Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev Sign Up To Play $3M Saudi Exhibition - UBITENNIS
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Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev Sign Up To Play $3M Saudi Exhibition

It will be the first time a tennis event featuring top players will be held in the country since 2019.

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Alexander Zverev - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Alexander Zverev is set to start his return to competitive tennis next month by playing at the Diriyah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia. 

The German is one of the first players confirmed to play in the three-day event which will take place between December 8-10. It will be the second edition of the tournament which was first held in 2019. It didn’t take place in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers have said 12 ‘world class’ players have already signed up to play but the full list of entrants is yet to be published. 

“I’m happy that I’ll finally be back on the court after my injury. It’s even nicer that I can make my comeback before the official start of the 2023 season,” Zverev said in a press release. “I think the Diriyah Tennis Cup offers a very good opportunity for it and I’m looking forward to being in Saudi Arabia for the first time.“

Zverev hasn’t played a match since suffering a horrific ankle injury during his semi-final match against Rafael Nadal at the French Open in June. He subsequently had to undergo surgery to repair damage to his ligaments and is continuing his rehab process. There was speculation that he could play in the Davis Cup finals but the German Tennis Federation has since said in a statement that he is not ready to play. 

Another player travelling to Saudi Arabia will be world No.4 Daniil Medvedev who won the inaugural tournament three years ago after defeating Italy’s Fabio Fognini in straight sets. 

When I have been in Diriyah in 2019, I loved everything there,” he said. “The organization, the court, the fans, the people. Everything was super comfortable, so I’m really happy to have the opportunity to come back to Saudi Arabia in December. It would be awesome, if I defend my title. As the tournament offers great conditions for my next season preparation

Medvedev, who won his first Grand Slam title at the 2021 US Open, has previously spoken in favour of Saudi Arabia hosting a Tour event in the future. Something which has been opposed by others who have raised concerns over the country’s human rights record and their use of sportswashing. A process where a government uses the staging of sports events to improve its reputation and distract from their human rights abuses.

Andy Murray has previously said he turned down an offer to play an exhibition event in the country a few years ago due to these concerns, along with other top players. The comment followed a report earlier this year that Saudi Arabia has expressed an interest in hosting a WTA event but no further information has been brought to the limelight since then.

A total of $3M in prize money will be available at the event which will also include a doubles draw for the first time. The first day will feature both first round and quarter-final matches. Whoever loses those matches will then take part in a doubles event on the second day along with the singles semi-finals. Then on the final day, both singles and doubles finals will take place.

It is not known when the full field for the Diriyah Tennis Cup will be published. 

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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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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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