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World Team Cup: GB wheelchair tennis teams aiming for best ever medal haul

  • Posted: May 16, 2019

Britain’s wheelchair tennis players can claim their best ever medal haul at the 2019 BNP Paribas World Team Cup after all four teams reached the semi-finals.

The annual tournament is the wheelchair tennis equivalent of the Fed Cup and Davis Cup competitions.

Britain’s men face Japan on Friday for a place in Saturday’s final, while the juniors meet Australia in their final on Friday.

The women’s and quads teams play South Africa for bronze medals on Friday.

Great Britain is the only country to have teams in the semi-finals across all four events at the tournament in Ramat Hasharon, Israel.

It could also be the first time that all four British teams win medals – a feat only ever achieved before by the Netherlands and the USA.

Britain’s previous best total was three medals won in 2012.

The men’s team – Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid and Dermot Bailey – will face Argentina or France in the final if they beat Japan.

“There have been some really good performances from everyone in the team this week,” Hewett said.

British number two Andy Cotterill will be part of the quads team looking to win bronze on Friday. “We are still playing for a medal but we came here to win gold. Hopefully we can bounce back and take bronze,” he said.

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Konta wins twice in day to reach quarter-finals

  • Posted: May 16, 2019

British number one Johanna Konta reached the Italian Open quarter-finals with a 6-2 6-4 win over Venus Williams – her second match of the day.

Konta, 27, came from a set down to beat world number eight Sloane Stephens before overcoming seven-time Grand Slam winner Williams, now ranked 50th.

Williams was hampered by injury and an assured Konta won in 72 minutes.

She will play Marketa Vondrousova in the last eight in Rome after the Czech beat Russian Daria Kasatkina.

Having come from a set down to beat world number two Simona Halep earlier in the day, 19-year-old left-hander Vondrousova was again taken to three sets against Kasatkina, recording a 7-5 2-6 6-2 win in two hours and 13 minutes.

Williams received a walkover into the third round after sister Serena withdrew because of a knee injury.

The 38-year-old had won her past three meetings with Konta, including the 2017 Wimbledon semi-final.

She had her right knee strapped in Thursday’s contest and, although she improved as the match wore on, Konta reached the first Premier clay-court quarter-final of her career.

World number one Naomi Osaka recorded consecutive 6-3 6-3 wins over Dominika Cibulkova and Mihaela Buzarnescu to set up a last-eight meeting with world number four Kiki Bertens.

Former French Open and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza withdrew from her match against Victoria Azarenka with a thigh injury when 6-4 3-1 down.

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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Federer fights back to reach Italian Open last eight

  • Posted: May 16, 2019

World number three Roger Federer saved two break points in defeating 13th seed Borna Coric 2-6 6-4 7-6 (9-7) to reach the quarter-finals of the Italian Open.

Federer, playing in the event for the first time since 2016, beat Joao Sousa in straight sets earlier in the day.

Coric, 22, had not played since beating Cameron Norrie on Tuesday and returned superbly to race 4-0 ahead but Federer, 37, won in two hours, 31 minutes.

There were comfortable wins for Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

It was the first meeting on clay between Federer and Coric, with the Swiss leading 3-2 on previous encounters, having won the most recent 6-2 6-2 in Dubai this year.

Having lost the opening set comprehensively, during which he was treated for a blister, Federer had his first break point opportunity at 3-2 up in the second.

Though it was not taken, a magnificent cross-court forehand created another which led to a succession of exchanges of serve, culminating in another break from Federer to seal the set in 47 minutes.

The Swiss maestro saved a break point in both the fifth and nine games of the decider but a rare wayward forehand saw him slip 3-1 behind in the tie-break.

To tumultuous cheers from the crowd in the late evening, Federer, four times a beaten finalist in the tournament, rallied and served out for victory on his second match point.

He will next face eighth-seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or Italian Fabio Fognini.

Defending champion Nadal, seeking his ninth Italian title, conceded only two games in winning his two matches on Thursday.

The 32-year-old Spaniard, who has lost in the semi-finals of his last four events, took one hour eight minutes to beat France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-0 6-1 and six minutes fewer to see off Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-1 6-0.

Nadal next plays fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, who defeated 11th-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov 7-5 3-6 6-3.

World number one Djokovic, having beaten 20-year-old Denis Shapovalov 6-1 6-3 earlier in the day, needed only an hour and three minutes to oust German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-0.

The 31-year-old Serb, who won the last of his four Italian titles in 2015, next plays seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro, who saw off Casper Ruud – the Norwegian who had progressed after Nick Kyrgios forfeited their second-round match – 6-4 6-4.

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Double Duty Pleases Del Potro In Rome

  • Posted: May 16, 2019

Double Duty Pleases Del Potro In Rome

Argentine favourite bouncing back in comeback event

Juan Martin del Potro will sleep well in his bed on Thursday night in Rome, after validating his recovery from a right knee injury by winning two matches in a day for a confidence boost, ahead of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia quarter-finals.

The popular seventh-seeded Argentine, contesting only his third ATP Tour event of 2019, produced a solid blend of power tennis in victories over David Goffin, earlier on Thursday, and in his dismantling of Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud’s game for a 6-4, 6-4 win over one hour and 36 minutes.

The last time Del Potro played two matches in one day was on 17 August 2018 at the Western & Southern Open, when he beat Nick Kyrgios in the third round, but lost to David Goffin in the quarter-finals.

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The 30-year-old saved two break points in the 52-minute first set, converting his third set point chance with a backhand winner. Two errors in three points from Ruud gifted Del Potro at 3-2 advantage in the second set, amidst roars from Grandstand when Roger Federer saved two match points against Borna Coric in the final set tie-break.

The 2009 and 2017 quarter-finalist, playing at the Foro Italico in Rome for the seventh time in his career, will now play World No. 1 and four-time former champion Novak Djokovic or Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.

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Nadal is 'super salty' & Djokovic 'cringeworthy' – Kyrgios hammers rivals in frank podcast

  • Posted: May 16, 2019

He’s never been one to hold back and now Nick Kyrgios has unleashed a volley of criticism against some of his fellow professionals in an unfiltered interview.

Speaking on the ‘No Challenges Remaining’ podcast, the 24-year-old branded Rafael Nadal “super salty” and called Novak Djokovic “cringeworthy”.

In the 50-minute interview, Kyrgios called Roger Federer the “greatest of all time” but had less warm words for the Swiss’ great rival Nadal.

“He’s my polar opposite. Literally my polar opposite,” Kyrgios said. “And he’s super salty.

“When he wins it’s fine, he won’t say anything bad, he’ll credit the opponent – ‘he competed well today, he’s a great player’ – but then as soon as I beat him, it’s just like ‘he has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game’. I’m like ‘what are you talking about? I literally played this way that I beat you the other previous times and nothing changed’.

“It’s not a good look. And then Uncle Toni [Nadal’s coach] came out saying ‘he lacks education’. I’m like ‘I did 12 years at school, you idiot. I’m very educated. I understand that you’re upset I beat your family again’.”

The contents of the podcast interview became public on Thursday, the same day Kyrgios was defaulted from the Italian Open after throwing a chair on to the court and walking off.

He was docked a game by the umpire for unsportsmanlike conduct, and as Kyrgios packed his bags and left, the umpire awarded the match to Norway’s Casper Ruud early in the deciding set.

Kyrgios on Novak Djokovic

“I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked. He just wants to be like Roger.

“For me personally, I don’t care right now, I’ve come this far, I feel like he just wants to be liked so much that I just can’t stand him.

“This whole celebration thing that he does after matches, it’s like so cringeworthy. It’s very cringeworthy.

“But he is a champion of the sport, one of the greatest you’ll see.

“Djokjovic just rubs me the wrong way, always says what feels like he needs to say and never speaks his opinion.”

Kyrgios on Andy Murray:

“I feel like his record against Djokovic is embarrassing, I’ve told him! I just feel like he’s so much better than Novak, I’ve played them both, and I feel like Andy Murray returns better, he’s harder to play against, I feel like his serve’s better… I’ve told him ‘you should have won so many more Grand Slams’.

“With Murray, he would have ticked all the boxes, it’s just sad, it sucks not seeing him around here, in the locker room he was the best, always having bants and everybody was super friendly with him but he also had an opinion of some people too and he wasn’t afraid to say things as well which I liked. He was just a lot of fun and I think the sport lost a good one there.”

Kyrgios on Fernando Verdasco:

“Verdasco drives me nuts, man. It gets me so vexed, I’m like angry now that I just hear that name. He’s the most arrogant person ever. He doesn’t say hello, he thinks he’s so good, he thinks he’s God’s gift. Dude, your backhand’s pretty average and let’s be honest, you hit a ball over a net.

“Guys like that, they drive me insane. There’s no humility there, there’s no perspective. It’s just like ‘I’m here, I’m so cool, I’m unbelievable because I hit a ball over the net. Do this for me, do this for me, I won’t say hello to you, I’m too important’.

“Guys like that. See how angry I’m getting? It kills me.”

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Lawn Tennis Association: Accounts show loss of £8.8m for 2018

  • Posted: May 16, 2019

The Lawn Tennis Association made a loss of £8.8m last year, and has lost more than £12m in two years.

This is despite British tennis’ governing body getting a £7.2m increase in revenue from Wimbledon in 2018.

BBC Sport reported in November how the loss for 2018 could be as high as £7.5m – a figure the LTA described at the time as “wildly inaccurate”.

The latest figure follows losses of £3.6 and £1m in the previous two years, and a profit of £1.2m in 2015.

The LTA does, though, have vast reserves, and will receive 90% of the surplus from Wimbledon until 2053.

Commercial revenue fell by just over £4m in 2018, primarily because the LTA’s extremely lucrative nine-year partnership with the financial services company Aegon ended the previous year.

Operating expenditure increased by £2.6m, with “exceptional expenditure” of £1.9m down to an internal reorganisation.

The LTA also suffered a net loss of £3.6m on its investment portfolio but still has total equity of £161.4m.

An LTA spokesman said: “At the end of 2018, the market value of investments fell and this loss increased the loss for the year by £3.6m, which we weren’t aware of in early November when the BBC approached us.

“Secondly, the LTA has committed reserves to a capital investment programme into building and improving Britain’s tennis infrastructure, such as building new indoor courts in areas where there isn’t any tennis provision currently.

“Finally, we planned for an operating loss in 2017 and 2018, but we took the decision not to decrease spend on performance and participation despite this temporary drop in income.”

LTA’s recent financial results
Year Operating profit/loss Profit/loss for the year
2018 -£6.3m -£8.8m
2017 -£7.4m -£3.6m
2016 -£1.9m -£1m
2015 £800,000 £1.2m

A third of the LTA’s expenditure goes into staging tournaments, primarily in the run-up to Wimbledon.

Just over a quarter is invested in increasing participation, and 14% is directed towards the performance budget.

The chief executive Scott Lloyd conducted a “listening exercise” when he joined the organisation in January 2018.

Last June, the LTA launched a 10-year performance plan, and then in March unveiled a new logo and a strategy “to open tennis to as many people as possible, across the whole of Britain”.

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Djokovic, In A Hurry, Routs Shapovalov

  • Posted: May 16, 2019

Djokovic, In A Hurry, Routs Shapovalov

Serbian through to the third round

Novak Djokovic played like a man in a hurry – and on a roll – on Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The four-time champion spent only 66 minutes on the court, dismissing #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-1, 6-3 on Campo Centrale.

Djokovic, who won Rome in 2008, ’11, ’14-15, landed 80 per cent of his first serves and came through on nine of his 13 break points against Shapovalov, who hit 24 unforced errors to 16 winners. The two first met in January in the third round of the Australian Open, where Djokovic won in four sets, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0, en route to his 15th Grand Slam title.

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On Sunday, he beat #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a record-tying 33rd ATP Masters 1000 title at the Mutua Madrid Open. Both Nadal and Djokovic are vying for No. 34 this week in the Italian capital.

In Thursday’s final match on Grandstand, the top-seeded Djokovic will face the winner of German Philipp Kohlschreiber and Italy’s Marco Cecchinato for a place in the quarter-finals.

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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal reach third round at Italian Open

  • Posted: May 16, 2019

Roger Federer marked his Italian Open return with victory against Portugal’s Joao Sousa, as eight-time champion Rafael Nadal also progressed in Rome.

Making his first appearance since 2016, four-time finalist Federer, 37, defeated Sousa 6-4 6-3 in one hour and 21 minutes to reach the third round.

Defending champion Nadal, 32, took one hour and eight minutes to beat France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-0 6-1.

Federer plays Borna Coric next, while Nadal faces Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Both matches will be played later on Thursday after rain washed out Wednesday’s play.

  • Konta defeats Stephens to set up Williams meeting in Rome
  • Federer criticises Italian Open over ticket prices

Barcelona Open champion and Madrid Open semi-finalist Dominic Thiem lost in the second round to Spain’s world number 38 Fernando Verdasco.

Thiem took the first set but Verdasco broke the world number four’s serve at 5-5 in the third to win 4-6 6-4 7-5 in two hours and 46 minutes.

Ninth seed Marin Cilic is also out after Germany’s world number 51 Jan-Lennard Struff claimed a 6-2 6-3 victory against the Croat.

Struff’s third-round opponent is Kei Nishikori, after Japan’s world number six defeated American Taylor Fritz 6-2 6-4.

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