Wimbledon Chief Links Player Ban To Government Policy, Opposes On-Court Coaching
Sally Bolton also explains the decision why Iga Swiatek was selected to open up Centre Court on Tuesday.
WIMBLEDON: The Chief Executive of Wimbledon says she respects other tournament policies regarding the suspension of Russian and Belarussian players but stands by her organization’s position.
On the opening day of the Wimbledon Championships, Sally Bolton spoke to the media about an array of subjects concerning this year’s Grand Slam. The most frequent of those was the move to ban some players from participating in response to the Ukraine War. A move that divided opinion within the sport and resulted in the removal of ranking points from this year’s tournament. Among those banned from playing are world No.1 Daniil Medvedev and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka.
“It was an incredibly difficult decision for us to make. We took our time in making it, we considered all the options that were available and in the context of UK-specific government guidance,” Bolton explains.
“Of course, we respect other Grand Slams making their own decisions in their unique set of circumstances. We can only speak for ourselves and now we are focused on delivering a fantastic tournament.”
The three other Grand Slams have allowed Russian and Belarussian players to participate but under a neutral flag. In line with a policy that has also been implemented by the WTA, ATP, and largely the ITF (there is an ITF tournament in Latvia taking place which has such a ban in place).
Bolton, who was appointed as Chief Executive of the AELTC in 2019, says throughout the decision-making process talks with the Russian Tennis Federation were taking place. Although she points out that the sport has to ‘exist within jurisdictions.’ Making references to the British government guidance that was issued leading up to the ban.
“When the government was starting to develop their guidance we were constantly talking to all parties in tennis. Whether that was the Tour’s or Slams. That communication is very much ongoing,” she said.
“Although we are a global sport, we all have to exist within jurisdictions. Those are governed sometimes by different governments.”
Coaching and Swiatek
In recent days the ATP joined the WTA in allowing coaching during matches by revealing a new trial that will take place until the end of 2022. The governing body says their testing of off-court coaching will provide ‘additional points of intrigue and insight to enhance the fan experience.’ Under the rule, Verbal coaching is permitted only when the player is at the same end of the court and must not hinder their opponent.
However, it is unlikely that any form of coaching during matches will be allowed at Wimbledon who has reiterated their opposition.
“At this point, Wimbledon’s position is that we do not support on-court coaching,” Bolton states.
“We recognize the need for the sport to evolve and think about how it will look in the future but our current view is that we don’t support on-court coaching.”
Known for their tradition Bolton also confirmed that it is likely that the requirements for players to wear white clothing will continue.
Another unique aspect of the tournament takes place on its first Tuesday when Center Court is opened up by the defending women’s champion. Ash Barty won the title 12 months ago but has since retired. Instead, it will be the world’s No.1 Iga Swiatek who is currently on a 35-match winning run. However, there have been calls for Simona Halep to have the honor. The Romanian won the title in 2019 but then the tournament was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic and she was injured the following year.
“As her performance as the No.1 seed, it was an obvious choice (for Swiatek) to open Center,” said Bolton.
“Every year when we have these decisions to make, particularly when we don’t have a reigning champion coming back, we look at all the different options and the reasons why a player might be chosen to open. Swiatek was considered to be the absolute best pick.”
Roland Garros Daily Preview: Inspiring Stories Abound on Wednesday
Second round singles action begins on Wednesday in Paris.
Top names like Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Aryna Sabalenka, and Stefanos Tsitsipas will all be considerable favorites on Wednesday, so this preview will focus on what are likely to be Day 4’s more competitive matchups. And they include some inspiring stories: a 38-year-old former champion fighting back from injury for one more deep run at a Major, the American No.1 playing while thinking about her seriously ill mother, and a former top 10 player from France who has battled his way back from depression and alcohol issues.
Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s four most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule. Wednesday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.
Camila Giorgi vs. Jessica Pegula (3) – 11:45am on Court Philippe-Chatrier
Earlier this year in an essay for The Players’ Tribune, Pegula divulged the healthy crisis her family has been enduring. Her mother, Kim, went into cardiac arrest last June and nearly died. Kim’s has improved considerably, but she’s still battling significant health issues a year later. Jess has spoken about how her mom’s fight has inspired her tennis in recent months.
Pegula sits at a career-high ranking of No.3 in singles, and is No.2 in doubles. The 29-year-old American has advanced to the quarterfinals at four of the last five Majors, including this one a year ago. Jess also claimed her first WTA 1000 title last October is Guadalajara.
Giorgi is also a WTA 1000 champion, having won at that level two years ago in Canada. She is 14-9 on the year, and ousted France’s Alize Cornet in straight sets in the first round.
They have met nine times at all levels, with Pegula leading 7-2, taking their last four encounters. Giorgi’s last victory over Pegula came during that 2021 Montreal title run. Jess is the superior clay court player, and should advance comfortably despite the always-dangerous power the Italian possesses.
Marketa Vondrousova vs. Daria Kasatkina (9) – Second on Court Suzanne-Lenglen
Vondrousova was a surprising runner-up here four years ago as a 19-year-old. But multiple surgeries have disrupted her young career, with her only final since that 2019 French Open run coming at the Tokyo Olympics, when she took home a silver medal after losing to Belinda Bencic. Yet Marketa is back in strong form, with a record of 20-8 this season, and recent clay court victories over the likes of Maria Sakkari and Bianca Andreescu.
Kasatkina may be a top 10 seed, but she is only 13-12 in 2023. A semifinalist here a year ago, Daria would drop out of the top 10 with a loss on Wednesday, which puts a lot of pressure on her shoulders.
This should be a fun matchup, with both players possessing plenty of variety in their games. And they have split four prior meetings, and are 1-1 on clay. But based on recent form, Vondrousova is a slight favorite to take out the ninth seed.
Stan Wawrinka vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis (WC) – Second on Court Simonne-Mathieu
Wawrinka’s title run in Paris came eight years ago, with recent years filled with surgeries and a whole lot of rehab. Yet that made his first-round five-set victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas all the more satisfying. Stan is looking to reach the third round of a Major since this tournament in 2020.
Kokkinakis’ career has been sabotaged by injuries from a very young age. But the 27-year-old Australian has been enjoying the healthiest stretch of his career across the last few seasons. Thanasi is 24-12 this year at all levels, and upset Dan Evans in straight sets in the first round.
Their first career meeting feels like it could go either way. The much-younger Kokkinakis should be the fresher player on the day. However, in the second round of the last Major, Thanasi suffered an excruciating loss to another aging Slam champ, in a near six-hour affair with Andy Murray. That is the kind of loss that sticks with you for a long time, especially when it happens at your home Major. With that in mind, I favor the Stanimal to pull out another tight victory on Wednesday.
Lucas Pouille (Q) vs. Cameron Norrie (14) – Last on Court Suzanne-Lenglen
Currently ranked 675th in the world, Pouille has won four matches since the start of qualifying, even defeating lucky loser Jurij Rodionov twice, once in qualifying and once in the main draw. Both of his victories over Rodionov were emotional: one was spent shedding tears of joy while holding his young son, the other spent singing La Marseillaise along with the Parisian crowd. After the demons Lucas has faced in recent years, each victory is as sweet as a French crepe.
Meanwhile, Norrie has become one of the sport’s most reliable performers since upping his physical fitness a few years ago. The 27-year-old is 28-10 in 2023, and survived a five-setter in the opening round against another Frenchman, Benoit Paire.
They have split their two prior meetings, both of which took place at Majors, and both of which were close. Five years ago at this tournament, Pouille prevailed in a fourth set tiebreak. Two years ago at Wimbledon, Norrie prevailed 7-5 in the fourth. In the rubber match on Wednesday, Cam must be favored despite what any French heartstrings may say.
Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:
Roberto Carballes Baena vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) – Tsitsipas required four sets, and was nearly pushed to a fifth, against Jiri Vesely on Sunday. Carballes Baena won in straights, and won at ATP title on clay last month in Marrakech. When they met five years ago on clay in Estoril, Stefanos narrowly prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.
Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Taro Daniel – Alcaraz dropped just seven games on Monday, in his first match at a Major as a Slam champion and World No.1. Daniel also prevailed in straight sets, and is now 8-6 this year at tour level. At a clay court Challenger tournament two years ago, Carlitos defeated Taro in three sets.
Iryna Shymanovich (Q) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Sabalenka easily won her opener on Sunday, while 25-year-old qualifier Shymanovich claimed her first victory at a Major in her debut at this level. Aryna could become the new World No.1 this fortnight depending on how far she and Iga Swiatek advance.
Novak Djokovic (3) vs. Marton Fucsovics – Djokovic claimed his 86th French Open victory on Monday in straight sets. Fucsovics claimed his seventh, and is 0-4 against Novak, though he’s taken a set in three of their four meetings.
Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.
Roland Garros Daily Preview: Swiatek, Krejcikova, Azarenka, Andreescu Play on Tuesday
Day 3 in Paris sees the conclusion of first round singles play.
Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka plays US Open champ Bianca Andreescu in a matchup that headlines Tuesday’s Order of Play. Day 3 also features the 2023 Roland Garros debuts of the two most recent women’s singles champions: Iga Swiatek and Barbora Krejcikova. Other action includes standouts from this season such as Daniil Medvedev, Elena Rybakina, and Holger Rune. Plus, last year’s singles finalists, Coco Gauff and Casper Ruud, will both play their opening matches.
Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s four most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule. Tuesday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.
Lesia Tsurenko vs. Barbora Krejcikova (13) – Second on Court 7
Krejcikova was the champion here two years ago in both singles and doubles. An elbow injury derailed her career last season, but she’s 20-10 in 2023, having won a WTA 1000 title in Dubai. However, she’s only 5-4 this year on clay, so she does not arrive in Paris with much momentum.
Tsurenko celebrates her 34th birthday on Tuesday, and was a US Open quarterfinalist in 2018. She is an impressive 25-8 this season at all levels (including qualifying matches, which don’t officially count). At Indian Wells, the Ukrainian withdrew from her match with Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka, citing a panic attack after what she described as shocking comments regarding the war in Ukraine from WTA CEO Steve Simon.
Their first career meeting is a tricky first round draw for the 2021 champion. Yet Krejcikova remains the favorite to advance, and is a potential fourth round draw for the 2020 and 2022 champion, Iga Swiatek.
Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Cristina Bucsa – Third on Court Philippe-Chatrier
Swiatek is 28-6 on the year, and 12-2 on clay. She’s 21-2 lifetime at Roland Garros, having won 42 of 48 sets contested. But is Iga 100% healthy? Just over a week ago in Rome, she retired during the third set of her quarterfinal against Elena Rybakina, citing a thigh injury. However, she’s indicated it is not a considerable injury.
Bucsa is a 25-year-old from Spain who upset Bianca Andreescu at the last Major in Melbourne, coming from a set down to win 6-4 in the third, after saving a match point in the second. But in the very next round, she only managed one game against her opponent on this day, Swiatek.
On Tuesday, a similarly-comfortable victory should be expected from Iga.
Holger Rune (6) vs. Christopher Eubanks – Third on Court Simonne-Mathieu
Rune made his big breakthrough at this tournament a year ago, achieving his first Major quarterfinal thanks to upsets over Denis Shapovalov and Stefanos Tsitsipas. And the recently-turned-20-year-old has continued to make strong strides ever since, winning the Masters 1000 event in Bercy by outlasting Novak Djokovic in the final, and reaching two Masters finals on clay this season. Holger is now 27-10 in 2023.
Eubanks made a breakthrough of his own two months ago in Miami, where he came through qualifying and advanced all the way to the round of 16, achieving a career goal of cracking the top 100. The 27-year-old is now ranked 74th, but has still spent the majority of the past year on the Challenger circuit. The tall American has a big serve, and is not the easiest of opening round draws.
In their first career meeting, Rune is a clear favorite. However, I am curious to see how Holger handles this moment, as this is the first time in his young career that he is defending a result quite as big as his quarterfinal appearance from 2022.
Victoria Azarenka (18) vs. Bianca Andreescu – Last on Court Simonne-Mathieu
This is a marquee first-round encounter, though neither player comes into this tournament with much form, nor would either refer to clay as their favorite surface. Azarenka is 13-9 on the year, and just 2-2 on clay, after withdrawing from Rome due to a right leg injury. Andreescu is just 9-9 on the year, and 0-2 on clay, coming off a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Marketa Vondrousova in Rome.
Vika is 28-15 lifetime in Paris, having reached a semifinal 10 years ago. Bibi is only 2-2 in Paris, and is yet to advance beyond the second round at any Major outside of New York. So in another first-time meeting on the day, Azarenka must be favored to advance.
Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:
Elias Ymer (Q) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Ruud reached two Major finals last season, but is just 16-11 in 2023, and would fall out of the top five with an early loss in Paris. Elias is the elder brother of another tennis pro, Mikael, and his only career win at a Slam came at this event. When they met four years ago at a hard court Challenger in Phoenix, Casper prevailed in three sets.
Thiago Seyboth Wild (Q) vs. Daniil Medvedev (2) – Medvedev is a stellar 39-5 on the year, and coming off a surprising Masters 1000 title on clay in Rome. Seyboth Wild has accumulated 36 match wins at all levels this year, all on clay.
Rebeka Masarova vs. Coco Gauff (6) – Gauff is 19-8 this year, yet is yet to win back-to-back matches in 2023 on clay. But Coco did win a hard court title to begin this season, defeating 23-year-old Masarova in the final of Auckland by a score of 6-1, 6-1.
Elena Rybakina (4) vs. Brenda Fruhvirtova (Q) – Rybakina is 30-7 this season, and just a week ago claimed the WTA 1000 title in Rome. Brenda and her sister Linda are two teenage Czech teenagers making strong strides in the sport at a very early age.
Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.
Roland Garros Daily Preview: Djokovic, Alcaraz, Wawrinka, Thiem Play on Monday
Day 2 in Paris is the second of three days featuring first round singles action.
Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will make their 2023 Roland Garros debuts on Monday, with both being heavy favorites in their opening rounds. So this preview will dive deeper into the first round matches of two other Major singles champions: Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem, both of whom are fighting to regain their form of yesteryear.
Two of the day’s other most appetizing matchups include two Italians with previous success at this tournament. Fabio Fognini will look to upset a top 10 seed when he takes on a struggling Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Martina Trevisan plays a resurgent mother in Elina Svitolina.
Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s four most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule. Monday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.
Felix Auger-Aliassime (10) vs. Fabio Fognini – Second on Court Simonne-Mathieu
Auger-Aliassime is a meager 13-9 this season, and just 1-2 on clay. Felix has not been fully healthy, as only a few days ago, he withdrew from Lyon due to a shoulder injury. A year ago at this event, he pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets, while being coached by Uncle Toni. But in this match, FAA is on upset alert, against a former Roland Garros quarterfinalist.
That result for Fognini occurred 12 years ago in Paris. The biggest title of Fabio’s career also came on this surface, when he won Monte Carlo in 2019. The 36-year-old Italian is only 4-9 on the year, though two of those victories took place recently on clay in Rome, when he defeated both Andy Murray and Miomir Kecmanovic.
Their only prior encounter also occurred and clay, which was four years ago in Rio. Felix prevailed in straight sets on that day. But on this day, the unpredictable Fabio may be a slight favorite to eliminate the tenth seed in the opening round.
Stan Wawrinka vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas – Second on Court 14
Wawrinka’s French Open title run took place eight years ago. Stan reached the quarterfinals or better at this tournament in five of the last 10 years. But injuries have derailed the 38-year-old’s career in recent years, and he’s just 12-10 this season at tour level.
35-year-old Ramos-Vinolas was a quarterfinalist in Paris seven years ago. His only Masters 1000 final also came on this surface, six years ago in Monte Carlo. A year ago here, he gave Carlos Alcaraz a scare, going up two-sets-to-one before losing in five. But in 2023, Albert is just 6-16 at tour level.
Wawrinka has dominated their history 7-0, but they haven’t played since they met in the quarters of this tournament in 2016. Can Stan recapture some of the magic he’s displayed in the past at this event? On Monday, he’s the favorite to advance against a tough clay court opponent.
Elina Svitolina vs. Martina Trevisan (26) – Third on Court Simonne-Mathieu
On Saturday, in just her third WTA tournament since becoming a mother for the first time, Svitolina became the champion in Strasbourg. Elina is 22-9 at Roland Garros, having reached the quarterfinals three times.
Trevisan equaled that result back in 2020, then she surpassed it a year ago, reaching the semifinals of this event. Yet in 2023, Martina is only 11-13 overall, and 4-4 on clay.
In their first career meeting, Trevisan should be favored. This will be a quick turnaround for Svitolina from Strasbourg, and she is not yet re-accustomed to playing so many matches within a short time span.
Dominic Thiem vs. Pedro Cachin – Third on Court 6
Between 2016 and 2020, Thiem reached two finals, two more semifinals, and another quarterfinal in Paris. But since a serious wrist injury sidelined him in 2021, Dominic is 0-2 at this event. The Austrian is 11-15 this season at all levels, and is coming off two Challenger events on clay earlier this month.
Cachin is a 28-year-old from Argentina who reached the final of a Challenger event on clay in April, before advancing to the round of 16 at the Madrid Masters thanks to impressive victories over Francisco Cerundolo and Frances Tiafoe. Pedro advanced to the second round of this event in his French Open main draw debut a year ago.
They have never played at tour level, but they did meet at a Challenger tournament last year on clay, with Cachin prevailing in straight sets. However, it’s worth noting that was Thiem’s first event in nearly a year after returning from injury. On Monday, I expect the two-time finalist to rediscover enough of his form to prevail.
Other Notable Matches on Monday:
Karolina Pliskova (16) vs. Sloane Stephens – This is a matchup between two players who have each achieved two Major finals, with Stephens winning the 2017 US Open, yet neither arrives in Paris with much form. Pliskova got off to a strong start on the year, but is just 2-2 on clay, and has been dealing with a knee injury. Sloane is 9-11 at tour level, though she is coming off a semifinal run this past week in Rabat. Stephens leads their head-to-head 4-1, which includes a straight-set win at this event in 2021.
Novak Djokovic (3) vs. Aleksandar Kovacevic – Djokovic is a two-time champion of this tournament, and is 85-16 here lifetime. He’s reached at least the quarterfinals for 13 straight years, though he’s been battling an elbow injury, and is just 5-3 on clay this season. Kovacevic is a 24-year-old American who has never been ranked inside the top 100.
Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Flavio Cobolli (Q) – Alcaraz is an excellent 30-3 this year, and won back-to-back titles on clay in his home country before suffering a shocking loss to qualifier Fabian Marozsan in Rome. This will be Carlitos’ first match at a Major since winning last year’s US Open, as he missed the Australian due to injury. Cobolli is a 21-year-old Italian qualifier making his main draw debut at a Slam.
Arthur Fils (WC) vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (29) – Fils is an 18-year-old French standout who on Saturday won his first ATP title in his home country, defeating Francisco Cerundolo in the final of Lyon. Davidovich Fokina is just 17-13 on the year, but was a quarterfinalist here two years ago.
Monday’s full Order of Play is here.
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