Tagged in: ATP

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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Federer out for rest of 2020 after injury setback

Roger Federer revealed on Wednesday that a setback to his injured knee will require him to miss the rest of the 2020 season.

Federer, currently ranked No. 4 in the world, posted the announcement on Twitter. Federer, 38, originally had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in February, shortly after his semifinals loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.

The recovery time would have required him to miss every tournament through the French Open — the entire clay court season. With the tour being suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and numerous tournaments either canceled or rearranged, it was possible that he could have returned from his knee injury without missing anything.

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Unfortunately, Federer’s injury setback required him to have an additional arthroscopic procedure on his knee.

With the tour season shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he’d rather spend his time recovering and getting fully healthy for the 2021 season.

Federer did something similar in 2016. He sat out the second half of the year after having surgery on a balky left knee and returned with authority in January 2017 by beating Rafael Nadal and winning the Australian Open. He also sat out clay court season in 2017 and 2018 to rest up for Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

“Much like I did leading up the 2017 season, I plan to take the necessary time to be 100% ready to play at my highest level,” Federer wrote in his post. “I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly but, I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of the 2021 season.”

The ATP tour is currently postponed until at least the end of July amid the pandemic with organizers deciding to cancel Wimbledon this year. The US Open is still scheduled to go ahead on August 31 with the postponed French Open expected to start on September 20.

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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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Kyrgios gets 16 weeks’ probation by ATP Tour

Nick Kyrgios has been handed a suspended ban of 16 weeks and an additional fine of $25,000 for “aggravated behavior” following an investigation by the ATP.

The 24-year-old Australian, one of the most combustible characters in tennis, was fined $113,000 over a meltdown in Cincinnati last month and courted more trouble with the governing body of men’s tennis at the US Open describing it as corrupt.

In a statement, the ATP said: “The investigation found a pattern of behavior related to Kyrgios’s verbal abuse of officials and/or spectators in the past 12 months that constitutes a violation.” It added the player had five working days to appeal. The fine and suspension are deferred pending Kyrgios’s compliance with a set of conditions which will apply at ATP and Challenger Tour events during a six-month probationary period.

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Some of the conditions include no further code violations that result in a fine for verbal or physical abuse of officials, fans or any others on court or on site and unsportsmanlike conduct and any obscenity directed at officials. He was also told to seek “continued support” from a mental coach during tournaments and to consult a professional specializing in behavioral management in the off-season.

“Everyone, I can still play,” wrote Kyrgios on social media. “I just have to keep a lid on my behavior, that’s all.”

Kyrgios, who has won titles in Acapulco and Washington this year, had picked up the initial fine for unsportsmanlike conduct, verbal abuse and an audible obscenity in Cincinnati after arguing with the chair umpire and smashing two rackets during his second-round defeat by Russia’s Karen Khachanov.

He confirmed on Thursday before the ATP’s statement that he would miss events in Beijing and Shanghai after aggravating a shoulder injury he originally suffered at the Laver Cup.

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