‘Negotiations’ Underway With Novak Djokovic Over Participation In Moscow Event, Claims Russian Official - UBITENNIS
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‘Negotiations’ Underway With Novak Djokovic Over Participation In Moscow Event, Claims Russian Official

A state-owned media outlet says officials are reaching out to the tennis stay in hope that he might play in Moscow later this year.

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Novak Djokovic at the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters (Credit: Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Whilst the ATP has suspended all of their tournaments taking place in Russia, it is reported the plans are underway to try and persuade Novak Djokovic to participate in another event in the country.

Russia has been suspended from hosting professional events following their military attack on Ukraine, which began on February 24th. Players from the country must compete as a neutral athlete and their federations have been banned from team events on the Tour. The same penalties have been applied to Belarusian players over their country’s support of the war.

However, Moscow has outlined plans to stage their own invite-only competition later this year which will be independent. Meaning that no ranking points will be on offer and it will not be endorsed by any of the seven main governing bodies of the sport.

Vladimir Kamelzon is a board member of the Russian Tennis Federation and has the status of an ‘honored coach’ in his home country. During an interview with state-owned RIA Novosti on Monday, Kamelzon claimed that the federation is currently in some form of ‘negotiations’ with Djokovic concerning the possibility of him playing in the upcoming event. Details of the tournament are still limited with an official date still to be confirmed.

The Tennis Federations of Russia and Moscow are developing programs for the development of our sport for the near future. In particular, we are currently working on the Moscow Open Championship. We may call it the Mayor’s Cup, we have not decided yet,” he said.
“We will invite players from Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, other countries. We are negotiating with Novak Djokovic.”

When asked about Djokovic’s reported invite, Kamelzon said he wants the 20-time Grand Slam champion to attend ‘not as an honored guest, but as a player.” Adding that the tournament will be held during the summer.

Shamil Tarpischev, who is president of the Russian Tennis Federation, was coy when he was asked about the alleged invitation sent to Djokovic. Should this happen, it is very likely the tennis star will face criticism from some, especially Ukrainian players, if he plays.

“It is too early to talk about this tournament, about the timing. We are now changing our entire calendar, making our own system of competitions. It is too early to talk about any invitations. We will indeed invite many, but now is not the time to talk about Djokovic or anyone else, you need to first talk with the tennis players themselves. Djokovic’s participation will depend on his desire and the coincidence of our and his calendars. What you want cannot be passed off as real, you need to work, Tarpischev told sport-express.ru.

Djokovic has recently described Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from playing as ‘crazy.’ Joining the likes of Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray who have also condemned the decision. The world No.1 reiterated his position whilst speaking to the Madrid in Madrid on Sunday.

“I still stand by my position that I don’t support the (Wimbledon) decision. I think it’s just not fair, it’s not right, but it is what it is.” Said Djokovic.

Djokovic is yet to comment on the claim made by Kamelzon.

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World No.634 Laura Samson Reaches First WTA Quarter-Final At 16

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Laura Samon - image via itftennis.com/ photo credi: Manuel Queimadelos

Laura Samson has become the first player born in 2008 to reach the quarter-finals of a WTA event after producing a surprise win on Tuesday. 

The 16-year-old wildcard stunned second seed Katerina Siniakova 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the second round at the Prague Open. Her triumph occurred a day after she dropped just two games against Tara Wurth in her opening match. This week is Samson’s Tour debut after playing 10 events on the lower-level ITF circuit. 

“I’m extremely surprised,” she said during her on-court interview after beating Siniakova. “I didn’t go into it as favorite. I’m so proud of myself and I hope I will continue to play like this. As I was going into the second set I thought, ‘I have nothing to lose, I didn’t play good in the first set.’ I’m not really sure when [I thought I could win], I just believed myself in the third set.” 

Samson is the latest Czech player to break through following a sucessful junior career. Last year she won the Wimbledon girls’ doubles title and was runner-up in the French Open singles tournament in June. She is currently No.3 in the ITF junior rankings but has been ranked as high as No.1. 

Earlier this year, Samson decided to change her name on the Tour by dropping the last three letters (ova). The reason why she did so was to avoid getting confused with another player. 

“I first noticed it last year, there was a problem that I was getting strings (the) of Lyudmila Samsonova,” she told tenisovysvet.cz.

“I also talked about it with her and, for example, according to the schedule, she also sometimes thought she was playing, but it was me,” 

“I would have liked the ending -ová, but unfortunately it turned out like this.”

The teenager will next take on world No.248 Oksana Selekhmeteva with the winner of that match progressing to their first WTA semi-final.  21-year-old Selekhmeteva is a former top 10 junior player who came through two rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw. She is a two-time junior Grand Slam champion in doubles. 

There are five seeds remaining in the tournament, including top seed Linda Nosková who will play Germany’s Ella Seidel in her next match. 

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Alex De Minaur Overcomes Injury To Fulfil Olympic Dream

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ASlex de Minaur - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Alex de Minaur says it is a ‘dream come true’ for him to represent Australia in the Olympic Games after missing the event three years ago.

The world No.6 had been in a race against time to be fit for the Olympic tennis event after suffering an agonising injury setback at Wimbledon earlier this month. At the All England Club de Minaur reached the quarter-final stage for the first time and was set to take on Novak Djokovic. However, he was forced to withdraw from the match after tearing the fibre cartilage in his hip region after suffering a ‘freak’ injury. At the time of the announcement, it was estimated that he would be sidelined from the Tour for three to six weeks. 

However, the 25-year-old appears to have recovered fairly quickly in time for Paris with the tennis tournament starting on Saturday. It will be de Minaur’s debut in the Olympics after he was forced to pull out of the Tokyo Games due to a positive COVID-19 test. 

“To finally be able to represent Australia in the Olympics is a dream come true,” he wrote on Instagram on Tuesday morning.

“I’m very passionate when I play for my country and wear the green and gold, so this is another one of those moments. 

“I’m extremely excited to lace up for Paris 2024.”

De Minaur is bidding to become the first male player from his country to win an Olympic medal in the singles event. He has already won two ATP titles this year in Alcapulco and s-Hertogenbosch. Since the start of January, he has won five out of 11 meetings against top 10 players. 

“It’s really great news – we’re actually expecting Alex to arrive in the village ahead of the official draw (on Thursday) and we know he’s been working with his rehab team quite extensively since the conclusion of Wimbledon,” Australian chef de mission Anna Meares told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

“He’s hungry to be here, he wants to be a part of this team and we will offer as much support as we can in that process.

“He’s coming – we will wait to see that process. He still has time … injury can be a really stressful thing for an athlete and the more you rush it, the more problems you can potentially cause.

“We’re leaving it in the hands of Alex and his rehabilitation team … it will be a decision purely by them.” 

De Minaur is one of five Australian men playing in the Paris Olympics. The others are Alexei Popyrin, Matthew Ebden, John Peers and Rinky Hijikata. 

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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