [me?] [I have] always been very free.”

The WTA has previously raised concerns about Shuai after failing to get in contact with her despite trying. They have received two emails purporting to be from her in the past but CEO Steve Simon questions the legitimacy of them which was published on social media by GCTN, which is under the control of the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party. However, Shuai told Lianhe Zaobao she wrote the emails in Chinese on her own free will and it was translated for her because she didn’t have the ‘language ability’ to do so.

Despite the interview, some still have their concerns which include the WTA who have suspended all of their tennis events in China due to the matter. In a statement sent to Reuters, they reiterated their calls for a transparent investigation.

We remain steadfast in our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern,” the WTA said in a statement.

Yaqiu Wang is a senior China researcher for the Human Rights Watch. Responding to the interview, she cast doubt on its authenticity by implying that it had been orchestrated by officials.

“So, after 48 days, Peng Shuai unexpectedly encountered a journalist from a pro-Beijing newspaper and then casually answered her questions about an event that gandered intense international attention. Wow, so natural, very real, everyone now believes it. Congratulations, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party)!” Wang wrote on Twitter.

According to BBC China Analyst Kerry Allen when you search for Shuai’s name on Weibo the most recent post dates back to September 10th. Almost a month before the allegations surfaced.

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Linda Noskova upsets Garbine Muguruza to reach the second round in Lyon

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Linda Noskova beat former  world number 1 Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-4 to reach the second round in Lyon. 

 

Noskova broke serve in the second and sixth games to close out the first set 6-1. 

Muguruza started the second set with a break in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead. 

Noskova broke back in the fifth game at deuce and saved fourth break point to draw level to 3-3. Noskova earned her second break in the ninth game to seal the second set 6-4 setting up a second round match against Egypt’s Mayar Sherif. 

Noskova became the youngest woman in the top 100 since Coco Gauff held his distinction in October 2019. 

At this year’s Adelaide International 1 Noskova came through the qualifying round beating Anna Kalinskaya and Anna Kalinskaya to advance to the main draw. Noskova upset Daria Kasatkina in the first round to achieve her first top 10 win. She went to beat Claire Liu to reach her first WTA 500 quarter final. She beat two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in a three-set match in the quarter final, winning the tie-break 8-6 after saving a match point. Noskova beat Ons Jabeur to reach her first WTA final where she lost to fresh Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka. As a result, Noskova moved close to 50 positions to number 56.

Noskova needed to play the qualifying round at the Australian Open to join the main draw, but she lost to world number 192 Katherine Sebov. 

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Novak Djokovic ‘Hurt’ By Father’s Absence From Australian Open Final

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Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Novak Djokovic said he mutually agreed with his father that he did not attend his latest Australian Open match but admits it was a bitter pill to swallow. 

 

Srdjan Djokovic had attended his son’s matches throughout the majority of the tournament but has recently been caught up in controversy. On Wednesday a video surfaced on social media of the 62-year-old posing for a photo with pro-Russian supporters with one of the fans waving a flag with the face of Vladimir Putin on it. Another fan was also wearing a t-shirt with the ‘Z’ symbol on it which is used to support the Russian army. 

The Russian and Belarussian flags were banned from the tournament this year following an incident in the first round. A Russian flag was shown during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova. Prompting anger from Ukraine with its ambassador to Australia calling for a ‘neutral flag’ policy to be implemented. 

Srdjan has since issued a statement saying the incident was ‘unintentional’ and said his family ‘only wish for peace in the world.’ He subsequently also missed Djokovic’s semi-final match to avoid any possible ‘disruption’ before doing the same for Sunday’s final.

“I thought things would calm down in terms of media and everything, but it didn’t. We both agreed it would probably be better that he is not there,” Djokovic said after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title
“That hurts me and him (Srdjan) a lot because these are very special, unique moments. Who knows if they repeat again? So it was not easy for him.”

Whilst he was not in the stands, Djokovic was reunited with his father shortly afterwards. Although the tennis star said Srdjan ‘was not feeling his best’ due to the situation. 

“It is what it is. I think in the end also what he told me is that it’s important that I feel good on the court, I win the match, and he’s here for me,” Djokovic continued. 
“If it’s going to be better for me as the outcome of the match so that he’s not in the box, then so be it. That was the whole conversation.’
“In a way, I’m also sad that he was not there, present, in the stands. But he was throughout the entire tournament, so it’s fine. In the end, we have a happy ending.”

Djokovic has now won five out of the past seven Grand Slam tournaments he has played in. At the Australian Open alone he has won 28 matches in a row.

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Australian Open: Facing Tsitsipas For World No. 1 Spot May Be Different for Novak Djokovic

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Image via https://twitter.com/atptour/

It probably was a good thing that Novak Djokovic wasn’t facing a top opponent in the Australian Open semifinals. Certainly not one the caliber of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

 

Of course, Tommy Paul did his best. He just isn’t a top ten caliber player.

The American could rally with Djokovic, but when it came time to win the point or game, he  usually was nowhere to be found on the Rod Laver court.

DJOKOVIC WILL NEED TO BE BETTER

The fact that Tsitsipas is in contention for the No. 1 ranking in men’s tennis is enough to ensure that Paul isn’t quite in the league with the Greek superstar.

Djokovic will need to be better than he was against Paul when he steps onto the court to face Tsitsipas on Sunday night in the Australian Open singles final.

There was Djokovic blundering his way through a one-sided 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 win over Paul. The scoreline should have been closer to 3-1-2. But Novak appeared to have all kinds of physical ailments — legs, knees, bandaged hamstring. Or just plain conditioning and breathing hard. You name it.

NIGHT-TIME DUTY ONCE AGAIN

It was just night time in Melbourne. You wonder what might have happened if Novak had been assigned some daytime duty like everyone else in the tournament. Say, like Tsitsipas had been assigned for his closer than the scores reflex in the Greek’s 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 win over Karen Khachanov in Friday’s other semifinal.

Tsitsipas is a real threat to claim the world’s top ranking on Sunday night with a victory over the legend from Serbia. Of course, in the 2021 French Open final, Tsitipsas won the first two sets against Djokovic.

It’s possible. Tsitsipas could come through this time.

A SHADOW OF THE OLD NOVAK

Novak was only a shadow of the old Djokovic Friday night. And that was against a player who may never earn a berth in another Grand Slam semifinal.

Of course, Djokovic wasn’t quite as out of it as Rafa Nadal was in the second-round blitzing by Mackenzie McDonald. But Nadal was nursing a hip injury. He may be a different player in Paris in four months.

Djokovic still has all of the big shots and serves he has displayed for much of the last two decades. He just didn’t seem to know where all of those weapons were headed in the semifinals.

IS NOVAK’S BAG OF TRICKS EMPTY?

Of course, if Novak pulls a solid performance out of his bag of tricks and denies Tsitsipas the world’s top ranking, Djokovic likely would stand in Nadal’s path in Paris to a record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

The task won’t be easy. First, Novak has to take care of business on Sunday night. But with a record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title up for grabs, Djokovic may actually look like himself. 

As Novak says, he wants to be known as the best player in the world.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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