Australian Open Visa Fiasco Was Preventable, Says Two-Time Champion Azarenka - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Visa Fiasco Was Preventable, Says Two-Time Champion Azarenka

The former world No.1 also addresses the chances of a mandatory vaccination being implemented on the Tour.

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Image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen

Victoria Azarenka has questioned Tennis Australia’s management of their medical exemption policy after the deportation of two players, including world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

 

This year’s Australian Open has been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa on the grounds that he didn’t meet requirements to enter the country. He subsequently won an appeal against that decision before the government used their executive powers to cancel it again with their decision being backed by the Federal Court. Djokovic argued that he was told by Tennis Australia that he would be allowed into the country despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19 because he has recently been infected with the virus. However, the Australian Border Force said that wasn’t a legitimate reason for a visa.

Meanwhile, another unvaccinated player was allowed into the country and even played a tournament before having her pass revoked. Renata Voráčová also entered the country on the grounds that she had the virus within the past six months. She is now seeking compensation from Tennis Australia following the ordeal.

Weighing in on the issue, Azarenka believes the situations which unfolded could have been prevented in the first place without any specific mention of who she believes was responsible for the fiasco. She has called for there to be greater clarity concerning tournaments and their entry rules.

I believe this whole situation could have been prevented from the beginning. I don’t believe that this was something that just came out of nowhere. This could have been prevented. This could have been addressed way earlier than it was at this point,” she told reporters following her second round win over Jil Teichmann.
“What happened after, I don’t believe there was anybody who looked good in any case. That became, you know, a bit of a circus. I think there should be a really hard look at this situation moving forward.’
“I think as soon as there is a grey area in the rules, that gives a bit too much questions, and situations like this happen. On certain things I think black-and-white approach is necessary. In my opinion, this should be the case.”

Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, is a member of the WTA’s Player Council. The tennis star backs getting a vaccination against COVID-19 but respects people’s own view on the issue. As for the possibility of mandatory vaccinations on the Tour, the Belarussian acknowledges that there are legal issues surrounding such a move.

“As an entity, as an association of WTA, that is traveling globally, we still have to respect countries, different countries, different mandates, different legalities of the country,” she said.
“Some countries will not allow mandates. I think to impose something legally on the WTA Tour can be a challenge. I think that’s something that we are facing.”

Recently the French government said athletes would not be exempt from having a Covid pass when playing in their country. Something which might be a potential issue for Djokovic over the coming months. It is also understood that events in America also have the same stance but it is unclear if they will allow any special exemptions or not.

“I think from a social standpoint it’s been very clear that the WTA is supporting the vaccines and recommending it. Again, it goes beyond mandating for a legal part. Encouragement has always been from the WTA side, from the tennis side, I think in general,” Azarenka states.
“On a social aspect, personally for me it’s not necessarily maybe about myself, it’s about other people. Like my parents for example, are at high risk for COVID. I had COVID in November of this year. Unfortunately, my parents also got. It was tough for my dad. Thankfully he was vaccinated because I honestly don’t know what could have happened otherwise.”

Azarenka will play Elina Svitolina in the third round of the Australian Open on Friday.

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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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