ITF Chief ‘Feels Good’ About Peng Shuai's Safety As He Backs Holding Events In China - UBITENNIS
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ITF Chief ‘Feels Good’ About Peng Shuai’s Safety As He Backs Holding Events In China

David Haggerty believes the decision of the WTA not to host events in the country is their choice but he sees no issue for the ITF.

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David Haggerty at the 2019 ITF Annual General Meeting in Lisbon (photo ITF)

The head of the International Tennis Federation says he is assured that former doubles world No.1 Peng Shuai is not in danger after being in contact with the tennis player. 

 

David Haggerty told Sky News that he has been regularly in contact with Shuai and last spoke to her about six weeks ago. The Chinese player hasn’t travelled abroad since making an allegation of sexual assault against a former politician in her native country. In a post on the social media site Weibo Shuai said she had an on-off extramarital “relationship” with former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli and accused him of sexually assaulting her. Shortly afterwards her post was deleted and searches for her name were blocked by internet censors in China. She then disappeared from the public eye for a couple of weeks before returning and later saying that her post was a ‘misunderstanding.’ 

However, some fear that Shuai is being censored by authorities in her country and has not been able to speak freely. Last December the WTA announced that they will pause holding tournaments in China over concerns about the safety of one of their players. Both the ITF and ATP don’t have such a suspension in place but haven’t held events in the country due to the covid-19 situation. 

Hoping to ease these fears, Haggerty says he ‘felt good’ when recently speaking with Peng. The American official says that it is important that tennis tournaments are held in China which he describes as an ‘important market.’ The ITF estimates that there are 200M people who play tennis in China.

“I felt good with my conversation with Peng and… that’s why I continue to stay in touch,” Haggerty told Sky News.
“It’d be nice to see her face to face and I’m looking forward to that, when I’m able to travel to China for the events, and when she’s able to travel outside of China, as well.
“So from my perspective, I think that tennis should be played, especially by juniors (in China). We want our sport to be able to develop and grow and China’s a very, very important market.”

 The ITF has also confirmed that events will be held in China again next year once the COVID-19 restrictions are eased. It is understood that the ATP will do the same but the WTA are yet to make a decision.

“The ITF feels that events can take place in China as the restrictions are now hopefully going to be lifted,” Haggerty added.
“In 2023, there will be junior events, senior events, our competitions taking place in China, when the COVID restrictions are relieved.”

BBC journalist Kerry Allen reported on June 24th that a search for Shuai’s name on Weibo, one of China’s most popular internet sites, only produced one result. This was seven months after the allegations first surfaced on social media. 

Shuai has won 23 WTA doubles titles during her career and another two in singles. 

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Novak Djokovic sets up blockbuster final against Marin Cilic in Tel Aviv

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Novak Djokovic reached the 127th final of his career and his fourth championships match of the year at the Tel Aviv Open after his 6-1 7-6 (7-3) win over Roman Safiulin in their first head-to-head match. 

 

Djokovic converted three of his seven break point chances. The Serbian player held his opening game with a service winner and earned three break points in the second game. 

Djokovic converted his first break point after Safiulin made a double fault and fired a service winner in the third game. Safiulin faced three break points in the fourth game and saved them. Safiulin saved the fourth break point with a backhand down the fine before dropping serve with a forehand error on the fifth opportunity to trail 0-4. 

Djokovic hit an ace in the fifth game to race out to a 5-0 lead in 17 minutes. Safiulin held serve with a forehand winner to win his first game. Djokovic held serve at love to seal the first set 6-1 in 23 minutes. 

Safiulin hit an ace in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. The world number 104 earned his first break point in the sixth game, but the 2022 Wimbledon champion fended it off with his serve. The former world number 1 saved the second break point to hold serve with an ace for3-3. 

Safiulin wasted a game point at 4-4 before Djokovic broke serve with a volley winner at the net. Djokovic dropped his serve after a double fault as he was serving for the match. 

Both players served well in the 11th and 12th game to set up a tie-break. Djokovic built up a 4-1 lead after Safiulin made a double fault in the fifth game. 

Djokovic earned four match points in the eighth game and sealed the second set 6-3 with an ace. 

Novak Djokovic: “I think it was a very competitive match, especially in the second set. I must say I was quite emotional on the court today in the second set. There was a lot of tension. It was due to his aggressive style of tennis”. 

Djokovic dropped just three points to win the opening set 6-1. Safiulin raised his level in the second set, when he broke serve, as Djokovic was serving for the match at 5-4. 

Djokovic will be aiming to win his third title of the year against Marin Cilic, who beat Constant Lestienne 7-5 6-3. Cilic went down 2-5 in the opening set and saved two set points before taking five consecutive games to seal the first set 7-5. The Croatian player reeled off four consecutive games from 2-3 down to close out the second set 6-3.

Djokovic leads 18-2 in his head-to-head matches against Cilic. “It was a great fight. In the first set he was serving for it, and I just managed to stay In there. I kept my focus and served fantastic from that point. It was a really exciting match. It’s always a fantastic challenge to play against Novak. No matter the tournament, he is an unbelievable competitor and always gives his incredible best. We first played in 2008 and we have known each other since we were 14. It’s going to be another great match”, said Cilic. 

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Holger Rune reaches his second ATP Tour final at the Sofia Open

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Holger Rune reached his second ATP Tour final of the 2022 season and the first on indoor hard court at the Sofia Open after Jannik Sinner retired from the semifinal due to an ankle injury. Rune won his first title in Munich and reached the quarter final at Roland Garros earlier this year.

 

Rune was leading 5-7 6-4 6-2 against Sinner, when the Italian player withdrew from the match. 

Sinner wasted three break points in the sixth and eighth games of the opening set. The Italian player earned the decisive break at 6-5, as Rune sent his down the line backhand wide on the set point. Sinner held his service games without facing any break points. 

Rune broke serve at 2-2 at love after Sinner made three forehand errors. Rune hit a forehand winner on the break point. Rune saved two break points at 5-4 with an ace and a forehand error from Sinner. 

Rune converted his second set point 6-4 with a forehand winner.

Sinner dropped his serve at 15 after three unforced error. Sinner saved a double break point at 1-3 to hold his serve.  Sinner injured his ankle at 2-3 0-15. Rune broke for the second time in the seventh game for 5-2 before Sinner retired from the match.  

“It’s obviously never the way you want to win and it was such a great match. It’s the worst possible way it could end and I just want to wish Jannik all the best. He’s an amazing player and what he has shown this year has been unbelievable. I wish him a speedy recovery. I think it was a great match up until the end. I think I was obviously a little bit tired after yesterday, but I really puhed hard and ran for everything. I am happy with the way f fought and happy with my level”, said Rune. 

Marc Andrea Huesler upset Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 after 96 minutes to reach his first ATP Tour final. 

Huesler won six consecutive points from 1-5 down to seal the tie-break of the first set 7-5.  The Swiss player saved two match points in the tie-break of the second set against Kamil Majcrzak in the quarter finals. 

The first semifinal featured just two break points. Huesler saved a break point to hold for the second set before converting his only break point in the 12th game. 

Huesler fired 10 aces and won 40 of his 48 first serve points. 

Both players went on serve with no break points en route to tie-break. Musetti raced out to a 5-1 lead in the tie-break with two mini-breaks after a backhand passing shot and a double fault from Huesler. Musetti made his second double fault to give back the mini-break for 5-4. Huesler hit a service winner and drew an error to earn a set point. Huesler sealed the tie-break, when Musetti missed a forehand. 

Huesler saved the only break point he faced with a serve and volley to hold for 5-4. Musetti made his third double fault to face a match point, as he was serving to force the tie-break. Huesler closed out the match with a backhand return in 1 hour and 35 minutes to reach his first ATP Tour final. 

“For sure, I mean I have never been in the final of an ATP Tour event. I am obviously a bit speechless. I can’t quite believe that I was able to win today and make it to the finals. but I played a really great match today and I am just really happy”, said Huesler. 

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Denis Shapovalov sets up final against Yoshihito Nishioka in Seoul

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Denis Shapovalov rallied from a break down in the first set in his 7-5 6-4 win over Jenson Brooksby in 1 hour and 35 minutes at the Eugene Korea Open Tennis Championships in Seoul. 

 

Brooksby earned a break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Shapovalov broke straight back in the fifth game to draw level to 3-3. Shapovalov broke for the second time in the seventh game and held on his service game to take a 5-3 lead. Brooksby broke back to draw level to 5-5. Shapovalov  broke for the fourth time in the 11thgame to close out the first set 7-5. 

Shapovalov earned his first break at deuce in the ninth game to close out the second set 6-4. The Canadian player will be aiming his second career title following his only previous ATP Tour level title in Stockolm in 2019. 

This year Shapovalov has reached the quarter final at the Australian Open and the semifinal in Dubai. Brooksby was aiming to reach his third final this season after advancing to championship matches in Dallas and Atlanta. 

Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka overcame Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-3 4-6 6-3 to advance to his second final this year. Nishioka, who reached the championship match in Washington, has moved up to world number 45, has won the only ATP title of his title in Shenzhen in 2018. Nishioka won the first set 6-3 with two breaks in the fifth and ninth games. Kovacevic earned his first break in the fifth game to win the second set 6-4. Nishioka went up a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Kovacevic broke back in the seventh game to reduce his deficit to 3-4, but Nishioka closed out the match with his second break in the eighth game.  

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