Serving up some Covid-19

Since the onset of the coronavirus in December last year, the world has been brought to its knees, with all sporting events since March this year either being postponed or cancelled.

Tennis was no exception with two of the three remaining 2020 Grand Slam tournaments hanging in the balance, after Wimbledon was cancelled.

As the ATP and WTA had cancelled several events, Novak Djokovic, the World No. 1 Men’s Player arranged four Adria Exhibition Tour Events to be held in June and July.

The lineup included Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric, Marin Cilic and several other players.

With each country determining their own lockdown rules, and with Serbia’s coronavirus stats on the decline, the Serbian Government gave the go ahead and the first leg kicked off in Belgrade, Serbia.

Thousands of tennis faithful flocked to the event, where social distancing was not adhered to and only a few spectators wore masks. The players were also engaging in many social activities on and off the courts. Djokovic was grilled by the press but maintained that they had followed the Serbian Government’s instructions and that it was not his call to make.

Grigor Dimitrov drops the “bomb”

The second leg, which was played this past weekend in Zadar, Croatia, saw a seemingly unwell Grigor Dimitrov suffer an easy loss to Borna Coric and then withdraw from his second match.

Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev had advanced to Sunday’s final and shortly before they were expected to walk on to the court, Dimitrov announced on his Instagram account that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and asked anyone who was in contact with him to also get tested.

It was then up to Djokovic’s coach and former Grand Slam Champion, Goran Ivanisevic, to make the announcement on court which saw the final and remaining two events cancelled.

Although Dimitrov was the first person to confirm his positive coronavirus test result, Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki, Aleksandra Troicki, Novak Djokovic, Jelena Djokovic and several support staff have also tested positive for the virus.

This has cast an unfortunate shadow on the rest of the 2020 season with Djokovic receving lots of flak from around the tennis globe.

The USTA announced some stringent rules for the upcoming US Open, which is scheduled to start on 31 August. These include regular testing, residing at hotels close to airports, limited number of players and staff and no spectators.

Djokovic, Serena Williams and several other players have voiced their opinions and are considering withdrawing from the event.

The French Open organisers moved their tournament date from May to September, which means that “The King of Clay”, Rafael Nadal, will probably skip the US Open in order to prepare for a record thirteenth title on clay.

With the coronavirus cementing it’s hooks around the globe, the idea of cancelling all events for the rest of this year may not be the worst idea.

Bianca Andreescu too strong for Serena Williams in the US Open Ladies final

Tennis fans across the world were treated to an historical US Open Ladies final in the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York yesterday afternoon.

The “Veteran champion”, 37 year old Serena Williams of America, took on the “NextGen superstar”, 19 year old, Bianca Andreescu of Canada, in what turned out to be one hour and forty minutes of powerful tennis.

Williams, one of the greatest tennis players and the current Open Era record holder with 23 Grand Slam titles to her name, is still chasing the elusive 24th title to equal Margaret Court’s overall record.

Williams started this year’s US Open with an impressive 72 WTA career title wins, compared to Andreescu’s 2.

The players met for the first time, less than a month ago in the Rogers Cup (Canadian Open) final. Andreescu was leading 3-1 in the first set, when a distressed Williams was forced to retire with an upper back injury. Andreescu handled the situation with utmost respect towards the 3-time former champion and gave the tennis world a taste of what to look forward to.

Both were in great form going into yesterday’s final. Andreescu had two tough three-set matches, whilst Williams was only pushed to the limits by fellow American, Caty McNally in the second round.

With her tennis clock ticking, and in typical Big Apple style, the stars turned up hoping to witness Williams bag another title.

Williams boasted a powerhouse box, which included husband and internet entrepreneur, Alexis Ohanian, Oracene Price (Mom), Venus Williams (sister), Patrick Mouratoglou (coach) other family members, Anna Wintour (“Queen” of the Fashion world) and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

In contrast, the Andreescu box included Nicu and Maria Andreescu (Bianca’s Romanian parents) and Sylvain Bruneau (coach). One notable absentee was her now “celebrity” poodle, Coco, who has been in attendance for most of her matches at this year’s US Open.

Andreescu drew first blood by breaking Williams opening service game and then holding her own. Williams sent out a strong warning during the third game. The players exchanged shots at the net when Williams blasted a winner past her young opponent, much to the delight of the partisan New York crowd.

Andreescu continued to apply pressure, forcing a frustrated Williams to make a string of errors and with her service game failing her, she served a double fault to lose the opening set.

Andreescu continued her dominant form in the second set and soon found herself 5-1 up with a double break.

In the Williams box, Oracene Price could hardly bare to watch, looking away and shaking her head and Venus Williams, head buried in her hands, both I’m sure, praying for divine intervention.

On the other hand, Nicu Andreescu was looking relaxed and Maria Andreescu, as we have come to know her, hiding behind her dark glasses, giving nothing away.

But Williams, whose purple Nike dress was now drenched in sweat, sensed her opponent’s maiden Grand Slam title jitters and somehow clawed her way back to level the set at 5-5. The crowd was on their feet, with husband Ohanian leading the charge.

It was however too little, too late as Andreescu managed to hold serve and then belt a forehand winner past Williams for a 6-3 7-5 victory and with it, become the first Canadian tennis player to win a Grand Slam Singles title.

There were heaps of praise exchanged between the players, both during the on-court presentation and post-match interviews.

Andreescu will arise in New York today with a whole new world awaiting her.

As for Williams, she will need to find the “inner” Serena that has won her twenty three Grand Slam titles and work on that before the Australian Open in January next year.

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No hiccups for the Men’s Top 10 seeded players on Day 7

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Halep and Muguruza breeze through as Stephens battles past Giorgi

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Kvitova and Pliskova in shock exits at the French Open

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Serena Williams sees off Ashleigh Barty in a royal battle

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Another win for Kevin Anderson in Paris

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