Politics seems to be infecting everything over the past two years, and three-time tennis champion Stan Wawrinka put his feelings out there stating, “Politics have overshadowed the action on the courts.” He feels that there has been a significant decline in “moral standards” in the sport.
Yes, now the world of tennis is in turmoil as the 2019 French Open quickly approaches.
In a letter published Friday in The Times of London, Wawrinka decried his sport’s “worrying decline in moral standards” and outlined several aspects of the ongoing drama enveloping the men’s tour — and causing more of a racket than the rackets themselves.
“I feel compelled to express my views on this regrettable period in our sport,” said Wawrinka, who once was ranked as high as No. 3 and is currently 33rd after a series of injuries. “This episode has left many players, myself included, concerned about the direction tennis is heading in.”
There certainly has been a lot going on behind the scenes with regard to who runs the men’s professional tour, and lately it’s been spilling into public view. The conversation is sure to continue until a key vote for the ATP board of directors takes place May 14 in Rome — and through the next Grand Slam tournament, which begins at Roland Garros on May 26.
Wawrinka slammed the representatives on the board and the player council, saying the problem is not with the governing structure but the caliber of the people in positions of importance.
Wawrinka’s letter mentions “political chaos” and the “numerous conflicts of interest” that plague tennis. It also prominently discusses a topic about which he already had been outspoken: Justin Gimelstob, the ex-player, coach and TV commentator who resigned from the tour board this week after pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault for attacking a former friend. While Gimelstob’s case still was pending, he was allowed to remain in his powerful ATP post.
The 42-year-old American was sentenced April 22 to three years of probation, 60 days of community service and a year’s worth of anger management classes for what prosecutors said was Gimelstob’s attack of Randall Kaplan as they trick-or-treated with their kids in Los Angeles on Halloween in 2017.
In a statement to the court, Kaplan said Gimelstob struck him multiple times and threatened to kill him.
“There is no place in our sport for those who behave like Justin. The lack of responses from people involved in the game, particularly at the beginning of this saga, when he was charged last December, was alarming,” Wawrinka wrote. “This is a situation where silence amounts to complicity.”
Wawrinka also referred to what he called a “concerted plot” to oust Chris Kermode as executive chairman and president of the ATP. Kermode’s departure was announced in March after a vote by the board of directors.
Rafael Nadal, who has won 11 of his 17 Grand Slam titles at the French Open, was among those who said they were not consulted before the decision was made to push out Kermode when his current term closes at the end of 2019.
“Many players feel that they were not represented properly throughout the last few months, during which so much has happened politically. I agree with them,” Wawrinka wrote. “I do not want to be associated with anyone who played a part in this, let alone be represented by them. I want to be represented by people with clear, strong ethical values.”
Novak Djokovic, who was involved in the Kermode situation through his position as president of the ATP player council, conceded that the business matters might have taken a toll on his performance.
After earlier-than-expected losses at Indian Wells and Miami, the top-ranked Djokovic said: “Way too many things off the court. I guess that affected me a little bit on the court.”
Serena Williams Back For 2019 Italian Open
Serena Williams is set to return from injury at the upcoming Italian Open.
Tournament director Sergio Palmieri told media outlets on Friday that he spoke with Williams’ agent and that Williams “has already reserved her rooms and should be here a few days early” for the May 13-19 event.
Williams has not played since withdrawing from her third-round match at the Miami Open in March with a previously undisclosed left knee injury. She hasn’t played in Rome since winning her fourth title at the clay-court event in 2016, when she beat Madison Keys in the final.
Roger Federer’s status, meanwhile, remains a question mark.
Federer’s announced schedule has him playing the Madrid Open next week as his only warmup for the French Open, which starts May 26.
The 37-year-old Federer skipped the clay season the last two years.
“Federer is entered to play, which is different from the last two years when he withdrew ahead of time,” Palmieri said. “So the fact that he’s entered means it’s possible for him to play. It’s impossible to predict, though. … Knowing him, it’s more probable that he’ll come only if he’s playing well.”
While he is a four-time runner-up, Federer has never won the Italian Open — making it one of the few significant trophies he hasn’t claimed.
“Playing three consecutive tournaments on clay at his age is complicated,” Italian tennis federation president Angelo Binaghi said. “But I think it also depends on his results in Madrid.”
The only top men who have withdrawn from Rome are sixth-ranked Kevin Anderson and 16th-ranked Milos Raonic, who are both injured.
The only top woman to pull out so far was three-time champion Maria Sharapova, who is recovering from a right shoulder injury.
The Italian federation said 1999 champion Venus Williams and former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka received wild cards to the tournament according to the WTA rule for former top-20 players. Another wild card was given to Sara Errani.
The men’s wild cards are Matteo Berrettini, last week’s Hungarian Open champion, and Andreas Seppi and Lorenzo Sonego.
Cristian Garin Beats Marco Cecchinato – Munich Open
Chilean outsider Cristian Garin extended his remarkable run at the Munich Open by reaching the final after beating third-seeded Marco Cecchinato 6-2, 6-4 on Saturday.
Garin saved both break points he faced after rain delayed play twice in the second set on the outdoor clay.
Ranked No. 47, he claimed the biggest win of his career in defeating No. 3 Alexander Zverev — the two-time defending champion — the day before.
Garin will face Matteo Berrettini or the fourth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut in Sunday’s final. The second semifinal was put back to Sunday morning due to persistent rain in Munich.
Garin, winner of his maiden ATP title in Houston last month, has never played either on the tour.
Jil Teichmann Takes Prague Open
Swiss qualifier Jil Teichmann rallied in the decisive set to defeat Karolina Muchova 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-4 in the Prague Open final on Saturday for her first WTA title.
The 21-year-old Teichmann was 2-0 down, and broken again by her 22-year-old Czech opponent for 3-2, but came back once more before converting her first match point.
It was the first WTA final featuring two first-time finalists since July last year.
The 146th-ranked Teichmann and No. 106 Muchova, a wild card entry at the clay-court tournament, will make the top 100 in the rankings for the first time.
In the opening set, Teichmann wasted three set points at 6-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker.
Muchova broke to lead 4-2 in the second set before serving it out with an ace.