This has been a great week in the life of Nick Kyrgios. He had to describe it as one of his favourite weeks. The 24year-old Kyrgios won Daniil Medvedev with straight sets of 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) while delivering a very entertaining final game.
The Australian born Kyrgios has been playing in eight ATP finals and secured his sixth title win this week. He is currently the highest-rated Australian tennis player on the ATP ranks. During his career, his professionalism as the player has been a couple of times in question though. Only last month during Wimbledon, Kyrgios was hitting the spotlight for being seen in a pub the night before playing Rafael Nadal. It often seemed in the past like he was giving up on matches.
This might have changed now, and we can only hope that when Kyrgios stated that he decided to make a change, which this time around it will last. He also expressed his appreciation for the fact that even during a time when he didn’t have faith in himself anymore, there were still those who had faith in him and kept on supporting him.
Always Keeping the Crowds Intrigued
Kyrgios has a very naughty side when on the court, and that makes his games very entertaining to the crowds. During this week of play they were often asked on suggestions where to serve, handing out fist pumps or quietly singing along with songs, Kyrgios has fun on the court, and he has a way of keeping the crowd captivated. What this week showed us again is that when Kyrgios focus on the game and set out to win, he can be unbeatable. He has in the past been able to beat players much stronger than his competitors during this week in the US, but will he now finally stop faffing around and focus on his game and his impeccable talent?
Complex History of Wins and Losses
Over the years, he has shown us that when he wants to win, he can be undefeated, but his emotions are always seeming to get the better part of him. Kyrgios struggle to play a motivated game when he is competing against lower-ranked players, leaving him often losing against them. When he is motivated, he defeats much stronger opponents like during the Mexican Open earlier this year. After going through a terrible run during the Delray Beach Open in February, he arrived at the Mexican Open with renewed focus. He managed to defeat Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal, John Isner and Alexander Zverev and ended up winning the title. It is clear that when he is happy in life, he is a winner, but too often his emotions are having an unfortunate effect on his performance, and that is what is robbing him of becoming the best he can be on the court.
Disparity not only in regular earning rates but also in prize money between men’s and women’s teams continue to rumble in the world of sport. Hence it comes as a refreshing change that China is now offering the most significant amount in prize money in the history of tennis for a women’s tournament. The amount of $4.75 million is the tag attached to the winning prize of the Shiseido WTA which is being held in Shenzhen. The amount is exceeding even the most significant sum ever paid to a male tennis player.
A Grand Moment in the History of Women’s Sport
The offered prize money is exceeding the money paid to the entire United States Women’s National Team for winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this year. It is also more than what Tiger Woods pocketed for winning the Masters. It is even almost double which was paid to the winner of the ATP finals which is considered to be the equivalent to the tournament. In an interview with Ashleigh Barty, the current No. 1 in the world, she mentioned that it is fantastic that sponsors were willing to offer such a large amount. She also said that although it is excellent, it is also a reflection of more than just prize money, but the increased popularity of the sport in the world. All the players of the past, building the competition needs to be recognized for this as well.
The WTA Finals
The Shiseido WTA finals will bring together a total of eight of the best players during the tour. They will compete firstly in two round-robin groups and then in knockout rounds to determine who will be crowned the winner of the WTA. Over the past couple of years, eight of the most recent sixteen winners were undefeated during the entire tournament. Elina Svitolina, the victor of 2018, being the most recent of them.
The players who are competing against each other for the mega prize qualified according to a system based on the Porsche Race Rankings. This entails that points are accumulated from the four grand slams as well as the 53 WTA tournaments.
The total amount of prize money is set at $14 million and all competing are keen on claiming their share of it. The prize money has been doubled since last year. This is thanks to the new title sponsor of the tournament. Shiseido is a beauty company and is recognized as the largest in Japan and the fifth largest in the world.
Getting Even In Payment
It took many years for all the grand slams to achieve equal prize money for both the men’s and women’s champions. Wimbledon was the last grand slam to change over and has done so in 2007. This year, however, the WTA Finals has become the most lucrative of all the leading tournaments.
This week the International Tennis Federation suspended Haddad Maia; currently, 99th ranked in the world, for testing positive for banned substances.
Haddad Maia failed a drug test which was done on the 4th of June. This was during the Croatia Open. Haddad Maia’s test came back, testing positive for traces of two banned substances. These substances are categorized as selective androgen receptor modulators. They are also referred to as SARMs. SARM’s falls in the category of synthetic drugs and deliver the same kind of results as what anabolic steroids do. They are increasing in popularity under athletes, especially with weightlifters.
Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators
SARMs can be purchased legally as research chemicals but has been on the banned list of the World Anti-Doping Agency as well as with the governing bodies of several major sports, for a while now. They have been around for quite a long time but only came into the spotlight recently. Many variants of SARM’s are available. They include names like Andarine, Ostarine and Cardarine. They are generally considered to be safer than steroids and are often used to treat muscle deterioration in patients with osteoporosis. Due to some long term side effects which these might create, medical professionals can’t prescribe them.
SARM’s have the same effect as steroids and assist athletes with increasing endurance and strength. SARM’s have mostly gone undetected during drug testing in the past because it doesn’t influence the user’s hormone levels. Still some have been tested positive including Alonzo Trier, currently playing NBA as well as Jimmy Walhead playing UFC. In their cases, they claimed that they weren’t aware that they are getting it in. Warhead even went so far to send his supplement to have it tested. It tested positive for the substance, also though the supplement didn’t indicate it so on the label. Haddad Maia does have the option to appeal her provisional suspension but hasn’t done so yet, since she was notified of the ITF’s decision on the 12th of July.
Haddad Maia’s Career
Haddad Maia qualified for Wimbledon this year. She made the headlines when she caused a major upset when beating Garbine Muguruza, the former champion, during their first round. The news regarding her test results came in just after she won Harriet Dart from Britain during the second round.
At the moment, there are no details regarding which SARM did she test positive for or whether she will have a defence argument like some testing positive before her. These situations can cause severe headaches to sports governing bodies. Currently, it is still not sure what her punishment will be since it is uncertain whether she might also have gotten it in accidentally through supplements. The supplement industry is still largely unregulated, and many do include banned substances even though it is never listed on their labels. For now, athletes can only be cautious regarding which supplements they do take to avoid unnecessary consequences for their careers.
Roger Federer was one swing of his tennis racket away from becoming a Wimbledon champion on two occasions during the final. However, Novak Djokovic managed to outperform him both times. What’s truly impressive about this match is that a 21st Grand Slam title for Roger Federer might have placed the record out of reach for both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who is currently chasing the paper at the moment. However, Djokovic’s victory will undoubtedly supercharge him now to claim more Grand Slam events.
The Battle for GOAT
Novak Djokovic currently has 16 Grand Slam titles, while Rafael Nadal impresses with 18 Grand Slam titles. Given the superiority from Nadal at the French Open, where the tennis star already has a total of 12 medals, it’s not difficult to imagine that he can easily win two more medals at Roland Garros, regardless of who is in front of him. However, Djokovic is not only younger than Nadal but also a more rounded player, making him equally dangerous on any surface imaginable. However, here is the kicker: Novak Djokovic already leads against both men, 28-26 against Nadal and 26-22 against Federer.
With everything else being equal, Novak Djokovic should be able to maintain his superiority going forward. Roger Federer is 37 years old at the moment, while Nadal is extremely injury-prone and doesn’t have any notable titles outside of Paris since he claimed victory in 2017 at the U.S Open. Roger Federer looked like he had the GOAT in the bag after claiming the Australian Open in 2018. However, Djokovic might be able to dominate the sport by claiming more notable titles. Does this concern Roger Federer at all?
Roger Federer recently stated that the chase for the record is in a completely different place at the moment. Federer takes motivation from a unique place which has nothing to do with claiming titles. He is not interested in keeping the record as he already managed to break it first. The document will be broken eventually, as with all things. Roger also stated that he didn’t become a tennis player for holding records or claiming the most Grand Slam titles.
Serena’s Last Stand
How many more opportunities will Serena Williams have going forward? This is a question that is currently on everyone’s lips after the unexpected women’s final where Simona Help defeated Serena Williams to become the newest Wimbledon champion. It’s a good question, especially when you consider than Williams is turning 38 in September. She hasn’t been able to win a tournament since the Australian Open in 2017 and ultimately faltered during Wimbledon even though she was fit and healthy.
Most believe that Williams needs s to stop participating in activities where she is a celebrity and spokesperson and play in more events to adequately prepare for majors. However, this is something that Serena Williams is not interested in, allowing her rivals to gain more confidence when they face her. The last opportunity for her will be the U.S Open in 2019.
Novak Djokovic managed to outlast Roger Federer in a genuinely astonishing five-set battle on Sunday, claiming victory during the very first fifth-set tiebreaker in a men’s final at Wimbledon to once again become the men’s champion and win his fifth Grand Slam title at the All England Club. The fifth-set tiebreaker was also considered the first in any final of the men’s tournament at all four Grand Slam tournaments.
Djokovic Defeats Federer in Epic Final
Novak Djokovic as the top-seeded player managed to defeat Roger Federer to remain undefeated against the Swiss who was second-seeded in a total of three final matchups at Wimbledon. Novak Djokovic also managed to claim victory in 2014 and in 2015 where he defended the championship for the very first time. Novak Djokovic managed to win his first title at Wimbledon in 2011.
At 4 hours and 57 minutes, this match was regarded as the longest final in the history of Wimbledon which featured 35 aces, 68 games, and a total of 422 points, including 204 points for Djokovic and 218 points for Federer. Unfortunately, in these kinds of games, there has to be a loser.
Novak Djokovic managed to save w match points to eventually reach the fifth-set tiebreaker where he became the first player since 1948 to successfully save championship points during a final to go on and win it. Djokovic stated that he was overjoyed and thrilled to be considered the winner of this never-ending match. He also noted that the game could have gone either way as Federer was serving phenomenally throughout the game.
Roger Federer’s Mistakes
Roger Federer was the first player to fall behind and make a comeback. He trailed by a set on two occasions. However, he did come extremely close to claiming victory in the final in the third. Roger Federer was only two points away from grabbing the first set on a total of 7 occasions. However, he wasn’t able to do it. He was also 1 point away from claiming the third, but once again fell short.
Then Roger Federer found himself down a break early on during the fifth set. After it seemed like he gained the upper hand, with only 1 point away from winning while he was serving for the win, he fell short yet again.
He managed to send a forehand quite wide during the first championship point, while Djokovic managed to produce a crosscourt forehand to win the next. Before too long, Djokovic had managed to make a significant comeback to continue playing for an additional 45 minutes. The crowd supported Federer far more than Djokovic and Novak stated that is was truly difficult to ignore.
Federer wanted to claim his 21st Grand Slam title, while Djokovic managed to claim his 16th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. This allowed Djokovic to move four titles closer to Federer’s record 20 Grand Slam titles and two titles closer to Nadal’s 18 titles.
The 15-year-old superstar from the United States, who managed to become the youngest player in the world to successfully qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon in the professional era, was defeated by Simona Halep, the former number 1, 6-3, 6-3 during the 4th round this week.
Gauff stated that she learned a great deal at the tournament, especially from someone much younger than most players within the junior competition who participate at Wimbledon. She experienced what it’s like to play in front of a massive crowd and learned a fair amount of the pressures that come with such a prestigious event. Gauff was also very thankful that she had an opportunity like this at such a young age.
Gauff’s Journey at Wimbledon
Gauff managed to defeat Venus Williams, a 5-time tennis champion, during the first round of Wimbledon and managed to save two match points during the 3rd round to eventually advance to the second week of the tournament during her debut at this Grand Slam event.
Gauff walked onto the number 1 court, considered the second-largest stadium within the All England Club, receiving plenty of support from the vast crowd. However, the 2018 French Open Champion and semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2014, Simona Halep, had far better shots. Halep managed to break Gauff 5 times and took full advantage of a total of 29 unforced errors.
Gauff did go on to save two match points when she served at 5-2. However, Halep managed to win the next game to advance to the quarterfinals eventually. Earlier on in the competition, Serena Williams managed to advance to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon for the 14th time, defeating Carla Suarez Navarro.
Other Players at Wimbledon
During the men’s draw, Novak Djokovic, the four-time champion, managed to advance along with Rafael Nadal who is a two-time winner at Wimbledon. Novak Djokovic defeated Ugo Humbert, while Rafael Nadal defeated Joao Sousa. The eight-time champion, Roger Federer, managed to defeat Matteo Berrettini to advance to the quarterfinals.
Serena Williams, who is a seven-time champion at Wimbledon, missed about 12 months of play due to having a baby and decided to make a return to Wimbledon this year. She skipped the warm-up tournaments, and her most recent match was playing at the French Open during the third round before she entered for Wimbledon. She stated that she hadn’t played enough games to prepare her for Wimbledon and she’s looking at more matches this week than what she played in the last five months.
Williams managed to reach the quarterfinals during the Australian Open and during the Indian Wells decided to retire from a match. She also withdrew from matches in Rome and Miami and then managed to play again during the French Open. She has experienced quite a rollercoaster ride since she made her return in 2018, but she looks like she is back on form at Wimbledon this year.
Moments after she was defeated at Wimbledon during the first round, Naomi Osaka found herself in front of a jam-packed room filled with reporters from across the globe, answering as many questions as possible. During her Q&A, she spoke very softly and tried her best to hold back the tears that surfaced from the moment she sat down.
After a couple of minutes that looked like sheer agony, Naomi Osaka decided to interrupt a question regarding the pressures of her brand-new fame and asked her moderator if she could leave as she was about to burst out in tears. After that, she stood up and walked out of the room while an uncomfortable silence spread across the floor that created even more questions among reporters.
The Life of a Tennis Athlete
The career and life of a professional athlete in tennis is filled with lows and highs. However, perhaps no one has managed to exemplify it more extremely than Naomi Osaka in the last 12 months. She managed to defeat Serena Williams in a truly controversial game to claim her very first Grand Slam title during the U.S Open early in September and dominated the Australian Open to reach the world’s number 1 ranking in January. To many, it looked like the future of tennis finally arrived, complete with a quirky sense of humour and a bouncy ponytail, and she was instantly seen everywhere you look. The magazine covers kept pouring in, as did endorsements and television appearances.
However, it soon became apparent that not everything was perfect in the world of Naomi Osaka. She decided to fire Sascha Bajin, her incredible tennis coach, only weeks following her victory in Melbourne, and only provided reporters with vague comments regarding her decision to fire the coach in search of happiness. Since this occurred, the tennis star has struggled on the court where she only managed to advance once in April to a semi-final, while falling short during the French Open in the third round. This marked the earliest exit by a female in her first major as a top-ranked tennis player since 2008 with Ana Ivanovic.
Defeat at Wimbledon
When you consider the discussions of a Naomi Slam after her second consecutive victory in Australia, her unexpected loss on the very first day feels quite tricky. Osaka managed to before only the 4th female in the history of the Open Era to lose in an opening match during Wimbledon while she was ranked as the top seed.
Naomi Osaka played against Yulia Putintseva, regarded as a two-time quarterfinalist in the French Open who is ranked number 39 in the world, on centre court and started strong as the managed to take a 3-1 lead. However, she went on to lose a set after a difficult tie-break. Putintseva managed to win both their previous meetings and at Wimbledon, Osaka looked clueless on several occasions, accumulating over 30 unforced errors during the match.
It was a magical moment that will live on forever in the world of tennis when Canada transformed into a global power.
Canadian Tennis Stars On The Rise
Bianca Andreescu from Toronto, who was only 18 at the time, managed to become the only entry via wild-card to claim victory at the Indian Wells in a singles tournament, making her the first player from Canada to win one of the mandatory events at the WTA. Fourteen days later, Felix Auger-Aliassime, who was 18 at the time, and Denis Shapovalov, who was 19 at the time, managed to smash their way to the semi-finals of the Miami Open.
The all-Canadian final never took place due to Roger Federer taking out Shapovalov, while John Isner eliminated Felix Auger-Aliassime. However, by then, the transformation of Canada made a significant impact on the world of tennis, especially on the international arena, and the country was on everyone’s lips as we headed into spring.
Felix Auger-Aliassime stated that it is phenomenal what was happening at Miami in terms of Canadian tennis players. Canada was pleased with the results, and the comments about the country are refreshing to hear. He also stated that a lot of belief is placed on Canada when it comes to tennis as well as the tennis players in general.
However, belief is rather difficult to back up as the young players in Canada soon realized. Bianca Andreescu has only played one match since she decided to pull out from the Miami Open due to a right shoulder injury. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov took a hard knock on clay where Felix Auger-Aliassime eventually came to life during the final day in Lyon, a rather modest tournament that occurs right before the French Open. Felix Auger-Aliassime was unavailable for the French Open due to a groin injury, but he did state that he would be available for Wimbledon.
So Why is Canada Performing Now?
Hatem McDadi recently stated that there’s a considerable hockey culture in the country and therefore the country had to create and develop their own tennis culture from scratch. During the early 2000s, McDadi was the director of player development in the country for Tennis Canada, and an effort was created to improve the country’s tennis fortunes. Now, McDadi is the senior vice president of Tennis Canada in the development department. The organization initially created a foundation with designed programs and hired world-class tennis coaches to assist in creating a pathway to success.
Some of the tennis coaches included Bob Brett who mentored Goran Ivanisevic and Boris Becker, Louis Borfiga who is well respected in France due to his training program, and plenty of other elite tennis coaches to assist in the transformation. McDadi also approached parents and enrolled their children from the age of 4 into various sports to build experience from a very young age. This ensured that athletes in Canada improved over time, and it’s undoubtedly showing now.
Even though she only turned 23 recently, it feels like we’ve known about Ashleigh Barty for decades. Her business-like demeanour and dimpled smile while playing in prestigious matches have been familiar sightings for several years now.
Who is Ashleigh Barty?
When Ashleigh was 15 years old she was already a junior Wimbledon champion. When she was 16, she became a Grand Slam doubles finalist. Any athlete who can succeed at such a young age deserves to be at the top when they are only 23 years old. She is one of the most admired and well-liked players when it comes to tennis and continues to improve with each passing year.
Tennis is a sport that sees plenty of young kids enter the sport, hit the wall, and never seem to completely bounce back from it. However, Ashleigh managed to make a return to the sport on her own time where she first made her mark in doubles and then later in singles. She appeared rejuvenated and full of life when she made her return. During her time away she decided to play professional cricket, a sport where she excelled for a short time after she picked it up without any prior experience. She played it due to the team component that came along with it.
When she made her way back to tennis, she was under the impression that doubles would be her ticket to receive a major title. She never expected that singles would be her way to glory. Ashleigh Barty is still incredibly young even though her opponent at the 2019 Roland Garros was only 19 years of age. Their ages combined is the lowest that any major championship has seen since Dinara Safina and Ana Ivanovic played in the French Open championship of 2008.
Ashleigh Barty’s Victory
Ashleigh Barty was the number 8 seed and she managed to execute a phenomenal range of things in her creative and crisp game. The only thing she was required to do was fire on all cylinders to win a tournament and she did exactly that while was she playing against Vondrousova to claim a win in only 70 minutes. It was very similar to the men’s semi-final victory by Dominic Thiem.
Disbelief and joy crossed Ashleigh’s face when she realised that she won. The managed to become the first player from Australia to lift the Suzanne-Lenglen Cup in 46 years where she fulfilled two prophecies on social media that were made this week by Rod Laver, a legendary countryman.
The only misstep from Ashleigh occurred during the national anthem of the prestigious trophy ceremony where she had to be told where to stand. Once she was alone on the podium, emotions took over and she was unable to hold back her tears. This obviously didn’t matter much as her lyrical style managed to sing for itself on the stage. She is one remarkable player that will surely win more trophies.
Toni Nadal, the long-time coach and uncle of Rafael Nadal, patiently waited for his nephew after Sunday’s 2019 French Open, ready to congratulate him on his 12th Roland Garros title. This was an accomplishment that Toni Nadal described as phenomenal, mainly because everybody in the world of tennis never through that the record set by Bjorn Borg would be broken and he only managed to accumulate 6 French Open titles.
Rafael Nadal’s French Open Career
Rafael Nadal currently has twice as many French Open titles as Borg which is a record that will be impossible to beat, especially given the fact that Rafael Nadal can still win a few more titles before he decides to retire from the sport. What’s even more impressive is that no one had managed to achieve a Roland Garros-Wimbledon double since Rafael Nadal made it in 2010 when he claimed his second Wimbledon title only two years after his original title.
Rafael Nadal was also the runner-up during 2011. However, for a couple of years, after that, his creaking knees were not up for the challenge. He only managed to win two matches at Wimbledon during 2012, 2013, and 2015. He was stuck in fourth place during 2014 and missed the tournament entirely in 2016.
Thankfully, in the past two years, it seems like Rafael Nadal managed to find a way to excel on grass once again. During 2017, he advanced to the fourth round and was defeated by Gilles Muller. In 2018, he performed at his best on the lawn since back in 2011 and was extremely close to defeating Novak Djokovic in an incredible semi-final. If it didn’t go into the second day of playing, he might have won.
Rafael Nadal and His Confidence
Nadal recently stated that he wouldn’t be playing on grass as a warm-up event as he prefers to stay healthy, rest, and prepare for Wimbledon. However, he might participate in a few exhibition matches to get familiar with the match-court.
Wimbledon was once considered the domain for the big hitters and big servers, giving players more opportunities on their returns. Volley and serve still play a significant role, though, while players that move forward will always reap the benefits. And as Rafael Nadal demonstrated on Sunday, he volleys just as good as anyone else.
However, the key for someone like Rafael Nadal is not grass. It’s pure confidence. After he experienced a low once he arrived in Barcelona during April, he admitted that his overall attitude was negative and managed to turn things around since then. A win in Rome led to restoring his belief, and a victory at Roland Garros provided a satisfying feeling that gave him an even more significant boost to potentially win Wimbledon later this year. Rafael Nadal’s 18 Grand Slam titles mean that he is only two titles away from Roger Federer to take the top spot. This will be more than enough motivation to keep him going.