Special Ranking Rule Paves The Way For Nadal, Osaka And Others To Play Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Special Ranking Rule Paves The Way For Nadal, Osaka And Others To Play Australian Open

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The upcoming Australian Open will be a comeback tournament for some players who have been sidelined for weeks or months due to either injury or personal matters. 

A total of 13 players have used the ranking rules to enter the main draw at Melbourne Park next month, according to the official list of entrants that was published on Thursday. The WTA refers to the rule as a special ranking and the ATP labels it as a protected ranking but they are basically both the same. It is a system where players who have been out of action for a long duration can re-enter events using the ranking that they had at the time the last they received prize money at an event.  

In the men’s draw, the most notable player using this system is 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal who has been sidelined from action due to a hip injury. The Spaniard will officially start his comeback during the first week of January at the Brisbane International. He is using a protected ranking of ninth to gain entry into the draw but he will be unseeded. 

“I don’t know at what level (he will play at), I don’t know what to expect, I have no idea, but I don’t care right now,” Nadal said in a video posted on social media.
“I’m just happy to be back and with great excitement to make the effort that is necessary to have fun and I believe that I will be competitive.”

2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic is using a protected ranking of 21 to play. The 35-year-old has only managed to play two tournaments this year due to a persistent knee injury. As a result, the Croat has spiraled down the rankings to outside the top 600. 

Canadian duo Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic are also using the system. Shapovalov hasn’t played since his fourth round exit from Wimbledon due to a knee problem. Meanwhile, Raonic is still able to use the protected ranking rule due to his lengthy absence from tennis due to injury.

Other players in the men’s main draw using a protected ranking are Reilly Opelka and Jiri Vesely. 

The return of Osaka

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In the women’s tournament, two former Grand Slam champions are set to return after becoming mothers for the first time. Naomi Osaka, who won the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021, has a special ranking of 46th. Like Nadal, she will also play a warm-up event in Brisbane. The former world No.1 gave birth to a baby girl in July and last played on the Tour in September 2022. 

Angelique Kerber’s last taste of competitive tennis was at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships where she reached the third round. She welcomed her first child in February this year and is now preparing for a return to the Tour at the age of 35. She is using a special ranking of 31. 

Also using their special rankings are Jennifer Brady, Ajla Tomljanovic, Shelby Rogers, Amanda Anisimova and Caty McNally. 

The Australian Open starts on January 14th and will take place over 15 days for the first time in its history. The full list of main draw entries can be seen HERE

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Daria Kasatkina And Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Lead Calls For VAR In Tennis

There have been calls for VAR to be introduced into the sport.

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Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina have called for VAR to be implemented in tennis.

The calls have came after Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik in Dubai.

As Bublik lead 6-5 in the final set, Rublev shouted in the face of an umpire allegedly swearing in Russian which was picked up by one of the officials.

This saw Rublev be disqualified from the event with Bublik reaching the final in Dubai.

However as a result of the incident players have called for a VAR review system with the video showing inconclusive proof of whether Rublev did swear in Russian.

Leading the calls for such innovation are Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina as the duo called for VAR to be introduced on twitter, “So you can just disqualify a player, take away all his points and money, without even checking the video? What a joke, yet another confirmation that we need VAR in tennis and an electronic appeal system in all tournaments,” Kasatkina said on social media.

VAR has been implemented in football and also a similar system in rugby with mixed results.

It’s clear though that more technology would help umpires identify whether a grounds for disqualification would be necessary.

So far VAR has been trialled at the Next Gen Finals and the Nitto ATP Finals.

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Casper Ruud Overcomes ‘Tough Start’ To Set De Minaur Final In Acapulco

Casper Ruud is into his first ATP 500 final after defeating Holger Rune in three sets.

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Casper Ruud is into his second consecutive final in Mexico after defeating Holger Rune 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Acapulco.

The Norwegian had to overcome an electric start from Rune to prevail in 2 hours and 24 minutes.

It was a clinical performance from Ruud who is now into his second consecutive final in Mexico after reaching the final in Los Cabos last week.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted it was a tough start but he’s pleased to be in another final, “It was a tough start,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“Holger just came out firing bullets from the forehand, from the backhand and I had not too much time to play my game. I was frustrated at times, especially at the end of the first set, beginning of the second.

“I didn’t really feel like I got to play any points how I wanted to, so there was some frustration towards myself, towards my box, because I didn’t feel like we were doing the right thing.

“But luckily with one break in the second, it turned around a bit and in the third set it got a little physical. I think maybe Holger seemed like he was struggling a little bit and started firing even more and a couple of games it went in and he broke me, which is frustrating.

“Some unforced errors crept up on him and I served really well in the last game to close it out.”

Ruud is now into his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco where he will face defending champion Alex De Minaur.

De Minaur overcame Jack Draper after the Brit retired at 4-0 down in the deciding set.

Heading into Saturday’s final, De Minaur leads the head-to-head 1-0 although that was in a completely different scoring format in the Next Gen Finals.

Whatever happens on Saturday, Ruud will return to the world’s top ten.

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Andrey Rublev Disqualified In Dramatic Dubai Semi-Final

Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final in Dubai.

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Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik after being accused of swearing in Russian.

The event took place in Dubai where Rublev had more than enough opportunities to win the match having been 4-2 40-0 up in the deciding set.

However Bublik came back into the match as he caught up with Rublev in what was turning into a fascinating contest.

The score was at 6-5 Bublik when Rublev’s frustrations boiled over when he allegedly told the official at the side of the court that he was a ‘f****** moron’ in Russian.

One of the officials on the sidelines at the side of the court reported the incident and the supervisor ruled that Rublev should be defaulted.

The incident below means that Rublev will now lose all his ranking points and prize money, resulting in Rublev exiting the world’s top five.

An ending that didn’t warrant the dramatic contest and after the match Bublik agreed that the consequences, “I highly doubt Andrey said something crazy,” Bublik was quoted by Sports Illustrated.

“He’s not this kind of guy. But I guess that’s the rules. That’s what they did, they just follow the procedure.”

Bublik will hope for a smoother finish to the final when he takes on Ugo Humbert for the title.

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