Billie Jean King Says Action Must Be Taken To Improve Tournament Scheduling - UBITENNIS
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Billie Jean King Says Action Must Be Taken To Improve Tournament Scheduling

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WTA co-founder Billie Jean King has called on tennis’ governing bodies to work closer together to address scheduling concerns. 

King, who won 39 Grand Slam titles in singles and doubles during her career, has made the comments ahead of two key events that will take place. The WTA Finals will be held in Cancun, Mexico and will feature the eight highest-ranked players on the women’s Tour. Then in the following week, the Billie Jean King Cup Finals (formerly known as the Federation Cup) will get underway in Seville, Spain. 

The close proximity of the two tournaments has resulted in high-profile names such as Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff deciding to not play in the team competition. Despite announcing a date for the WTA Finals in June, it wasn’t until three months later that the WTA confirmed where it will be held. Making it the second year in a row that organizers have waited until the latter part of the season to finalize details for their season-ending championships. 

“We all need to get together and figure out a better calendar for the players and everybody knowing what’s going to happen, because you can’t start making these decisions, like on the (WTA) Finals, in October or … September,” The Associated Press quoted King as saying earlier this week. “They have to know ahead of time. It’s only fair.”

In recent weeks there has been mass speculation over the WTA Finals and its venue with Saudi Arabia and America previously expressing interest. In September sources told Ubitennis that a multi-year deal for Saudi Arabia to hold the event from 2024 onwards is in the pipeworks. It has been speculated that this deal could be announced during this year’s tournament but this is yet to be confirmed. 

Conchita Martinez is the tournament director of this year’s Billie Jean King Cup finals. The former Wimbledon champion has backed up King’s calls for there to be greater clarity when it comes to the Tour calendar. 

“We need to work together for better solutions.” Said Martinez. 

As for the future, King says she is open to the idea of the women’s team event that is named after being combined with the men’s Davis Cup. Both tournaments are run by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) but there has been no official talk about such a merger taking place in the future. Also finding such a venue that could hold both the men’s and women’s team finale simultaneously would pose a stern challenge for organisers. 

“You know how I am about having the men and women work together,” she said.

The WTA Finals will take place between 29th October – November 5th followed by the BJK Cup Finals between 7-12 November. The two venues are almost 8000 KM apart from each other and there is a seven-hour time difference. 

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French Open: Jack Draper Serves Up Trouble and is Upset by Dutch Qualifier De Jong

Brit Draper loses his longest ever tennis match in only his second five-setter of his career.

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Jack Draper crashed out at the first hurdle at the French Open after a 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 6-3 loss to world number 176 Jesper de Jong – a qualifier who had come through three rounds to reach the main draw – who next faces third seed Carlos Alcaraz. 

In a titanic tussle lasting over four hours, the British number two could not find any rhythm on his serve, getting just 50% of his first deliveries in while winning only 51% of his second serves – resulting in him being broken an alarming nine times over the five sets.

“My serve has been a problem this year,” said Draper after the match. “I’m trying to change it to make it better, and obviously I’ve made those changes in the last few weeks. So, it’s not comfortable, especially in a grand slam playing in a fifth set on a second serve. You know, the confidence isn’t there at the moment on my serve, and it’s a problem I’m going to have to work on with coaches and see where I can make it more consistent because, yeah, it’s really letting me down.”

Dutchman De Jong took the opening two sets and was heading for a surprising routine victory before Draper showed some admirable fight to win the third on a tie-breaker before taking control of the fourth to push the match into a decider after a one-hour rain delay.

Draper, still only 22 with huge potential, still has time to understand how to navigate the fluctuations of long five setters and will be disappointed with the outcome of the fifth when he threw in yet another double-fault at 30-40 down in the seventh game to hand his opponent the initiative.  “I battled my way back, started playing a decent level. There was a lot of ebbs and flows in the match. That’s five-set tennis. I’m kind of learning that the more I play,” he added. 

Elsewhere in other results, sixth seed Andrey Rublev dropped a set in a tough battle against Japan’s Taro Daniel and next faces Spain’s Pedro Martinez, while eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz survived going two sets to one down before coming through easily in five against Shintaro Mochizuki from Japan. 

Bulgaria’s 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov recorded a routine win against American Aleksandar Kovacevic and French veteran, and wildcard Richard Gasquet was arguably more impressive in his straight sets win over Borna Coric of Croatia and potentially plays second seed Jannik Sinner next. 

However, in perhaps the biggest upset of the day, French number one and 17th seed Ugo Humbert lost 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego in a match close to three hours and in front of home fans on Suzanne-Lenglen stadium court. 

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Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard claims his first ATP title in Lyon

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Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard battled past sixth seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-4 1-6 7-6 (9-7) in a thrilling final at the Open Parc tournament in Lyon. 

Mpetchi Perricard saved four break points in the first game of the opening set to hold serve at deuce. Etcheverry converted his third break point in the fifth game and held serve at love to take a 4-2 lead. Mpetchi Perricard won four consecutive games to clinch the first set 6-4. 

Etcheverry broke three times to win the second set 6-1. 

The third set went on serve until the 11th game when Mpetchi Perricard converted his third break point to take a 6-5 lead. Etcheverry broke straight back to draw level to 6-6. Mpetchi Perricard was a point away from defeat at 6-7 in the tie-break of the third set, but he reeled off the final three points to win the tie-break 9-7 on his second championship point. 

Mpetchi Perricard won three Challenger Tour titles this year in Nottingham, Cuernavaca and Acapulco. He beat Lorenzo Sonego, Yoshihito Nishioka, Hugo Gaston and Alexander Bublik en route to his first ATP Tour title in Lyon.

Mpetchi Perricard is the son of footballer player Ghislain Mpetchi, who is of Congolese origin. He sister Daphnée Perricard is also a tennis player. 

“It was crazy. It was a very good final. I was down in the second set, but I managed to do better. I am very happy to win this tournament and now I have a lot of confidence for Roland Garros”, said Mpetchi Perricard.

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Casper Ruud claims the third title of his career in Geneva

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Casper Ruud claimed the third title of his career at the Gonet Geneva Open after his previous triumphs at this tournament in 2021 and 2022. 

Ruud did double duty after rain postponed his semifinal match to Saturday. Ruud saved a match point to beat Flavio Cobolli 1-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) in the semifinal. He returned less than three hours to defeat Tomas Machac 7-5 6-3 in the final. Ruud clinched the ATP Tour title of his career. 

Machac went up a break in the third game of the first set to take a 3-1 lead. Ruud won three consecutive games from 4-5 down with two breaks in the first set after Machac committed a double fault while he was holding a set point on serve at 5-4. 

Ruud broke serve in the second game of the second set. The Norwegian player held on his next service games and served out the win on his first match point in 1 hour and 47 minutes. 

Ruud improved to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against Machac. “It was a challenging week. All the matches are tough, no matter who will play. It was tough to find a groove. The weather has been a bit challenging all week, but today was fantastic. I feel very happy to win again to win again here in Geneva. It’s been a very good season so far”, said Ruud. 

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