Tagged in: Wimbledon

Serena Williams loses first-round match at Wimbledon to Harmony Tan

Serena Williams, playing her first competitive singles match in 364 days, was handed another devastating early exit at Wimbledon with a 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) loss to Harmony Tan on Tuesday that took more than three hours and a 10-point third-set tiebreak to decide.

“Today I gave all I could do, you know, today,” a dejected Williams told a packed room of reporters after the match. “Maybe tomorrow I could have gave more. Maybe a week ago I could have gave more. But today was what I could do.

“At some point, you have to be able to be OK with that. And that’s all I can do. I can’t change time or anything, so, that’s all I could do on this particular day.”

Playing Tan — who is ranked No. 115 and was making her main draw debut at the tournament — in front of an adoring crowd on Centre Court, Williams simultaneously showed signs of rust alongside glimpses of her signature brilliance.

When it was over, both players were given a standing ovation from those in the stands. The 40-year-old Williams, the owner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles, waved several times as she walked off the court and twirled before disappearing in the exit.

There has been much speculation as to Williams’ retirement, and she didn’t do much to dispel such speculation after Tuesday’s match, giving vague answers to multiple questions about her future.

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“That’s a question I can’t answer,” Williams said after the loss. “Like, I don’t know. I feel like, you know, I don’t know. Who knows? Who knows where I’ll pop up.”

Williams hadn’t played competitively at singles since being forced to retire from her first-round match at the All England Club in 2021 due to what she later revealed to be a torn hamstring. While she had initially hoped to return in time for the US Open last year, the recovery was far lengthier than she had anticipated, and she took a break to give herself time to heal.

But she couldn’t escape the lingering disappointment of her 2021 Wimbledon exit.

“It was a lot of motivation, to be honest,” Williams said before this tournament got underway. “It was always something since the match ended that was always on my mind. So it was a tremendous amount of motivation for that.”

She decided in the spring to make a return to the All England Club, after a whirlwind year full of recovery and off-the-court interests and pursuits. She started her competitive comeback last week in doubles at Eastbourne, alongside Ons Jabeur, to great fanfare.

The two reached the semifinals before they were forced to withdraw due to a knee injury for Jabeur, but Williams still considered she had gotten some valuable match experience.

Still, Williams needed the first several games of Tuesday’s match versus Tan to rediscover her form, and her early play was riddled with errors.

“I had some chances to win that first set,” Williams said. “You know, [it] didn’t work out, so … yeah, it was just, yeah, different, totally different for me.”

But as she has done countless times throughout her career, Williams fought back with a dominant performance in the second set, including winning a marathon 30-point second game.

She looked to be in control in the third, holding a 3-1 lead, but Tan came back to win the next three games. From there, it was a battle in which the crowd seemed to live and breathe with every point, and both players reacted emphatically throughout.

It reached a fever pitch when Williams saved match point at 5-6 to ultimately force a deciding tiebreak.

In the first-to-10 tiebreak, Williams jumped out to a 4-0 lead. However, in the final moments, it slipped out of her control, and Tan dominated.

If this is the end for Williams, it will mark the conclusion of one of the greatest careers in the sport. With 23 major titles, including seven at the All England Club, Williams has the most ever by any player in the Open Era.

She has been seeking to tie Margaret Court’s long-standing record of 24, the most in history, since returning from childbirth in 2018. Since then, Williams has played in four finals in those 14 majors, including at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019, but has fallen short each time.

Williams didn’t completely rule out an appearance at the US Open later this summer, however.

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Rafael Nadal enters Wimbledon on good footing after procedure to relieve pain

Rafael Nadal on Saturday stated the procedure he had on his chronic foot injury after Roland Garros has meant he is largely pain-free, but he is unsure how long the treatment will be effective.

“The feeling and overall feelings are positive, no, because I am in a positive way in terms of pain, and that’s the main thing,” Nadal said.

Nadal has been suffering with Muller-Weiss syndrome, a rare condition which causes chronic pain in his left foot. He numbed the injury at Roland Garros by injecting the nerve to allow him to play.

The injury causes him to be in pain when walking, let alone playing. After Roland Garros, Nadal underwent a radiofrequency nerve ablation, which targets the specific nerve leading to the painful area of his foot.

At the time, Nadal said the success of that procedure would dictate whether he was going to play at Wimbledon, as he was not willing to again undergo daily injections.

If the procedure didn’t work, Nadal said he then would have either required major surgery or would have looked to alternative solutions or outcomes.

However, it has proven effective enough to allow Nadal to keep his charge for a calendar Grand Slam, having already taken the Australian and French Open titles this year.

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“Well, is obvious that if I am here, it’s because things are going better. If not, I would not be here,” Nadal said. “So quite happy about the things, how evolved. I can’t be super happy because I don’t know what can happen.

“First of all, I can walk normal most of the days, almost every single day. That’s for me the main issue. When I wake up, I don’t have this pain that I was having for the last year and a half, so quite happy about that. And second thing, practicing. I have been in overall better, honestly, no? Since the last two weeks, I didn’t have not one day of these terrible days that I can’t move at all. Of course, days better; days a little bit worse.”

Nadal has won 22 Grand Slam singles titles and is aiming to win his third Wimbledon crown entering Tuesday’s first-round match versus Francisco Cerundolo.

He said he will try to park any thoughts of the foot injury over the next fortnight.

“I can’t tell you if I going to be in that positive moment for one week, for two days, or for three months,” Nadal said. “Of course, the treatment that I did, didn’t fix my injury. Not improving my injury at all but can take out a little bit the pain. That’s the main goal.

“Sometimes the things in the medical world, mathematics is not predictable 100%. But in theory that can help the foot because it’s about the nerve. You touch the nerve, so then the nerves is like asleep in some way for a while, but then recovers. So how long the nerve is going to be that way, I can’t tell you. It’s something that we need to discover.”

But this procedure is a good step, and has brought a smile back to Nadal’s face.

“Today I feel good. Happy for that,” Nadal said. “… Tennis is the second part of your life. Probably the most toughest part is having pain on your life on a daily basis. The problem that I have is I have pain walking every single day. That sometimes affects you to your happiness and in some way the positive and how the attitude is not that positive all the time.

“[It is] positive now. Let’s see what can happen in the future.”

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23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams skips practice ahead of doubles match that will mark competitive return

Serena Williams skipped her arranged practice session at Eastbourne with late notice on Monday as the 23-time Grand Slam champion prepares to make her return to competition after a year away.

Williams trained at a nearby club over the weekend and was expected to have an on-site session at Devonshire Park ahead of playing doubles with Ons Jabeur. Their first match is set for Tuesday versus Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova.

Williams, 40, who hasn’t competed anywhere since she was injured in the first round of Wimbledon last year, was awarded a wild card for singles at the All England Club.

Jabeur stated it was “unbelievable” to have been asked by Williams to be part of her journey back to competition at the Wimbledon warm-up. “I’m a good secret keeper — yes, I’ve known [since] before the French Open,” said the No. 3-ranked Jabeur, who arrived at Eastbourne after winning the title in Berlin on Sunday.

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“Many players were jealous because I’m playing with her. Honestly, Serena is Serena. She is a legend and always will be.”

Jabeur said she is hoping to learn “even like 2% from it.”

“Now I’m joking with other doubles players,” she said. “I was like, ‘If you have minus 20 grand slams, don’t even ask me to play doubles with you anymore.'”

Jabeur has pulled out of the singles at Eastbourne following her run to the title in Germany and will play only the doubles. Still, she’ll likely be kept busy this week given her partner.

“I cannot wait to see her; I haven’t seen her yet,” Jabeur said of Williams. “Hopefully we will get together and talk a little bit and see, because I’m really pumped. I want to win this doubles and why not win the title here, you know?”

Among those to advance in the singles Monday were three qualifiers — Donna Vekic, Kirsten Flipkens and Lesia Tsurenko — and a wild card in Britain’s Jodie Burrage. American player Alison Riske was beaten by Magda Linette of Poland 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4).

In the men’s event, sixth-seeded Alex de Minaur of Australia started his title defense by beating Cristian Garin 6-3, 6-3. Two Americans — fifth-seeded Reilly Opelka and seventh-seeded Frances Tiafoe — lost in the first round on Monday.

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Dominant Matteo Berrettini wins second straight Queen’s title

Italian Matteo Berrettini retained his title at the Queen’s Club Championships with a 7-5, 6-4 defeat of Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic on Sunday, as the world No. 10 gave himself the perfect launch pad into Wimbledon.

Berrettini had too much firepower for unseeded Krajinovic, who has now lost all five of his Tour-level finals.

The Italian, who also claimed the title in Stuttgart this month, has now collected 20 of his last 21 matches on grass, his only loss coming in last year’s Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic.

He was made to work hard by Krajinovic who broke back in the first set, only to get broken again at 5-5. A Krajinovic double-fault proved costly at 2-3 in the second set as Berrettini secured the decisive break of serve and went on to secure his seventh career title with an ace.

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Berrettini, who had surgery on his right hand in March, is the eighth player to win back-to-back titles at the event, all of the others being former world number ones including John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker and Andy Murray.

He will now go into Wimbledon as one of the favorites.

“There are too many emotions,” Berrettini said. “To have this trophy twice, I used to just dream of playing in this tournament. It was a really good week for me, I came here with a lot of confidence. Today was the best match that I played.

“I’ve worked so hard for this. I know that Wimbledon is different but I know that I can do it, I did it once. I’m really looking forward to it, but I know every match will be tough.”

A superb angled volley gave Berrettini the break he had threatened in the fifth game of the opening set.

But Krajinovic, who before this week had never won a match on grass, replied in the next game with a punchy volley to get back on level terms.

The Serbian netted a backhand to drop serve at 5-5, however, and Berrettini then held to take the opener.

In the second set Berrettini showed the range of his game, mixing power with panache to pull ahead, and once he broke serve to love in the fifth game, there was no looking back.

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Emma Raducanu’s Wimbledon availability in doubt after retiring injured from Nottingham Open

U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu retired injured from her opening match at the WTA 250 event in Nottingham on Tuesday, casting doubt over her participation at Wimbledon.

Raducanu retired while trailing 4-3 in the opening set versus Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, nearly half an hour into the match after she suffered what appeared to be an abdominal or rib injury.

“The first game, I think I pulled something. I am not really sure what exactly happened,” Raducanu stated. “I have just come off court, an absolute freak injury. I don’t know what I could have done more about it.”

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Raducanu, who has been without a full-time coach since April, shot to stardom last September when, as a qualifier, she won the U.S. Open title, becoming Britain’s first female Grand Slam champion since Virginia Wade in 1977.

However, the British No. 1 has struggled since winning her maiden Grand Slam and was eliminated in the second round of the French Open last month, when she lost to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in three sets.

The 19-year-old reached the last 16 at Wimbledon in 2021, but will need a quick recovery to compete at this year’s tournament which will be held from June 27 to July 10.

“I have no idea [about Wimbledon.] It could have just seized up and gone into spasm and then it is really bad for a few days,” Raducanu added. “I have no idea. I cannot diagnose myself. I will get it checked out.”

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Novak Djokovic gets warm welcome in Dubai before tennis tournament

Novak Djokovic on Thursday received a warm welcome in Dubai, where he visited the world’s fair following the global discussion around his decision to stay unvaccinated.

After being twice detained and deported from Australia ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam Tournament last month, Djokovic was in the United Arab Emirates for the Duty Free Tennis Championships.

“I’m excited to go out on the tennis court next Monday,” the Serbian tennis star said when asked by The Associated Press how he feels after the recent twists and turns of the legal dispute over his travel visa. “I miss tennis honestly after everything that has happened.”

Djokovic this week doubled down on his decision to stay unvaccinated. The No. 1-ranked tennis player stated he would skip the French Open, Wimbledon and other tournaments if he was required to get a coronavirus vaccine to compete.

Djokovic reiterated in an interview with Serbia’s state RTS television on Thursday that he keeps “an open mind” about the possibility of getting vaccinated in the future but remains willing to miss upcoming majors because of his refusal to do so.

“I am not exclusive, anything is possible in life,” Djokovic said. “I decided at this moment not to do it and I am ready to bear consequences.”

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The government of Dubai does not require visitors to be vaccinated to enter.

The men’s tennis tour event starts next week.

As he ambled into the pavilion Thursday surrounded by a sea of journalists, fans clapped and chanted “Nole,” his nickname.

Djokovic posed for selfies with adoring fans and set off on a guided tour of Serbia’s national pavilion at Expo 2020 days before he was due to hit the courts. The pavilion was hosting an event for his foundation, the Novak Djokovic Foundation, which promotes early childhood education in Serbia.

“I’m proud to be on this stage,” Djokovic said after his wife, Jelena, gave a presentation about the foundation’s work with children.

He said it was often hard to be involved as much as he wanted to be with the foundation given his whirlwind tournament calendar.

But he quickly acknowledged: “It’s not as busy as it used to be.”

The audience burst into applause. Wearing a crisp white shirt and black mask emblazoned with his foundation’s logo, Djokovic gave high fives to toddlers and nodded encouragingly as he heard about Serbia’s startup scene at the pavilion’s multimedia exhibit.

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Emma Raducanu caps debut season with exhibition win

US Open champion Emma Raducanu capped her remarkable debut season with a 6-3, 7-6(3) triumph over Romania’s Elena-Gabriela Ruse in a light-hearted exhibition match at the Champions Tennis event at the famed Royal Albert Hall on Sunday.

Britain’s Raducanu, who turned 19 years old earlier this month, was playing at the season-ending event after some stunning debut months on the Tour.

It started with a first-round defeat in Nottingham in June 2021, but was followed by a remarkable run at Wimbledon that saw he win her first three matches before retiring versus Ajla Tomljanovic and peaked with a spell-bounding win at the US Open, where she did not drop a set on her way to becoming the first British woman to win the tournament in 53 years.

She has since competed in three events, the most recent in Linz, Austria, where she was beaten in the first round against China’s Xinyu Wang.

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The world No. 19, playing on Sunday against her friend Ruse, held her serve in the opening game and then forced Ruse into a long service game, saving two game points before hitting a winner into the corner and then driving her opponent into an error to take a 2-0 lead. The pair held their serves in the following two games before Radacanu broke again to ease into a 5-1 lead.

Ruse briefly broke back, but the Brit followed up by holding her serve two games later to claim the first set.

The Romanian often resorted to drop shots as Raducanu repeatedly fired from behind the baseline as both players held serve to start the second set. But Raducanu broke the deadlock in the fifth game, this time pouncing on a poorly weighted drop shot from Ruse to force an error. Ruse soon recovered though and forced a tiebreak for the set, which Raducanu eased 7-3.

“It was amazing to play at home in front of everyone here. I felt it straight from the minute I walked out — it was an incredible atmosphere — and I really enjoyed playing here,” Raducanu said in her on-court interview.

The Champions Tennis exhibition event, which has taken place since 1997, invites players who have once held the world No. 1 ranking, reached a Grand Slam final or been achieved success in the Davis Cup. This year’s edition will be the last at the Royal Albert Hall as it searches for a new venue next year.

Raducanu will next play at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi in December as she begins preseason heading into her first full season on the WTA Tour. She will also compete at the Australian Open in January, her first Grand Slam since claiming the US Open title and the third major of her career.

She recently went on a vacaction, which she said in an Instagram post was her first in seven years, as she prepares for the 2022 season.

“For six days I just completely switched off and I started my preseason this week on Tuesday,” Raducanu added. “I’ve been doing a lot of fitness, not so much tennis, so I was a bit nervous coming out to play in front of everyone here.

“Right now, I’m doing preseason and working hard on my fitness, as you can tell I need to work on my sprints to the net when I was getting dropshotted. Then I’m heading out to the Middle East to finish my preseason, and then Christmas out there then flying to Australia on Dec. 26.”

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Anett Kontaveit, Karolina Pliskova win opening matches at WTA Finals

Karolina Pliskova overcame a slow start before defeating Garbiñe Muguruza 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6) on Wednesday in her opening match at the WTA Finals.

In a contest between two former No. 1-ranked players, the third-seeded Pliskova struggled early adjusting to the nearly 5,000-feet altitude of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city.

Pliskova is playing the WTA Finals for the fifth time, having reached the semifinals in 2018 and ’19. The 2020 tournament was canceled.

She didn’t win any titles in 2021 but kept a high ranking by reaching the finals at Wimbledon and Montreal, and the semifinals at Cincinnati.

Pliskova now has a 9-2 record versus former Wimbledon and French Open champion Muguruza, who won the Chicago and Dubai titles this year and is making her fourth appearance at the season-ending event.

Muguruza dropped her opening service game but then won four consecutive games to take a 4-2 lead and eventually clinched the first set in 38 minutes. Pliskova settled down in the second, breaking Muguruza’s serve in the second and eighth games to level the match.

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The third set lasted more than an hour, with Muguruza saving three match points to force a tiebreaker, and another in the tiebreaker before Pliskova sealed the win.

Earlier, Anett Kontaveit extended her hot streak with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over second-seeded Barbora Krejcikova.

Kontaveit had early breaks in both sets to beat the French Open champion in just 75 minutes for her 11th consecutive victory.

Kontaveit has won 27 of her last 29 matches, which include her title run at Ostrava where she beat Paula Badosa and Maria Sakkari, both of whom are competing here.

“I think throughout my career, I’ve been in sort of top 30 for a lot of years,” Kontaveit said. “During the summer I was on a bit of a losing streak, then I started working with Dmitry (Tursunov) and was really hoping to get a few wins. I managed to win Cleveland, then it just sort of started rolling from there”.

Tursunov a former world No. 20, started working with Kontaveit at the Cincinnati Masters, where the 25-year-old Estonian lost in the first round. Since then, Kontaveit has soared from No. 30 into the top 10.

After top-ranked Ash Barty of Australia opted not to defend the title because of travel restrictions in her country, Kontaveit edged out Ons Jabeur for the last spot in the season-ending championship by beating Simona Halep in the final of the Transylvania Open.

“I’ve been believing in myself a little bit more, and the game definitely has clicked from just getting more wins and playing a lot of tennis and really feeling comfortable,” Kontaveit said.

Krejcikova, the only reigning major winner in the field, started the year ranked 65th but captured three titles to qualify for the WTA Finals.

“It’s just difficult because a couple days ago I was actually playing in Europe, now I’m here,” Krejcikova said. “It’s really, really, really difficult.”

In doubles, the Japanese pair of Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara had a 6-0, 6-4 win over Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac.

The tournament, which was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is played in a round-robin format.

The event has a total prize pool of $5 million and is being played at the Akron Tennis Stadium in Zapopan, a suburb of Guadalajara.

The WTA Finals are being played in Guadalajara for this year only, with the event scheduled to return to Shenzhen, China in 2022.

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Novak Djokovic pulls out of BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic is the latest big-name tennis player to drop out of the BNP Paribas Open set for next month in the Southern California desert.

“I am sorry I won’t get to see my fans in Indian Wells and play in the desert, my favorite place to go,” he tweeted Wednesday.

Djokovic came up one triumph short of claiming all four Grand Slam titles this year, losing in the US Open final earlier this month. He acquired the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles.

Djokovic joins women’s No. 1 Ash Barty in skipping the tournament featuring the combined men’s and women’s tours. It will be played Oct. 4-17, a switch from its usual March date on the calendar because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Emma Raducanu, the surprise U.S. Open women’s winner, received a wild card into the event.

Also in the women’s field are teenagers Leylah Fernandez, the US Open runner-up, and Coco Gauff.

Also out of the event are former winners Naomi Osaka and Roger Federer, who is recovering from knee surgery in August.

His withdrawal means there will definitely be a first-time winner on the men’s side in this year’s BNP Paribas Open. Along with Djokovic, Federer and Nadal, the only other active players to have won in Indian Wells are Juan Martin del Potro and defending champion Dominic Thiem, both of whom are not in the field due to injuries. 

Without Djokovic, Russian Daniil Medvedev, the second-ranked player in the world, is expected to be the top seed at Indian Wells. Alexander Zverev of Germany, who collected the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, will also be among the favorites.

The two of them, along with third-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas and fifth-ranked Andrey Rublev round out the likely top four seeds in the men’s draw.

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Roger Federer, Naomi Osaka, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams entered in US Open singles field

Roger Federer, who withdrew from the Olympics because a knee injury, and Naomi Osaka, who skipped Wimbledon and withdrew from the French Open to address her mental health, are both in the singles fields for the US Open.

The USTA revealed the fields Wednesday for the tournament that runs from Aug. 30 through Sept. 12 in New York.

Federer lost in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. Osaka has not played a match since withdrawing after the first round in Paris. Also in the field at Flushing Meadows: six-time champion Serena Williams, who had to retire from her first-round match at Wimbledon after she slipped on the Centre Court grass, injuring her right leg.

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The entry lists include players who make the field automatically. Players still can withdraw from the tournament.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon, will be seeking to become the third man to collect all four Grand Slam singles titles in the same year. Don Budge in 1938 and Rod Laver in 1969 are the others.

Djokovic is also playing at the Tokyo Olympics and could become the first man to complete a “Golden Slam.” Steffi Graf did it in 1988.

Wimbledon champion and No. 1-ranked Ash Barty headlines the women’s field. Osaka, the defending US Open champion, is ranked second ahead of Aryna Sabalenka, a Wimbledon semifinalist, and Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion.

This week’s ATP and WTA rankings were used to determine the entry lists. Seedings will be revealed closer to the beginning of the tournament.

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