Garbine Muguruza Blames Covid Outbreak Among Team For Shock Australian Open Exit - UBITENNIS
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Garbine Muguruza Blames Covid Outbreak Among Team For Shock Australian Open Exit

The world No.3 reveals that her preparations for the new season was severely disrupted.

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

Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza says issues with her preparation leading up to the Australian Open played its part in her shock defeat on Thursday.

The third seed fell 6-3, 6-3, to French veteran Alize Cornet in what is her earliest exit from the tournament since 2013. Muguruza struggled with her consistency on the court as she produced a total of 33 unforced errors which was twice more than that of her opponent. The Spaniard also dropped her serve twice in the match, once in each set. It is the second year in a row she has been beaten by Cornet on the Tour.

I didn’t feel my game at all. My serve wasn’t there. I think my shots weren’t there also,” Muguruza said afterwards.
“Tactically I think I wasn’t doing the right decisions either. On top of that she played very well, a very solid game. I think she plays better when she’s playing against top players.” She added.

Muguruza has now won just two matches out of four played so far this season. Prior to the first Grand Slam of 2022, she fell in the second round of the Sydney International to Daria Kasatkina. The result is a stark contrast to how she ended last year by winning her maiden WTA Finals trophy.

Reflecting on her recent form, the 28-year-old says her preparation in recent weeks has been affected by an outbreak of COVID-19 among her team. As a result, they were unable to travel to Australia on the date which was initially planned and Muguruza ended up being without her entourage for two weeks.

“It’s been a pretty stressful start of the year with my team. They all got COVID before coming here. We were, like, for 15 days apart,” she revealed.
“It was hard for my preparation to come to the Aussie swing and play and perform well. Physically here I wasn’t also feeling my best. It was a kind of a stressful start of the year I would say.’

All players at the Australian Open have to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival but it appears that the rules have been somewhat relaxed as the tournament progressed. Muguruza says she takes her own test twice a day but is not required to do so. However, she doesn’t have to show that test result upon arrival at Melbourne Park.

Muguruza is the fifth former Grand Slam champion to exit this year’s Australian Open women’s draw, joining Sofia Kenin, Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova and Sloane Stephens.

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Rising Star Mirra Andreeva Teams Up With Wimbledon Champion Martinez

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Mirra Andreeva – Australian Open 2024 (foto: X @WTA)

Teenage sensation Mirra Andreeva has begun working with a former Grand Slam champion on a trial basis ahead of the French Open.

The 16-year-old has linked up with Conchita Martinez, who is overseeing her run at this week’s Rouen Open in France. Martinez peaked at a ranking high of No.2 during her career and won 33 WTA titles. After retiring from the sport, she has coached Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova. 

Andreeva’s latest partnership was formed with the help of her agent ‘two or three weeks ago.’ According to the WTA website, their practice week went well and now they are testing working together during a tournament. 

“So far, so good,” said Andreeva“I like it, I hope she likes it too. We will see how it will go and then we will decide about our next tournaments. I cannot say there are special aspects we are working on. But the first thing we worked on was my slice, because she was a good slicer. So she told me some tricks, and I’m trying to use it when I have time and a good possibility on court.”

Andreeva is currently ranked 43rd in the world and is the youngest player in the top 100. She has already reached the fourth round of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open but is yet to win a WTA title. So far this year the Russian’s best result was a quarter-final appearance at the Brisbane International. 

Martinez, who also reached the last 16 of a major at the age of 16, spoke about the teenager with Ubitennis during last year’s Wimbledon Championships. At the time she pointed out that consistency is key for the youngster.

“The most important thing is that she keeps practising and focusing on what she has to do to get better. It’s great what she is doing now but she has to maintain it,” she commented.

Andreeva kicked off her campaign in Rouen with a 6-1, 6-3, win over Nadia Podoroska. 

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Roberto Bautista Agut is within one win of a milestone 400th win on the ATP Tour

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Roberto Bautista Agut beat Roman Safiulin 6-3 7-6 (10-8) after 1 hour and 59 minutes to win the 399th match win on the ATP Tour of his career. 

Bautista Agut earned his first game in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead. The Spaniard converted his fourth break point in the ninth game to seal the first set 6-3. 

Both players held on their service games en route to the tie-break. 

Bautista Agut saved a set point at 8-7 in the tie-break of the second set before winning the final three points to seal the tie-break 10-8 after nearly two hours on Pista Rafa Nadal. 

Bautista Agut drew level to 1-1 in his two head-to-head matches against Safiulin. 

The former world number 9 set up a second round against Karen Khachanov. In this match Bautista Agut will have the chance to reach the milestone 400th win on the Tour. 

Nick Hardt came back from one set down to beat Spanish Next Gen player Martin Landaluce 2-6 6-4 6-3. Hardt won his ATP Tour main draw debut match. He has become the first Dominican player to win an ATP Tour match since Victor Estrella Burgos in Quito in 2018. 

Hardt converted his third break point in the first game of the opening set and held serve at 15 to take a 2-0 lead. Landaluce broke three three times to win the first set 6-2. Hardt earned a break in the third game to win the second set 6-4. Hardt broke twice in the third and ninth games to close out the third set 6-3. 

“It was a crazy day, obviously a very special day. I feel at home here in Barcelona. Two weeks ago I won my first Challenger here, this week I qualified for my first ATP 500, and I won my first Tour match in the main draw”, said Hardt.   

Brandon Nakashima beat Daniel Evans 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 to set up a second round match against Andrey Rublev. Evans earned his first break to take a 1-0 lead. Nakashima won four games in a row with two consecutive breaks to take a 4-1 lead. Evans broke back in the ninth game to draw level to 5-5. Both players traded two mini-breaks to draw level to 3-3 in the tie-break. Nakashima earned his third mini-break to win the tie-break. Nakashima broke serve at deuce in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. The US player converted his fifth break point in the seventh game and held serve at love in the eighth game to close out the second set 6-2. 

Matteo Arnaldi was drawing level to 5-5 in the first set against Arthur Cazaux, when the Frenchman was forced to withdraw from the match due to an ankle injury. 

Facundo Diaz Acosta beat Daniel Rincon 6-1 6-4. 

Marco Trungelliti beat Duje Ajdukovic 6-2 7-6 (7-3). 

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