Tunisia's Ons Jabeur 'Proud' Of Tennis' Move Into Saudi Arabia - UBITENNIS
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Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur ‘Proud’ Of Tennis’ Move Into Saudi Arabia

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Ons Jabeur says she is bothered by those who are ‘super ignorant’ about Saudi Arabia with the WTA Finals heading to the country later this year. 

The world No.9 has reiterated her support behind the premier event of the women’s Tour heading to the Middle Eastern nation despite concerns raised by some. Critics have accused Saudi Arabia of sportswashing which is the process of using sport to improve a reputation that has been tarnished by wrongdoing. Concerns have been raised about human rights in the country, especially for women and those from the LGBT community. 

Earlier this year, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert co-wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post warning against a move to the country. Prompting anger from Saudi Arabia with its ambassador to America, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, highlighting improvements made to women’s rights in a two-page statement posted on social media. However, Navratilova recently stated that she has no plans to work in the country as a pundit. 

Amid the debate, Jabeur told reporters in Madrid on Saturday that she is ‘proud’ of the WTA Finals being held in Saudi Arabia and believes it will help inspire a new generation of players. 

“I am always honestly biased in this position here and the decision they took. I’m very happy to be there. As an Arab woman, I’m very proud some things are moving there in Saudi,” she said after beating Leylah Fernandez 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. 
“Obviously people could have a different opinion. Where it bothers me is that when some people, they don’t know what’s really happening there, and are super ignorant about what’s really happening in Saudi.
“So as Princess Reema said, You should come to Saudi, be there, and judge yourself.”

One of Jabeur’s sponsors is fitness and welfare brand Kayanee which is owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund. According to the company, their goal is to ‘promote quality of life for women.’ 

“Obviously I wish to see better comments (about Saudi Arabia),” she continued. 
“For me, it always has been about chances, and going there not just to play tennis matches but to give the opportunity especially for younger women to see their role models from before and to believe that they can achieve anything.”

In recent days a series of meetings have been held in Madrid between tennis bosses and representatives from Saudi Arabia concerning the future of the sport. The country has expressed interest in hosting a Masters 1000 event but the ATP had to issue a statement last Friday saying that no official decision has taken place. Should they get the green light, one possibility is the Saudi event could be held in February which would have a massive negative impact on the South American swing. There have also been talks about the proposed Premium Tour. 

Shortly before this year’s Madrid Open began, it was confirmed that the PIF had signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with the tournament. The deal follows similar agreements with events in  Indian Wells, Miami and the Nitto ATP Finals, in addition to the Beijing ATP 500 event, and the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by PIF. The PIF is also a Platinum Partner of the ATP and has naming rights to its official rankings. 

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Novak Djokovic edges Tallon Griekspoor to reach the semifinals in Geneva

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Novak Djokovic saved four set points in the opening set to edge Tallon Griekspoor 7-5 6-1 in 1 hour and 17 minutes reaching the semifinals at the Gonet Geneva Open. 

Djokovic celebrated his 37th birthday on Wednesday by winning his 1100 match on the ATP Tour. 

Griekspoor saved an early break point on Djokovic’s serve in the ninth game of the first set. Djokovic fended off four set points, as he was serving at 4-5 0-40. The top-seed held serve with an ace and a first serve.  Djokovic broke serve in the 11th game with two deuce points to take a 6-5 lead. Djokovic held serve to love to seal  the first set. 

Djokovic won seven consecutive games  to build up a 4-0 lead with two breaks of serve. Griekspoor got back on the board by hold serve in the fifth game for 1-4. Djokovic won the final eight points and broke for the third time to seal the second set 6-1. 

Djokovic set up a semifinal match against Tomas Machac, who beat US rising star Alex Michelsen 6-3 7-6 (7-2). 

Djokovic beat Machac in a third-set tie-break in Dubai last February. 

“I thought the first set could have gone his way easily because he was a better player for most of the first set. We could have been having a completely different direction of the match if he converted those set points. I was lucky to find some really good serves and from that moment onwards really played some good solid tennis. I was lucky to find some really good serves and from that moment onwards I really played some good tennis. The way I played the second set was really good. I want to thank everybody again for the support and presence today on a colde day”, said Djokovic. 

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Novak Djokovic celebrated his 37th birthday with a win over Yannick Hanfmann in Geneva

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Novak Djokovic beat unseeded player Yannik Hanfmann 6-3 6-3 on his 37th birthday to reach the quarter finals at the Geneva Open. Djokovic became just the third player in the Open Era to win 1100 tour-level matches. 

“That really touched me. I am really happy to win on this special day. The key was the birthday. The birthday probably would not be the same if I did not win the match, but it’s nice to be here for the first time at this tournament, with my family coming here to support as well”, said Djokovic. 

Djokovic earned three break points in the sixth game. The world number 1 player missed consecutive break points, but he converted his third chance with a forehand to take a 4-2 lead. 

Djokovic fended off two break points consolidating the break with a hold for 5-2. The Serbian player hit a forehand drop-shot winner to earn a set point. Hanfmann hit a drop-shot winner to force the game to deuce. Hanfmann earned a break point with a crosscourt winner. Djokovic saved it before earning another break point when Hanfman hit a backhand into the net. 

Djokovic sent a forehand down the line wide to face the fourth break point of the game and the sixth overall. Djokovic hit a backhand winner down the line to force the game to the deuce. Djokovic wasted a set point and had to fend off four break points before the match was interrupted by rain. 

After the match resumed, Djokovic saved a seventh break point and hit consecutive aces to serve out the first set. 

Hanfmann converted his 10th break point to open up a 2-0 lead in the second set. The German player held serve at love to open up a 3-0 lead. Djokovic broke back for 2-3 when Hanfmann sailed a drive. 

Djokovic won four consecutive games breaking serve when Hanfmann hit the net with a backhand. Djokovic sealed the win on his second match point, when Hanfmann hit his running forehand into the net. 

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Flavio Cobolli beats Ben Shelton to reach the quarter final in Geneva

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Flavio Cobolli came back from one set down to beat fourth seed Ben Shelton 4-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 at the Gonet Geneva Open. Cobolli has scored the second top 20 win of his career.

Shelton started the clay season with his second title in Houston and reached back-to-back third rounds in Madrid and Rome. The US player lost to Zhang Zhizhen in Rome. 

Cobolli reached his first Grand Slam third round at the Australian Open last January. During the clay season the Italian player he reached the third round in Madrid and pushed Sebastian Korda to third round in Rome. He beat Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev in straight sets to set up a second round match against Ben Shelton. 

Shelton earned the only break in the seventh game of the first set to serve it out after 38 minutes. The US player went up a set and a break in the third game and held on his serve to take a 4-2 lead. 

Shelton saved three break points at 4-3 in a marathon eighth game, but Cobolli converted his converted his fourth chance with a well-angled pass to draw level to 4-4. Cobolli rallied from 0-30 down to earn a set point. Shelton saved it with a big serve and held a long service game to force a tie-break. Cobolli earned three mini-breaks and dropped just one point to win the tie-break 7-1. 

Cobolli broke serve in the fourth game and saved two break points in the next game to consolidate. Cobolli broke for the second time in the seventh game after a double fault from Shelton. Cobolli hit an ace to bring up three match points. Shelton saved the first chance but Cobolli converted his second chance with another ace to set up a quarter final against Alexander Schevchenko., who reached the last eight, after Emil Ruusuvuori withdrew from the match due to illness. 

Cobolli scored his first top 20 win against Nicolas Jarry at this year’s Australian Open. 

“This year I have played against a lot of lefties. I like to play lefties and you saw today that I am really happy. It was a difficult match, but I am really happy”, said Cobolli. 

Yannik Hanfmann beat Andy Murray 7-5 6-2 in 1 hour and 43 minutes. Hanfmann was leading 7-5 4-1 before the match was interrupted by rain. Hanfmann did not face a break point. The German player broke serve in the 11th game to win the first set 7-5. He broke serve in the third and fifth games and served out the second set on his second match point. 

Hanfmann set up a second round match against world number 1 Novak Djokovic. Denis Shapovalov won 12 of 13 games from 1-4 down to beat Federico Coria. The Canadian player set up a second round match against Tallon Griekspoor, who beat Christophen Eubanks 6-4 1-6 6-3. 

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