“Sport is weird sometimes.” Just ask Julien Benneteau, who reached an impressive 10 finals in an 18-year professional tennis career. Unfortunately he lost them all. Indeed no man or woman in the Open Era that began in 1968 fell in as many finals without ever bagging one. When it is suggested to the nearly 37-year-old … Continue reading “Julien Benneteau: No ’emptiness’ for Frenchman who made 10 tennis finals and lost them all”
“Sport is weird sometimes.” Just ask Julien Benneteau, who reached an impressive 10 finals in an 18-year professional tennis career. Unfortunately he lost them all.
Indeed no man or woman in the Open Era that began in 1968 fell in as many finals without ever bagging one. When it is suggested to the nearly 37-year-old Benneteau, whose career officially concluded in October, that he might be the best men’s player to never win a singles title, he laughs.
“Well, it suits me,” the Frenchman told CNN Sport. “If people say that, that’s fine for me.” Follow @cnnsportBenneteau might have always fallen at the final hurdle, but he had a varied game to trouble the greats of modern tennis. He beat Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, managed 18 top-10 scalps and appeared in finals on hard, clay and carpet. Read MoreHe also led Federer by two sets on grass at the Swiss’ stronghold of Wimbledon in 2012, achieved a grand slam quarterfinal on home soil, rose to a high of 25th in the rankings and flourished in doubles. Read: Benneteau brushes aside Benneteau claimsRead: Zverev stuns Djokovic in LondonRead: Federer’s kids catching tennis bugBenneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin ended France’s 30-year men’s doubles drought at Roland Garros in 2014 and he collected a bronze medal with Richard Gasquet at the London Olympics two years earlier. He went 8-4 in doubles in the Davis Cup, the farewell victory coming in September’s semifinals against Spain when he filled in for an injured Pierre Hugues Herbert. Visit cnn.com/sport for more news and videosBenneteau originally intended to retire a few weeks earlier at the US Open but couldn’t turn down the chance to suit up in the Davis Cup. He then continued to compete until the end of October in the hopes of landing a spot on France’s team for the finale against Croatia.
Ultimately he missed out after playing in the 2014 final against Switzerland and Les Bleus stumbled 3-1 in Lille in a rather undramatic conclusion to the tennis season last month.
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Croatia capture second-ever Davis Cup title 01:24″Even if I didn’t win a singles title, because I lived a lot of magic moments in doubles and in Davis Cup, for me there is no emptiness in my career,” said Benneteau, who pocketed a total of $9.55 million in prize money. For many fans however — or at least those outside tennis loving France — it is that incredible, unenviable record in singles finals that truly catches the eye. “It’s a pity he didn’t win one,” Marin Cilic, Croatia’s hero in Lille and the 2014 US Open champion, told reporters at the World Tour Finals in London that preceded the Davis Cup final. “Sport is weird sometimes.” Benneteau engineered one of those top-10 wins against Cilic as part of a magical run to the Paris Masters semifinals in 2017. “He had an amazing career,” continued Cilic. “A great player. Won so many matches.”Julien Benneteau soaked up the atmosphere at the Paris Masters last year after beating Marin Cilic. France’s Cedric Pioline — a twice grand slam finalist in 1993 and 1997 — and Pat Dupre lost their first nine finals but unlike Benneteau, broke through at the 10th time of asking. Respite for Pioline came in Copenhagen in 1996 against home favorite Kenneth Carlsen, with Dupre snapping his losing streak in 1982 in Hong Kong against fellow American Morris Skip Strode in what would turn out to be his last final. “I never really realized I lost that many in a row,” Dupre, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 1979 and former world No. 14, told CNN Sport. “But it was satisfying to win that first one.”When you’re playing against a guy in the final, the other guy is doing well, too. There’s a reason why certain players are in a final, maybe the courts suits them well, they like the balls, or whatever it may be. And so, it’s not like the other guy is slacking.”
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Yannick Noah: The last Frenchman to win Roland Garros 02:03Dupre recalled that when he battled Raul Ramirez in his first final in Mexico City in 1978, fans threw coins at him when he led the Mexican by an early break. He couldn’t convert a match point against Eddie Dibbs in Tulsa in his second final.
Match point heartbreak
No one threw coins at Benneteau in any of his finals — which he can recall in forensic detail — but he, too, experienced match point heartbreak. It came in his ninth final and unsurprisingly turned out to be his most painful moment. A point from victory against Joao Sousa in the second set in Kuala Lumpur in September 2013, Benneteau approached the net with a good forehand only to be passed spectacularly by the Portuguese. It was the turning point and Sousa prevailed 2-6 7-5 6-4. While Benneteau tied Pioline and Dupre for futility in finals that day, Sousa made history by becoming his country’s maiden ATP winner. Benneteau didn’t want to fall asleep that night when he was on a late flight to his next tournament in Beijing.
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Kevin Anderson on Federer, tiebreaks and dogs 02:50″I had more than one beer at the airline lounge,” said Benneteau. “I didn’t want to sleep on the plane because I knew that when I was closing my eyes, right away I would be seeing pictures of the match and I refused to let that happen. “The end of the season was very tough. I only spoke about that match with my coach after the season ended.”His second toughest loss in a final, he said, came on the eve of the Australian Open in 2012 against Jarkko Nieminen. Benneteau cruised to the final in Sydney without dropping a set. But when rain pushed the final from Saturday to Sunday, he admitted he couldn’t adjust.
Rain changed things
Nieminen — at the time 1-10 in finals — triumphed 6-2 7-5. “I arrived Saturday afternoon in the players’ lounge. It was raining but I had a very good feeling,” said Benneteau. “I was very confident, in good spirits, a good mood.”When I came back the next morning, it was a completely different atmosphere. Almost no one was there, empty seats, 10 or 10:30 final on Sunday morning. I didn’t feel the same way. “Then I became very stressed because it was a final and I had the feeling that okay, this one, I can make it. I broke to start. But because he broke me back right after, I remember my mind went away. I went a little bit crazy in my mind.”This one, I admit, I lost it because I didn’t manage it very well because it was a final.”
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Nadal by the numbers 01:22Among his other finals, Benneteau led Guillermo Garcia Lopez by a set and break in Kitzbuhel in 2009 as a lucky loser but had nothing left physically after the Spaniard claimed the second set. He cramped earlier in the week in a long battle against Chilean Olympic gold medalist Nicolas Massu. In 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, Benneteau said he tore a muscle in his serving arm prior to the final against Juan Monaco. Still he forced a third set and held a break point at 2-2. The Argentine — Nadal’s close friend — saved it and didn’t look back. In 2011 in Winston-Salem as a qualifier after returning from a serious wrist injury, Benneteau led John Isner by a set and earned a break point at the start of the second only for the American to unleash one of his massive serves. Playing close to his hometown at an event he adores, Isner rallied for a 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory. Read: Bromance of tennis’ towering marathon menRead: Serena’s coach calls for on-court coachingThere was another three-set loss to dual French Open finalist Robin Soderling in 2008 in Lyon — Benneteau’s hometown tournament that he attended as a child — and the right-hander was overmatched against serve-and-volleyer Michael Llodra in Marseille in 2010 following two draining wins over the two leading new musketeers of French tennis, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils. Benneteau, though, won the doubles title with pal Llodra. In his 10th and last final in Kuala Lumpur in 2014, Benneteau failed to serve out the first set against Kei Nishikori at 5-3 and the 2014 US Open finalist proceeded to win in straight sets.
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Kei Nishikori reflects on U.S. Open 03:24Registering his top year-end ranking of 25th in 2014, Benneteau underwent abductor surgery in 2015 and never made another final.
Best chance didn’t come in final
Overall he lost half of his finals in three sets. He was statistically the underdog six times as the lower-ranked player. According to Benneteau, his best chance of winning a title ironically came in a week where he didn’t even make the final. On grass in Den Bosch in 2007, Benneteau succumbed to then world No. 13 Ivan Ljubicic 6-4 in the third set of their semifinal meaning it was the Croat who met 488th-ranked qualifier Peter Wessels in the final. Ljubicic, now Federer’s coach, lifted his lone grass-court title the next day by edging a third-set tiebreak.
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Ivan Ljubicic retires from tennis 02:42″I was sure that the winner of our match would win the title. So maybe, maybe, despite my 10 finals, this week was the week I would be able to win a title,” said Benneteau.
As he reflects on his career, Benneteau’ is also keen to look forward. His days in tennis certainly aren’t over. Appointed France’s Fed Cup captain in June, he will next year attempt to halt the nation’s drought that dates to 2003. Yes, the hunt for titles continues.
After sealing the biggest title of his young career, Alexander Zverev embraced his Mum and Dad — as well as his dog.
Having nurtured his son’s tennis progression, Sunday was a particularly poignant moment for Alexander Zverev Sr. as he watched the 21-year-old prodigy topple Novak Djokovic in straight sets and win the ATP World Tour Finals the day after ousting Roger Federer in the semifinals in London.
“There were a lot of emotions hugging him. He had a lot of emotions as well,” Zverev told CNN Sport’s Christina Macfarlane after Sunday’s victory. “He’s basically been coaching me for 21 years … I can’t thank him enough.”Visit cnn.com/sport for more news and videosRead MoreOn the eve of the US Open, Zverev brought Ivan Lendl into his team, the eight-time grand slam champion who previously coached Andy Murray to his first major title in 2012. While Lendl’s influence already appears to be rubbing off on the young German, it’s his father who Zverev singled out after claiming the tenth title of his career. “The person he is, he’s very quiet outside the court,” he said. “But on the court we do a lot of hard work and he has such a good heart. He’s actually quite a soft guy as well.”Zverev greets his parents (and dog Lovik) after winning the ATP Finals.READ: Zverev stuns Djokovic to win ATP Finals
Zverev’s 6-4 6-3 victory over Djokovic makes him the youngest winner of the season-ending tournament since the Serb himself in 2008 and the first German to lift the title since Boris Becker in 1995.
Time to celebrate 🍾
Join Sascha and his team 👀#NittoATPFinals pic.twitter.com/ET875KSSuO
— ATP World Tour (@ATPWorldTour) November 18, 2018
Zverev is thought by many to be a multiple grand slam champion in the future, the next star of the men’s game once the likes of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic retire. Yet for all his talent and potential, Zverev is yet to make his mark at a grand slam, his best performance to date coming at this year’s French Open where he went down to Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals. Winning the Tour Finals in London, however — and doing so by beating the two top-ranked players in the world — is a significant milestone in Zverev’s career. “It feels amazing,” said the 21-year-old German. “Winning this title and being able to play the matches that I’ve played is great for me.”I knew I had to come out aggressive and I knew I had to play my best game, I’d obviously have no chance against Novak [otherwise]. “That’s what I did today and I’m very happy with the outcome. I’m unbelievably proud — I can’t thank my team enough for what they’ve done for me.”
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Magazine under fire over Serena Williams cover 01:39READ: Round-up of the weekend’s sporting action
Time for a holiday
Few would have looked past Djokovic winning a sixth Tour Finals title in London. The Serb had won 35 of his past 37 matches heading into the encounter — a period that saw him win at Wimbledon and the US Open, as well as returning to the top of the world rankings.He hadn’t dropped serve all week, but Zverev twice found ways to break his opponent thanks to strong hitting from the baseline, coupled with some uncharacteristic errors from Djokovic. With a big serve powered by his 6-foot-6 frame, Zverev appears to have the tools to reach new heights at next year’s grand slam events.Follow @cnnsport
But goals for 2019, he admits, are far from his mind right now. “I’m going on holiday to Dubai for a few days and then the Maldives,” he says. “I don’t want to think about anything else.”
Serena Williams’ claims of sexism after her US Open final defeat by Naomi Osaka earlier this month have divided opinion on the women’s WTA Tour.
World No 1 Simona Halep and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova told CNN Sport they have seen no difference in the way male umpires treat players, irrespective of their gender.Follow @cnnsportBut Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki believes her long-time friend “has a point.”
Japan’s Osaka won the September 8 final 6-2, 6-4 after a match which saw Williams warned for coaching, penalized a point for smashing her racket and then docked a game for an outburst in which she called the umpire, Carlos Ramos, a “thief” and a “liar.”Serena Williams argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during the 2018 US Open final.The American, who told Ramos she “never cheated” and “would rather lose” than be coached, later accused the Portuguese of sexism, saying several male players had behaved and said much worse but not been punished as harshly. Read MoreRead: US Open umpire ‘thrown under the bus’ in Serena rowHowever, Halep came to the defense of Ramos, saying he had acted correctly.”The rules are the rules,” Halep, this year’s French Open winner, told CNN Sport in an interview in Wuhan, China. “I don’t see any difference between the men’s rules and women’s rules, and I think the chair umpires are doing just their jobs.”As for Ramos, Halep said: “I never had any problems with him, or with any umpire. I also got fines, when I had to. It’s normal.”
Kvitova and French No. 1 Caroline Garcia also told CNN Sport they had not experienced any differential treatment.”I don’t see the difference, to be honest,” said Kvitova, who was surprised someone as experienced as Williams had reacted so strongly to the coaching violation.
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Serena Williams cartoon called racist 02:09″Sometimes, when you get the violation, it is just a violation, and it is nothing, at the end of the day,” said the fifth-ranked Czech. “I got so many violations when I was a kid, I got a coaching violation as well, but it’s OK. “You get it, and you can’t do anything with it, and sometimes it’s tough, but you can’t get interrupted by that.”Garcia, the French No 1, agreed. “I think umpires treat women and men the same way, from my own experience. I think if a player got angry and reacted like she did in the final, they would get the same penalty, I am pretty sure.”
‘Serena has a point’
World No 2 Wozniacki said she understood where Williams, a long-time friend, was coming from.”I think she has a point in some of what she’s saying,” Wozniacki told reporters in Wuhan. “I think everyone has the right to their own opinion.”I think that when you’re going into a grand slam final, you’re fighting for your 24th slam, you’re fighting to be on paper, the best player to ever have played the game … there will be emotions involved. I think there will be some feelings there when you go onto the court.”Petra Kvitova told CNN Sport that Serena Williams had overreacted to the umpire’s decision.And Wozniacki said she felt Ramos should have shown more consideration for the situation.”If someone knows Serena, if someone has followed her career, she never gets coaching, and she never asks for the coach on court,” said the Dane. “I think as a great umpire — you obviously have to be a good umpire to be in the finals — you should also be aware that this is the situation. You should be aware that Serena is not one of those people that really looks up to the box or communicates with the box. Read: Naomi Osaka: After Serena storm, US Champion could have last laugh”In my opinion I think that in the situation he probably should have given her a soft warning, and if he felt this is the way it was, said that your team is making signs, you need to make them stop. That’s, in my opinion, the way that the umpires usually do it.”Wozniacki also said the rules should be tightened up to reduce the room for controversy.”I think there should be some strict rules,” she said. “I think those rules are kind of a gray zone. I think every match should be the same.”If you were to be strict … then you should have taken both players and the coaches before the match and said, Hey, I’m really strict today. I tolerate nothing. It’s the way it is. That’s also OK.”
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Analyst: Serena is right to claim sexism 02:21Former US Open finalist Madison Keys said she believed Williams “felt like (it was) a very personal attack.”And the American said she felt the tennis authorities needed to learn from the incident.”We can maybe look at past things and see how other situations were handled, specifically in the US Open, which kind of raises some eyebrows,” Keys said.”I think overall it was just a really unfortunate experience. I think we should probably look at it more closely and see if there is a bigger issue. If there is, it’s something that needs to be addressed.”Visit cnn.com/sport for more news and videosEveryone agreed, though, that the incident had spoiled Osaka’s joy at becoming a grand slam champion, especially when the crowd began booing (toward officials) during the trophy ceremony.”It’s been a bit sad for Naomi actually,” Kvitova said. “She played great, and unfortunately the crowd just didn’t give her the best of what she deserved.”Keys also said Osaka deserved better. “The first words out of her mouth after she won her first Grand Slam were, I’m sorry. I felt so bad. I mean, it was just really sad watching it all unfold.” Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – After turning professional in September 2013, Osaka made her WTA main-draw debut at the 2014 Bank of the West Classic. The then 16-year-old showed her promise by defeating former grand slam champion Samantha Stosur in her opening match. The eventual winner of that tournament? Serena Williams. Hide Caption 1 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – Fast forward a year and the young Japanese player was beginning to work her way up the world rankings. She ended 2015 by winning the 2015 Rising Stars Invitational exhibition, defeating Caroline Garcia in the final.Hide Caption 2 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – Osaka reached her first grand slam at the 2016 Australian Open. The 18-year-old qualifier progressed to the the third round, before being roundly beaten by eventual winner Victoria Azarenka. Osaka went on to reach the third round at both Rolland Garros and the US Open later that year. Hide Caption 3 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – Osaka finished 2016 by reaching her first WTA final. After being handed a wildcard to compete at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, the youngster (left) finished runner-up behind Caroline Wozniacki (right). The successful year yielded rich rewards for Osaka. She broke into the world Top 50, signed a worldwide marketing agreement and was voted newcomer of the year at the WTA Awards. Hide Caption 4 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – Osaka built on her breakthrough 2016 by playing in all four grand slams in 2017. Performing consistently on the biggest stage enabled the youngster to test herself against the world elite. Perhaps her most notable victory came in the first round of the 2017 US Open. Osaka defeated defending champion Angelique Kerber in straight sets, before being knocked out in the third round. Hide Caption 5 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – After achieving her best grand slam finish at the 2018 Australian Open (fourth round), Osaka won her first WTA title at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells. She cemented herself as a future star with wins against former world No.1’s Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep on her way to victory. Hide Caption 6 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – In March 2018, Osaka was pitted against her tennis hero for the first time, in the first round of the Miami Open. It was Serena’s fourth comeback match since giving birth and Osaka ran away with a comfortable straight sets victory. Hide Caption 7 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – The pair then met for a second time, at the 2018 US Open final. Serena was aiming for her 24th Grand Slam title and Osaka was competing in her first grand slam final. Amid controversy involving her opponent and the umpire, the 20-year-old Japanese star deservedly won in straight sets for her biggest career win to date, earning $3.8 million in the process. Hide Caption 8 of 8On Sunday, Williams reflected on the incident with Ramos in an interview with Australia’s Channel Ten, saying that female players could not get away with “even half of what a guy can do.”
“Right now we are not, as it’s proven, in that same position,” said Serena.”But that’s neither here nor there. I’m just trying most of all to recover from that and move on.”
An emotional Andy Murray sobbed into his towel on the side of the court after a grueling victory over world No. 93 Marius Copil in Washington — a game that finished at 3 a.m. Friday local time.
Hours later, tournament organizers confirmed on their website that Murray had withdrawn from Washington’s Citi Open due to fatigue and would not play in the quarterfinals. He also will not compete in the Rogers Cup next week in Toronto, they said.
“I’m exhausted after playing so much over the past four days, having not competed on the hard courts for 18 months,” Murray said in a statement. “I also need to be careful and to listen to my body as I come from a long-term injury.”Murray, who continues his return from hip surgery, overcame the Romanian 6-7 6-3 7-6 in his second three-set encounter in two days, having previously defeated fellow Briton Kyle Edmund.
No words, @andy_murray.
Just thanks for your emotions… 😍🙏#CitiOpen pic.twitter.com/w89E3sCzJg
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) August 3, 2018
“Just the emotions coming at the end of an extremely long day and a long match,” Murray, 31, said of his reaction to the Copil match, after which he sat crying into his towel for several minutes. Read MoreThe former world No. 1 had to dig deep after conceding a 5-0 advantage in the first-set tie break to lose 7-5, but Murray twice broke Copil in the second set to force a decider.READ: Serena Williams suffers worst defeat of her careerThe pair shared breaks in the third set, and as the clock ticked on later into the night, Murray eventually emerged victorious (7-4) in the final tie break — at 3:01 a.m.The three-time grand slam winner has slipped to world No. 832 during his injury rehab and is now chasing his first ATP title since March 2017.
Visit cnn.com/tennis for more news and videosMurray would have faced Alex de Minaur in the quarterfinals in Washington. The Australian defeated South Korea’s Hyeon Chung 6-2 4-6 6-2.
The US Open should have been one of the showpiece events of the sporting summer.
The wealthiest of tennis’ four grand slam events, the New York tournament has a rich history and boasted a record purse.And yet, after the events that unfolded in Saturday’s women’s final at Flushing Meadow, no one — not the players, the officials, administrators, the fans or the sport itself — emerged as a winner.
Perhaps the biggest loser in it all was the eventual champion, Naomi Osaka, whose moment of glory was taken away in the aftermath of a tirade by Williams.It started when chair umpire Carlos Ramos gave Williams a code violation for coaching, and eventually ended up with accusations of sexism in the aftermath.Read MoreYou are only a first-time major singles champion once, of course. Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – After turning professional in September 2013, Osaka made her WTA main-draw debut at the 2014 Bank of the West Classic. The then 16-year-old showed her promise by defeating former grand slam champion Samantha Stosur in her opening match. The eventual winner of that tournament? Serena Williams. Hide Caption 1 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – Fast forward a year and the young Japanese player was beginning to work her way up the world rankings. She ended 2015 by winning the 2015 Rising Stars Invitational exhibition, defeating Caroline Garcia in the final.Hide Caption 2 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – Osaka reached her first grand slam at the 2016 Australian Open. The 18-year-old qualifier progressed to the the third round, before being roundly beaten by eventual winner Victoria Azarenka. Osaka went on to reach the third round at both Rolland Garros and the US Open later that year. Hide Caption 3 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – Osaka finished 2016 by reaching her first WTA final. After being handed a wildcard to compete at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, the youngster (left) finished runner-up behind Caroline Wozniacki (right). The successful year yielded rich rewards for Osaka. She broke into the world Top 50, signed a worldwide marketing agreement and was voted newcomer of the year at the WTA Awards. Hide Caption 4 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – Osaka built on her breakthrough 2016 by playing in all four grand slams in 2017. Performing consistently on the biggest stage enabled the youngster to test herself against the world elite. Perhaps her most notable victory came in the first round of the 2017 US Open. Osaka defeated defending champion Angelique Kerber in straight sets, before being knocked out in the third round. Hide Caption 5 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – After achieving her best grand slam finish at the 2018 Australian Open (fourth round), Osaka won her first WTA title at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells. She cemented herself as a future star with wins against former world No.1’s Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep on her way to victory. Hide Caption 6 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – In March 2018, Osaka was pitted against her tennis hero for the first time, in the first round of the Miami Open. It was Serena’s fourth comeback match since giving birth and Osaka ran away with a comfortable straight sets victory. Hide Caption 7 of 8 Photos: Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures – The pair then met for a second time, at the 2018 US Open final. Serena was aiming for her 24th Grand Slam title and Osaka was competing in her first grand slam final. Amid controversy involving her opponent and the umpire, the 20-year-old Japanese star deservedly won in straight sets for her biggest career win to date, earning $3.8 million in the process. Hide Caption 8 of 8READ: Newspaper doubles down on racist Serena cartoonIn the 10 minutes that followed her stunning 6-2 6-4 victory against the most dominant female player of the past two decades, as Arthur Ashe Stadium was being prepared for what would be a deeply awkward trophy ceremony, Osaka sat all alone in her chair as parts of the 23,000-strong crowd booed loudly.Osaka, a shy, quirky personality who idolized Williams growing up, put her cap down over her eyes and started to cry during the trophy ceremony. It was only after Williams took the mic, and pleaded with spectators to stop booing and give credit to the new champion, that it ended.”Ultimately, you never know what you’re made out of until you’re tested,” Osaka’s coach, Sascha Bajin, told the New York Times.”Naomi was thrown in there into deep water today,” said Baijin, who spent several years as the hitting partner of Williams. “Got everything thrown at her: big bombs by Serena, the crowd, the drama. She remained with her composure. There are certain things you can train yourself to do; other things you just have, and I believe it’s a gift, what Naomi has.”A lot has been said in the aftermath of a bizarre final, but not much attention has been paid to Osaka’s brilliant performance in the face of the storm raging on the other side of the net.Speaking to WTA Insider two days after becoming the first Japanese player to win a grand slam singles title, Osaka said: “I hope Serena isn’t mad at me.”
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Cuomo slams double standard in tennis 04:54READ: Serena is calling out sexism in tennis. Here’s whyBut Osaka has no need to apologize. She simply did everything better than Williams; she served better, moved better and returned better.Osaka struck six aces, twice as many as Williams. The 20-year-old won 73% of the points on her first serve, while Williams took 63%. Osaka was also able to neutralize the Williams serve, widely regarded as one of the best in all of tennis, as she won 45% of return points. Williams took 36% of her return points.After she was given a code violation for coaching in the second game of the second set by Ramos, a fuming Williams told the umpire that she “never cheated” and “would rather lose” than do that. A racket smash by Williams led to a second code violation, and this time she was docked a point.A visit to the court from tournament referee Brian Earley and grand slam supervisor Donna Kelso failed to diffuse the situation and, having led 3-1 in the second set, a rattled Williams lost it completely as she went down 4-3.During the changeover, she called Ramos a “thief” and a “liar” because he “stole a point,” from her, which led to Ramos handing out a third code violation for verbal abuse, and a game penalty. Now down 5-3, Williams did manage to hold serve.Serving for the biggest win of her life as boos reverberated around the stadium, Osaka retained her poise, as she had throughout the entire match, and slammed a huge serve out wide on her first match point to win the title.”When I turned around, uhm, it was 5-3, so I was a little bit confused then,” Osaka said in a post-match news conference. “But for me, I felt like I really had to focus during this match because she’s such a great champion, and I know that she can come back from any point. I was just trying to focus on myself at that time.”NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 08: Naomi Osaka of Japan poses with the championship trophy after winning the Women’s Singles finals match against Serena Williams of the United States on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)READ: Celebs rally around WilliamsAlthough Osaka’s moment to shine was taken away from her, her victory has turned her into a superstar in Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe congratulating her on Twitter and thanked her for “giving Japan a boost of inspiration at this time of hardship.”Last week, Japan was struck by a typhoon and earthquake that killed dozens of people.Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka was raised in the US but competes for Japan. In recent years, she has taken lessons to brush up on her Japanese.Osaka’s moment of glory may have been taken away from her, she could end up having the last laugh at the bank.Osaka, only the second Asian woman to win a major singles title after China’s Li Na at the 2011 French Open, may soon start to out earn Williams when it comes to endorsements, according to Forbes. “She seems almost destined to succeed Williams as the world’s highest-paid female athlete,” Forbes said, estimating her off-court earnings may increase tenfold over the next couple of years, from $1.5 million to more than $15 million a year.With appearances on the “Today Show” and “Ellen,” in the US, the past couple of days have been a whirlwind for Osaka.
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Thank you to @TODAYshow for having me on this morning, thank you for going so kind Savannah and Hoda ❤️ also ty to Djoko for being such a cool guy 🤗
But along with her composure, she has also kept her quirky sense of humor.Asked by WTA Insider what she was most looking forward to after her life-changing victory, she joked: “I really want to eat green tea ice cream right now, so hopefully my life can change to eat green tea ice cream.”
Yannick Noah turned as the ball sailed over his head and watched it land beyond the baseline.
He sank to his knees and pumped his fists, exchanged a cursory handshake with his beaten opponent, Mats Wilander, before running into his father’s arms.Follow @cnnsportHis straight sets victory against Wilander — the defending champion who was just 18 years old — in 1983 certainly didn’t go down as one of the all-time great finals, but none in Roland Garros history arguably have been more emotional.
The embrace with his father, Zacharie, who had watched his son leave his native Cameroon to train in France 10 years earlier as a 13-year-old, became one of the French Open’s defining images.READ: Rafael Nadal — Why the ‘King of Clay’ reigns in ParisRead MoreREAD: Serena Williams pulls out of French Open”I’m really thankful that I’ve won my grand slam at home,” Noah told CNN’s Pat Cash. “I won, I practiced here, pretty much on this court, before the final. “Then I go out and play and all my friends (were there), everywhere I look there are my friends and I could share this moment. It was complete and I think I got the energy from them.”Noah was the first Frenchman to win at Roland Garros for 37 years, and no Frenchman has lifted the trophy in the 35 years since.
Can anyone stop Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros?
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Can anyone stop Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros? 01:59It appears as though the drought won’t end anytime soon, since the once golden generation of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon are nearing the end of their careers. The French fans are notoriously passionate when it comes to supporting their compatriots on the red clay, with many suggesting it brings pressure the current players can’t handle.Noah, however, feels decidedly differently.”I don’t feel it,” he says, shaking his head. “I feel it’s love, man. And I mean, Jesus, people come and say they love you. “Some people feel this way (pressure) but you are lucky enough to have a grand slam at home, you know? God, there are four. “You have French, you have Australians, Americans and English but it’s such a privilege. We practice in Roland Garros so you have all the dreams right here.” Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018The 2018 French Open will take place from May 21-June 10 on the clay courts of Roland Garros in Paris. Hide Caption 1 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Serena Williams turned heads in a black catsuit in her first-round match at Roland Garros, saying it made her feel like a “warrior princess.” She also said it helped with ongoing blood clots following the birth of her daughter last year. Hide Caption 2 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Rafa Nadal is favorite to take the men’s singles title, which would be his 11th grand slam victory on the clay. Hide Caption 3 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Serena Williams is playing her first grand slam for 16 months after maternity leave and is bidding for a fourth French Open crown and a record-equaling 24th major title, including both pre and Open era events.Hide Caption 4 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Novak Djokovic hasn’t won a grand slam title since 2016 and has slipped to No. 22 in the world, but he enters the French Open on a good run of form. Hide Caption 5 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Young German Alexander Zverev is touted as the future of tennis but has struggled at grand slams so far in his career, his best result being the fourth round. Hide Caption 6 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Andy Murray continues his recovery from hip surgery and won’t be at Roland Garros — a tournament he finished runner-up at in 2016. Hide Caption 7 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Maria Sharapova is a two-time French Open champion but has missed the last two events at Roland Garros after serving a ban for testing positive for the illegal substance meldonium.Hide Caption 8 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Pauline Parmentier will be flying the flag for France in the women’s draw having received a wild card entry for this year’s competition. She reached the fourth round in 2014. Hide Caption 9 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Pat Cash claimed his sole grand slam singles title at Wimbledon in 1987. He’ll be giving CNN his insight as a former player throughout the French Open. Hide Caption 10 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018A year on from her return to tennis following a knife attack in her home, Petra Kvitova says she is living a “dream.” Hide Caption 11 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Yannick Noah is still the only French man to win the French Open, since the Open era began in 1968. Noah’s triumph at Roland Garros came way back in 1983.Hide Caption 12 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Juan Martin del Potro’s lone major title was the US Open in 2009. However he’s struggled with injury since beating Roger Federer in that 2009 US Open final, missing almost the entire 2010 season after undergoing surgery on his wrist.
After slipping outside the world’s top 400, Del Potro returned to the top five in 2013 but another wrist injury meant more surgery and led him to miss the majority of the 2014 and 2015 season. But earlier this year Del Potro ended Federer’s best ever start to a season to become the first Argentine to win a top-tier Masters series event when he was victorious at Indian Wells.Hide Caption 13 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Serena Williams pulled out injured ahead of her much-anticipated fourth-round match against old rival Maria Sharapova.Hide Caption 14 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018World No. 72 Marco Cecchinato beat David Goffin to reach the French Open quarterfinals where he will play Novak Djokovic. Cecchinato described his win over Goffin as the “best moment” of his life. He shortly followed up with a new best moment as he beat Djokovic in four sets. Hide Caption 15 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018Diminutive Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who stands at 5 feet 7 inches tall, proved size isn’t everything when he toppled 6-foot-8 Kevin Anderson to reach the quarterfinals. Hide Caption 16 of 17 Photos: The faces of Roland Garros 2018World No.1 Simona Halep is bidding for a first grand slam title after three previous losing final appearances in majors.Hide Caption 17 of 17
‘King of Clay’
The man to beat this year, once again, is Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard is going for a record-extending 11th title at Roland Garros having lost just two matches at the tournament throughout his career.Noah had the privilege of watching the “King of Clay” up close during a training session and was left in awe of his prowess.
Nadal by the numbers
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Nadal by the numbers 01:22″I saw him practice … it’s fantastic. You wanna show all the kids … this is the No. 1 in the world,” said Noah. “And because of that I think it’s really good. I’m happy when he wins these days. It was not always the way, to tell you the truth. But now it’s something different, man, you gotta give him respect, man. Crazy.”So how would Noah try to beat the seemingly unbeatable Nadal?
“I only play drop shots, only drop shots,” he laughs. “You’re going to miss points but I would serve underarm and every time I play drop shots. “If he is at the net, I hit it straight at him,” he quips. “You have to try something!”
Like father, like sons?
These are early days, but Roger Federer’s four-year-old twin boys are already catching the tennis bug. Follow @cnnsportYoung Leo and Lenny have arguably the best coach in the business with their dad chasing his 100th ATP title at this week’s Tour Finals in London.
“They’re only four, yes, but they’ve played for a few years now,” Federer tells CNN Sport. “We roll the ball and hit it along the ground. The ball can bounce a bit more and they can whack it over the net sometimes.”Read MoreIf dad’s influence wasn’t enough, Federer’s wife Mirka was also a professional tennis player before retiring in 2002 because of a foot injury.The whole family of six, including twin nine-year-old daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, travel the world together and are steeped in the game. Federer’s family travel to tournament’s around the world, including this year’s Australian Open in Melbourne.”The girls also play a little bit,” the world No. 3 continues. “Actually we like them to play a bit because all the friends we have and their kiddies, they all play tennis and it would be a shame if my kids are the only ones who wouldn’t play tennis.”I want them to do sports because I think it’s a great education, it’s good to be out there and healthy.”READ: Djokovic completes ‘mission impossible’READ: Wimbledon marathon men Isner and Anderson flourishing after college rivalryREAD: Mikaela Shiffrin in idolizing Roger Federer
Federer, who won his 20th grand slam title at the Australian Open in January, trails only Jimmy Connors (109) in the all-time list of ATP titles. Having turned 37 earlier this year, he’s shown no sign of retiring in the near future. He described the prospect of reaching a century of career wins this week as the “perfect storm,” but the Swiss’ hopes took an early blow with a first-round defeat by Kei Nishikori in London. Federer’s group also includes South African Kevin Anderson and Austrian Dominic Thiem — formidable opposition in the way of a seventh title at this event. The tournament pits the top eight players in the world against each other, although Rafa Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro — ranked second and fourth in the world — are missing through injury, replaced instead by Nishikori and American John Isner.
Kevin Anderson on Federer, tiebreaks and dogs
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Kevin Anderson on Federer, tiebreaks and dogs 02:50READ: Tennis prodigy Cori Gauff, 14, signs multi-year sponsorship contractFederer lost to Novak Djokovic at the Paris Masters at the start of November and admits that the Serb, who recently returned to the top of the world rankings, is favorite to win the Tour Finals for a fifth time in seven years. “First, we have to get through our groups,” says Federer. “My group’s pretty tough, I’ve got Nishikori, Thiem and Anderson. That’s going to be my first focus before focusing on Novak. “What the match in Paris gave me was certainty that my game was on, that I’ve played enough tennis right now, I can play no problems through three-hour tennis. Visit cnn.com/tennis for more news and videos
“Novak’s going to be the favorite for this event. His last five months have been epic, he’s played so well ever since he came back, you now, and won Wimbledon. I just see somebody across the net who’s feeling it right now. “I think for the rest of the group and all of us I think it’s about really believing that we can beat him.”
Tennis great Serena Williams has been named GQ’s Woman of the Year — but the magazine’s cover has caused a stir on social media with many questioning why “Woman” was in quotes.
The 37-year-old, called “The Champion” by the magazine, features in one of four covers of December’s ‘Men of the Year’ issue wearing a black long-sleeve turtleneck leotard.GQ, which first made women part of its Men of the Year honorees in 2003, included the American alongside actors Michael B Jordan, Henry Golding and Jonah Hill.
Williams features in one of four covers in the December issue of GQVisit cnn.com/sport for more news and videosIn February, Williams told CNN she almost died giving birth to her daughter last year, yet within months she was back training and returned to the sport earlier this year, reaching both the Wimbledon and US Open finals.Read MoreChasing a record-equaling 24th major, Williams lost in both finals, falling to a straight-sets defeat to Anqelique Kerber at Wimbledon and a controversial loss to Naomi Osaka at Flushing Meadows, where she was docked a game after calling the umpire a “thief.”
Announcing GQ's Men (and Woman) of the Year 2018: @michaelb4jordan, @henrygolding, @jonahhill, and @serenawilliams (featuring handwriting by @virgilabloh) https://t.co/EpG3lKCJ3r #GQMOTY pic.twitter.com/6MgczSxSpq
— GQ Magazine (@GQMagazine) November 12, 2018
GQ’s cover has sparked controversy on Twitter, however. Many users seemed unaware that the typography was handwritten by designer Virgil Abloh, who uses quotation marks in his work. Abloh collaborated with Williams and Nike for the player’s US Open outfit which featured “Serena” in quotations on her trainers and “Logo” on her tutu dress.
— E. Alex Jung (@e_alexjung) November 12, 2018
GQ has not responded to CNN, but in a Twitter thread Mick Rouse, research manager for GQ, according to his Twitter bio, tweeted: “Because it was handwritten by Virgil Abloh of Off-White, who has styled everything in quotation marks as of late (see Serena’s US Open apparel that he designed).”
Because it was handwritten by Virgil Abloh of Off-White, who has styled everything in quotation marks as of late (see Serena's US Open apparel that he designed)
— Mick Rouse (@mickrouse) November 12, 2018
Last year, in an open letter on reddit, Williams wrote about being called a man because of her muscular physique, writing: “I’ve been called man because I appeared outwardly strong … It has been said I don’t belong in women’s sports — that I belong in men’s — because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this baddass body and proud of it.)”
On the Internet, tennis is synonymous with temper tantrums, tirades, and meltdowns. In fact, that’s the name of several YouTube clips devoted to scene after scene of a tennis player shouting at an umpire, gesticulating wildly at baselines, or smashing rackets to smithereens.
There’s even a racket smash compilation video devoted to Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic on YouTube, in which the newly-crowned men’s US Open champion obliterates one racket after another, sometimes getting a warning, sometimes losing a point.The question of what level of bad behavior merits a point deduction, a game deduction or — in some cases — the loss of an entire match, is once again a point of debate after the women’s US Open final Saturday.
Serena Williams received three code violations from umpire Carlos Ramos during her defeat to Naomi Osaka. Serena Williams of the US smashes her racquet while playing against Naomi Osaka of Japan during their Women’s Singles Finals match at the 2018 US Open. He first issued her a warning after ruling her coach was giving her hand signals from the stands at the Arthur Ashe stadium in New York. She denied the accusation and berated Ramos, demanding an apology. Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, later admitted he was trying to coach his player, but was unsure if she had seen it.Read MoreThe umpire then hit Williams with a point penalty after she smashed her racket.Then, he docked her an entire game after she called him a “thief” for taking that point from her. He said the comment amounted to verbal abuse. Osaka won the match, clinching her first grand slam title, in straight sets: 6-2 6-4.The drama wasn’t the first time Williams has fallen foul of the officials at the US Open. During her 2009 semifinal against Belgian Kim Clijsters she received a point penalty at match point for unleashing a tirade against a lineswoman. The point penalty came at match point, meaning the match went to Clijsters without another play taking place.In her complaint to the umpire Saturday and later to tournament organizers and reporters, Williams accused Ramos of sexism, saying “there are men out here who do a lot worse, but because I’m a woman you’re going to take this away from me? That is not right.”A viewing of past bad behavior on court shows players — both male and female — losing points, being fined, and losing matches for bursts of temper and foul language. At last year’s French Open, Djokovic was docked a first serve and later given a warning for unsportsmanlike behavior for telling the same umpire “you’re losing your mind,” after a call Ramos made that infuriated the Serb.American Jeff Tarango, unable to stop himself from responding to goading from the crowd during his 1995 Wimbledon match with German Alexander Mronz looked over at the stands and said: “Oh, shut up,” earning him a code violation for an audible obscenity. He argued with the umpire that his words couldn’t be considered to be obscene, called for a supervisor to intervene, while telling the umpire: “You are the most corrupt official in the game and you can’t do that.”After another code violation for verbal abuse, Tarango lost the match and stormed off the court.During one US Open, Andre Agassi got a warning for an audible obscenity for something he was about to say as he approached the umpire, but thought better of it and started to walk away. After hearing the umpire penalize him, he called him a “son of a bitch.” Play went on however, with no further remonstration from the chair. There are myriad moments of racket abuse. Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis achieved eternal internet fame for an epic racket smash during the 2012 Australian Open. During a break he smashed four rackets in under a minute. He went on to lose the match and pay a $1,250 fine.The International Tennis Federation sets out in its Code of Conduct what it considers violations. It defines unsportsmanlike behavior as “any misconduct by a player that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the Competition, the ITF or the sport of tennis.” A first offense is usually met with a warning, a second by a point penalty, and a third with the loss of a game. A supervisor is summoned to determine whether any violations after the third warrant a default.In some cases, the players have gone from zero to default without anything in between.David Nalbandian stands next to line judge Andrew McDougall whose leg was gashed in the incident at Queen’s Club. Argentinian David Nalbandian was disqualified from the final of the Aegon Championship in 2005 after he kicked an advertising board which broke apart and injured the shin of a line judge. Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Supervisor Tom Barnes said he had little choice but to “declare an immediate default.”Other players who’ve defaulted a match through unruly behavior include Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who destroyed three rackets during the final of the Istanbul Open against Argentine Diego Schwartzmann in 2016.One of the most notable tennis players to ever default a match was John McEnroe. At the 1990 Australian Open he got his first warning for intimidating a lineswoman who called his ball out. He stood in front of her, bouncing a ball on his racket and staring her down.
Later, after losing a point, he hurled his racket to the ground and a loud crack echoed through the court, earning him another code violation. After insisting to the umpire and tournament officials that he would continue to play with the damaged racket McEnroe slung insults over his shoulder as he walked away. That earned him another violation — this one for verbal abuse — and the entire match went to his opponent, Swede Mikael Pernfors.
Carlos Ramos, the umpire at the center of the storm surrounding Serena Williams at the US Open, was “thrown under a bus” by tennis’ governing bodies, says a former top-level umpire.
Speaking to CNN World Sport’s Don Riddell, Richard Ings said the treatment of Ramos after a final which sparked debate about sexism in tennis would have left “umpires everywhere seething.”Follow @cnnsportSaturday’s final descended into controversy in the second set when Williams was given a code violation for getting signals from her coach, handed a point penalty for smashing her racket and then docked a game for an outburst in which she called Ramos a “liar” and a “thief.” She was later fined $17,000 for the three code violations.
The 23-time grand slam champion, who went on to lose in straight sets to Japan’s Naomi Osaka, told reporters that being penalized a game was “sexist.””Carlos Ramos has been a professional umpire for four decades,” said Ings. “There’s no one more experienced, no one more knowledgeable, no one more capable as an umpire than Carlos Ramos. Read More”If governing bodies can throw him under a bus then umpires everywhere are seething … They’ve lost their safety factor of knowing that these governing bodies will support them.”READ: Serena ‘out of line’ but umpire ‘blew it’READ: Why Naomi Osaka could have last laughWilliams argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during the US Open women’s final
‘A watershed moment in officiating’
Williams’ claims of sexism were backed by the governing body of women’s tennis, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), whose chief executive said the umpire had shown the 36-year-old a different level of tolerance than if she had been a man. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) also supported Williams’ claims, while Billie Jean King, founder of the WTA and winner of 12 grand slam singles titles, told CNN Tuesday that though Williams was “out of line,” Ramos had aggravated the situation.
Billie Jean King: Serena was out of line
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Billie Jean King: Serena was out of line 01:42READ: Australian newspaper doubles down on Serena cartoon”I felt like at the very beginning he blew it,” King said. “As an umpire you’re supposed to keep the flow of the match going and he did just the opposite.”On Monday, the International Tennis Federation said Ramos acted “at all times with professionalism and integrity,” a statement welcomed by Ings, who was a professional chair umpire from 1986 to 1993.”This has been a bit of a watershed moment in the history of professional officiating,” he told CNN. “Until this moment in time, professional officials expected that when they made tough decisions on court they’d be fully backed by the governing bodies. But, in this case, particularly through the WTA, this has not happened. We just made life difficult for umpires everywhere. “Every match is different and every incident is different and Carlos did a tremendous job in this particular match.”Ings, who was the director of officiating for the ATP Tour from 2001-2005, added: “It’s great the ITF has put out a message of support but the WTA needs to do something to protect the interest of umpires and make sure players show respect to officials on court.”
Billie Jean King: No one free from blame at US Open final
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Billie Jean King: No one free from blame at US Open final 11:20Ings said the incident itself would not worry umpires but the handling of it would be an issue. “What happened on court in this particular match is not something that is going to trouble professional umpires. Players get upset on court, players get code violations on court. The incidents on the court are not the issue,” he added. “The big issue for umpires everywhere is the importance of the support of governing bodies when umpires are just out there doing their job and making decisions under rules which are given to them by those very governing bodies.” Visit cnn.com/sport for more news and videosPortugese newspaper Tribuna Expresso reported that Ramos had avoided walking the streets of New York on Sunday to avoid any “complicated situations.””It’s an unhappy situation but ‘à la carte’ refereeing doesn’t exist. Don’t you worry about me,” the 47-year-old is quoted as saying in the newspaper. Ramos will next umpire at the US-Croatia Davis Cup semi-final in Zadar, Croatia this weekend.
According to the Guardian, the sport’s top umpires are considering forming a union as a result of the fallout from the women’s final. Under the terms of their contracts, umpires — who are employed by grand slams and men’s and women’s tours — are not allowed to speak out publicly.