ON a day that Simon Halep announced she was taking her four-year doping ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sports, another player faced up to a doping protocol that is clearly either incompetent or corrupt.

The latter oner would hope not, but incompetent? Ask American Jenson Brooksby, who was given an 18-month suspension by the ITIA for three missed tests last week.

Brooksby, like Halep, has evidence and backed up his claim, stating he was not to blame for a missed test.

“I am very disappointed to learn that I have been suspended for 18 months, for 3 missed tests,” Brooksby said.

“I have never taken a banned substance in my life. I was open and honest with ITIA throughout out my case. I understand that it is my responsibility and will learn and grow. I accepted that 2 of my missed tests were my fault, but I maintain that my June 4, 2022 missed test should be set aside.

“I was in my hotel room for the entirety of my 1-hour testing window. The hotel room had been booked for the first part of my stay in the name of my physio (who was staying with me), because ATP did not provide me with a room until June 4.

Jenson Brooksby leaves the court to wild applause at the 2021 US Open. Photo: Garrett Ellwood/USTA

“Starting on June 4, the room was in my name, but I had asked that my name be added to the room days before that,” he recalled, “The hotel told the officer that I had not yet checked in, but they did show him their computer screen which already had my room number listed on it.”

Jenson Brooksby also stated that the Doping Control official did not make any effort to get in touch with him until the final minutes of the allotted time bracket.

“Having that information, the Doping Control Officer never asked the hotel to call my room, so I did not know that they were there to test,” Brooksby said.

“Had the officer called my hotel room even once, I would have been tested, because I was awake and had nothing to hide,” he added.

Karen Moorhouse, the ITIA’s CEO, has since refused to answer Brooksby’s complaint, simply stating in a meaningless blanket statement that all players must abide by the rules.

How about the ITIA officials doing ‘their’ job Ms Moorhouse? As it is clear they did not.

And why does the ITIA assume all players are guilty – demanding, as they did with Brooksby, that players have to ‘disprove negligence’. In law it is the accuser who must prove the case.

Ms Moorhouse was before her appearance on the tennis circuit a member of a failed management team that saw the UK’s rugby league make a seven-figure loss, before taking a six-figure payoff to leave the organisation in 2022.

Halep meanwhile, announced she had officially appealed against the four-year doping ban she was handed by the ITIA, who found she had committed anti-doping rule violations and was given a four-year ban commencing on October 7, 2022.

Halep was also disqualified of all results obtained in competitions taking and was ordered to forfeit any medals, titles, ranking points and prize money.

AUSSIE star Alex De Minaur will test his relationship with Brit Katie Boulter to the limit later this year when the pair face each other at the United Cup.

Although the couple have never faced each other on the court, they could go head-to-head during the mixed doubles rubber of the event, which starts in Australia on December 29.

“It could be the end of a beautiful relationship,” joked Aussie coach Wally Masur last week.

“It will be interesting how it plays out because Matty Ebden and Storm Hunter are there so we’ve got plenty of options for the mixed doubles.”

“Alex might be in a situation where he plays three sets against Cam Norrie and maybe it’s not in his best interests to back up and play the mixed. But him playing Boulter would add a bit of spice.”

Dominic Thiem in New York ion September. Photo: Roger Parker

WANT to be a top 10 player and go for a curry after a game?

Forget it. That’s what Dominic Thiem did at the US Open back in September, resulting in him having to retire ill in the second round against Ben Shelton.

At the time Thiem didn’t know the exact cause of the illness, thinking it might have been due to some bad water or food he had somewhere.

“All I know is that it wasn’t bacteria. Maybe I got some bad water or food somewhere. I love spicy food, maybe I had too much of it,” Thiem said.

Emma Raducanu loses her second round match to Coco Gauff in Melbourne in January. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

WILL she, won’t she? Emma Raducanu says she will return in 2024, just when in 2024 is still an unknown.

The 2021 US Open champion’s goal is to play again after missing the entire second half of the 2023 season.

“Not exactly but I will be back for the start of the season for sure,” Raducanu told the BBC last week.

It could be Auckland, where tournament director Nicolas Lamperin has revealed the event has had talks with Raducanu.

The door is open if she wants to come,” Lamperin said.

Raducanu has undergone surgeries on both wrists and her right ankle, but back in training.

Daria Kasatkina in action at the French Open earlier this year. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

RUSSIAN Daria Kasatkina has called out the abuse by players are now receiving on social media, lat week saying it was “completely out of control”.

Kasatkina, 26, said she had received threatening messages safter she reached the WTA Elite Trophy semi-finals in Zhuhai.

One said she “should be dead”, with another blaming her for losing a bet.

Threats like this are a growing concern players targeted by gamblers.

American Taylor Townsend received a death threat in May after losing at the Italian Open.

The French Open this year offered players at the tournament artificial intelligence-protection from abuse.

The Bodyguard technology was set up to filter out abusive comments on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok and Discord.

A FEW weeks ago Sunday Serve reported that many women’s players were angry they were not earning as much as the men – even though the men’s ATP is far a better commercial organisation than the WTA.

Maybe someone was listening, because the total prize pool for this year’s WTA finals in Cancun, Mexico is $9 million, a big jump from last year’s $5m.

Still way short of the pre-covid $14m in 2019, but a healthy prize pot nonetheless.

All singles players will receive a participation fee of $198,000 at this year’s tournament while each win in the round-robin phase will earn them an additional $198,000.

The participation fee for a doubles team is $90,000 plus $36,000 for every round-robin victory while the winners will pick up a cheque of $306,000.

Singles prize-money breakdown

Participation fee – $198,000
Fee per round-robin win – $198,000
Bonus for advancing to semi-final – $54,000
Semi-final win – $756,000
Winning the final – $1,476,000

Doubles prize-money breakdown
Participation fee – $90,000
Fee per round-robin win – $36,000
Bonus for advancing to semi-final – $9,000
Semi-final win – $144,000
Winning the final – $306,000

This year’s WTA Finals will be staged from October 30 until November 5 at Plaza Quintana Roo.

Check out the building work for the site a couple of months ago…

The eight singles players who will compete for the jackpot are Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Elena Rybakina, Jessica Pegula, Marketa Vondrousova, Ons Jabeur and Maria Sakkari.

AND finally … a blast from the past. Who can name all players from this Nabisco Masters photo from 1988?