WHAT do you do when you are born in one country of immigrant parents, who then midway through your childhood switch to another country?

That is the situation rising British tennis starlet Naiktha Bains found herself in.

Born to Indian parents in England, Naiktha moved to Australia at the age of eight, where tennis became part of her life.

But early this year she had to make call as to who she would represent – and she chose the country of her birth, England.

For Bains it was an easy call, even though she has represented Australia already as a junior.

“I always wanted to represent my country of birth. I just lived in Australia and therefore played to the highest level I could there,” Bains, 21, said.

Her father Gurnake Singh migrated to Leeds in Yorkshire from the Punjab in India as a child. He played non-league soccer in Britain and developed a love for sport.

The family now share their time between Brisbane and Leeds and Bains says it’s like ‘having the best of both worlds’.

And there is India as well. She visits regularly and last week was playing in a tournament on Pune.

“I am always eating Indian food,” she said. “My grandma is making Indian food for my grandpa and when I come home from training I eat what she makes. I love it.”

Who doesn’t.

Kiki Bertens at Roland Garros French Open in June. 

DUTCH star Kiki Bertens has denied reports she wanted money to play in the Olympics for the Netherlands.

In a post on her Instagram account, Bertens said: “After much commotion, I would like to give my side of the story.

“I have never said that I want money to participate in the Olympic Games, let this be clear. No hair on my head that thinks about it. I try to read as little as possible about what is being written about me, but I think that I now come across disrespectfully to the Olympics and the participants and that is definitely not my intention.”

AUSSIE John-Patrick Smith has earned an Australian Open 2020 main draw wildcard with a commanding performance in the AO Play-off final today.

Smith, 30 and seeded sixth, beat No.3 seed Max Purcell 6-3 6-4 6-1 to win the play-off for the first time in his career.

He had previously been in two finals, falling to Jordan Thompson in 2015 and Omar Jasika in 2017.

“Everyone else is saying, it’s got to be third time’s a charm. And obviously I try and ignore it,” Smith smiled.

“But it worked pretty well today — third time is a charm in this case.”

ARGENTINE player Luciano Tacchi has been cleared of doping charges by the ITF after proving that the presence of cocaine in a urine sample he submitted was due to ‘environmental pollution’.Tacchi was tested during the World Tennis Tour event in Pinamar, Argentina and was suspended after the prohibited substance was detected in his sample in March 2019. The ITF had said that Tacchi’s sample was found to have contained benzoylecgonine, which is a metabolite of cocaine.

Tacchi had not played since the suspension but has managed to prove his innocence. His lawyers and his team presented evidence that the small dosage of the drug was found a result of staying in a space where cocaine was consumed.

TOP seed Danil Medvedev beat Fabio Fognini 6-2 6-2 in the final of the Diryah Tennis Cup exhibition tournament in Ryadh over the weekend.

The Saudi Arabian tournament was held in the spectacular Diriyah Arena. The Saudis are currently on a charm offensive using sport to show how they are opening up to western influences.

Medvedev won all his three matches beating Jan-Lennard Struff, David Goffin and Fabio Fognini in straight sets dropping 14 games in six matches.

“I am very happy to be the first player to win here,” he said. “If it’s going to go fo example for twenty years, it will be very cool to be the first one. I just tried to do my best, do my job and entertaining the crowd a little bit. The crowd was not too big, but people were cheering and the ceremony was really amazing and cool. I have just great memories.

“I always try to serve as good as I can and that was a big strength of my match today. My goal is to win every match I play. Of course it is not possible, but it’s my goal.”


REMEMBER Minnie Ripperton? No, she is not a tennis player. But for Venus Williams she is her chill-out pill.

Before going to sleep at night, Venus takes off her makeup, changes intoher PJs and brushes her teeth to the music of Ms Ripperton.

“While I’m doing my skin routine, I play music—it’s like my closing song of the day,” Venus said.

“I’ve been listening to a lot of ’70s songs by Minnie Riperton. She sings that song ‘Loving You’ — I heard it at the end of the movie Us, and I was like, ‘I love this song!’ A closing song helps me end the day, and then I have different morning songs — I keep a speaker next to my bed.”


THE inaugural ATP Cup will take place between January 3-12 in three Australian cities, bringing the majority of the top-100 players in the battle for massive prize money and ATP points.

Former world no. 1 Lleyton Hewitt will lead Australia against Germany, Greece and Canada in Brisbane.

And Hewitt is hoping Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur will be at their best for the event, which kicks off in just under three weeks.

Kyrgios suffered a number of injuries throughout 2019: right elbow, hip, knee and collarbone to name just a few. So Hewitt is hoping he will be fit to play.

Kyrgios has played only four matches since the US Open.

“The collarbone injury has happened a couple of times now and it is a little bit of a concern leading into an Australian summer where he is set to be playing a lot of matches,” Hewitt said.

“The shoulder and collarbone area are obviously such a big part of his game, to be able to serve at the power that he does is a real weapon for him. He just has to do all the right things now, doing rehab and recovery and starting hitting again.

“I am still confident that he can go out and back Alex de Minaur up. He has been at the right place mentally and he loves the team environment, being out there and supporting the boys. Nick always plays well in Australia – hopefully, he can do that in January.”


Serena Williams in action at Flushing Meadows, New York in September. Photo Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

TO some Serena Williams just ‘turns up and wins’ – no training, no prep, she just turns up.

Williams this week went some way to kill off that belief, telling media the idea was laughable.

“A lot of players or a lot of coaches tell me that Serena is so lucky,” she said.

“She doesn’t train. She just shows up and wins matches. God, if I could do that, I would. Oh, I would do it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I think the older you get, the more fit you have to get to continue competing. I’m excited about it because I love being fit.”