WTA Chief Simon Sympathizes With Halep Over Failed Drugs Test - UBITENNIS
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WTA Chief Simon Sympathizes With Halep Over Failed Drugs Test

The multiple Grand Slam champion faces a ban of up to four years.




The head of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) believes Simona Halep would never intentionally take illegal substances but stands by the sports anti-doping programme. 


Halep is currently suspended from competition after testing positive for roxadustat during this year’s US Open. An anti-anaemia drug which stimulates the production of haemoglobin and red blood cells in the body. The two-time Grand Slam winner has since issued a statement describing her failed drugs test as a ‘huge shock’ and has vowed to clear her name. The tennis star will attend a tribunal where she will have to provide sufficient evidence that she digested the substance unintentionally. In the worst-case scenario, an athlete can be banned for up to four years for such a violation. 

Weighing in on Halep’s suspension from the Tour, WTA chief Steve Simon says he backs the Romanian and her bid to clear her name. During an interview with The Associated Press, Simon said he was confident that the ‘truth is going to come out’ as he pledged his full support behind the anti-doping procedures used in tennis. 

“I believe her that she didn’t intentionally do something here. That being said, I do believe very strongly in our anti-doping program, and I think it’s a good one, and our players support it, too. And if you ask Simona, she supports it,” Simon said. “I’m very confident that as we go through the process, the truth is going to come out, and we will deal with it accordingly. But I have a lot of sympathy for Simona, because I would never question her integrity.”

The head of women’s tennis is the latest figure to lend their support behind Halep. Her former coach Darren Cahill and former manager Virginia Ruzici have both issued statements saying they believe she would never dope. A series of players have also spoken out about the matter, including world No.1 Iga Swiatek who said she was ‘confused’ by the situation. 

“For sure it was confusing to me because I wouldn’t expect hearing this news,” Swiatek said during her pre-tournament press conference at the WTA Finals in Fort Worth.
“Simona, from my point of view, seems like a person who always cared about being fair, and she was a great example for me.
“So hopefully… I don’t know how it works in terms of the system that they’re going to… Is she going to be tested a couple of more times or whatever?
“Hopefully, it’s going to be more clear for fans and for us. But, yeah, it’s kind of like disappointing, and she must feel really bad.”

The duration of how long Halep will have to wait before attending her hearing depends on the complexities of the evidence she and her legal team will need to gather. In response to a question asked by Gazeta Sporturilor, The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) say the date of the hearing is not confirmed yet but they will not be releasing any details to the public until a verdict has been reached.

“There is no confirmed date yet. The hearing will be convened by an independent organisation, Sports Resolutions, who will decide the composition of the jury and confirm the details. We will not confirm the date of the hearing or hearings, but will communicate the final outcome when it is known,” an ITIA spokesperson told Gazeta Sporturilor.

Halep has won 24 WTA titles and earned more than $40M in prize money during her career.

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Asian Games Champion Qinwen Zheng Reveals Shock Departure Of Coach Fissette



Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

China’s Qinwen Zheng says she feels ‘hurt’ by the decision of her former coach to end their collaboration in order to work with another player. 


The US Open quarter-finalist had been working with Belgium’s Wim Fissette in recent weeks following the departure of Pere Riba who is now the coach of Coco Gauff. Fissette has a wealth of experience in women’s tennis after working with the likes of Kim Clijsters and Naomi Osaka. However, Zheng says she is now looking for a new mentor.

“I understand his decision, but my family and I feel hurt. Right now I don’t want to talk about this person (Fissette),’ journalist Bendou Zhang quoted her as saying. 

Fissette is yet to comment on his departure. He had previously coached former world No.1 Osaka between 2019-2022 and during this period she won two of her four Grand Slam titles. The American-based Japanese player is on maternity leave from the sport and gave birth to her first child in July.

20-year-old Zheng is currently ranked 23rd in the world and won her maiden WTA title in Palermo earlier this year. She is the youngest player from her country to have reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in the Open Era following her run at Flushing Medows. This year she has beaten top 10 players Ons Jabeur and Daria Kasatkina. 

Zheng’s latest career milestone is winning gold at the Asian Games on Friday. in the final, she defeated Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4, in the blistering Hangzhou heat.

“The feeling was incredible,” Zheng said. “I’m really happy about that. That was not an easy match today and also yesterday (in semifinal against Alex Eala). All of them are good fighters.”

It is not clear who Zheng will be working with during the Asian swing. 

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Daria Kasatkina Criticises Decision To Not Use Roof At Sweltering Pan Pacific Open



Image via WTA twitter

Daria Kasatkina has taken a swipe at organizers at the Toray Pan Pacific Open for not using the roof to cover their premier court on Thursday due to the heat. 


The Russian played her second round match against Despina Papamichail in temperatures around 30 degrees with the humidity making it feel even warmer. Kasatkina battled to a 6-4, 6-4, win after spending more than two hours on the court. She dropped serve four times in the match but managed to break Papamichail seven times en route to victory. 

Speaking on the court following his latest tour win, the world No.13 admitted that she struggled in the conditions and implied that she believed the roof should have been closed to shield the players from the sun. Tokyo, which is where the tournament is staged, has experienced a record-breaking number of ‘extremely hot’ days this year with their autumn season being warmer than usual. Something that some warn could be a more regular occurrence due to climate change.

“We cannot do much about it. We are using the ice towels and some supplements to keep you hydrated. By at the end, you cannot fight with something you cannot control,” Kasatkina commented on the conditions during her on-court interview.
“I think in these kinds of conditions, if you have a roof, better maybe to close it. If you have these opportunities, better to use it than to make players almost die on the field.” She added. 

Kasatkina is through to her seventh Tour quarter-final of the season. Awaiting her in the next round will be second seed Jessica Pegula who beat Spain’s Cristina Bucșa 6-1, 6-2, in her second round match on Wednesday. It will be only the second Tour meeting between the two players and their first on a hard court. 

Elsewhere in Tokyo, another player to reach the last eight in France’s Caroline Garcia who beat Anhelina Kahlinina 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlychenkova defeated Czech Republic’s Linda Noskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-0. 

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Barbora Krejcikova Does The Double In San Jose



After what has been a challenging past few weeks on the Tour, Barbora Krejcikova has returned to the winner’s circle by claiming both the singles and doubles titles at the San Diego Open. 


The world No.13 battled to a marathon 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, win over Sofia Kenin in what was a clash of the former Grand Slam champions. Krejcikova was pushed to her limits throughout the two-and-a-half-hour clash with there being no break in the decider until the final game. It is the second singles title the Czech has won on the WTA Tour this season after Dubai and her seventh overall. 

“Normally I wouldn’t be here,” said Krejcikova, who received a wild card to play in the tournament “I really want to thank them (the tournament organisers). It was very special. I really enjoyed my stay here.”

Krejcikova’s run to the trophy has also seen her score wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins earlier in the week. She is the first player from her country to win the tournament. 

Following on from that triumph, the 27-year-old then clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The duo beat Collins and Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4.

Krejcikova came into San Jose on a four-match losing streak which started at Wimbledon where she was forced to withdraw from her secound round clash due to a left leg injury. 

“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” she said. “So I just came here and I pretty much was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won [the title].”

It is only the second time in Krejcikova’s career that she has won both the singles and doubles titles at the same event. The first time she did so was at the 2021 French Open where her partner in the doubles was also Siniakova.

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