Australian Open Chief Open To Idea Of Saudi Investment As Kyrgios Lends His Backing - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Chief Open To Idea Of Saudi Investment As Kyrgios Lends His Backing

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The tournament director of the Australian Open says he is keeping an eye on developments regarding the possibility of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund expanding into tennis. 

Craig Tiley told reporters on Tuesday that he doesn’t believe any future investment will affect the sport in a similar way it has done with golf. The PIF has invested heavily in sports over the past few years, including the £300M takeover of football team Newcastle United. In golf, they funded the LIV Tour which split the sport before a shock merger between the Tour’s was announced a few weeks ago. 

Now there is speculation that Saudi Arabia’s next target is tennis. ATP CEO Andrea Gaudenzi has confirmed to the Financial Times that he had held ‘positive’ talks about the matter but didn’t elaborate any further. It is also understood that the country is the favourite to host the Next Gen Finals in the future which could potentially be expanded into a mixed event. 

“I think what’s different is this is more an investment in the current structure of the game and not an investment in an alternative option,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Tiley as saying. “But, like everything in the world, there are lots of changes always going on, so you’ve got to watch what’s going on, and we’ve been staying close to it, but ultimately, that’s a decision for the men’s and the women’s tour.
“One thing that’s really important to note is that the four grand slams run independently … it’s most important that we take care of what we need to take care of, and that’s our five weeks of tennis in January.”

Some organizations have accused Saudi Arabia of sportswashing which is where a country invests in sports to improve its reputation that has been tarnished by wrongdoing. The country has been criticized in the past for its human rights record. 

There are also questions about how LGBT sports fans would be welcomed in the country. Saudi Arabia draws its legal framework from Sharia law which prohibits homosexuality. On the country’s Tourist website, it says that ‘everyone is welcome to Saudi Arabia and visitors are not asked to disclose personal details.’ In an exchange with a member of the country’s tennis federation on social media, I asked what would happen if I or anybody else visited with a same-sex partner. 

“If you came with your boyfriend and didn’t show that to the public it’s not a problem,” Adel Alqarni said in response.
“Our problem is that we don’t accept anyone forcing his ideology or culture in public. It’s against our culture, that’s it.”

Social issues aside, Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios has spoken out in favour of a potential partnership between the ATP and PIF occurring. On Twitter, he retweeted a report of the Guadenzi’s talks with the caption ‘Finally they see the value. We are going to get paid what we deserve to get paid. Sign me up.” World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz has also recently said he expects to be playing tournaments in Saudi Arabia in the future.

In response to Kyrgios’ suggestion that players are not getting paid enough, Tiley said he would always welcome more prize money being awarded in the sport. 

“We’ve done it as a grand slam – we’ve done the best we can to compensate the players. In fact, this year there was over $100 million in prize money on offer for a period of four weeks, for both men and women,” he said.
“Our view is that if men get paid a certain amount, the women need to be paid the same amount, and vice versa, so we’ve always held that position and always will hold that position.
“The more players, not just the top players, who can make a good living, the healthier it is for the sport.”

According to the BBC, the current value of the PIF stands at £514bn and is controlled by Saudi Prime Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. 

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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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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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Image via x.com/twitter

The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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