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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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai

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Fifth-seed Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3. Humbert had beaten Hurkacz en route to his title in Marseille. 

Hurkacz converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. Humbert saved three match points in the tie-break of the second set before converting his first set point to force the match to the decider. Humbert broke twice to seal the third set 6-3. 

“It was a great battle. I tried to battle for every point. In the tie-break I saved three match points, tried to do my best and thanks to those French fans for the amazing support”, said Humbert. 

Humbert set up a semifinal match against Danil Medvedev, who beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-3. Humbert leads 2-1 in their head-to-head matches, but Medvedev won their most recent match in three sets at the China Open in their most recent head-to-head match in Beijing last year.

“It’s going to be a great challenge against Danil tomorrow. We had a few great fights. Hopefully I will recover well to be ready for this match”, said Humbert. 

Aleksander Bublik was leading Jiri Lehecka 6-4 4-1 when the Czech player was forced to retire due to an injury. Bublik set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who was leading Sebastian Korda 6-4 4-3  when the Czech player withdrew due to injury. 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Emma Raducanu Among Trio of Grand Slam Winners Handed Miami Open Wild Cards

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has avoided the possibility of having to go through qualifying at the Miami Open after being awarded a wild card for the event on Thursday. 

The 2021 US Open champion is among four players to have received passes into the main draw of the prestigious event, which is classed as a WTA 1000 for the women and as a Masters 1000 for the men. It will be the third straight year that Raducanu has played in Miami but she is yet to win a match there. In 2022 she lost her opening match to Katerina Siniakova before getting beaten by Bianca Andreescu 12 months later. 

Raducanu has won two out of five Tour-level matches played so far this year. Recently her agent, Max Eisenbud, hit back at those who have criticised the tennis star’s results since winning the US Open. Raducanu also missed a chunk of last season due to injury after undergoing wrist and ankle surgery. 

“The girl did everything backward. She skipped every step. She won the US Open, she went to the next tournament, she didn’t even know where the player lounge was, she didn’t know where the practice courts were,” Eisenbud told the Served With Andy Roddick podcast.
“I don’t think just being tough on her or critical on her like any other player [is wrong]. But she is still figuring it out. I just think that people should not be malicious.”

Other players to have received wild cards into Miami include Venus Williams, who is a three-time champion at the event but hasn’t won the title since 2001. The 43-year-old hasn’t played on the Tour since August and is currently ranked outside the world’s top 400. 

Carolina Wozniacki completes the line-up of former Grand Slam winners being given wild cards. The Dane was a Miami finalist back in 2017 and has made 12 appearances at the tournament. Earlier this week, she suffered a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, loss to Anna Blinkova in the first round of the San Diego Open. 

As for the men’s tournament, the only confirmed wild card recipient is Kei Nishikori who will be making his first competitive start since July 2023. Recently the injury-stricken Japanese player added Thomas Johansson to his team. 

The Miami Open will get underway on March 17th.

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