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Wimbledon expansion plans set to advance after golf club votes to sell

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2018

Wimbledon’s expansion plans have taken a step forward after a neighbouring golf club voted to sell its land.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) made a reported £65m offer to buy the Wimbledon Park Golf Club land.

AELTC says a vote has gone in its favour with the transfer – pending court approval – set to go through on 21 December. The deal will see AELTC’s land roughly triple in size.

Wimbledon Park will continue to operate as a golf course until December 2021.

Seventy-five percent approval was required from members of the golf club, and after a meeting in Westminster on Thursday evening, 82.2% voted in favour in a secret ballot.

Each of the club’s approximately 750 members, which include TV presenters Piers Morgan and Ant and Dec, will now be at least £85,000 better off.

The AELTC already owns the lease to the land, but would have had to wait until 2041 for it to expire.

The new land will also allow for many more practice courts and better facilities for those who currently queue to enter the grounds on the perimeter of the golf club as well as increasing the local community’s access to the site for the other 50 weeks of the year.

AELTC chairman Philip Brook ruled out the prospect of building multi-storey car parks and shopping villages on the site.

“The decision of the Wimbledon Park Golf Club members to vote in favour of the acquisition offer is a hugely significant moment for the AELTC and The Championships,” he said.

“We have achieved what we set out to do many months ago in having certainty in our planning for the future. In many ways, it will be business as usual for the Wimbledon Park Golf Course during the next couple of years, but we will use this time to give careful consideration to our next steps.

“We will work with the local authorities and other interested parties as these plans are developed and I would like to emphasise that we have no intention of applying for change of use, planning permission or other approval to use the land that would be completely out of character for the AELTC and The Championships.”

And Jenny Gaskin, chairman of the golf club, admitted 2018 had been a period of considerable uncertainty.

“This has been a long but thorough process and I and the rest of the board would like to thank all members who participated in and voted either in person or by proxy,” she said in a statement.


Russell Fuller BBC tennis correspondent

The competition among the Grand Slams is intense. All the others stage qualifying on site; the Australian Open now has a roof over three courts; the US Open unveiled a new Louis Armstrong Stadium Court in August; and after years of delay, Roland Garros is currently being both expanded and modernised.

Wimbledon, too, is always moving forward but will be grateful for ways to increase capacity. Centre and Number One Courts are the focal point, but the next biggest court only has room for 4,000 spectators.

There is also a desire to increase the local community’s access to the site for the other 50 weeks of the year.

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Becker: "Sascha Isn't Satisfied Yet"

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2018

Becker: “Sascha Isn’t Satisfied Yet” speaks exclusively to Becker about Zverev

Alexander Zverev earned the biggest title of his career last month at The O2 in London, winning the prestigious Nitto ATP Finals. The last German to capture the season finale before Zverev was former World No. 1 Boris Becker, in 1995. Becker also triumphed at the event in 1988 and 1992. caught up with Becker in a wide-ranging conversation about Zverev, including his victory in London to how he can improve and what the future may hold.

A month ago Sascha earned the biggest win of his career at the Nitto ATP Finals. Now that there’s been some time, how important of a breakthrough do you believe that was for him?
I think it was the biggest win of his career. He did win three [ATP World Tour] Masters 1000 titles before, but this one was bigger, especially beating Roger and Novak in the semi-finals and finals in straight sets. I thought that was the breakthrough that everyone was waiting for.

As you said, he had won Masters 1000 events before. So how key do you think this was compared to those wins?
He’s been touted by most of the experts as a future No. 1 and playing like it. He played the past two years, apart from the Grand Slams [at a high level]. You wait as a young player to take the next step at the biggest of tournaments and at the Grand Slams, unfortunately, he hasn’t made a semi-final yet. But I think the way he performed throughout the whole week against the very best in tennis, looked to be very promising for 2019.

It starts with yourself. If you gain a bit of confidence, if you start beating the best tennis players in the world day after day, you deep down start to believe that you really belong there. That’s why I think it was a big breakthrough.

Speaking of the experts touting him as a future World No. 1, if you do, why do you believe he can be the best player in the world?
First of all, it’s not so easy to achieve. The No. 1 spot is busy, it’s taken right now by Novak, but Rafa had it for most of the year and even Roger was No. 1 for a couple of weeks, so you’re talking about three of the greatest players of all time. Reaching No. 1 for anybody else is very difficult. Plus, he’s surrounded by some of his generation, the likes of Tsitsipas, Khachanov and Shapovalov. They are right behind him and I think it’s just a very difficult feat to do right now in tennis, to overtake everybody, because it’s such a crowded time to play.

How difficult is it to deal with the pressure of people touting you as a possible future No. 1?
Pressure is sometimes overrated and sometimes underrated. I think if Sascha couldn’t cope with the pressure, he wouldn’t be consistently now, the past two years, in the Top 5 [of the ATP Rankings]. So I think pressure is the least of his problems. I think it’s the quality of players. To play Rafa on clay, Novak on hard and Roger on everything else, it’s just very, very difficult. If you can’t handle the pressure, then ultimately you should find another job. But it’s really the quality of the opposition that would be the biggest problem for him and everybody else.

Do you remember the first time you met Sascha or saw him play?
It was funny because when [Zverev’s brother] Mischa was in his early 20s, I supported him with the German Federation. I talked to his father, his mother and Mischa and Mischa said, ‘Yeah, I’m good and everything. But my brother will be much better.’

Little Sascha was about 10 years old, a skinny toothpick. I said, ‘Hopefully you’re right.’ And obviously 10 years later, they were right. He’s come a long way, and he’s not so skinny anymore.

Becker, Zverev

What do you think he’s improved the most over these past few years that has allowed him to consistently stay at this level?
I think it’s his belief and his quality. He understands now that he belongs in the Top 5. He shows a remarkable consistency for someone so young. It’s one thing playing good one tournament, six months a year. It’s far more difficult to come back and defend it.

Everyone knows how you’re playing now, the competition obviously. The locker room never sleeps. So for him to come back this year and confirm his quality, I think it’s his biggest achievement. Of course he’s physically stronger now, the groundstrokes are better, but I think ultimately it’s down to your own confidence and the belief that you belong.

To be in the Top 5, you typically won’t have a true weakness. But do you think there’s a shot or a quality in his game he needs to improve significantly to take another step forward?
I think there’s a big difference [between] consistently playing Top 5 or Top 10. It’s a different quality. So I would emphasise that he’s a Top 5 player. He’s a student of the game. For him to ask Ivan Lendl to improve his quality and performances speaks volumes. He could have said he’s happy with his father and his surroundings, he’s doing well. But no, he wants to be better, he wants to get better. Hiring Ivan, he’s one of the best coaches in the game today, and when their partnership started in September, I was very happy. I knew right away that Sascha isn’t satisfied yet. He wants to get to the very top. I think with Ivan on his side, he can achieve that dream.

Is there something in particular Ivan can bring to his game?
I think the understanding of when to do what. There is one thing to practise the right away, but it’s another thing to prepare to play on the morning of a semi-final, of a final against the very best. It’s strategy, it’s tactics, it’s mindset, it’s attitude and that has nothing to do with any strokes… to understand when to do what against whom. When you coach players, most of them are happy to be in the semi-finals, and they start to relax a little bit and the tournament’s already good. When Ivan is on your side, once you’re in the semi-finals, the tournament has really just started.

Zverev Becker

Of course you’ve spoken to Sascha, so what’s the biggest lesson you’ve tried to impart to him?
Being the head of German tennis, I’ve tried to mentor him for the past two years. As I said to his brother and his family — I’m very close to him — and we often speak about tennis and I give him my thoughts, but he’s like a sponge. He wants to know, he wants to talk, he wants to practise, and I think that’s the most important thing, is that he understands that there are still a lot of things he needs to do overall.

Saying he’s a sponge and a student of the game, is that something that’s always been a part of him?
I have known him a couple years now, and he has this belief and confidence that, without being arrogant or without carrying his nose too high, he feels he’s got something in him that’s special, and I think that’s the most interesting thing that I’ve found about him, that he really believes and he feels that he’s one of the best players in the world and he wants to get to the very top.

Becker Zverev 

What do you think the biggest misconception about Sascha or his game is?
He’s very talkative and I’m talking from a German point of view. He gives wonderful interviews in English, you may remember his winner’s speech after he won at The O2. He was funny, and he made fun of himself and his friends. Sometimes in Germany he doesn’t come across that way. Some of the German media thinks he’s a bit arrogant and he doesn’t care, and he’s a bit cocky and all of that, and there’s nothing further from the truth. I wish he would come across in German the way he does in English.

How important do you think he can be for German tennis on the whole?
He’s now a superstar. Together with Angie Kerber, he can really put tennis back on the map in Germany. Both have gained millions of new fans in the past two years and they want to see him do well.

We’ve been blessed with a couple of good players in the past and some of the other players like Tommy Haas, Rainer Schuettler and others up to Philipp Kohlschreiber, they’re all very good, but I think Sascha is special. I just hope that he can continue to play great, continue to be proud of his country. It goes a long way. He’s only 21 years, so hopefully this thing will go for a long, long time.

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Top Five ATP Match Comebacks of 2018

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2018

Top Five ATP Match Comebacks of 2018

ATP World Tour Season In Review: Best Five Comebacks In ATP Matches

Continuing our Season In Review series, looks at the top five comebacks in ATP matches in 2018.

5. Nicolas Jarry d. Leonardo Mayer, Millennium Estoril Open, First Round (Match Stats)
By the end of 2018, Nicolas Jarry of Chile would make comebacks against more established players somewhat of a habit (see Upset vs. Cilic, Shanghai). But in May, when he fell behind 3-6, 5-6, 0/40 against Leonardo Mayer of Argentina, Jarry’s future at the Millennium Estoril Open very much looked finished.

Mayer had won two titles from four clay-court finals, and he hadn’t donated anything against Jarry, saving all three break points before bringing up the trio of tickets to the second round. But Jarry came to life, saving four match points in the 11th game and two more in the tie-break – 5/6, 6/7 – before advancing 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4.

It was another notable win for Jarry as he went onto reach the quarter-finals in Portugal. He’d reach the quarter-finals (or better) seven times in 2018. Mayer, for his part, showed his mettle on clay at the German Tennis Championships 2018 presented by Kampmann, making the final in Hamburg (l. to Basilashvili).

Read More: Jarry: ‘It’s Been A Heck Of A Ride’

4. Adrian Menendez-Maceiras d. Steve Johnson, New York Open, First Round (Match Stats)
Spain’s Adrian Menendez-Maceiras became a professional tennis player in 2005, but by February 2018, the 32-year-old had won only three tour-level matches. Menendez-Maceiras would forget about all of his other tour-level attempts at the 2018 New York Open.

He qualified for the ATP World Tour 250, and against American Steve Johnson, the Spaniard saved five match points – two at 2-5 in the decider, and three more from 3/6 down in the final-set tie-break to upset the seventh seed 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(7).

Menendez-Maceiras beat France’s Jeremy Chardy to reach the quarter-finals, where he fell to Adrian Mannarino. The Spanish veteran wouldn’t win another tour-level match all year. Johnson, however, won two ATP World Tour titles (Houston, Newport) and reached another final at the Winston-Salem Open.


3. Jeremy Chardy d. Fabio Fognini, BNP Paribas Open, Second Round (Match Stats)
Jeremy Chardy, a mainstay of French tennis since he turned pro in 2005 and a former Top 25 player (2013), had fallen on hard times. Before the BNP Paribas Open, the affable Frenchman had dropped to No. 100 in the ATP Rankings, the first time since 2012 three digits were next to his name. To say he needed a turnaround tournament would have been an understatement.

Fabio Fognini, meanwhile, was off to one of his best starts. He made two semi-finals (Sydney, Rio) and won the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo (d. Jarry).

So when the Italian surged ahead to a set and double-break lead, 6-4, 4-1, you couldn’t have blamed the chair umpire if he was already thinking about his next match.

More: Chardy Goes ‘On The Line’ With

But Chardy, behind rockets for forehands, held for the remainder of the set and broke Fognini twice to force the decider. In the third set, Chardy, who had been broken four times in the first two sets, never even faced a break point to reach the third round 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.

Chardy would go onto reach the quarter-finals before falling to top seed Roger Federer. The Frenchman finished the season at No. 40.

Fognini showed the loss was a mere hiccup in what became a banner season. The Italian won three titles and finished at a personal year-end best No. 13.


2. Marin Cilic d. Novak Djokovic, Fever-Tree Championships Final (Match Stats)
Novak Djokovic was still not his dominant self when he strolled into the final – his first in 51 weeks – at The Queen’s Club against Marin Cilic. But the Serbian still had to be feeling confident ahead of his 16th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting with the Croatian.

Their rivalry before that sunny Sunday afternoon: Djokovic had won 14 of their 15 matchups, and 34 of 41 sets. There is domination, and then there is what Djokovic had done to Cilic since they first met in Dubai a decade earlier.

Yet the 2017 Wimbledon finalist, as upbeat and polite as they come on the ATP World Tour, isn’t one to feel sorry for himself. Cilic dropped the opener when he netted a backhand while serving at 5-6, and Djokovic had his first match point at 7-5, 5-4, 40/30. Then the comeback began.

Watch Hot Shot: Cilic Floors Djokovic In Final

Cilic erased the match point with an ace, and came back, undeterred, from 1/4 down in the second-set tie-break to force the decider. Cilic had lost both of their grass-court matches and had beaten Djokovic only at Paris in 2016.

Yet as Cilic smashed a forehand to even the match, he walked to his bench looking like a man who thought he could win his second Fever-Tree Championships title: fist clenched, eyes glaring at his box.

Cilic, on the sprint, scooped a forehand past an approaching Djokovic as the Serbian served at 40/40, 3-4. On break point, Cilic pulled Djokovic wide, and the Serbian netted a routine backhand.

Djokovic, however, regrouped quickly to have the last say on grass in 2018. He won his fourth Wimbledon title and 13th Grand Slam crown (d. Anderson). Cilic, meanwhile, fell to Guido Pella of Argentina in the second round, one of the biggest upsets of the season.

Watch Highlights: Cilic Beats Djokovic For Second Queen’s Club Title

1. Alex de Minaur d. Andrey Rublev, Citi Open SF (Match Stats)
#NextGenATP had taken over the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., and Alex de Minaur was out to prove he was the best of the 21-and-under bunch. De Minaur, Russian Andrey Rublev, Alexander Zverev of Germany and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas all had made the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour 500-level event.

It was the first time since 1995 (Buenos Aires: Moya, Mantilla, Corretja, Novak) that four 21-and-under players reached the semi-finals at a tour-level event. But the 19-year-old Aussie was up against Rublev, who was trying to reach his second ATP World Tour final of the season (Doha, l. to Monfils).

Watch Highlights: De Minaur Saves Four Match Points vs. Rublev

The Russian, despite playing his second match of the day in the rain-delayed tournament, had brought up four match points, at 6/2 in the second-set tie-break. Yet De Minaur rallied to win six consecutive points and even the match 5-7, 7-6(6) against the Russian, who had been hitting lines all evening but missed a backhand wide to drop the second set.

De Minaur raced ahead in the decider when, seeing a break point at 3-2, he chased down three Rublev forehands deep in his own forehand corner before sprinting to the net to crush a forehand winner for the break.

The Aussie advanced to the final 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-4 but fell to Zverev, who repeated as champion in D.C. Both De Minaur and Rublev, however, ended their seasons on high notes at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. De Minaur made the final (l. to Tsitsipas), and Rublev finished third (d. Munar).

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WTA changes rules to give returning mothers increased rankings protection

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2018

Mothers returning to tennis will have increased protection for their rankings on the WTA Tour from next season.

Players coming back from childbirth, or injury, will now be able to use their previous ranking to enter 12 tournaments over a three-year period.

But Serena Williams’ wish for returning mothers to be seeded in line with that ranking has not been granted.

The WTA has instead decided to guarantee they will not face a seeded player in a tournament’s opening round.

As things stand, players must begin their comeback within two years, and then have a further year in which they can enter eight events under their protected ranking – the ranking held at the start of their absence.

Those rules also apply to players returning from injury.

But there is no protection in place for seedings, with tournaments able to use their own discretion to seed players.

A seeding allows tournaments to ensure the world’s best players do not meet in the early stages of competitions and instead play lower-ranked players in the opening rounds.

Williams returned to the sport in February after giving birth in 2017 and was not seeded at the French Open, her first Grand Slam appearance since her return, but was given a seeding of 25 for Wimbledon, despite being outside the top 32 in the rankings.

The WTA’s rule change comes after the organisation canvassed the opinions of players earlier in the year.

World number one Simona Halep and the five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova had both offered their support to Williams, but others like Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka and Johanna Konta expressed their reservations.

The WTA has also clarified its clothing rule to ensure Williams is able to wear the black catsuit which caused a major stir at this year’s French Open.

She dedicated the outfit to mothers and said it made her feel like a “queen from Wakanda”, in reference to the film Black Panther.

“Leggings and mid-thigh length compression shorts may be won with or without a skirt, shorts, or dress,” the new rule reads.

But Williams will not be able to wear it at Roland Garros next year, if the French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli gets his way. He has pledged to introduce a stricter dress code and says the outfit will no longer be accepted.

Other rule changes include the introduction of shot clocks, which have been used most notably at the US Open, at all Premier Tournaments next year. Players will be given 25 seconds in which to serve.

And in an attempt to reduce delays between sets, players will in future be allowed just one bathroom break per match.

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