Category Archives: Tennis

Murray out of US Open in straight sets defeat

The Canadian, 20, destroyed the double Olympic champion in ruthless style to win 6-2 6-3 6-4 in two hours and seven minutes.  

The No.15 seed hit 52 winners – versus only nine by Murray – and did not face a break point.  

It was a chastening loss for Murray, 33, in his first Grand Slam back with a metal hip. 

But the three-time Major winner, who was playing only his second event of the year, stated: “I would say even after tonight I’m more positive about what I could do in Grand Slams than I was before I came over here.  

“You guys obviously don’t know how I was feeling even just a couple of months ago.  “So to come over here and play, you know, I played a couple of tough matches in Cincinnati and I played certainly one very tough match here, and my right hip felt good. That’s really, really positive. 

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“There are other things that need to get better, but I would say that I’m more positive now than what I was a couple of months ago, that’s for sure. 

“In terms of winning Grand Slams again, that’s going to be extremely difficult to do.  

“It was hard enough when I had two normal hips. So it will be difficult, but I’ll keep trying, like, why not? Why shouldn’t I try my hardest to do that? And if I don’t, that’s all right. But I might as well shoot for the stars. And if I don’t get there, then that’s all right. But I’m trying my best to get the most out of what my body gives me now. 

“I’m ranked 115, 120 in the world and my game reflects that just now. So I’ll need to get better if I want to move up the rankings and be more competitive.” 

Murray defeated world No.7 Alex Zverev at the Western & Southern Open last week and came through an epic five-set victory over Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round. 

And he now plans to fly home before playing the French Open which begins on September 27.

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Serena wins, Venus falls in 1st round at US Open

Making quick work of an opponent for a change, Serena Williams wrapped up her 102nd career US Open match victory to break a tie with Chris Evert for the most in the professional era. Then Williams headed back out to the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands Tuesday night, her dog in tow.

Williams had a match to watch – her older sister’s, which did not work out as well. Serena Williams, who turns 39 this month, overpowered Kristie Ahn 7-5, 6-3. But Venus Williams, who is 40, lost in the US Open’s first round for the first time in 22 appearances, beaten 6-3, 7-5 by No. 20 Karolina Muchova.

It is the fourth time in the past five Grand Slam tournaments that Venus exited in her opening match.

“I just ran out of time today,” Venus stated. Venus, who won two of her seven major singles championships in New York, was trying to become only the third woman in her 40s to win a US Open singles match.

“We would have never thought we would still be out here, to be honest. I love my job. At the end of the day, I love what I do. I’ve always said, ‘You can’t do it forever’. One of these days, it’s going to end,” Serena said after delivering 13 aces and dropping only six points on her serve.

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She has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most in the professional era, which started in 1968; only Margaret Court collected more, with 24. Six of Serena’s trophies came at the US Open, and she also was the runner-up four times, including each of the past two years.

Entering Tuesday, Serena had been 3-2 since tennis matches resumed after a hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic – and all five went three sets. So Tuesday’s match was a welcome change. “It’s been years – since the ’90s – since I won a match in straight sets,” Serena joked.

“I’ve been playing a ton of tight matches. I felt like, all right, I just wanted to be ‘Serena-focused’ from the first point to the last point, no matter what happens,” she said.

Her career mark at the hard-court event is 102-13, a winning percentage of .887. “In a weird way, I feel like every time I come here, I’m being told I broke another record. It’s cool. I don’t think I appreciate it enough, which is unfortunate. But I’m in the middle of a Grand Slam, so it’s not the time to be focused for me on records when I’m thinking about winning a tournament,” Serena stated.

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Djokovic avoids upset bug in New York

Bothered by a bad neck that a trainer massaged twice, Novak Djokovic double-faulted seven times and trailed by a break in each set before avoiding the rash of upsets at the Western & Southern Open by taking the last four games for a 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over Ricardas Berankis on Monday.

The No. 1-ranked Djokovic was playing his first ATP match in six months because of the coronavirus pandemic. He withdrew from the doubles event on Sunday because of his neck.

“I’m trying to deal with it on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s been like that for the past three or four days.”

Djokovic improved to 19-0 in 2020 as he prepares to seek a sixth title in the past eight Grand Slam tournaments when the US Open begins in a week. That major championship’s site in Flushing Meadows is hosting the Ohio-based Western & Southern Open as part of an unusual doubleheader with no spectators.

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Djokovic got by, even though he was wincing and stretching his neck between points.

He wound up lying on his back — with a medical mask and protective glasses on his face — while having his neck manipulated after the first set.

While the tours were shut down, Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 in June after a series of no-social-distancing exhibition matches that he organized in Serbia and Croatia.

As tennis ramps up — this is the first tournament of the resumption for the men; the women returned earlier this month — there has been a host of surprises, including defending women’s champion Madison Keys’ 6-4, 6-1 departure versus Ons Jabeur in an hour Monday night.

No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem, a three-time major finalist, wasn’t competitive in a 6-2, 6-1 defeat to Filip Krajinovic, and No. 5 Alexander Zverev hit 11 double faults — five in his last two service games — while being defeated by Andy Murray 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

Like Djokovic, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka emerged with difficult victories, and two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, the No. 6 seed, lost Monday. Each of the top two women’s seeds, Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin, were defeated Sunday.

Djokovic next meets American Tennys Sandgren, a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (5) winner over No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, who accumulated 15 double faults. Another American, Reilly Opelka, eliminated No. 9 seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 7-6 (4).

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Halep defeats Mertens to win Prague title

World number two Simona Halep said she will reveal on Monday whether she will play at the U.S. Open.

Speaking after her triumph over Elise Mertens in the Prague Open final, the 28-year-old Romanian said “she just needed her time” to make a decision.

Halep was playing her first event since coronavirus pandemic shut down tennis in March, picking up where she left off six months ago when she won the title in Dubai.

After some rusty performances during the week, Halep found her groove to win 6-2 7-5 and said she was encouraged by her form and the health protocols put in place in Prague.

“We felt really safe here and all the rules were respected,” she told reporters. “It’s a bit stressful but the fact that everyone was good these 10 days means everything was done well.”

Halep had struggled past Polona Hercog in her first match of the week and was also far from her best versus Barbora Krejcikova and compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu. But apart from some understandable fatigue, she looked far more like herself versus Belgian Mertens, winning in one hour 33 minutes to earn her 21st career WTA trophy.

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Mertens blazed into a 2-0 lead with a flurry of winners, but Halep found her range from the baseline responded by reeling off seven successive games to take control.

Halep did not have things all her own way though and was broken back early in the second set as Mertens again went on the attack. A wobbly service game permitted Halep to move a break ahead again in the fifth game, although Mertens retaliated again to level the second set at 4-4.

Halep broke to lead 6-5 though and finished it off with a heavy forehand.

“Second set I was 4-2 up but dead and felt very tired,” she said. “But today, mentally I was really strong which allowed me to win in two sets.”

With world number one Ash Barty and 2019 U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal, as well as a host of other top players, already deciding against playing at Flushing Meadows, organizers will be hoping Halep says yes.

Halep has appeared reluctant to make the trip to the U.S., which is still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, but said this week she needed to see what “changes” the organizers would make in terms of “travelling and stuff”.

The U.S. has around 5.5 million cases of COVID-19 and almost 172,000 people have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Concerns remain whether players would face mandatory quarantine if they travel to Europe from the U.S. for claycourt events in September, although Halep said she now believed that players would not need to quarantine. U.S. Open organizers are creating a bio-secure bubble in New York with tough protocols to hold the tournament from Aug. 31 without fans.

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Djokovic: I will break Grand Slam record

Novak Djokovic maintains that he will win the most Grand Slam titles and become the longest-reigning world No. 1 by the time he is ready to retire.

Djokovic’s 17 Grand Slam titles are three shy of Roger Federer and two behind Rafael Nadal. Djokovic’s total number of weeks at No. 1 rests at 282, which trails Federer (310) and Pete Sampras (286).

“I’m always very confident in myself,” Djokovic said during an interview on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger.”

“I believe I can win the most slams and break the record for longest No. 1. Those are definitely my clear goals.” Djokovic, who is ranked No. 1 in the world, was on a roll prior to the sports world being brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic. He captured the ATP Cup with Serbia, an eighth Australian Open title and a fifth victory at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

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Djokovic, soon to turn 33, might have to make a decision should it become mandatory for tennis players to be vaccinated against COVID-19, once the treatment is established.

“Personally, I am opposed to vaccination, and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” Djokovic said last month while talking to other Serbian athletes in a Facebook live chat.

“But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision. I have my own thoughts about the matter, and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don’t know.

“Hypothetically, if the season was to resume in July, August or September, though unlikely, I understand that a vaccine will become a requirement straight after we are out of strict quarantine, and there is no vaccine yet.” Medical experts are working overtime to prepare a vaccine for COVID-19, but a ready-for-market vaccination is not expected until 2021.

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Tennis club apologizes for letting Djokovic train

The tennis club where Novak Djokovic broke confinement rules in Spain stated Tuesday it mistakenly let the top-ranked Serb to practice and apologized for the error.

Djokovic released a video of him training on Monday in apparent violation of Spain’s current rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The video posted on Instagram showed Djokovic exchanging shots with another man at the club in the coastal city of Marbella, where the Serb has been staying for the past several weeks.

Djokovic filmed the video while hitting shots and wrote he was “so happy to play on clay .. well, just for a bit with my phone in the hands.”

Spain has eased some of the lockdown measures that had been in place since mid-March, allowing professional athletes to return to practice, but most training centers and sports facilities must stay closed until next week.

“We are sorry that our interpretation of the regulation could have been erroneous, and this could have inconvenienced Mr. Djokovic or any other citizen acting in good faith,” the Puente Romano Marbella Tennis Club said in a statement.

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The statement, which was relayed by Djokovic’s management team, said the club got a request from the player to practice and gave him the go-ahead with the “understanding that from May 4 all professional sports players were authorized to train.” The club said it therefore believed he was “permitted to train in our facilities.”

It said it later received a “clarification” from the Spanish tennis federation and “both parties have agreed that training should resume” only next week.

Rafael Nadal stated he also went to train on a court this week, but he did it on private property because the rules weren’t fully clear to him.

Soccer players were among the exceptions who could start training inside sports facilities beginning this week.

Spain has been one of the countries most affected by the pandemic but it started loosening some of its restrictions on movement as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 started to go down recently. The nation went into a lockdown on March 14.

Djokovic recently stated he was against taking a vaccine for the coronavirus if it became mandatory to travel once the pandemic subsides, though he later said he was open to changing his mind.

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Murray, Bertens win virtual Madrid Open titles

The inaugural Madrid Open Virtual Pro tournament turned into a showcase event for Andy Murray and Kiki Bertens.   

Murray won the men’s side of the bracket, though he was given a stiff test from David Goffin before prevailing 7-6 in the championship match. 

Bertens had no such problems in the women’s championship match, cruising past Fiona Ferro 6-1 to virtually defend her Madrid Open title.

Murray got a bye into the final when his semifinal competitor Diego Schwartzman had internet issues that prevented him from connecting to the Playstation’s online server. 

Per Tennis.com, Murray and Schwartzman played offline in a match that Schwartzman actually won 10-6 in a super-tiebreaker, but the Argentinian decided to let Murray move forward.

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“We need to talk with the organization to fix this,” Schwartzman said, via Tennis.com. “You deserve to be in the final. We need to split the prize money we share to the foundations. And then you play the final. I think it’s going to be better for TV for everyone. If you are in Europe, the transmission is better.”

After his first unofficial loss of the tournament, Murray rebounded to hold off Goffin with a forehand winner on match point. 

The win marks Murray’s first tournament victory of any sort since the European Open last October. He didn’t appear in any official ATP events this year due to an injured pelvis.  

Bertens ended Caroline Wozniacki’s comeback in the semifinal with a 7-5 victory. She had a difficult final hurdle to get over to defend her title. Ferro went undefeated in group play and survived a tiebreak versus Donna Vekic in the quarterfinal. 

The women’s championship match didn’t offer nearly as much drama for Bertens as her semifinal bout. Ferro does have a gripe about match point when the connection lagged, keeping her from being able to return Bertens’ serve.

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Nicolas Jarry receives 11 month doping ban from ITF

Top 100 tennis player Nicolas Jarry was given an 11-month doping ban by the International Tennis Federation on Monday, stemming from a failed test at the Davis Cup Finals in November.

In separate statements, Jarry, a 24-year-old from Chile, stated he “accepted” the penalty, which will keep him from playing until Nov. 15, while the ITF said it “accepted” his explanation that two banned substances found in his urine sample came from vitamins made in Brazil.

His suspension comes while tennis – like nearly every sport around the globe – is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. All sanctioned professional tournaments have been postponed or canceled until at least mid-July.

“Extending these legal processes would only add more stress and uncertainty to my professional future,” Jarry stated.

The ITF ruled that Jarry “bore no significant fault or negligence for his violation.” But it makes players responsible for what is found in their bodies.

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The World Anti-Doping Agency found ligandrol and stanozolol in Jarry’s examination; stanozolol is a steroid, and ligandrol can act like a steroid.

“It is apparent that the consumption of bespoke supplements, in particular those made in compound pharmacies in South America, carries with it a significant degree of risk for sportsmen and women who are subject to anti-doping rules,” the ITF statement said, “and the escalating bans that have been imposed on tennis players for such violations have not been adequate to deter other players from taking those risks.”

Jarry is currently ranked 89th.

He reached a career-best No. 38 in singles in July 2019 and has won one ATP title in singles and two in doubles, accumulating about $2 million in prize money as a professional.

Jarry reached the quarterfinals in doubles at the French Open and U.S. Open in 2018.

His last competition before he was provisionally suspended came in singles qualifying at the Adelaide International tuneup tournament for the Australian Open in January. The ITF back-dated the start of his ban to Dec. 16, meaning he will need to forfeit prize money and rankings points earned after that date.

“It has been months of deep pain, and although sometimes everything that happened feels a little unfair, I am trying to learn as much as I can from this situation,” Jarry said. “I know that ultimately I will be stronger from this experience.”

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WTA considering extending Tour

The Women’s Tennis Association is working on boosting players’ earnings when the sport resumes after the coronavirus.

The WTA is also taking into account extending the 2020 season to help players in the lower tiers who have had no opportunity to earn money on the tour since the season was suspended in early March.

“The WTA is diligently working with our tournaments to maximize earning possibilities when the professional tennis circuit is able to resume and is considering an extension to the current 44-week season to enable more tournaments to take place,” the association told Reuters in a statement.

“It is our sincere hope to return to the court as soon as possible – when the health and safety or our players, fans and staff can be guaranteed, we will be back competing.”

The men’s ATP Tour and the WTA suspended all tournaments until June 7th once several countries started to close borders in an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19.

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The International Tennis Federation (ITF), the sport’s governing body, also postponed its lower-tier World Tennis Tour until June 8th.

The WTA season ending finals are scheduled from November 1-8 before the season heads into a break of eight to 10 weeks.

The WTA is well aware that without tournaments and prize money on offer, it leaves several players with financial concerns.

“We wish there was a way everyone, especially those in need the most, could be compensated at the level they were expecting, but the needs are so great and the WTA unfortunately is not in a financial position to do that,” the WTA stated.

“Professional tennis players are independent contractors and not employees of the WTA.  As a result, a player’s compensation is based on on-court competition and when tournaments are not held this puts a pause on their principal revenue flow.

“The WTA fully recognises the challenges these athletes are facing as well as those similar challenges being dealt with from millions of people around the world during this unprecedented situation.”

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Fate of Wimbledon to be decided next week

Organisers of the Wimbledon tennis tournament will decide next week if the event will need to be postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The London-based event is one of the four major ‘Grand Slams’ in the sport and is regarded by many as the most prestigious. It is due to run June 29-July 12 this year.

All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, which runs Wimbledon, posted an update on its website informing that because preparations for the event begin next month, it needs to make a decision shortly on whether to press on with its 2020 edition.

The org said both postponement and cancellation were on the table.

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An emergency meeting of its board is scheduled for next week, and the club explained that it is working with global tennis bodies and other Grand Slams to game plan its next moves.

It added that, “the nature of our surface suggests that postponement is not without significant risk and difficulty”, denoting that a cancellation could be likely. The org also ruled out playing behind closed doors.

“The unprecedented challenge presented by the COVID-19 crisis continues to affect our way of life in ways that we could not have imagined, and our thoughts are with all those affected in the UK and around the world,” stated the club’s chief exec Richard Lewis.

“The single most important consideration is one of public health, and we are determined to act responsibly through the decisions we make. We are working hard to bring certainty to our plans for 2020 and have convened an emergency meeting of the AELTC Main Board for next week, at which a decision will be made.”

The French Open, one of the four Grand Slams, has already postponed its dates from May to September. The other two, the US Open and Australian Open, run in September (before the French’s proposed new dates) and January accordingly.

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