Ex-No.1 Ash Barty Stands By Retirement Decision - UBITENNIS
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Ex-No.1 Ash Barty Stands By Retirement Decision

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) playing against Angelique Kerber (GER) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Despite the growing number of players returning to competitive tennis after giving birth, Ash Barty says she is contempt in retirement. 

Barty, who is still only 27 years old, stunned the sport at the start of 2022 when she announced her retirement from the sport just weeks after winning the Australian Open. She has won 15 WTA titles during her career with three of them being at Grand Slam tournaments. She also held the world No.1 spot for 121 weeks and earned more than $23.8M in prize money. 

The Australian returned to the media limelight on Friday by attending a special event to announce the return of the Brisbane International next year. It will be the first time the tournament has been held since the COVID pandemic with the women’s draw being increased from 32 to 48. However, no such changes will be made to the men’s draw. There will be a record prize money pool of AUS$3.1M. 

For those hoping that Barty might have a change of heart and return to competitive action at her home event in Brisbane, they are going to be disappointed. 

“I don’t have the time – I don’t have the time to train, I don’t have the time to prepare, and I have so many great memories out on this court, and now I just get to create new memories,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Barty as saying. 

“I’m certainly not coming out of retirement. Pat (Rafter) may be more likely than me.”

Earlier this year Caroline Wozniacki announced her return to tennis following a three-year retirement from the sport. Despite playing in only two WTA tournaments beforehand, she reached the fourth round of the US Open where she was defeated by Coco Gauff who went on to win the title. Meanwhile, Elina Svitolina returned to the Tour following the birth of her first child and reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon. 

Barty has previously said she would like to remain involved in tennis by helping support the rising stars of the game in her home country. Currently, Australia doesn’t have any players in the top 100 on the women’s Tour. In contrast, there are nine Australians in the top 100 on the men’s Tour. 

“It’s depth, you have to play at your top level, you have to be consistent across a 52-week calendar to keep your ranking up with the top of the world,” she said.
“I think it’s exciting for the women’s game, it creates hunger, passion and drive for girls wanting to be the best and knowing there’s an opportunity to take that top spot.
“There’s obviously not as many girls in the top 100 as we would like, but there’s plenty coming through that are learning their craft, developing.
“It takes time to understand how you think you can fit in, how you think you can grow into your play. I’m excited for the next five or 10 years to see where they can get to.”

The Australian tennis season will begin on December 29th with the United Cup. A mixed-team competition that will be held in Sydney and Perth. Two days later, the first singles events in Brisbane and Adelaide will get underway. 

The 2024 Australian Summer of Tennis calendar 

United Cup
Venue: Perth – RAC Arena, Sydney – Ken Rosewall Arena
Group Stage – 29 December 2023 to 5 January 2024
Finals – 6 to 7 January 2024, more details to be announced soon
Category: ATP / WTA international mixed team competition

Brisbane International
31 December 2023 to 7 January 2024
Venue: Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane
Category: WTA 500 / ATP 250
Draw size: WTA – 48 singles / 24 doubles; ATP – 32 singles, 24 doubles

Canberra International
31 December 2023 to 6 January 2024
Venue: Canberra Tennis Centre, Canberra
Category: ATP Challenger 125 / WTA 125
Draw size: ATP – 32 singles, 16 doubles; WTA – 32 singles, 16 doubles

Adelaide International
8 to 13 January 2024
Venue: The Drive, Adelaide
Category: WTA 500 / ATP 250
Draw size: WTA – 32 singles, 16 doubles; ATP – 28 singles, 24 doubles
 

Hobart International
8 to 13 January 2024
Venue: Domain Tennis Centre, Hobart
Category: WTA 250
Draw size: 32 singles, 16 doubles

AO Opening Week, including Australian Open qualifying (8 to 12 January)
8 to 14 January 2024
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne
Category: Grand Slam 
Draw size: Q128 singles

Australian Open
15 to 28 January 2024
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne
Category: Grand Slam
Draw size: 128 singles, 64 doubles 

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Jack Draper Stuns Tiafoe in Stuttgart; Becomes New British Number One

The Brit serves up astonishing 31 aces in just 17 service games

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Britain’s Jack Draper was pushed all the way before beating defending champion Frances Tiafoe in a third set tie-breaker to reach the semi-finals of the Boss Open in Stuttgart today – a result which also makes him the new British number one.

Draper’s biggest wins of his career came when he defeated world number five Stefanos Tsitsipas in Montreal last year as a qualifier, and also beating Felix Auger-Aliassime in reaching the US Open third round. However, today’s victory over Tiafoe confirms his ascent to the top spot in the British rankings, something which is extremely proud of.

“It’s an incredible privilege, an honour to be in that position,” he said afterwards. “I’ve been so lucky to have guys like Andy Murray, Cam Norrie and Dan Evans ahead of me all these years and they’re still in the mix pushing me, so it’s a real honour, a big milestone.”

Games went with serve in the opening set until Tiafoe broke when the scores were even at five games all. Tiafoe, whose three ATP titles have come on all three surfaces, survived a break back point in the next game to take the set with 15 winners and an impressive 71% of first serves in. The payers stopped briefly for a rain delay at the start of the second set.

“It was difficult, it wasn’t easy after the first set, I thought Frances played a really good game, just the one break.” Said Draper. “Going off, I was very frustrated, but then I came back really strong, I knew I had my opportunities and I knew I would have some more. I’m really happy with the way I served and competed and how brave I was at the end.”

As the second set continued, Draper missed two breakpoints when 4-3 ahead including a huge chance when he pushed his opponent out wide and approached the net – but put too much on his drop volley which Tiafoe punished. Draper had been serving unbelievably throughout the set with 11 aces overall, and blitzed through another love service game to go 5-4 up and apply some scoreboard pressure.

In the next game he hit a strong forehand up the line to win the crucial first point and then chased down a drop shot to hit another flashy winner to go 0-30 ahead. Tiafoe won the next point but then double faulted to give Draper set points – and he converted with yet another superb forehand up the line to level the contest at a set all.

Both players held serve easily at the start of the third but then tested each other out as the set progressed. Tiafoe fought through a deuce game and got to 30 all on Draper’s serve but the Brit averted the danger. Draper missed a match point when 5-4 up with a missed return but entered the tie-break in good shape – his first serve was almost unplayable winning over 85% when in.

“I’m incredibly happy with the win. I’ve lost all my last three third set tie-breakers so to come through today was really amazing, I’m really proud of my effort. I’m really happy with the way I served and the way I played; it was a really high-quality match. Frances was serving very well himself so to serve the way I did; it was a really big positive for me.”

Draper now goes on to face another American Brandon Nakashima who progressed after Jan-Lennard Struff withdrew with sickness. Speaking about his next opponent who was born in the same year as Draper, he said: “He’s someone who is an incredibly good young player, a really exciting talent, I think he had a lot of injuries last year like myself but he’s been rising this year and playing a lot of matches. Like everyone here, they’re all amazing players and it will be a tough battle.”

After the match, Draper spoke to Sky Sports and elaborated further about the positive influence of the other British top five, and about the Euro 2024 tournament beginning this evening.

“Those guys have all inspired me to be better. Obviously, Andy is a two-time Wimbledon and Olympic champion and has achieved so much in the game. For me he’s one of the greatest players. I’ve learned so much from those guys, the professionalism, the discipline and they’ve always been really good for me, just as a young player looking up to them and copying what they do so I’m very grateful for that.”

“[In the football]: Hopefully England can do one better than three years ago because we did well to get to the final. We have an incredibly strong team. It’s going to be a lot of tough matches but hopefully they can pull through.

On the other side of the draw, former champion Matteo Berrettini faced qualifier James Duckworth.  The Australian, who reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2021, could only manage 64% of first serve points won and committed 16 unforced errors while also facing eight breakpoints. A single break of serve in both sets was enough for the Italian to move forward into the semis, as he won 6-4, 7-5 with another strong serving display.

“It was a really solid match, especially on my serve, I didn’t give him any breakpoints,” said Berrettini afterwards. “I felt like the rhythm on the serve was really good, on grass it’s really important and in the right moments I stepped in and was more aggressive. It’s really important to put a lot of returns in and that’s what I tried to do and it worked out, and so I’m happy for that.

When asked why he was so hard to beat on the faster surface he replied, “you should ask my opponents that! I think obviously for my weapons, my serve, it pays off on grass to play aggressively and that’s what I like to do. I’m using the slice as well on the backhand side and it’s important to play good in the important moments and being able to put pressure on your opponent when you’re serving is really important, and I think that’s the key. And when I step on grass, I feel like I want to play for hours and hours so here I am”

The 28-year-old is a big football fan, and was also asked about whether he would watch the opening match of the tournament. “Germany is playing tonight so I will watch tomorrow’s match. I love Germany but to supporting Germany is a little bit too much! Tomorrow is the start [for Italy] so good luck to the guys. Three years ago, we had really good memories during this time, so let’s see!”

Following Struff’s earlier withdrawal against Nakashima, it meant there was only one other quarter final today where Lorenzo Musetti progressed despite dropping the first set 4-6 to Hungarian Alexander Bublik. The Italian raced through the second set 6-1, and when he broke serve to go 1-0 ahead in the decider, Bublik retired.

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Rafael Nadal Announces Wimbledon Withdrawal, Will Play Bastad Ahead Of Olympics

Rafael Nadal has announced his schedule ahead of the Olympic Games.

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Rafael Nadal has announced that he will be playing the ATP 250 event in Bastad ahead of the Olympic Games as he will once again withdraws from Wimbledon.

The Spaniard is set for a massive summer as he competes in singles and doubles at the Olympic Games.

It was announced yesterday that he and Carlos Alcaraz will team up in the doubles event in Paris as Nadal searches for his third gold medal.

However Nadal’s big summer before the Olympics has been slightly altered in order to have the best preparations possible for the big event.

This is as Nadal has announced his withdrawal from Wimbledon with the Spaniard not playing the event since withdrawing from his 2022 semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.

In more surprising news though Nadal announced on social media that he will be playing the ATP 250 event in Bastad, Sweden ahead of the Olympic Games, “During my post match press conference at Roland Garros I was asked about my summer calendar and since then I have been practising on clay. It was announced yesterday that I will play at the summer Olympics in Paris, my last Olympics,” Nadal explained on X.

“With this goal, we believe that the best for my body is not to change surface and keep playing on clay until then. It’s for this reason that I will miss playing at The Championships this year at Wimbledon.

“I am saddened not to be able to live this year the great atmosphere of that amazing event that will always be in my heart, and be with all the British fans that always gave me great support. I will miss you all.

“In order to prepare for the Olympic Games, I will play the tournament in Bastad, Sweden, a tournament that I played earlier in my career and where I had a great time both on and off the court. Looking forward to seeing you all there. Thank you.”

Nadal last competed at Bastad in 2005, where he won the title defeating Tomas Berdych in the final.

The tournament will take place the week after Wimbledon on the 15th of July with world number one Jannik Sinner scheduled to participate there as well.

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Rafael Nadal And Carlos Alcaraz To Team Up In Olympic Gold Bid

Rafael Nadal has been confirmed to compete at his third Olympic Games in Paris.

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Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz will team up and represent Spain in the upcoming Olympic Games.

The news was announced by Davis Cup captain David Ferrer at a press conference as he stated that Nadal and Alcaraz would team up at the Olympic Games.

Nadal has won Gold at the last two Olympic Games he has participated in and will fancy his chances of further success at Roland Garros, where he won 14 Grand Slam titles.

Meanwhile Alcaraz recently won the Roland Garros title in Paris to claim his third Grand Slam title.

Speaking about the Olympics Alcaraz stated that he is prioritising winning gold in Paris, “The Olympic Games are every four years and it’s a special tournament where you’re not only playing for yourself, but for a country, representing every Spaniard,” Alcaraz was quoted by The Score as saying.

“I think this year I’d choose Olympic gold.”

In addition to Nadal Pablo Carreno Busta, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Marcel Granollers complete the team.

On the women’s team Sara Sorribes Tormo and Cristina Bucsa will represent Spain while Paula Badosa has decided to use her last two protected rankings at Wimbledon and US Open, so will not be competing in Paris.

The tennis event at the Olympic Games begins on the 27th of July and concludes on the 4th of August.

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