Paula Badosa Says Sport And Politics Shouldn’t Mix Amid Ukraine War - UBITENNIS
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Paula Badosa Says Sport And Politics Shouldn’t Mix Amid Ukraine War

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Former world No.2 Paula Badosa says she has no intention of getting involved in politics on the tennis Tour due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. 

The 25-year-old believes sport and politics should remain separate despite the current circumstances. On the Tour, Russian and Belarussian players can only compete as neutral athletes due to the conflict. Furthermore, the two countries are currently suspended from playing in all team events. Last year Wimbledon became the first Grand Slam to ban those players from participating due to concerns the Russian government could use it as propaganda. However, this year that ban has been reversed with those players allowed to play as long as they sign a form stating they will not make any pro-Russia gestures and are not receiving any funding from their government. 

World No.1 Iga Swiatek has been one of the most vocal players in the sport to speak out about the situation. Earlier this year she criticized fellow player Anastasia Potapova for wearing an FC Spartak Moscow shirt whilst walking onto the court for one of her matches in Indian Wells. The Pole has also called for more support for Ukrainian players. 

However, Spain’s Badosa has described the presence of politics on the Tour as a ‘shame’ during an interview with Glamour magazine

“Absolutely, they shouldn’t mix,” she said. “Unfortunately, they have been involved, but I will never understand it. In the end, sports and politics have nothing to do with each other and it is a shame that there is so much mixing between players.’
“We don’t know what’s out there, there are many opinions and we don’t know 100% everything either, nor will we know. In my case, I prefer to be apart and dedicate myself to mine. Politicians play politicians and athletes play athletes.”

It is not the first time Badosa has spoken out about the matter. Last year she hit out at Wimbledon’s player ban by saying that she ‘saw no sense’ in that decision. 

Badosa is currently ranked 42nd in the world and has reached the quarter-finals in two out of three tournaments played on the clay so far this season. At the Madrid Open, she reached the third round before falling in straight sets to Maria Sakkari. 

“The tennis circuit is one of the most intense there is. You start the year in January, in Australia, and you finish it in November, in Japan, having travelled through all the continents. It gets very intense,” she commented. 
“The good thing is that I am doing what I like, which in the end is a passion. But it is still mentally very demanding.”

The demands of the schedule are one explanation for why some players experience burnout in the sport. Badosa has previously spoken out about her own mental health issues with anxiety and depression which was partly caused by the high expectations she faced at a young age. So how does she cope now?

“The most important thing is the environment you have and how you rely on them (her team) because in the end, it’s very intense.” She explained. 
“You are very young and you have to mature by leaps and bounds. Sometimes your head is not prepared to withstand all that pressure, that demand of playing in front of 20,000 people, the press and yourself. Lots of things accumulate. In addition, there are social networks, which are also something that influences (a player). That is why there are players who retire, who experience anxiety, and depression.”

Badosa has won three WTA titles so far in her career. 

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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing

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Maria Sakkari - WTA Washington 2023 (foto Twitter @mubadalacitidc)

Maria Sakkari has enlisted the help of Jessica Pegula’s former long-time coach in a bid to regain her form on the Tour. 

Greek media has confirmed that the world No.9 has begun a partnership with David Witt, who has also previously coached Venus Williams. Witt had worked with Pegula since 2019 before the tennis star decided to end their collaboration earlier this year. During their time together he oversaw the American win two WTA 1000 events, reached the quarter-final of a grand Slam on six occasions and peaked at a ranking high of No.3. 

Sakkari’s appointment comes after she ended her six-year working relationship with Tom Hill. Highlights of their partnership include winning two Tour titles, reaching a Grand Slam semi-final twice and spending more than two years in the top 10. 

“Tom, thank you for all the emotions, the support on and off the court, and the belief you had in me since day one,” Sakkari wrote on Instagram last month. “We grew together, and you helped me realize that everything is possible.

“Not only did you make me a better tennis player, but you also made me a better person. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and for always having my back! Good luck on the next chapter in your career.”

Sakkari is looking to get back on track after what has been a disappointing start to 2024. She had won just two matches in her first four singles tournaments played and is yet to face an opponent ranked in the world’s top 20. However, she faired better at the United Cup, where she won three matches in the team event, including victories over Lelylah Fernandez and Angelique Kerber. 

It is understood that Sakkari will be working with Witt at both Indian Wells and Miami. If their partnership is successful, it could be extended further into the clay swing. The other members of her team will remain in the same roles. 

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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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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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