Category Archives: Tennis

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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French Open postponed, now set for September

French Open 2020, the claycourt Grand Slam that was initially scheduled for May, will now be held between September 20 and October 4, the Roland Garros said on Tuesday.

The French Tennis Federation has determined to postpone the French Open tennis tournament by over 3 months due to the coronavirus pandemic which has brought the whole world to a standstill.

The Roland Garros will now be played from September 20 till October 4 rather than May 24-June 7.

“The whole world is affected by the public health crisis connected with COVID-19. In order to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in organising the tournament, the French Tennis Federation has made the decision to hold the 2020 edition of Roland-Garros from 20th September to 4th October 2020.

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“Though nobody is able to predict what the situation will be on 18th May, the current confinement measures have made it impossible for us to continue with our preparations and, as a result, we are unable to hold the tournament on the dates originally planned.

“In order to act responsibly and protect the health of its employees, service providers and suppliers during the organisation period, the FFT has chosen the only option that will allow them to maintain the 2020 edition of the tournament while joining the fight against COVID-19.

“At this important period in its history, and since the progress of the stadium modernisation means the tournament can be held at this time, the FFT was keen to maintain the 2020 tournament. Therefore, this year’s Roland-Garros will be held from 20th September to 4th October,” French Tennis Federation informed in a statement.

This is the second high-profile sports event which was postponed on Tuesday after the UEFA Euro 2020 and Copa America football tournaments.

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ATP, ITF announce six-week shutdown over virus

The ATP Tour reported Thursday that its tennis tour would be shutting down for six weeks out of concern for coronavirus.

The decision was made after the Players Council for both tours met Thursday.

“This is not a decision that was taken lightly and it represents a great loss for our tournaments, players, and fans worldwide,” ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said in a statement. 

“However we believe this is the responsible action needed at this time in order to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health in the face of this global pandemic.

“The worldwide nature of our sport and the international travel required presents significant risks and challenges in today’s circumstances, as do the increasingly restrictive directives issued by local authorities. We continue to monitor this on a daily basis and we look forward to the Tour resuming when the situation improves. In the meantime, our thoughts and well-wishes are with all those that have been affected by the virus.”

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The WTA’s next two events – the Miami Open and the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, South Carolina, were canceled due to the coronavirus.

The WTA released a statement at 3:30 p.m. ET in which chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in part: “The WTA, working alongside our player and tournament leaders, will make a decision in the week ahead regarding the European clay court season.”

On Sunday, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California — one of the biggest events on both tours’ schedules — was canceled after Riverside County officials reported a public health emergency earlier that day.

The Miami Open, the next event on both the ATP and WTA calendars, had announced on Monday that it would proceed as scheduled with matches slated to begin March 23 and run through April 5. That tournament was canceled when Miami mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Miami-Dade County was under a state of emergency. Like Indian Wells, it is one of the sport’s most prestigious and lucrative tournaments, following the four Grand Slams.

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Nadal dominates Fritz for 3rd Mexican Open Title

World number two Rafael Nadal captured his first ATP Tour title of 2020, easily defeating unseeded Taylor Fritz in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, in the final of the Mexico Open on Saturday.

The 33-year-old Nadal, playing in his first tournament since losing in the quarter-finals at the Australian Open last month, didn’t drop a set all week and improved to 19-2 all-time at this event.

He nabbed his third Mexico Open title to go with victories in 2013 and 2005. “I couldn’t be happier. I played a great event from the beginning to the end,” Rafael Nadal said.

“Acapulco was the first big title that I won in my career, so to be able to stay here after 15 years is amazing.

“I can’t thank enough the people who make me feel at home every single time.”

Nadal wasted no time figuring out Fritz’s game in the first career meeting between the two. The 19-time Grand Slam winner made eight unforced errors and needed just one ace but it came in the final match of the second set to get to championship point.

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Nadal closed it out with a blistering serve that handcuffed Fritz and gave Nadal his 85th career title.

Nadal ceded the world number one ranking to Novak Djokovic after the Australian Open, where the Serb conquered a record eighth title.

Nadal could have regained the top spot with a win in Acapulco, but he also needed Djokovic to fail to reach the final in this week’s Dubai event.

Djokovic extended his win streak to 21 matches by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 earlier Saturday to lift the Dubai trophy.

Nadal won the final eight points to take the first set. He seized control by breaking Fritz’s serve in the ninth game to go up 5-4. He then served for the set, winning four straight points.

On set point he hammered a serve which Fritz barely got back. That set up an overhead smash for Nadal which he put away nicely.

Nadal broke Fritz twice in the second set, including the fifth match to go up 3-2. He broke Fritz again to take a 5-4 lead and then served out the match. Nadal has now won a title 17 straight years.

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Monfils claims third Open Sud de France title

Gaël Monfils defeated Vasek Pospisil 7-5, 6-3 on Sunday to win the Open Sud de France title for a third time, equaling French countryman Richard Gasquet’s tournament record.

The ninth-ranked Monfils saved all four break points he faced in winning his first title of the season and ninth of his career.

“Hopefully I can have some more success,” said Monfils, who has won three of his four finals in the southern French city of Montpellier. “I am very pleased about my performance today. I think I played very solid again and I was very happy with the way I handled the key moments.”

Monfils improved to 6-0 in career matches versus Pospisil, ranked No. 132 and still searching for his first career title. He has lost both finals in his career. Monfils became the eighth French champion in 10 editions of the ATP 250 event and the world No. 9 will head to Rotterdam to defend his title next week full of confidence.

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The 33-year-old defeated Daniil Medvedev and Stan Wawrinka in back-to-back matches to lift the trophy last year.

It was a disappointing day for 29-year-old Pospisil, who was looking to capture a first ATP title in his second final, having returned to form following back surgery in January 2019.

The 29-year-old Canadian, blighted by injuries since he reached a career-high ranking of 25th in 2014, is hopeful that his best form is coming back.

“It was an incredible week. I had great wins and I feel like I am definitely improving week by week,” Pospisil said. “I will try to rest now, take a couple of days easy and get ready for the next event.” Monfils earns 250 FedEx ATP Ranking points and €89,435 for lifting the trophy. Pospisil collects 150 ATP Ranking points and €47,105.

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Canberra tournament to relocate due to wildfires

The bushfires still hold the whole of Australia in suspense. At the weekend, a new heat wave threatens to intensify the fires. Temperatures beyond the 40-degree mark and strong winds are expected on Saturday.

Even the tennis tour is not spared the effects of this natural disaster. While donations for the victims of the bush fires were collected as part of the ATP Cup, the Challenger tournament in Canberra even had to be postponed due to the poor air quality and the continuing bush fires.

The new venue is now Bendigo, a city in the state of Victoria. “Over the next few days, it would have been very unlikely that matches would take place. Because the conditions are too unpredictable, we decided to reschedule the event as early as possible,” said the Australian Tennis Association.

In addition to the men’s Challenger tournament, an ITF futures event for women should have taken place in Canberra next week – but nothing will come of it either. The health of everyone involved is simply a priority, according to the Australian Tennis Association.

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Tennis ACT chief executive Kim Kachel said Friday that the decision to move the tournament to Bendigo was made after consultation with the local authorities.

“The health of players, fans, volunteers, staff and stakeholders is our biggest priority at all times,” Kachel said. “Unfortunately, the best advice from the weather and fire experts is that the conditions over the next few days mean it is unlikely there would be any play.

With conditions too unpredictable the decision was made to relocate at the earliest available opportunity.” Bendigo is about 370 miles east of Canberra and in an area of Victoria, which is not badly affected by bushfires.

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Williams, Wozniacki to play doubles in Auckland

Long-time friends Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki will play doubles together for the first time at the WTA Tour’s ASB Classic in Auckland starting on January 6.

Former world No 1 Wozniacki has started her season in Auckland every year since 2015 and has made the hard court tournament the first stop of her short farewell tour.

The 29-year-old was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis shortly after winning the 2018 Australian Open and will retire from tennis after playing the Open in Melbourne next month.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner, has not played doubles with anyone other than her sister Venus since the Fed Cup World Group playoff in 2015 with her last WTA tournament in doubles without Venus was in 2002.

Ciljsters to make comeback in March, Robson undergoes second hip operation, Osaka appoints Fissette as new coach, meanwhile Wozniacki has not played doubles for more than three years.

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Williams was Wozniacki’s bridesmaid at her wedding earlier this year and will play an exhibition in Copenhagen in May – Wozniacki’s final match before retirement.

“We’ve been wanting to play doubles together for a long time but it just hasn’t worked out so I’m really excited that it’s finally going to happen, especially at one of my favourite tournaments on tour,” Wozniacki said. “It’s going to be so much fun!”

“This is a pairing that I think tennis fans have been waiting to see for a long time,” tournament director Karl Budge said Tuesday. “To have Serena and Caroline on court together, on the same side of the net, is an amazing opportunity for tennis fans to see history being made.”

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner, has not played doubles with anyone other than her sister Venus since the Fed Cup World Group playoff in 2015. Her last WTA tournament in doubles without Venus was in 2002.

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