Tagged in: ATP

Sam Querrey defends decision to breach COVID-19 protocols in Russia to protect family

American Sam Querrey, who was sanctioned by the ATP for breaching COVID-19 protocols at the St Petersburg Open in October, has defended his actions and said he did what he felt was right as a father and a husband.

Querrey left Russia in a private jet with his wife and baby son after all three tested positive for the virus before the beginning of the tournament, sneaking out of their hotel early in the morning without informing reception.

The ATP, the men’s governing body, handed the 33-year-old a suspended $20,000 fine which will be lifted if Querrey does not commit further breaches of health and safety protocols related to COVID-19 within a probationary six-month period.

“Again, we were very happy at the hotel,” Querrey told Sports Illustrated in an interview. “We were distancing ourselves. We weren’t around anyone, we were staying in the room, and never had a complaint, or a problem.

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“So I said, ‘Please try to have the doctors come the next morning at 10 a.m., not Sunday night at 10 p.m.’ The tour finally agreed to that, and because we were still going to get help from the tour, the embassy.

“But I kinda had to make a decision between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. the next day. I had my wife there, and I had my baby there, and as a human decision, I was like, ‘Hey, I don’t feel comfortable with this.’ So we made the decision to charter a plane and leave.”

Querrey said he was ready to quarantine in the tournament hotel for two weeks after testing positive but after two days he was told he was no longer welcome at the hotel and doctors would determine if they had to quarantine in a hospital instead.

The American said lack of clarity made it necessary for him, his wife, and their seven-month-old son to fly to London and quarantine at an Airbnb.

“I felt as a father and a husband there’s a human element to this, and I had to do what I feel like is right,” he said, adding that the flight cost him about $40,000 plus and he had to also pay for the stay in London for two weeks.

“I wasn’t willing to let our family go to a hospital for a minimum of two weeks where we were at.” Querrey stated he was “frustrated” with the media coverage of the incident and added: “It made it seem like I just got COVID and bounced. I didn’t feel how it was portrayed after that was fair.”

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Rafael Nadal outlasts Stefanos Tsitsipas to make ATP Finals semifinals

Rafael Nadal advanced to the semifinals at the ATP Finals for the first time in five years and knocked out the defending champion in the process, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 Thursday at the O2 Arena.

It is the sixth time in 10 appearances that Nadal has reached the semifinals of the season-ending tournament, which is the biggest title he has yet to win in his illustrious career.

Tsitsipas won it on his first try last year but exited after a second loss of the group stage, done in by a shaky serve in the third set, during which he was broken three times.

Earlier, the already eliminated Andrey Rublev beat US Open champion Dominic Thiem 6-2, 7-5 in a contest that had little real consequence for either player. Thiem was assured of winning the group after defeating Tsitsipas and Nadal in the first two rounds.

Nadal never looked threatened on his serve versus Tsitsipas until the final game of the second set, when he double-faulted to hand the Greek player a way back into the match. “I think I was winning my serves quite comfortably until that moment,” Nadal said. “After that, everything changed.”

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Suddenly, neither player could hold serve as the third set started with three consecutive breaks, with Nadal taking a 2-1 lead. The Spaniard finally held and broke again for a 5-2 lead before clinching the victory on his second match point.

Nadal, who improved to 6-1 versus Tsitsipas, will play Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals on Saturday. Thiem will face the winner between Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev on Friday.

The early match between Thiem and Rublev was delayed after the lights went out unexpectedly at the O2 Arena.

Thiem was short of energy, too, when play eventually began.

“It was difficult to keep that amazing intensity like I had in the first two matches,” Thiem said. “I wanted to win the match, 100 percent, but the first two matches were pretty tough, pretty long.

“So with the fact I was already qualified, in the back on my mind it was difficult to keep the intensity alive.”

Rublev played like someone with nothing to lose, overwhelming Thiem with his serve and fierce groundstrokes to take the Austrian’s first two service games and clinch the first set in less than 26 minutes. He dropped only three points on serve and had no unforced errors in that set.

The second set was much closer, though Rublev was on top and serving at 4-3 when he lost eight consecutive points to get back on serve.

Rublev regrouped, broke Thiem after a long next game featuring some intense rallies, then served out the match for his first victory in his debut at the season-ending tournament.

“It was not easy for Dommy,” said Rublev, who has won five events on the tour this year in a breakthrough season. “I think he [was] focused on the semis. I wish him good luck — he deserves to be where he is and he deserves to win the title.”

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Alexander Zverev defeats Diego Schwartzman in straight sets for back-to-back Cologne titles

COLOGNE, GERMANY – OCTOBER 25: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Alexander Zverev of Germany celebrates during day seven of the Bett1Hulks Championship tennis tournament at Lanxess Arena on October 25, 2020 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Alexander Zverev’s nickname is ’Sascha’, but for now you can call him ‘The King Of Cologne’.

The World No. 7 acquired his second title in as many weeks in the German city on Sunday, defeating second seed Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-1 for the bett1HULKS Championship crown.

“I know in finals you have to play your best tennis to have a chance, so obviously [I am] extremely happy with my performance. Probably the best match of the past two weeks here. Diego is someone that you can really struggle with. He is somebody who doesn’t miss from the baseline,” Zverev said. “You really have to win the match against him and I felt like that’s what I did.” 

When Zverev arrived at the bett1HULKS Indoors last week, he was fresh off a disappointing fourth-round loss at Roland Garros versus Jannik Sinner. But the German made himself at home in more ways than one in Cologne, winning all eight of his matches to double his ATP Tour title count in Germany to four.

The 23-year-old is now a 13-time tour-level champion. “Being back in Germany is obviously amazing,” Zverev said. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

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In both Cologne ATP 250s, Zverev saved his best tennis for the championship match.

Last Sunday, he cruised by Felix Auger-Aliassime. But his best performance from his two tournament victories came versus the red-hot Schwartzman.

Zverev played scintillating tennis, aggressively going after the ball to hit through the speedy Argentine. The German sometimes relies on his defensive skills to win matches, but he took it to the World No. 9 without hesitation, winning all seven of his service games en route to an impressive one-hour, 11-minute triumph.

“Today was a day when I felt like I could try things out on the court and a lot of things were working,” Zverev said. “I’m obviously very happy with how I played.”

Zverev fittingly ended the match with a forehand winner, earning 250 FedEx ATP Ranking points and €13,320 in prize money.

“It’s getting better,” Zverev said of his form during the trophy ceremony. “I think we’re going to be on top of the game very soon.” This is the third time Zverev has captured an ATP Tour title in back-to-back weeks. He also did so in August 2017 (Washington, Montreal) and May 2016 (Munich, Madrid).

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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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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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