Madison Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up, has not played a real tennis match since January, so she was thrilled when a partial schedule was released for the sport’s true return after its coronavirus-forced hiatus.
“Halfway through the year, we’re (usually) all kind of thinking, ‘Oh, I’d love some weeks at home. Been on the road for so long. Those pressure moments in matches are so stressful’ and all of that,” said Keys, one of 16 women in an exhibition event in Charleston, South Carolina, next week. “And now we’re all like, ‘Please put me on a center court, break-point down in the third, because I would love to have that feeling again.’”
Now that there is a plan in place for top-level tennis to resume -- starting in August in Italy, then Washington, with Grand Slam action to follow in New York, then Paris, assuming the COVID-19 outbreak allows -- it’s time to consider ways in which the sport will look different.
There won’t be fans at the U.S. Open or likely anywhere else at the outset. Players will be vying for decreased prize money, with as much as a 40% cut at the biggest non-major tournaments. U.S. Open matches on all but two courts will have a chair umpire aided by electronic line-calling, no line judges.
There surely will be rustiness for players after such long layoffs. Could be a string of athletes getting hurt, too, if recent exhibitions are any indication.
“I don’t think many of us -- outside of having an injury, maybe -- have gone this long without that level of competition,” said Keys, an American currently ranked No. 13.
“It’s really difficult to keep practicing when you don’t really have a goal in mind,” Keys said. “So being able to have some of these tournaments back on the calendar has been really great, even just for my mentality -- just because I know I’m working for something.”
There are remaining unknowns and adjustments could take place before anyone swings a racket at Flushing Meadows.
“For me, everything seems like it’s going to be different at the Open -- and at all these tournaments. No fans. What’s the locker room situation? Where’s food? Transport? There are just so many questions. And it’s not going to be like any other year, any other tournament, that we’ve played before,” said Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who’s won nine women’s or mixed doubles Slam titles and, like Keys, is playing in Charleston. “For me, personally, I don’t think all the questions are answered to my satisfaction.”
A look at some issues:
The U.S. Tennis Association was definitive about having closed doors, but the French Open and the two tours are leaving open the possibility of having at least some on-site spectators at some point this year.
The WTA is cutting prize money at its biggest events by 30% if there are fans -- and by 40% if there aren’t. The ATP’s Masters 1000s will have similar reductions. While the WTA will have smaller drops for lesser tournaments -- down to 18% for its bottom level -- the ATP’s percentage cuts will be higher the smaller the tournament. The loss of ticket sales, hospitality suites, and more means the U.S. Open’s net income “will be down roughly 80%” to $40 million, USTA CEO Mike Dowse told The Associated Press. He said player compensation is down 9%.
The WTA and ATP haven't decided how they will handle their rankings, which were frozen when the tours were suspended in March. That determination will be based on when the play actually resumes.
TRAVEL AND TESTING
No one knows for sure how such an international sport will fare as athletes hop from country to country. The USTA originally proposed chartering flights from around the globe and making sure players were COVID-free before they traveled, but instead decided to let people fly on their own and get tested upon arrival at what tournament director Stacey Allaster is calling “U.S. Open World.” Testing and safety protocols have not been announced by the WTA or ATP.
Tamil Nadu stalwart, Dinesh Karthik, is one the many wicket-keeper batsmen to feature for Team India during Sourav Ganguly's reign as the skipper of the 'Men in Blue'. The BCCI selectors tried several options before MS Dhoni arrived at the scene.
Karthik, on the back of his spectacular records in the domestic circuit, earned an international ODI debut for India in 2004 against vs England, at the age of 19. The 35-year-old later made his Test debut in the same year against Australia.
However, he couldn't cement his place in the team, following a string of low scores. Karthik's exclusion from the spot, paved the way for MS Dhoni, who after a couple of howlers, cemented his place for many more years to come.
Dhoni's ability to play match-winning knocks, under pressure, closed the doors for other wicket-keeper batsmen, including Karthik. However, Karthik and Dhoni featured together in several games, but the former failed to make an impact.
In the absence of Dhoni, Karthik did fairly well behind the stumps, but it wasn't enough to find a permanent spot in the playing XI. In a recent interaction with Saurav Ghosal on Finish Line, Karthik opined about being in the same era as MS Dhoni.
Karthik revealed that the pressure of performing better than MS Dhoni, took the sting out of his international career. He added that he couldn’t get away with doing something ordinary, due to the presence of MS Dhoni.
“I think, throughout my career, there was one thing that’s for sure – it was the fact that there was a lot of pressure whenever I played games. Just the fact that I had to be a part of the side I had to be something, it had to be something special. I just couldn’t do ordinary stuff and be a part of the side because there was an enigma named MS Dhoni around the team,” said Karthik.
ALSO READ: 10 Hilarious memes from CSK v RR
Dinesh, who recently stepped down from his role as the skipper of IPL franchise KKR, reckoned that he had his fair share of up's and down's, but added that it helped to learn that life is never going to be the same and one has to constantly work harder.
“So, when you have a player like that (MS Dhoni) around, you've to seize the moments with something special. At times I seized it and at times I did not hence life is not always going to be a bed of roses, at times as an individual you do have to run the tough race as well,” he added.
Rajasthan Royals came up with a professional display with bat and ball to dismantle Chennai Super Kings by seven wickets in match 37 of IPL 2020 at Abu Dhabi. Having restricted CSK to 125, RR chased down the same with ease after some initial hiccups. Cricket Today rates the performance of players from both sides.
Jos Buttler (9/10)
Pulled RR out of trouble in the chase of 126 with a typically aggressive fifty. Took on Shardul Thakur and Piyush Chawla, and won both the contests hands down. Remained unbeaten on 70 from 48.
Shreyas Gopal (9/10)
Completely strangled Chennai. Smartly forced Sam Curran to loft a wide googly to long-off. Conceded merely 14 in his four overs.
Rahul Tewatia (8/10)
Was brilliant with the ball, conceding only 18 in his four. Forced a mistake out of Ambati Rayudu, getting him to hit one straight up in the air.
Jofra Archer (8/10)
Made Sam Curran look embarrassingly novice during his first spell. Dismissed Faf du Plessis with a short and wide bouncer that got too big on him. Gave away just 20 in his four.
Steven Smith (6/10)
With the run rate, not an issue, supported Jos Buttler in a game-changing fourth-wicket stand. Made a patient 26 not out from 34.
Kartik Tyagi (5/10)
Showed the heart for a fight, and impressed with his pace. Went for 35 in his four, but got the massive scalp of Shane Watson.
Ben Stokes (4/10)
Had a forgettable day. His three overs went for 27, and he couldn’t pick up a wicket. Opening the innings, chopped Deepak Chahar on to the stumps, having raced away to 19 from 11.
Robin Uthappa (2/10)
Lobbed a short, rising delivery from Josh Hazlewood to MS Dhoni behind the stumps. Was dismissed for 4.
Sanju Samson (2/10)
Tickled Deepak Chahar to be caught down the leg for another duck. Earlier, pulled off an agile run out of MS Dhoni.
Ankit Rajpoot (2/10)
Bowled one over for eight.
Riyan Parag (No Rating)
Did not bat.
Chennai Super Kings
Deepak Chahar (9/10)
Was excellent once again with figures of 2 for 18, giving absolutely nothing away. Got Ben Stokes to chop one on to the stumps. Strangled Sanju Samson down leg.
Josh Hazlewood (8/10)
Stifled Rajasthan with his impeccable line and length. Undid Robin Uthappa with a short ball. Finished with wonderful figures of 1 for 19.
Ravindra Jadeja (7/10)
Was the most fluent CSK batsman on show. Found the gaps smartly to finish unbeaten on 35 from 30 with four boundaries.
MS Dhoni (5/10)
Made a run-a-ball 28. Was preparing for his final flourish when he was run out trying to take a second on a misfield from Jofra Archer at long-off.
Sam Curran (4/10)
Opened the innings, but struggled against the pace of Jofra Archer. Was dismissed for 22 from 25, scoring at a strike rate of just 88.
Shardul Thakur (4/10)
Did not make much of an impact. Bowled his four overs for 34.
Ambati Rayudu (3/10)
Played a poor stroke, trying to slog-sweep Rahul Tewatia without getting to the pitch of the ball. Hit one straight up in the air having made 13.
Faf du Plessis (2/10)
Tried to guide a short and wide bouncer from Jofra Archer over point. But only managed it to inside edge behind the stumps having made 10.
Piyush Chawla (2/10)
Was taken apart by Jos Buttler. Went for 32 in his three without taking a wicket.
Shane Watson (2/10)
Having hit a couple of boundaries, flicked a full ball straight to midwicket. Was back in the hut for 8 from 3.
Kedar Jadhav (1/10)
Had another horrible day with the bat. Couldn’t get the ball off the square. Was dropped by Jofra Archer, but only managed an unbeaten 4 from 7.
In a must-win game for both the teams, the Rajasthan Royals edged out the Chennai Super Kings in match 37 of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
With this defeat, CSK has dropped down to the bottom of the points table with 6 points in 10 outings. Batting first, CSK registered the lowest first inning score of the season, following their dismal batting performance.
Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni helped the team to cross the 120-run mark. Jadeja scored 35 of 30 balls while Dhoni scored 28 from as many deliveries. Chasing a target of 126, Rajasthan Royals three early wickets, which opened the door for a CSK comeback.
However, Jos Buttler and skipper Steve Smith shared a match-winning partnership as RR registered their fourth win of the season. Buttler smashed 70 off just 48 balls while Smith held the other end with a 34-ball 26.
After the match, fans ignited a meme fest on Twitter.
Here are 10 Hilarious memes from the game:
The Pakistan Cricket Board (ICC) wants the International Cricket Council (ICC) to assure visas for its players and officials when India hosts the T20 World Cup in October next year.
Wasim Khan, PCB CEO, also stated that there is "no chance" of an Indo-Pak bilateral series in the "foreseeable future" and neither will it be a part of fresh the Futures Tours Programme (FTP) which kicks off in 2023.
Amidst the tense diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan, the latter has sought assurances that the visa process of their players and support staff would be dealt with by the ICC, and that too by January 2021.
"It's their (ICC) matter. We have discussed our concerns with ICC. There is a 'Host Agreement' that clearly states that the host nation (India in this case) will have to provide visas and accommodation for teams that are due to participate in the T20 World Cup and Pakistan is one of them," Wasim told PTI.
"We have sought assurances from the ICC that our players and staff members will receive visas and ICC is now taking this up with the BCCI because that directive and confirmation will clearly need to come from the Indian government," Khan said.
Wasim Khan also clarified that the PCB has asked the ICC to get approvals for the visas by January 2021.
"We have asked for a December-January deadline, which we believe is fair. We expect a response from the ICC on whether our players and officials will receive visas to take part in the tournament.
"If we don't get the visas, then as any nation would expect, we would also expect ICC to take the matter directly with India and the Indian government through the BCCI to resolve this matter."
Last year, Pakistan athletes, which were due to participate in the Shooting World Cup, couldn't get their visas.
Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Capitals will meet each other in match number 37 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 season. Table-toppers DC have been in prime form this season and will want to extend their lead at the top. On the other hand, KXIP recorded just their third win against MI in their previous game and will want to script a third straight victory.
DC’s dominance is getting better day by day. They look in control under the leadership of Shreyas Iyer and there is plenty of positivity in their batting. With the ball, the class of a sound pace and spin unit make DC a formidable unit.
As far KXIP is concerned, the return of Chris Gayle is a major boost. He played a key role in the 2nd Super Over against MI. With KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal in dream form, KXIP's hopes rely on the front three to provide a base. With the ball, Mohammed Shami has been excellent so far. The others need to rally around him.
KXIP vs DC: Dream11 team prediction
Batsmen: Chris Gayle, Shikhar Dhawan (vc), Nicholas Pooran, Mayank Agarwal.
Wicket-keeper: KL Rahul (c)
All-rounders: Deepak Hooda, Axar Patel.
Bowlers: Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje.
Rationale behind the Dream11 team
KXIP's top three are a must and one can expect plenty from them. DC’s Dhawan who has found his feet gets the nod as the vice-captain. Pooran comes in as a finisher.
There are two all-rounders in the ranks. Axar gets company from Hooda, who impressed against MI. There is a heavy bowling unit. The pace department sees three wicket-taking bowlers in the form of Shami, Rabada and Nortje. The spin unit gets Bishnoi.
Probable starting XI
KXIP - KL Rahul (c & wk), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell, Deepak Hooda, Murugan Ashwin, Chris Jordan, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh.
DC - Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer (c), Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Tushar Deshpande, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada.
DC are the favourites but expect a tough fight from KXIP.
In 25 meetings, KXIP have won 14, whereas DC have sealed 11 wins.
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