Hello and welcome to the thirteenth issue of Tennis inbox. More withdrawals and cancelations this week as tournaments and players scramble to deal with the ever-evolving coronavirus situation. But tennis is going ahead in some parts of the world. Read on to find out more.
The withdrawals are coming
In the spirit of Game of Thrones’ oft-quoted saying, the withdrawals are coming. So far, Ash Barty, Nick Kyrgios, and Rafael Nadal have publicly declared that they will not be making the trip to North America. Though we reported last week that Nadal was on the acceptance list of the Western & Southern Open (meaning that he would inevitably compete in the US Open), Nadal tweeted on Wednesday 5th August:
Nadal had probably entered the Western & Southern Open and US Open with hopes that the situation would improve by the time the events took place. However, there’s been no luck on that front.
But Nadal’s participation at the US Open was always up in the air. Given that he doesn’t have to defend his 2,000 points from last year’s US Open, it’s probably a prudent decision from him to not attend. Now that a couple of the biggest dominoes have fallen (Nadal, Barty), will the smaller ones follow suit? Or will they see it as an opportunity to do well at a Grand Slam?
We can get a general understanding from the US Open’s acceptance lists. The documents, which have been published as PDFs, detail who’s been accepted into the maindraws of both men’s and women’s events. The acceptance list on the men’s side is more sparse than the women’s, which has nearly all players in the top 30 in attendance.
Notable exceptions from the men’s list:
- Rafael Nadal (#2)
- Roger Federer (#4)
- Gael Monfils (#9)
- Fabio Fognini (#11)
- Stan Wawrinka (#17)
- Nick Kyrgios (#40)
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (#49)
- Lucas Pouille (#58)
Notable exceptions from the women’s list:
- Ash Barty (#1)
- Qiang Wang (#29)
- Anastasia Pavlychenkova (#30)
- Saisai Zheng (#34)
- Julia Goerges (#38)
- Lin Zhu (#74)
- Anastasia Potopova (#92)
One thing we can be sure of: Not everyone who’s on those lists is making the trip to compete in Flushing Meadows. There will be many more withdrawals in the coming weeks. We’ll just have to wait and see.
The return of (official) tennis with the Palermo Ladies Open
Despite an early scare, where a player in the qualifying draw tested positive for the coronavirus, the Palermo Ladies Open is marching on in Sicily.
It’s been nice to see tour tennis return to the clay with some sense of normalcy, but there have been some upsets along the way. Kaja Juvan from Slovenia, currently ranked #121, defeated 2nd seed Marketa Vondrousova 1–6, 7–5, 6–4 in the first round. Juvan is scheduled to play crowd favorite Camila Giorgi next.
Elsewhere in the draw, a K. Pliskova defeated 3rd seed Maria Sakkari 6–4, 6–4. But it wasn’t the Pliskova you’re probably thinking of. It was Kristyna Pliskova, Karolina Pliskova’s twin sister, who’s currently ranked #69 in the world.
The Palermo Ladies Open also features names such as Petra Martic (#15), Anett Kontaveit (#22), and Donna Vekic (#24).
Mutua Madrid Open Canceled
The Mutua Madrid Open, scheduled after the US Open as one of the lead-up events to the French Open, has been canceled. Official news came on Tuesday 4th August as the tournament released a statement that began:
“As an act of responsibility in view of the current situation caused by covid-19, and having thoroughly evaluated the circumstances that the pandemic continues to generate, together with the competent authorities, it has been decided that 2020 Mutua Madrid Open will not take place this year having previously been moved to 12-20 September.”
Hopes had been high for the event in Madrid, but in recent weeks Spain has seen a resurgence in coronavirus cases. Let’s hope that the Italian Open, which is scheduled to begin on the 20th of September, still goes ahead as the tours transition to Europe after their short North American swings.
Ultimate Tennis Showdown 2
Exhibitions have been keeping us tennis fans going during these times. And with the dearth of tour tennis available for our viewing pleasure, the Ultimate Tennis Showdown has stepped up to fill a much needed void. Though we were doubters at first, today we find ourselves enjoying the unique format.
This time around, the Ultimate Tennis Showdown featured a women’s event as well. However, only four women competed: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Alizé Cornet, Ons Jabeur, and 13-year-old “The Prodigy” Brenda Fruhvirtova. If you’ve never seen Fruhvirtova play, and you’re just reacting to her age, try to avoid rolling your eyes. Though Fruhvirtova lost, she played a close match and impressed in many ways.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova eventually won the event, defeating Cornet in the final.
On the men’s side, Alexander “The Lion” Zverev defeated Corentin “The Tornado” Moutet in the final. Yeah. We don’t know who’s coming up with these nicknames either. The men’s field also included Grigor Dimitrov, who’s back to competing after his coronavirus diagnosis. As an aside: What the heck is up with the buttcap on Richard Gasquet’s racquet? If you skip to 7:16 you’ll know what we’re talking about.
A tennis fan gets creative
Roger Federer has gotten the better of Rafael Nadal seven out of the last eight times that they’ve played. But we remember a time when that wasn’t the case. Nadal used to dominate Federer. Though Federer lost to Nadal frequently around a decade ago, they still had spectacular exchanges. Now a tennis fan has animated one of them. Specifically, a rally from the 2009 Australian Open Final, where Nadal prevailed 7–5, 3–6, 7–6 (3), 3–6, 6–2. The animation took nearly 50 hours for the artist to complete. Enjoy!