Ash Barty Hails Depth Of Women’s Tennis Ahead Of Return - UBITENNIS
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Ash Barty Hails Depth Of Women’s Tennis Ahead Of Return

The world No.1 speaks out about the current quality of tennis on the WTA Tour as she aims to return to winning ways in Adelaide.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) Credit: AELTC/Florian Eisele

Ash Barty might be sitting at the top of the WTA rankings but she is well aware of the threats coming from her rivals ahead of her return to the Tour.

 

The reigning Wimbledon champion will begin her 2022 season at the Adelaide International this week in what will be her first tournament since the US Open in September. She opted to end her 2021 season early and not play at the WTA Finals due to the current travel restrictions which posed a threat to her off-season training schedule. Instead, she has been based in her native Australia tuning up her game.

“I love to try to get better each and every day,” Barty said during her pre-tournament press conference on Monday.
“I’m excited now to try and bring it all together as best that I can and understand in the next couple of weeks I’ll have to be patient with myself.
“It has been a while since I’ve played a competitive match, but I feel good, I feel ready.”

Last year Barty won a Tour-leading five titles and was named WTA Player of the Year for the second time in her career. Overall, she produced a win-loss record of 42-8. However, 2021 wasn’t entirely plain sailing. Barty failed to reach the second week in two of the four Grand Slam events and suffered a shock first round loss at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The women’s Tour is renowned for its inconsistency with all four of the Grand Slam titles in 2021 being won by different players. The most recent being Emma Raducanu who became the first qualifier in history to win a major title at the age of just 18.

“There’s fresh challengers every year regardless of who is what spot on the ranking list,” Barty commented.
“There are certainly a number of breakout years through 2021, girls really stepped up, were able to play really consistent seasons which is exciting to see for the women’s game.”

Whilst some have criticised the WTA Tour for its unpredictable results, Barty argues that it is a true testament to the level of tennis there is on the Tour.

“You have obviously seen those girls that have been at the top for a very long time. Some had a rough run with injury, others had pretty solid years,” she continues.
“It feels like it’s just good competition. Genuinely there is really good depth and you have to bring your best time and time again to be able to compete with everyone and give yourself a chance to win the big titles.”

As for the 25-year-old, she hopes that her decision to have a longer off-season will pay off when it comes to the Australian Open. Barty is bidding to become the first Australian woman to win the title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980. However, she is yet to play in a final but did reach the semi-finals in 2020.

“Time and time again I want to try and be a complete player. I want to try and make sure there are no holes in my game,” she explains. “We (my team) just continue to do the work.”

Granted a bye in the first round, Barty will begin her campaign in Adelaide against either qualifier Ulrikke Eikeri or Coco Gauff.

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REPORT: French Open Qualifying Match Under Investigation Over Irregular Betting Patterns

An unusual number of bets were placed on the match in three different countries.

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A first round match at this week’s French Open qualifying tournament is being looked into after an abnormally high number of bets was placed, according to a leading French newspaper.

 

L’Equipe have cited police sources saying that the clash between eighth seed Bernabé Zapata Miralles and Dudi Sela has flagged up irregular patterns. Miralles defeated his Israeli rival 6-3, 6-0, in less than an hour. It is understood that the focus of the investigation is on the second set which lasted less than 20 minutes. A total of 32 points was placed in that set with Sela only winning seven of those.

According to the source, an unusually high number of bets were placed on the match in three different countries – Cyprus, Ukraine and Armenia. Prompting judicial authorities to look into the possibility that the match could have been fixed but at present no formal investigation has been confirmed.

“There is no business,” the French Tennis Federation (FFT) was quoted by Le Parisien as saying on the matter.

37-year-old Sela is currently ranked outside the world’s top 400 but managed to get into the qualifying draw with the use of a protected ranking. He has only played in two singles tournaments so far this season with the other being at the Australian Open where he also lost in the first round of qualifying.

Sela confirmed in January that 2022 would be his last as a professional. A former top 30 player, he has reached the final of two ATP events in China (2008) and Atlanta (2014). He also reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2009 and has beaten three top 10 players during his career.

Meanwhile, Miralles sealed his place in the French Open main draw on Thursday after coming from a set down to beat Luca Nardi 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that either player has been involved in match-fixing. According to statistics from L’Equipe, there has been a 177% increase in online bets concerning the French Open over a five-year period to 128M euros in 2021.

This year players who lose in the first round of qualifying at the French Open will earn €14,000, which is a 40% increase on 2021.

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“Healthy Mind In A Healthy Body”: Asics To Include Psychological Support In Sponsored Players’ Contracts

Matteo Berrettini and Iga Swiatek are among those who will benefit from the help of mental health experts

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Iga Swiatek - Roma 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

by Andrea Mastronuzzi, translated by Massimo Volpati

The more the years pass, the more professional sport assumes the contours of a job like many others (certainly more profitable, but in some ways even more stressful), and the more officials realise how essential it is to be able to count on mental coaches or psychologists. Both to withstand external pressures and to achieve one’s goals and therefore endure another type of pressure, which comes from one’s inner self. 

 

Tennis players increasingly talk about their difficulties in terms of mental strength and underline the crucial role played by the psychologists who support them: From women’s world No.1 Iga Swiatek (she also spoke about it in the press conference after her victory over Andreescu in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open) to Denis Shapovalov, Alex de Minaur and Naomi Osaka. The new queen of women’s tennis, signed up by ASICS, will be able to take full benefit from psychological support provided by the Japanese company.

It is no coincidence that ASICS is the first sponsor to include this aid in the partnership agreements it has entered into with its tennis players. The company name is in fact the acronym of a variant of the famous Latin phrase “mens (which becomes anima) sana in corpore sano”, namely “healthy mind in healthy body.” The brand collaborated with some researchers from Kings College London on the realisation of a study (“State of Mind”) which allowed to identify a positive link between tennis and mental health. In the wake of these results, ASICS has set up a facility in Paris where fans are offered the opportunity to play tennis and deal with their psychological state at the same time.

In addition to its initiatives centred on mental health, ASICS has kicked off a mental health support project involving their sponsored professional tennis players. Among these there are Matteo Berrettini, David Goffin and de Minaur. Everyone will rely on a team of experts made available by the Japanese brand and led by Daria Abramovicz (who spoke with ubitennis.net last year) who has been working with Swiatek for some time. The young psychologist said that “by offering confidential support, it is possible to help normalize what is normal and assist players along their journey towards a healthy mind in a healthy body”.

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Richard Gasquet upsets Danil Medvedev in Geneva

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Richard Gasquet upset Danil Medvedev 6-2 7-6 (7-5) with three breaks of serve in 90 minutes to reach the second round at the Gonet Geneva Open. 

 

Gasquet scored his first win over an opponent ranked in the top 2 since he beat world number 1 Roger Federer at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 2005. 

Medvedev had beaten Gasquet in their only previous head-to-head match at the 2021 US Open en route to his first Grand Slam title. 

Medvedev was playing his first match since Miami in March after undegoing hernia surgery.

Gasquet won six consecutive games from 2-2 in the first set and built up a 6-2 2-0 lead.  

Medveved dropped his serve after three double faults with three double faults. The Russian player broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3 and held serve at love with an ace. 

Medvedev recovered from a mini-break down in the tie-break. Gasquet earned his third mini-break to win the tie-break 7-5. 

The Frenchman will face Kamil Majchrzak, who cruised past Marco Cecchinato 6-2 6-3.

Thanasi Kokkinakis earned his first win on clay in seven years with a 6-4 6-3 win over Fabio Fognini in 1 hour and 28 minutes. 

Kokkinakis went up a break to take a 4-1 lead. Fognini broke back in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4.  Kokkinakis broke serve at love in the tenth game to claim the first set 6-4. 

Fognini made two double faults and missed three game points before dropping serve in the second game of the second set. Kokkinakis did not face any break points in his remaining four service games. 

Christopher O’Connell edged past Albert Ramos Vinolas 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to set up a second round match against Reilly Opelka. 

Paulo Sousa cruised past 2021 semifinalist Pablo Andujar 6-1 6-4. Sousa will face Nikoloz Basilashvili, who was leading 6-4 before Facundo Bagnis retired from the match.

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