Tagged in: tennis

NY Gov Cuomo gives go-ahead for US Open

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated Tuesday that the U.S. Open tennis tournament will be held in late August as part of the state’s reopening from shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Tennis Association had decided to go forward with its marquee event in New York City without spectators, pending an approval from the state.

Like many sports leagues, the professional tennis tours have been suspended since March because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The U.S. Open normally is each season’s fourth and final Grand Slam tournament but would be the second of 2020, following the Australian Open, which concluded in early February.

“We’re excited about the U.S. Open, (which) is going to be held in Queens, Aug. 31 through Sept. 13. It will be held without fans, but you can watch it on TV – and I’ll take that,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing in Albany. “The tennis authorities are going to be taking extraordinary precautions, but that’s going to take place.”

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The French Open was postponed from May and currently is programed to start a week after the U.S. Open ends.

Wimbledon was canceled altogether for the first time since World War II in 1945.

Even with the go-ahead from the state, one significant question remains for the U.S. Open: Which players actually will participate?

Such top names as both No. 1-ranked players, Novak Djokovic and Ash Barty, and defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal, have expressed reservations about heading to Flushing Meadows, where an indoor tennis facility was used as a temporary home for hundreds of hospital beds at the height of the city’s coronavirus crisis.

Already ruled out, regardless: Roger Federer, who has won five of his men’s-record 20 Grand Slam singles titles at the U.S. Open but announced recently that he is out for the rest of the year after needing a second arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

With international TV contracts – including an annual average of $70 million from ESPN alone – helping offset the loss of money from ticket sales and other onsite revenue, and facing a recession that already led to the recent elimination of more than 100 jobs at the USTA, the association’s board decided to go forward with its marquee event despite concerns about COVID-19 and international travel.

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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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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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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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Nadal needs 4th-set tiebreak to beat Kyrgios

Rafael Nadal battled his way into the quarter-finals of the 2020 Australian Open on Monday, overcoming home favorite Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) in a gruelling matchup. 

The two men shared the first two sets, before Nadal was able to edge an attritional third through a nervy tiebreak.

Nadal controlled long spells of the fourth set but spurned the chance to serve for the match, with Kyrgios doing brilliantly to cling on. The top seed got a second chance in another tiebreaker and eventually found a way past his battling opponent.

The victory for Nadal means he will face fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the last eight as he goes in search of his 20th Grand Slam title overall and his first win at this event since 2009.

When the tennis got started, the home player was given raucous backing by the Melbourne crowd. However, the atmosphere didn’t daunt Nadal, who was able to quickly settle into an ominous groove.

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The top seed was able to conjure this magical forehand down the line early on and grab a break of serve.

By contrast, Kyrgios was unable make a dent in his opponent’s serve and was powerless to prevent the 19-time Grand Slam champion from clinching the first set.

After being comprehensively outplayed early on, it was imperative Kyrgios started the second set well.

He had to dig deep to hold serve against a Nadal barrage, and that appeared to fill the Australian with confidence.

Kyrgios then broke to move 3-1 in front and behind his booming serve he was able to do enough to level things up with the second set.

In the third set, both players settled in behind their serve and there was just one break point carved out between the pair; that was for Nadal, although Kyrgios was able to hold.

However, even with that impetus, Kyrgios couldn’t force a fifth.

In the tiebreak, Nadal was able to show more match awareness and discipline on the crucial points, ensuring he eventually finished a draining affair in four sets.

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