Madrid Open Chief Lopez Hits Back At 'Unfair' Accusations Of Sexism At Event - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Chief Lopez Hits Back At ‘Unfair’ Accusations Of Sexism At Event

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The tournament director of the Madrid Open has insisted his event always tries to be fair to everybody after a top player accused officials of giving preferential treatment to men. 

Earlier this week world No.9 Ons Jabeur told reporters that there is still a way to go for gender equality to be achieved in tennis despite it being a leader in women’s sports. The two-time Wimbledon finalist singled out Madrid, as well as the Italian Open, as two tournaments she feels ‘need to respect women more.’ She referred to her personal experiences and the current TV coverage of women’s matches. 

“The way they treat women here and men, they’re completely different. Maybe people from outside, they don’t see it. I’m definitely one of the people that I want to speak up,” said Jabeur.
“Here in Spain, I would love to go to the hotel and open the TV and see a woman’s tennis match.
“I haven’t seen once one tennis match of a woman. Obviously, I understand there are a lot of Spanish (male players) playing, but asking for one match? Even the female Spanish (players) they are not even showing.
“For me it’s really frustrating to see that. How can you inspire young girls without showing any match in that?”

It is not the first time the Madrid Open has been accused of preferential treatment. 12 months ago a series of controversies triggered backlash with the most significant of those being the decision to not allow any speeches from the women’s doubles champions and runners-up. Even though there was in the men’s tournament. In another incident during the 2023 event, Aryna Sabalenka and Carolos Alcaraz received birthday cakes but Sabalenka’s was considerably smaller. 

“Last year, I have to accept that there is things that – for example, that issue with the doubles finals, we apologised and we moved on and everyone’s happy,” tournament director Feliciano Lopez told Sky Sports on Wednesday. 
“We have meetings with WTA players, ATP players, always willing to help and I think this is the most important thing that we move on and there’s a lot of things that we can still do in the future.”

Lopez, who won seven ATP titles and reached a ranking high of No.12 during his playing career, defended his event against criticism from Jabeur by describing her remarks as ‘unfair.’ Pointing out that Madrid issues equal prize money which the WTA aims to implement at every combined 1000 and 500 event by 2027. 

 “I think we did a few things last year that, I mean, shouldn’t happen, I have to say. And we learned from our mistakes,” he continued.
 “But I have to say that we were the same tournament to pay the same prize money to women and men. And so I don’t think it’s fair that someone might think that we are not treating men and women equally,”
“We’re doing a great job I think at that matter so I understand the frustration on certain things because there are a lot of things that can happen during the tournament with transportation, with practice sessions. But we try to be equal, we try to be fair all the time. So I think we have to move on and try to be fair to everyone.”

Lopez has been in charge of the Madrid Open since 2019. He also currently serves as the tournament director of the Davis Cup Finals. 

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

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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