Controversy over cakes and speeches, an Andy Murray headline and more


The Madrid Open concluded over the weekend and, Very goodIts hard to know where to start with this.

Aryan Sabalenka Defeated inga swotek 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, for the trophy in the latest chapter of their growing rivalry, and Carlos Alcaraz won his second straight title on clay With a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over qualifier jan-lenard strouff, But with all due respect to those accomplishments, neither is a lasting memory from the event.

It can’t be sugarcoated: it was the tournament messy.

The first controversy started when a TikTok user pointed out the tournament model’s use of ball kids on center court — and the difference in their uniforms, There was a backlash.

And then, another disparity hit the headlines on Friday, the birthday of both eventual singles champions. Sabalenka and Alcaraz were each given cakes to celebrate the occasion, and they were not of equal size or grandeur, as many reported. Victoria Azarenka It is also implied that the Cake incident was indicative of differences in behavior between male and female players:

tournament director feliciano lopez Was Quick to defend the gap in the cakeArguing that the event was in Alcaraz’s home country and he had just played his match, but the #cakegate damage was already done.

Sabalenka joked after winning the title on Saturday Credited the victory to Cake During his court speech. and Swotec took a brief moment during his speech He was dealt with during several matches in the tournament during the semifinals for criticizing the less-than-ideal scheduling. Swiatek said, “However, playing at 1 a.m. is not fun, so I am happy anyway that I was able to overcome this experience and survive and reach the finals.”

After this, in Sunday’s doubles final, Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia Defeated Coco Gauff And jessica pegula 6-1, 6-4, for the title. But none of the four players were given a chance to speak during the presentation of the trophy. Because all four competitors spoke after Saturday’s men’s doubles final, and there was still considerable time before the start of the men’s singles final on Sunday, there was no apparent reason for the refusal. Azarenka and Gauff soon took to Twitter to express their displeasure and what they would have said during the totally expected speech component of the ceremony.

As might be expected, the players’ muting was not noticed by their teammates and others, nor was it well received. jabur called him”sad and unacceptable” And rene stubbs Said it was a “disgrace”.

When reached Monday, a spokesperson told ESPN, “At this time, the tournament will not comment on this matter.” So far it has not given any public explanation as to why the women’s doubles players were not given a chance to speak.

pegula spoke to reporters in Rome on Tuesday about the incident. “What happened in Madrid was really disappointing,” he said. “I know a lot of what happened, the details before the event, just because Vika and I are on the Players’ Council. … I don’t know what century everyone was living in when they made that decision or whether they really How I had the conversation and decided, like, ‘Wow, this is a great decision we’re going to make and there’s going to be no backlash against it.'”

With all this happening in just one tournament, it’s almost hard to believe there were other things going on, but here’s what else you might have missed, and what’s next, as both the WTA and ATP tours head to Rome for the Italian Open. Are.

back in the winner’s circle

Andy Murray And Gael Monfils have played against each other several times during their respective careers. He has faced majors at Masters 1000-level events, and now, in 2023, he can add a Challenger tournament to that list.

Murray, a three-time major champion and former world No. 1, and Monfils, a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist and former world No. 6, played in the opening round of the Open Aix Provence Credit Agricole Challenger Tour event on Wednesday. And while it’s safe to say that neither is currently playing their highest level of tennis, and they’re clearly looking for some match time on clay ahead of the French Open, wherever they can get it, The pair still put on a show with their vintage glow. Form:

Murray eventually won the match 6-3, 6-2 for his first win on clay this year, and his hot streak continued throughout the week. The 35-year-old won the title with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 win tommy paul, ranked 17th in the world. It was Murray’s first title since 2019, and his first on clay since 2016. The win also marked the longest gap between Challenger titles in history, as he earned his last title in 2005. Murray is now ranked No. 42 – his highest ranking since coming back from his first hip surgery in 2018.

And, perhaps best of all, especially since (reminder!) Mother’s Day is this coming weekend, her mom, Judy, was able to stand to win, thanks to a truly enviable flight deal.

Winner all around.

return szn?

Murray wasn’t the only reigning US Open champion to earn some new hardware at the lower-tier event this weekend. Sloane StephensThe 2017 winner in New York captured her first title of the season and first on clay since 2016 at the WTA 125 Saint-Malo event. She recorded a semifinal win over former world No. 3 alina svitolinawho recently returned from maternity leave, and won 6-3, 6-4 hello minan into the finals – and gained some much-needed momentum after losing in Madrid in the first round.

The 30-year-old has proved to be a formidable foe on clay throughout her career and reached the final of the French Open in 2018. Could this be the confidence boost he needs to make a deep run in Rome and then Paris? stay tuned.

nadal watch

another tournament, another Rafael Nadal withdrawal. He announced he would miss this week’s Italian Open as he is recovering from a hip injury sustained at the Australian Open in January.

As the tournament in Rome is one of the last before the French Open, which starts on May 28, Nadal’s participation in the major is now in serious doubt.

The 36-year-old Nadal said, “Despite seeing improvements in recent days, it has been several months without training at a high level and the re-adaptation process has its own time and I have no choice but to accept them and continue working.” Not there.” said in spanish on social media,

Nadal is undoubtedly the “King of Clay” and is a 14-time champion at Roland Garros. She hasn’t missed the event since her 2005 debut in Paris, but it’s starting to look like that incredible streak is coming to an end. It’s really hard to imagine the tournament without him, but that could be the reality.

‘It’s become unbearable’

Amanda Anisimova announced on Friday that she was taking an indefinite break from the sport. In a post on Instagram, the 21-year-old American was candid about the reasons behind the heartwarming.

“I have really been struggling with my mental health and burnout since the summer of 2022,” Anisimova wrote. “Going to tennis tournaments has become unbearable. My priority at the moment is my mental well-being and to take a break for a while. I have worked as hard as I can to make it through.”

Anisimova reached the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2019 and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last summer, but has since suffered first-round losses at the US Open and Australian Open and has not won a match since February. His youth career has been marked by monumental success as well as devastating lows, including the death of his father, who was also his coach, in 2019.

While everyone’s story is different, Anisimova is the latest athlete to miss competition due to burnout. garbine muguruzatwo-time major champion, currently taking her own break from touringAnd Naomi OsakaThe four-time Grand Slam champion has done the same before.

Another blow for Radukanu

on Wednesday, Emma Reducanu announced via a written letter posted on her social media accounts that she would undergo surgery on both hands as well as future procedures on her ankle, and would be out of competition for the next several months. The 20-year-old Redukanu cannot participate in the French Open and Wimbledon after her recovery.

“It pains me that I will be missing summer shows and I try to downplay the issues, so I thank all of my fans who continue to support me when I don’t know the facts,” she wrote.

Redukanu said the last 10 months have been “difficult”. Since her miraculous performance at the US Open in 2021, in which she became the first player in history to win a Grand Slam title as a qualifier, Raducanu has struggled with consistency and a series of injuries. She hasn’t advanced past the second round since her success in New York, and this week she dropped out of the top 100 after withdrawing from Madrid just hours before her scheduled first-round match.

Goff, Stephens, holger rune and her 2021 US Open final opponent, Leyla FernandezHe was among the many players who wished him well online.

name a better trio

Ever wondered what 50 Grand Slam titles look like? wonder no more. During the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday, Serena and Venus Williams posed with Roger Federer — All three were present for the F1 race.

Sure, there was coronation talk across the pond, but that was the only royal gathering I cared about this weekend.

And in case you were wondering what 51 Grand Slam titles look like, juan martin del potro there was alsoBut sadly, there is no picture of these four legends together.

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