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Sharapova must accept ban – Murray

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2016

Maria Sharapova “must accept responsibility” for failing a drugs test and serve her ban, according to Andy Murray.

The five-time Grand Slam winner, 28, revealed on Monday that she tested positive for meldonium in January.

“Clearly if you are taking performance-enhancing drugs and you fail a drugs test, you have to get suspended,” said Briton Murray, the world number two.

Russian Sharapova will be provisionally suspended from 12 March.

The former world number one says she has been taking the drug, which was added the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list on 1 January, for health reasons for the past 10 years.

More to follow.

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Kermode Appointed For Second Term As Tour Continues To Thrive

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2016

Kermode Appointed For Second Term As Tour Continues To Thrive

Kermode will continue as ATP Executive Chairman & President through 2019

The ATP Board of Directors has appointed Chris Kermode as ATP Executive Chairman & President for a second consecutive term, the ATP announced on Thursday.

Kermode began his first three-year term in the role of ATP Executive Chairman & President in January 2014, and the extension now sees him working through 2019. During his initial term, Kermode has overseen significant growth for the ATP. Only last year, an all-time record 4.5 million fans attended ATP World Tour events, while more than 1 billion television viewers tuned in throughout the season.

“I’ve taken great pleasure in leading the ATP since 2014, and I’m delighted to continue in my role as Executive Chairman & President,” said Kermode. “I’d like to thank the Board of Directors for its vote of confidence and support as we look to continue to maximise growth opportunities in the years ahead. Just as importantly, I look forward to working with the other governing bodies of tennis to continue to protect the integrity of our sport.”

In securing long-term prize money agreements and calendars through 2018, Kermode has successfully delivered stable and sustainable outcomes for the Tour on two of its most decisive matters. Prize money levels on the ATP World Tour are set to reach a record US$ 135 million by 2018.

Kermode has also been instrumental in overseeing a period of unprecedented growth in commercial sponsorship for the ATP World Tour. In 2015, the ATP secured US$ 160 million in new sponsorship revenue over the next five years, including a five-year partnership with award-winning airline Emirates as the Tour’s Premier Partner.

Roger Federer, the longest-serving ATP World No. 1, said, “Chris has done an excellent job and shown great leadership since heading up the ATP. The Tour is in great shape and I’m pleased to see that he will serve a second term.”

Kermode has also prioritised the lower levels of professional tennis in recent years, overseeing a long-term plan to implement a number of enhancements on the ATP Challenger Tour. Minimum prize money levels on the Challenger Tour are set to reach US$ 50K (+ Hospitality) by 2017, while a number of investments are being made to ensure improved tournament swings, enhanced officiating and player services, and greater marketing.

Justin Gimelstob, ATP Board Player Representative, said: “Chris has done an excellent job as the head of ATP. The Tour is in great health, and today’s announcement provides stability and continuity at the helm of the organisation – an important consideration for the Board.”

Mark Webster, ATP Board Tournament Representative, said: “The Tour has achieved multiple successes under Chris’ leadership since 2014. We look forward to continuing our work together as we set out a long-term vision for the Tour through 2019 and beyond.”

Kermode will continue to be based out of the ATP’s office in London.

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Racquet firm to extend Sharapova deal

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2016

Racquet manufacturer Head plans to extend its contract with Maria Sharapova, despite her positive test for banned drug meldonium.

The Russian, 28, has already lost the backing of Nike and Tag Heuer, while Porsche has suspended its relationship with her.

But Head says it is standing by the five-time Grand Slam champion.

“Maria may have made a mistake, but she has earned the benefit of the doubt and we are extending it to her,” it said.

Sharapova will be suspended from 12 March and could face a four-year ban after she tested positive at the Australian Open in January.

Head described Sharapova as “a role model and woman of integrity who has inspired millions of fans around the world to play and watch tennis”.

It added: “The honesty and courage she displayed in announcing and acknowledging her mistake was admirable.

“We look forward to working with her and to announcing new sponsorships in the weeks and months ahead.”

Another positive meldonium test…

Russian biathlete Eduard Latypov has been suspended after testing positive, the Russian Biathlon Union has confirmed.

The International Biathlon Union temporarily suspended the 21-year-old after traces of the banned substance were found in a sample taken last month.

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Nadal Hungry For Four

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2016

Nadal Hungry For Four

Three-time former champion returns to Indian Wells as No. 4 seed

The last time Rafael Nadal clutched the BNP Paribas Open trophy in Indian Wells it was a punctuation mark on a successful return from a seven-month injury lay-off. It was 2013, and his three-set triumph over Juan Martin del Potro marked his third straight title of the season and a springboard to cementing the year-end Emirates ATP World No. 1 Ranking.

Three years on, the Spaniard returns to Indian Wells as the No. 4 seed with a 44-8 record in the desert. He begins his quest for a fourth BNP Paribas Open against either Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller or Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic.

“I am practising hard and happy to be here with time and doing the right things [to prepare],” Nadal said. “I lost two matches at the beginning of the season that I could win and should probably win.

“I feel ready to keep going mentally and physically. I’m excited to be in Indian Wells, a tournament I love so much.”

Clay-court defeats to Dominic Thiem and Pablo Cuevas back-to-back in Brazil will have little bearing on Nadal as he contests his first hard-court event since his surprise first-round loss to compatriot Fernando Verdasco at the Australian Open. He could meet Verdasco – his Indian Wells doubles partner – again in the third round.

“South America was crazy humidity. It was very difficult to play in those extreme conditions – the temperatures and humidity were so high,” Nadal said. “I’m much better than last year in terms of personal feelings. Last year I was so nervous when I was competing. 

“This year I lost matches that I believed I could win, but I was prepared and didn’t have those negative feelings in terms of being without control of my breathing and being too nervous. This year I didn’t have the best possible results but I’m working hard to change that.”

Reflecting on the confidence boost his third BNP Paribas Open delivered in 2013, Nadal predicted the player he defeated in that final, del Potro, could similarly use his return to Indian Wells to bolster his mindset in a long road back from injury. The Argentine is contesting just his second tournament since wrist surgery curtailed his 2015 season.

“It was obvious in the first tournament he played he did amazing, reaching the semi-finals [in Delray Beach], winning some great matches against tough players after a long time,” Nadal said. “When I arrived here in 2013 I never thought I’d have a chance to win the title. He can do it, yes.

“It’s true that he has amazing potential and amazing tennis. He has the level to do it if he’s playing well.”

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I am a completely clean guy – Nadal

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2016

Rafael Nadal has denied he has ever used a banned substance to get an edge or to speed up recovery from injury.

Asked for his reaction to Maria Sharapova’s failed drug test, the 14-time Grand Slam champion took the opportunity to address speculation he has used performance-enhancing drugs.

The Spaniard, 29, said he was “a little bit tired” of the rumours, adding: “I am a completely clean guy.

“I have never had the temptation of doing something wrong.”

Nadal added: “I believe in the sport and the values of the sport.

“The sport is an example for society. It is an example for the kids and if I am doing something that goes against that, I will be lying to myself, not lying to my opponents.”

Nadal has never failed a drugs test but has been the subject of speculation that he dopes.

In 2011, former French Open champion Yannick Noah wrote a newspaper article saying Spanish sporting success was due to doping.

A year later, a French TV show featured a life-size likeness of Nadal filling up his car’s gas tank from his own bladder before being pulled over by traffic police for speeding.

Then in 2013, Belgian former professional player Christophe Rochus questioned Nadal being able to dominate the 2012 French Open and then be injured two weeks later at Wimbledon.

Nadal said he has taken advantage of some new treatments for his knee problems, like stem-cell therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy, often known as blood spinning.

“I have been open all my career,” he said. “I never tried to hide nothing that I did. I did PRP and then I did stem cells.

“The first time with PRP it worked fantastic and the second time it was bad. I had to stop playing tennis for seven months.

“With stem cells, I used it two times on my knees and it worked very well. I am not doing, never did, and never going to do something wrong.”

Nadal added that he trusts a doctor to monitor what medication he takes.

“He has been the doctor for all the Spanish players for a number of years,” he said. “I would never take nothing that he doesn’t know about.”

Former world number one Sharapova announced on Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January.

The five-time Grand Slam winner tested positive for meldonium, which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list this year.

Nadal said Sharapova deserves to be punished as an example to others.

“It is difficult to imagine that something like this can happen, but mistakes happen,” he said. “She should be punished.

“I want to believe it is a mistake for Maria. She didn’t want to do it. But obviously it is negligence. She must pay for it.”

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Reliable Berdych Targets Indian Wells

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2016

Reliable Berdych Targets Indian Wells

Czech looks to build on strong start to 2016

In his 12th consecutive Indian Wells appearance, Tomas Berdych is keen to make an impact at the BNP Paribas Open. Despite having started 2016 with a 12-5 record, the 2013 semi-finalist believes that he still has more to give.

“I’m trying to work on being a bit more aggressive, a bit more risky,” said Berdych, No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. “I have to do a little extra to raise my level and to do better.”

The powerful baseliner has made the quarter-finals or better in each of his four tournaments on the year, but has yet to reach a final and is looking for his first title since 2015 Stockholm (d. Sock). Another good reason for the 6’5” Czech to take a few more chances than usual: his lone ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title came in Paris in 2005, when he downed Ivan Ljubicic in five sets.

“Since you’re coming from Europe, you have a few more days before the tournament starts, so you can really take your time to prepare the way you want,” said Berdych, who helped the Czech Republic move into the Davis Cup quarter-finals with an away win in Germany last week. “The conditions are quite fast but it suits my game. I can play aggressively [here].”

Berdych, who has made the trip to the Californian desert every year since his debut in 2005, noted the tournament’s commitment to serving both players and fans.

“The tournament tries very hard to listen to the players and to make us feel at home,” Berdych said. “To have an event like this, it’s really nice. The organisers work really hard to promote the event and to get a lot of visitors here, which is very important. It’s always one of the best-attended events of the year.”

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Watch 2016 Indian Wells Practice Court Streaming

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2016

Watch 2016 Indian Wells Practice Court Streaming

Catch practice court action from the BNP Paribas Open.

Watch your favourite players work on their games by taking in a live stream of two practice courts at the BNP Paribas Open. 

The BNP Paribas Open practice court schedule is available exclusively in the official event mobile app. Download today to find out what time your favorite players are practising! Schedules only list the current day’s sessions. Visit Official Website

Watch Live Tennis On

Indian Wells TV Schedule

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Sharapova thanks fans for 'loyalty'

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2016

Maria Sharapova thanked fans for their “loyalty and support” in a Facebook post after her failed drugs test.

The five-time Grand Slam winner, 28, revealed on Monday that she tested positive for meldonium in January.

“I woke up yesterday morning with an inbox full of love and compassion,” wrote the Russian. “Your wonderful words put a smile on my face.”

Sharapova, who faces a ban of up to four years, said she was “determined to play tennis again”.

“I wish I didn’t have to go through this, but I do – and I will,” she wrote.

“I have not been online much except the odd search for a new antique coffee table, but my friends made a collage for me with all your beautiful messages and hashtags that you created.

“I spent the afternoon reading them next to my dog, who couldn’t quite understand why this was more important than the walk he was expecting to take.”

More on Sharapova and meldonium
Banning meldonium ‘will cause deaths on pitch’
Sharapova reckless beyond description – ex-Wada boss
Are these drugs being misused by athletes?

Meldonium was developed to treat diabetes and heart-related diseases but could have a positive effect on stamina and endurance because it can increase the flow of oxygen to muscles.

It was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) list of banned substances on 1 January 2016.

Sharapova, who says she has been taking meldonium for 10 years for health reasons, has had some sponsorship deals ended or postponed.

The International Tennis Federation said she will be provisionally suspended from 12 March.

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