Tennis

US Open: Angelique Kerber tames Tomljanovic in campaign-opener

Posted on 1 Sep 2020 03:44:43 GMT - tennis

Germany's Angelique Kerber began her US Open campaign in style with a Round One win over Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic here on Monday.

No. 17 seed Kerber, playing her first tournament since January, beat Tomljanovic 6-4, 6-4 in a match that lasted an hour and 28 minutes.

Ajla Tomljanovic
Ajla Tomljanovic

Kerber, who last played a professional match during the Australian Open, was sidelined due to a left leg injury before the Tour shut down in March. She did not enter last week's Western & Southern Open.

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Naomi Osaka on topping Forbes highest-paid female athlete list: It's weird

Posted on 1 Sep 2020 02:25:06 GMT - tennis

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka is finding the kind of attention she has been attracting after topping the Forbes highest-paid female athlete list, weird.

The two-time Grand Slam champion dethroned former World No. 1 Serena Williams with earnings of $37.4 million (Rs 273cr) over the past year with $34 million (Rs 249cr) coming from endorsements and $3.4 million (Rs 24cr) in prize money.

"It's a bit weird, because I feel people are looking at me differently now. I mean, I'm weird, right? It's kind of a fact. So people were always looking at me differently. But now people are kind of looking, looking," Osaka was quoted as saying by Essentially Sports.

The former World No. 1 has signed endorsement deals with some of the biggest brands.

In May, she was ranked No. 29 in Forbes' annual list of the 100 top earning athletes in the world.

Osaka is in New York for the US Open. She withdrew from the Western & Southern Open WTA final due to a left hamstring injury on Saturday.

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US Open 2020: Novak Djokovic overwhelming favourite, Serena Williams targets 24th Grand Slam

Posted on 31 Aug 2020 04:38:18 GMT - tennis

In a major delight for tennis fans across the globe, the US Open becomes the first Grand Slam of the COVID-19 era when it begins on Monday, August 31st in a spectator-less bubble at Flushing Meadows, New York. Novak Djokovic, fresh from his recent Cincinnati Masters title, seeks his 18th Grand Slam in a roster that misses Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the first time since the 1999 edition of the tournament.

The Serbian launches his bid for a fourth US Open crown at Arthur Ashe Stadium as he squares off with Bosnia and Herzegovina's 107th-ranked Damir Dzumhur. Fans can catch all the action live between 31st August – 13th September exclusively on the Star Sports Network from 8:30 PM onwards.

In the fray are also Austrian second seed Dominic Thiem, third-seeded 2019 US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev of Russia, Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and German fifth seed Alexander Zverev. Britain's Andy Murray also could pose a threat as he lurks in Thiem's quarter of the draw.

Indian fans too have something to be excited about. The country’s number one singles player Sumit Nagal could face Thiem in the next round if he clears American Bradley Klahn in his opening round. It will be second straight US Open singles main draw for Nagal, who came through the qualifiers last year and played a memorable match against iconic Roger Federer. Nagal is ranked six places higher than Klahn at 122 but the American will compete in home conditions.

The tournament will also witness Indian veterans Rohan Bopanna & Divij Sharan feature at the event. While Bopanna will partner with Denis Shapovalov, Sharan has tagged with Nikola Ćaćić in the Male doubles event.

Meanwhile, in the women’s field, Serena Williams eyes a 24th Grand Slam which will equal Margaret Court’s all-time record. World No. 1 Naomi Osaka withdrew from the Cincinnati Masters due to a hamstring injury which puts her out of the reckoning in the main draw. World number two Simona Halep is missing along with reigning US Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada and top ten players Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Belinda Bencic.

However, it’s not going to be easy for the 38-year-old Williams, who could meet 2017 US Open champion, Sloane Stephens, in the third round, Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the semi-finals and potentially Czech top seed Karolina Pliskova in the final.

Considering the ongoing situation, the tournament has decided to dismiss the Mixed doubles event for the year.

Fans can catch all the US Open action Live on Star Sports Select 1, Star Sports Select 1 HD, Star Sports Select 2 & Star Sports Select 2 HD, between 31st August – 13th September at 8:30 PM

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US Open: Serena Williams begins quest for 24th Grand Slam title

Posted on 31 Aug 2020 01:42:53 GMT - tennis

Serena Williams' protracted pursuit of Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam titles resumes at a 2020 US Open that promises to be unlike any other. The absence of fans because of coronavirus concerns means the buzz and hubbub that define the US Open will be missing. Williams, whose 23 major victories are an Open-era record, will have nothing but her own skill and will to get her through the tough moments as she seeks a record-breaking seventh title on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows. "I don't dislike it and that's weird because I am a player that is so emotional and so, like, a crowd player," Williams said upon returning to action after the WTA's coronavirus shutdown. "Kind of reminds me of the junior days. There is something nostalgic about that." Playing in a virtually empty Ashe stadium, which seats more than 23,000, could be another story. "Playing in New York is going to be interesting, because the stadium is huge," Williams said. "But I do practice in empty stadiums, so I have played in New York on Arthur Ashe Stadium when it was empty and it was great.

"I guess I have to kind of lean on that." It has been more than three years since Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open -- when she was already pregnant with daughter Olympia. She's come close since, reaching four major finals only to come up empty handed. "I've definitely been stuck," said Williams, who seems to have grown weary of the questions about Court's record if not the chase itself. Even if she reaches the milestone, she said, it would provide no sort of punctuation mark. "I'm never satisfied, that's the story of my career," Williams said. "I'll never be satisfied until I retire, that's just my personality." Her chances of matching court, and breaking out of a tie with Chris Evert for most US Open women's titles with six, would seem to be improved with a bevy of top players, including world number two Simona Halep and Canadian Bianca Andreescu -- who stunned Williams in last year's final -- because of coronavirus concerns or injury. But Williams has looked vulnerable in two tournaments since the WTA tour returned to action, laboring through lengthy matches before earlier than expected exits at Lexington and the Western & Southern Open -- held this year on the same New York courts that will host the Open.

Learning to win

She fell to 116th-ranked Shelby Rogers in Lexington, and squandered a commanding lead in a loss to 21st-ranked Maria Sakkari of Greece in New York. "I've just got to start learning how to win big points," Williams said after she was unable to serve out a straight-sets victory against Sakkari. "If I could just focus on how to win that one point, that would be better. "I had so many opportunities to win and I have to figure that one out, like how to start winning those matches again." Defeats like those have seen Williams lose the aura of invincibility she once carried. And upstart challengers this year won't find themselves up against the will of thousands of pro-Williams fans. But Sakkari said that for young players there was still a measure of trepidation taking on an opponent who shaped their tennis dreams. "I remember myself watching tennis and I remember myself watching Serena," the 25-year-old said. "That's the image that I have in my mind. "I mean, obviously she's like the GOAT (Greatest of All Time)," Sakkari said. "Having her on the tour still, it's incredible."

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US Open: Benoit Paire tests positive, removed from draw

Posted on 31 Aug 2020 01:36:22 GMT - tennis

French tennis player Benoit Paire has reportedly tested positive for coronavirus. He will hence have to pull out of the US Open which is scheduled to start on Monday.

Paire, seeded 17th for the Grand Slam, arrived in New York last week to play the Western and Southern Open, a tune-up for the US Open. Paire appeared unwell during his opening round match and asked for medical help before retiring midway through it. According to French sports daily L'Equipe, he eventually tested positive for Covid-19.

L'Equipe further said fellow Frenchmen Richard Gasquet, Adrian Mannarino, Gregoire Barrere and Edouard Roger Vasselin were also asked to self-isolate in their hotel rooms after Paire's positive test.

The US Open is the first Grand Slam to take place this year since the Australian Open in January and February. The Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since the Second World War while the French Open is scheduled for a September 21 start.

The US Open is taking place in a bio-secure bubble without fans at Flushing Meadows. Paire is the first within the bubble to test positive for coronavirus. A number of major stars, including defending men's and women's singles champions Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu have given the Grand Slam a miss.

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Photography helps Stefanos Tsitsipas make money during lockdown

Posted on 30 Aug 2020 07:49:38 GMT - tennis

Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas's passion for photography has helped him earn a few extra bucks during the lockdown.

Stefanos created his own YouTube channel and also had a separate Instagram account, under the pen name, Steve the Hawk, where he shared photographs clicked by him.

According to Tennis World USA, during a recent press conference in New York, he said: "I have sold some of my photos. I have done some work for some clients, small businesses and companies, of course when I have free time. I don't do this in front of my tennis. But during quarantine I got asked by a few companies and a few small businesses to create some promos for them. I'm really excited to be doing stuff like this. It enables my creation to expand further."

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Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka triumph at Western & Southern Open

Posted on 30 Aug 2020 07:44:42 GMT - tennis

Serbian star Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus won men's and women's singles titles respectively at the ATP/WTA Western & Southern Open on Saturday.

World number one Djokovic defeated Canadian Milos Raonic in the final 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 to take the men's title and completed his second career Masters sweep, reports Xinhua news agency.

Djokovic, who is now enjoying a perfect 23-0 in 2020, is the only player in history to win all nine ATP Masters 1000 titles. And now he has claimed them all twice. The 33-year-old also tied Rafael Nadal's record for most Masters 1000 trophies with 35.

"I am trying to make the most of my career, trying to use this time when I feel that I am physically, mentally, emotionally, game-wise at my peak and playing some of the best tennis that I have ever played," Djokovic said. "Going on an unbeaten run so far this year obviously brings even more confidence each match."

It wasn't easy for the Serbian, though. Djokovic got off to a sluggish start in the first set against Raonic and had to dig deep to find his best form, clinching his 80th tour-level title after two hours' battle.

"The first set obviously he was playing great, I made some double faults, handed two breaks to him," Djokovic said. "It's always hard playing Milos. He has one of the best serves in the game, puts so much pressure on your service games. He steps in, he's going more for his shots from the back of the court."

In women's singles final, Azarenka won the title even without swinging her racket as her Japanese opponent Naomi Osaka withdrew citing a left hamstring injury, leaving Azarenka to claim her 21st WTA tour title.

The Japanese player said: "I'm sorry to have to withdraw today with an injury. I pulled my left hamstring yesterday in the second set tiebreak and it has not recovered overnight as I had hoped. This has been an emotional week and I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support."

Osaka defeated Elise Mertens of Belgium in the previous matchday.

"I think it's unfortunate because I was actually really looking forward to competing against Naomi," Azarenka said. "It would have been an amazing opportunity to face her level, and she's been playing really great. I lost to her the last time that we played, so I was really looking forward to that."

"And playing the final is always really special. I just have to accept what it is. I would have loved to have played, but I played some really good matches this week, and I think I deserve to be where I am today," added Azarenka, a two-time Grand Slam champion.

In women's doubles, Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands got past Xu Yifan from China and American Nicole Melichar 6-1, 4-6, 10-4 to claim the title while Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and Australian Alex De Minaur overcame British team of Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski 6-2, 7-5 to win the men's doubles title.

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No. 1 Novak Djokovic overcomes neck injury to enter final

Posted on 30 Aug 2020 07:37:47 GMT - tennis

World number one Novak Djokovic battled into the ATP and WTA Western & Southern Open final Friday despite a neck problem while Japan's Naomi Osaka shook off stress to advance as well. Djokovic was treated twice by a trainer for neck issues but rallied to defeat Spanish eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/0) in the New York COVID-19 quarantine bubble where the US Open begins Monday. The 33-year-old Serbian improved to 22-0 this year despite surrendering three breaks in the third set of the three-hour marathon.

He will face Milos Raonic in Saturday's final after the Canadian, 0-10 all-time against Djokovic, eliminated Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (7/5), 6-3. Fourth-seeded Osaka won a semi-final match she once vowed not to play, saving 18-of-21 break points to beat Belgium's Elise Mertens 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) and reach Saturday's final. There she will play two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka, who beat British eighth seed Johanna Konta 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Osaka on Wednesday initially withdrew from her semi-final as a protest for the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. But when the ATP and WTA followed her lead and postponed all semi-finals to Friday, she changed her mind and played. "I just wanted to create awareness in the tennis bubble," she said. "I think I did my job." The US Open tuneup is usually played in Cincinnati but was moved in the wake of the deadly virus outbreak.

Djokovic, winner of five of the past seven Grand Slam events including the Australian Open, had the trainer work on his neck at 2-1 up in the second set, then broke and held for a 4-2 edge. Bautista Agut hit a forehand volley winner off a Djokovic drop shot to break back in the seventh game. Djokovic had more treatment, rested as the roof was closed to avoid rain at Louis Armstrong Stadium, then broke Bautista Agut to force a third set when the Spaniard sent a backhand long. Djokovic sent a forehand long to fall behind 2-1 but broke back in the fourth and again in the sixth on a brilliant backhand lob winner on the way to a 5-2 edge.

Serving for the match in the ninth game, Djokovic was broken at love as Bautista Agut fought back. The Spaniard broke again in the 11th game when Djokovic netted a forehand but gave back the break in the 12th game by sending a forehand long to force a tie-breaker which Djokovic swept, aided by his 13th and 14th aces of the match. "That was a strange match. I don't know how I won. He was the better player," said the world number one.

Reluctant leader Osaka

Osaka, of Haitian and Japanese heritage, said she was "sick to her stomach" and "exhausted" by repeated violence against blacks by US police, echoing a move by the NBA Milwaukee Bucks in boycotting a playoff game for the same reason. "I honestly didn't even think it would be that big of a deal," Osaka said Friday. "I always thought it would be nice if someone started in tennis. I'm more of a follower. I was waiting and waiting and then I realized I was the one who was going to have to take the first step."

Osaka, 22, said her big personal gains from the move were "confidence and really becoming more aware of the impact my voice could have." But she was worried how other players would react. "I don't want them to blame me for the one-day break because their schedule got messed up," she said. "I was scared but they were really nice." Mertens was supportive of Osaka and unfazed by the off-again, on-again status of the match. "I totally get her reason 100% so I'm totally supporting her too," Mertens said.

Osaka, the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open champion, broke for a 2-0 lead and again in the eighth game to take the first set in 38 minutes. She broke for a 2-0 lead in set two before Mertens rolled through the next four games. Osaka broke back in the seventh game and, after battling into the tie-breaker, won when Mertens hit a backhand wide. Raonic commended Osaka's move, saying, "It's a human right not to have that fear. I hope there is a change in the future and that we as athletes can be a small part of that."

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Kei Nishikori to skip US Open despite negative report

Posted on 28 Aug 2020 06:08:37 GMT - tennis

Japan's Kei Nishikori withdrew from the US Open on Wednesday and announced he has tested negative for Covid-19 after two positive tests forced him out of a tuneup event. Nishikori, 30, was the 2014 US Open runner-up and the first Asian man in a Grand Slam singles finals. His two other best Slam showings, semi-final runs in 2016 and 2018, also came on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts.

"I am happy to announce that I tested negative for Covid," Nishikori said in a social media posting. "I will slowly pick up my practice schedule tomorrow. "Having said that, I (together with my team) have decided to skip the US Open this year. After such a long break I feel that returning in a best of 5 long-match setting is not smart until I am fully ready to do so. "It's disappointing as I love the US Open and have great memories."

Nishikori, ranked 31, becomes the latest high-profile departure from the tournament, set to begin Monday in a spectator-less quarantine bubble at the US National Tennis Center. The Open is already without reigning champion Rafael Nadal, injured star Roger Federer, reigning women's champion Bianca Andreescu and top-ranked Ash Barty.

Among those planning to compete are top-ranked Novak Djokovic, Britain's Andy Murray and 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams. Nishikori, whose most recent victory came in 2019 at Brisbane, has won six of his 12 career ATP titles on US soil.

Being forced to isolate in Florida, rather than compete in this week's ATP and WTA Western and Southern Open in New York, an event usually played in Cincinnati but moved to the bubble this year, forced Nishikori off the court at a time when rivals were ramping up their games for the Open

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Japan's Naomi Osaka withdrew from her semi-final match

Posted on 28 Aug 2020 05:59:19 GMT - tennis

Japan's Naomi Osaka withdrew from her WTA Western & Southern Open semi-final match on Thursday in New York to protest the police shooting of an unarmed black man in Wisconsin. Osaka, a two-time Grand Slam champion, was to have faced Belgian Elise Mertens.

More important than tennis

"Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman, I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis," Osaka posted in a statement on Twitter. "I don't expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction."

Her move comes in the wake of African-American Jacob Blake being shot on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin "Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach," Osaka said. "I'm exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I'm extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again. When will it ever be enough?" Blake was shot seven times in the back by police as he attempted to get into a car.

Tournament halted

Meanwhile, Organisers of the Western & Southern Open said the tournament will be suspended until Friday. "The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognise this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27. Play will resume on Friday, August 28," organisers said in a statement

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Andy Murray's wife Kim wants to undergo hair transplant

Posted on 27 Aug 2020 02:44:14 GMT - tennis

Scot tennis ace Sir Andy Murray's wife Kim wants him to undergo hair transplant, but he is not keen on the procedure.

According to British tabloid, The Sun, it's not only wife Kim, but also comedian Jimmy Carr who feels the former World No. 1's hair is disappearing.

Andy and Jimmy recently appeared on the show, A League Of Their Own, where the tennis star teased the latter about his look.

"My wife [Kim] has been telling me to have one of them for a couple of years but I'm not if it turns out like that," said Andy, a two-time Olympic champion. Andy and Kim have three kids — Sophia, four, Edie, two and Teddy, 10 months.

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Maria Sharapova shares stunning bikini picture by a swimming hole

Posted on 26 Aug 2020 10:30:18 GMT - tennis

Former Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova recently Instgrammed this picture during a holiday trip and captioned it: “We’ve come across the perfect little swimming holes this summer. The roads to reach them were a little...imperfect. And bumpy. Any suggestions of water creaks or waterfalls to visit?”

 
 
 
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We’ve come across the perfect little swimming holes this summer. The roads to reach them were a little...imperfect. And bumpy 🙃 Any suggestions of water creaks or waterfalls to visit? 🧳 🗺

A post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) onAug 24, 2020 at 9:28am PDT

Maria Sharapova announced her retirement from tennis earlier this year on February 26. Sharapova is also a businesswoman and owns the confectionary brand Sugarpova.

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