CALLS for players to consider legal action for poor court surfaces in the wake of Emma Raducanu’s injury in Auckland on Thursday have been dismissed by ASB Classic tournament director Nicolas Lamperin.
Claims that the surface wasn’t up to scratch after her match was moved indoors to avoid the rain, resulting in her turning an ankle, have been met with assurances from tournament organisers that the courts were inspected before play began and were deemed satisfactory.
“We are obviously very sorry about Emma’s injury,” Lamperin said.
“Every player works really hard in the off season and that’s not what you expect when you play a tournament in week one.
“We feel for the situation, but we also say that these courts are fit to play.”
Lamperin said calls for a roof to rebuilt over the main court were not financially feasible.
“We are a 250 tournament (the third tier of ATP and WTA tournaments), both for the women and men. How many 250 tournaments can afford to have a roof these days?”
Organisers were quick to point out that it often rains at tournaments.
“This is not the first time that it’s raining at a tennis tournament. It happens all over the world, every single week,” Lamperin said.
Raducanu was forced to retire after rolling an ankle when at 6-0 5-7 in her second-round match against Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova on Thursday.
She is now in serious doubt for the Australian Open, which begins on January 16.
Raducanu left the court in tears after being unable to complete the first point of the deciding set.
“The courts are incredibly slick, like very slippery, so to be honest it’s not a surprise that this happened to someone,” she said.
Organisers confirmed that the WTA supervisor and the tournament referee had both declared the courts fit to play on.
The courts had been resurfaced last year and Lamperin said the WTA’s Shu Chen and referee Ricardo Reis both signed off the decision.
The courts were used again on Friday with no injuries to players.
And Raducanu? She is struggling to be fit for Melbourne in a week’s time.
WHERE next for Italian Camila Giorgi after her doctor confirmed the player asked for fake COVID-19 documents in order to avoid vaccination, Corriere del Veneto has reported.
Daniela Grillon, who has been charged with vaccinating people with fake serums, told authorities that the player asked about obtaining false vaccination documents.
“The Giorgi family has been under treatment with me for a long time. Camila Giorgi suffered from the so-called tennis elbow,” Grillon told Corriere del Veneto.
“Shortly before the beginning of summer, she had come asking for the possibility of obtaining false proof of all the mandatory vaccines, as well as the COVID vaccine.
“I can confirm with absolute certainty that none of the vaccines against the Giorgi family have actually been administered.”
Where next? Her entry to last year’s Australian Open was, if this accusation is true, was based on a lie.
Her entry into Australia (remember Novak) was based on a lie – and that could mean arrest and prosecution.
Watch this space.
ALMOST a year ago tennis fans in Melbourne caused a media storm wearing T-shirts in support of missing Chinese player Peng Shuai.
After repeated requests from the WTA we are none the wiser as to her whereabouts.
But the WTA last week issued an ultimatum to China stating they will not return to the country until the organisation gets a meeting in person with the player.
Peng, a former doubles world No.1, alleged she was sexually assaulted by China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli in 2017, before retracting the allegations.
She disappeared and has not been seen publicly since.
Because of her disappearance and the fact she hasn’t left China since her accusations, there are still serious concerns whether the retraction of the assault claims was legitimate.
Under pressure from the Chinese Communist Party-run Olympic committee, Peng said it was a ‘huge misunderstanding’.
“There has not been any change in the WTA position on a return to China and we have only confirmed our 2023 calendar through US Open,” the WTA said in a statement recently.
“As we would do with any of our players globally, we have called for a formal investigation into the allegations by the appropriate authorities and an opportunity for the WTA to meet with Peng – privately – to discuss her situation.”
Standing firm on their refusal to hold events in the country has cost the WTA millions, but they can only be admired for keeping to their principles.
“A return to the region will require a resolution to the Peng situation in which she took a bold step in publicly coming forth with the accusation that she was sexually assaulted by a senior Chinese government leader,” the WTA said.
Let’s hope we see those Peng Shuai T-shirts in Melbourne again over the next couple of weeks.
AUSTRALIAN Open officials are said to “quietly resigned” to two-time champion Naomi Osaka missing this year’s event.
Osaka is still on the tournament’s entry list, but if her social media posts are to be believed, she is still in Los Angeles, with no sign of shift across the Pacific.
Why would she? A holiday in Europe with rapper boyfriend Corade, earning millions in endorsements off the court. Why indeed.
Osaka is too busy building her own sports agency, recently signing Ons Jabeur to the Evolve Agency.
BREAKING NEWS: Osaka announced she had withdrawn from the Australian Open on Sunday, but not give a reason behind her decision to skip the first Slam of the year.
FURTHER disruption came yesterday when Carlos Alcaraz announced he will miss the Australian Open because of a leg injury suffered in training.
“It’s time to deal with another blow … when I was at my best in preseason I picked up another injury through a chance, unnatural movement in training,” Alcarez said.
“This time it’s the semi-membranosus muscle in my right leg.”
WITH Nick Kyrgios battling to be fit for Melbourne, and with Alcaraz now out, the field is wide open for Novak Djokovic to return to the winners’ rostrum.
Rafa Nadal may have something to say about that, and don’t rule out one of the young guns coming through.
American Taylor Fritz is in top form and would be our outside tip.
And we cannot discount Daniil Medvedev, despite a war-interrupted 2022 season he will want to forget.
Veteran Venus Williams is another to withdraw after picking up an injury at the ASB Classic in Auckland.
AND the women?
The field is as wide open as it has been for a while, with world No. Iga Swiatek still the favourite, despite mixed form leading into the event, and she pulled out of Adelaide yesterday with a shoulder injury.
Coco Gauff is hitting form at the right time – and perhaps it is her time, but watch our for Sabalenka, Garcia and Tunisian Ons Jabeur.
American Jessica Pegula went deep in the tournament last year and is another to watch.
NOVAK Djokovic may be enjoying his return to Australia, but he faces further disruption to his year, banned from entering the United States until April at the earliest.
The United States Transport Security Administration department has extended the requirement for all overseas travellers to be fully vaccinated to April 10 – ruling the unvaxxed Djokovic out.
There are five ATP tournaments in the United States before April 10, including the prestigious Indian Wells and Miami hardcourt events held in March.
Djokovic missed last year’s Australian and US Opens due to his status.
“It’s behind me, I’ve moved on,” Djokovic said last week of his Australian deportation and ban.
“I always play very well and probably my best tennis throughout my career on Australian soil.
“I’ve had plenty of time to adjust to the time zone, time difference, and just, I guess, adapt to whatever was waiting for me here. As I said from day one, people have been very kind and generous, with me and my team.”
RETIRED Australian Open champion Ash Barty is returning to Melbourne Park for this year’s event to mentor local hope Olivia Gadecki, who received a wildcard for the season’s first Grand Slam.
Former world number one Barty called time on her career last March, shortly after ending her country’s 44-year wait for a home champion at the Australian Open, and a few days ago announced she was expecting her first child.
“2023 set to be the best year yet,” Barty wrote. “We are so excited for our new adventure. Origi already the protective big sister.”
World number 202 Gadecki said at the United Cup in Sydney that Barty would be in her camp at Melbourne Park for tournament.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer has declined an invitation to attend this year’s Australian Open.
BORIS Becker will be back on TV for the Australian Open this month, resuming his studio role with Eurosport in Munich after his release from prison last month.
But the German will not be back on screen for the BBC at Wimbledon in July.
His early deportation from the UK will prevent him from being in London.
Becker served eight months behind bars after being convicted of financial offences and is forbidden re-entry for an undetermined amount of time.
THE United Cup has not drawn the crowds organisers had hoped for, with a mixed reaction from Australians.
The event, with $15 million in prize money, has been been played across Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, with a poor turnout in Brisbane, but decent crowds in Sydney.
Played over 10 days, the 18-country tournament was missing several world stars, with the better event in Adelaide, where Novak Djokovic headlined the ATP 250 event.
Critics have already called the United Cup an event too far in a crowded New Year calendar at a time of year when most Australians are on holiday, with tennis not high on the agenda.
The calibre of player in Adelaide for the ATP and WTA tournaments was high.
Holger Rune, Jannick Sinner and Felix Auger-Aliassime were also in South Australia.
The WTA 500 was high in quality as well, with 2017 Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu and world No.2 Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur among participants.
AND finally … Nick Kyrgios’s manager Daniel Horsfall has revealed in the upcoming Netflix series Break Point that he had a tracking device fitted to the Australian’s phone to help find him after a night out.
“On some mornings, I would physically have to go and find where you were,” Horsfall said.
“What hotel you were staying at, whose house you were staying at. Before tournaments … before a match.”
Break Point begins on Netflix on January 13.