Thursday, 9 July 2015

"There are definitely no gays in the ATP top-100" - Sergiy Stakhovsky [Translated]

The following is a translation of excerpts from an interview Sergiy Stakhovsky gave to Ivan Grachev for XSport.ua. To sum up the parts I haven’t translated word for word: Stakhovsky’s contract with Fabrice Santoro is currently in place until after the 2015 US Open, he appreciates Santoro’s advice as a coach a lot, his goal for this season – to get into the top 30. He was also asked about fighting between doubles partners, and said that when players play doubles you usually don’t know if they’re fighting (but Nestor and Zimonjic, for example, were hardly talking to each other outside of matches when they were no.1 in the world).
What follows is a full translation from Russian of the rest of the interview. - Anna

*********************************************************

Q: You’re known for your openness and readiness to discuss any subject, even the most uncomfortable ones. Let’s talk about a subject that’s usually avoided. Are there any representatives of sexual minorities on the tour?
A: I think not.
And yet I have my doubts…
Give me a name?
This isn’t about a specific person – I can’t judge or support him – but about the general picture.
You see, on the ATP – we have a normal atmosphere. If there was anything, we’d know about it, because it’s a very closed circle. Earlier there used to be talk about Gasquet, about Nadal. Even about Federer. I won’t sacrifice my hand for the whole tour and the new guys, who are just joining, but in the backbone of the top-100 there are definitely no gays.

Martina Navratilova, for example, thinks differently.
She can think that in the women’s locker room. She has no clue at all what men’s tennis is. And she’s has nothing to do with it [men’s tennis]. On the WTA tour, almost every other player is a lesbian. Can you imagine – half of them! So I for sure won’t send my daughter to play tennis.

Let’s change the subject a bit. Tell me, wouldn’t you want to see Taisia Stakhovsky in professional sports?
Why not? In golf – of course (laughs).

Let’s imagine that in 25 years, Taisia comes to you and tells you: “Dad, I’m going to marry a tennis player”. Your reaction?
I’ll shoot! In the beginning, as soon as our daughter was born, I understood that I need to get a gun, arm myself (laughs). Seriously though, I will always respect my daughter’s choice. I think that a lot in that matter depends on the parent. I mean, if Anfisa and I raise her well, she’ll pick someone worthy. Of course, love can be cruel, but I don’t intend to fight with my daughter because she fell in love with someone. I looked at my father in law, and saw how difficult it was for him to let his two daughters go, so I understand that something similar will happen to me.


Monday, 18 May 2015

Amir Weintraub: "I was in a good place and then the injury hit me" [Translated]

Amir Weintraub, who will be playing in the Roland Garros qualifying draw starting tomorrow, has given an interview to Uri Talshir in Haaretz, speaking about his return from injury. The interview, brought here, was translated by TheNighIsDark

Amir Weintraub: "I was in a good place and then the injury hit me"

"It all happened simultaneously - the inflammation, the divorce, the fall in the rankings... And at some point life just stopped. It's very weird, I never thought that at the age of 28 I'll be divorced and injured". After eight months that turned his life around, Amir Weintraub is slowly rebuilding himself and aspires to become a "Davis Cup beast" once again.

Amir Weintraub almost never had it the easy way. At the age of 21 he was already done with tennis and was about to leave for UCLA, but eventually stayed in Israel. The tennis coach Shlomo Tzoref took him under his wing and groomed him and when Noam Okun and Harel Levy retired, Weintraub became Israel's No. 2 racquet.  He had some inconceivable wins in Davis Cup and positioned himself inside the top-200 on the tour, but then came the twist that tore everything apart.

It happened in April last year, on the clay in Slovenia versus Blaz Kavcic. At the end of the fifth set Weintraub made an intentional slide on the surface and then, during the motion for the next shot, came the signal from the groin. "I'll never forget it", he remembers, "I felt this sort of click and knew something bad happened. I could barely walk but went on to win the match. A day later I couldn't stand on my right leg."

The severe inflammation forced Weintraub to take a break, but he never thought it will last so long and even prevent him from playing the important Davis Cup tie vs. Argentina. "There's nothing harder than sitting on the bench, I was with the team in Miami and even thought of playing with an injection but there was no point in that" he says, "I've never sustained such a severe injury. I was in a very good place in life, ranking-wise, mentally, the Davis Cup team and everything else. The injury came like a shock, at a very critical stage."

Belgian doctor Prof. Marc Martens assumed the recovery process will last three months but eventually Weintraub had to go through two surgeries and more than eight months of absence from the tour. Every day he went through three hours of physiotherapy, another hour of hydrotherapy and countless massages and drills to try and get back in shape. Half the day went into rehabilitating the leg and the rest he spent on reading, watching movies and following young tennis players.

"The weeks go by and it's frustrating. You see everyone playing while you're sidelined with pain. You try to play, the first couple of days everything's fine and then it all comes back. You never know where it ends. Time goes by and you mentally break down." During this period, Weintraub saw his ranking drop and his Davis Cup team relegated to the bottom of the Europe-Africa group I. His sponsors left him and the depression seeped into his personal life as he and his wife, whom he married only two months before the injury, decided to separate. "It all happened simultaneously" he shares, "The injury, the divorce, the fall in the rankings... And at some point life just stopped."

Last month, a year after that match in Slovenia, Weintraub tried to return to the tour. In the Raanana challenger the pain returned. Prof. Martens feared another surgery will be required but after a short rest there was a significant improvement. In the last couple of weeks Weintraub won two Futures events in Ashkelon and passed on the third as a precautionary measure.

"When I strain my body the groin swells, like a ball on the tendons that hinders me from returning to the middle of the court. It's very limiting. I check myself and still do everything very slowly. There's always this fear of "I'm allowed to, I'm forbidden to, I feel good, I feel bad, it hurts now, is it serious and should I stop". It goes on after the matches, you return home with ice and pain, barely walking and the next day you need to recover somehow. The leg won't be the same but I'll have to learn how to deal with the pain and adjust myself during matches so I can be as close to what I used to be as possible. It won't be 100% but I won't cry about it. It is what it is and I'm finally in a place where I might finally be moving forward."

In May 2012 Weintraub reached his all-time high ranking of world no. 161. Now he's ranked 606 but will be using the protected ranking (PR) the ATP issues players who are coming back from injury. He'll be able to apply to nine tournaments of his choice with the PR of 224 in the world, including qualifying rounds of Roland Garros and Wimbledon, which should help him gain momentum and find his place on tour. Thanks to the ITA (Israel Tennis Association) and the ITC (Israel Tennis centers), which are holding eighteen futures events in Israel this year, Weintraub won't have to travel to Nigeria, Ghana or India to gather some precious ranking points - as he used to in the past.

Weintraub is an experienced and well known player in Israel but just like when he was 21, at 28 he finds himself once again at the beginning of a journey towards fulfilling his potential and re-igniting  his tennis career. Again, just like before, Tzoref is the one who stood by his side and convinced him not to give up. "When I lost my faith and surrendered, he supported me. Tzoref is the father who brings it all together for me. He's responsible for half of my career if not all of it. The ITA also did all it could for me and I hope to be able to come back and repay this debt."

How do view the integration of Bar Botzer and Idan Leshem in the Davis Cup team?

"When I first joined the team it was very hard for me as well, it's a very tight-knit group with great accomplishments and it's very hard to become a part of it. Botzer and Leshem are talented players who can make it. They need to find themselves, grow, evolve mentally and get into it as fast as possible because we need them badly."

With all due respect to the young guard, the team is anxious for Weintraub's return, again versus Slovenia, in a Davis Cup tie that will be held in Israel in two months. "There's no doubt I want to play but it's not about the tennis but mostly about the leg. I'll do anything to be a part of the team, just like I did before. When I'm on the team things come together for me, it feels like I'm not alone on the court and I wish my entire career felt like that. It brings greater things out of me. A lot of Israelis called me a "Davis Cup beast" and that's a title I really loved. I very much want to play in Israel because that's the big moment, in front of your crowd."

What did you miss the most while being at home?

"It's funny because in the past I would've answered this completely differently. I would've said I miss the flights, the places on the tour and the good life. Today I mostly miss being healthy, peace of mind and the tennis. It's what my life's about, my heart and what I've been doing since I was five years old. My Father's from Mexico and my mother's American, they immigrated to Israel out of pure Zionism and everything in our house was always country first and only then you. This is how we grew up and that's how tennis is for me - I managed to do much greater things for my country than for my personal career. Unlike other players who also succeeded on the tour, Davis Cup is the biggest highlight of my life. It gave me a taste of glory and I think I deserved it."

Do you have the strength to make it all the way back again?

"I won't be able to play tennis forever. As long as I can play and things go my way, that's what I love to do and that's what I'll do. These little moments, of winning a Davis Cup match or making the second round of the Australian Open, are worth it all. Afterwards, if I work in a bank or anywhere else, I don't think I'll have such experiences nor will I be able to help my country in a similar manner."

Weintraub reaches his current phase as a much more mature person. He mainly wants to return to those good old days, when he brought his team victories in Davis Cup and even qualified for the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament. "I went through a very deep inner process" he shares while rain drops fall on his balcony floor in the middle of May. "It's very weird, I’ve never thought that at the age of 28 I'll be divorced and injured. Until the age of 27 I had never been in a hospital before and suddenly I went through three surgeries in one year. It's not simple but the family, Tzoref, the ITA and also my ex-wife all support me."

Alongside the yearning for the racquet, Weintraub is already thinking of the next chapter. "Today the goal isn't only climbing up the rankings but also to have a hobby. Perhaps diamonds or real-estate, but currently I don't have the financial backing for such a thing. I didn't get rich from tennis but I'm not poor either. Until I was 25 I had a negative bank balance and at some stage it turned around. I won't be able to retire after tennis and will have to work for a living but I have my own car and apartment which I earned by myself."

Are you on some sort of deadline to become fit to play?

"Since I was 24 I kept telling myself 'This is my last year' because I wasn't making enough money. Today the deadline isn't age or money, it's all about the leg. If by the end of the year I won't be happy with it, I'll retire. I don't trust my body but I'm learning slowly and every day I test my boundaries. It's really about learning to trust yourself all over again but according to recent tournaments I seem to be on the right track."

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The 2015 Tennis Calendar

Have you ever felt the need to integrate the tennis calendar with your own? Well, now you can! Just like in 2013 and 2014, the importable ATP and WTA calendars for the 2015 season are here.

Both tours are still working out some of the information, so new events will be added as they're announced (like the ATP's recent addition of the Geneva 250 instead of the tournament in Dusseldorf). Additionally, the start/end days of the ATP tournaments weren't published yet, so I'm basing this version on the 2014 calendar - info about Sunday starts and Saturday finals might still change.

The calendar you see below has all the ATP and WTA tournaments for 2015, including information about tournament category (250/500/M1000/GS for the men, International/Premier/P5/PM/GS for the women), surface, and dates (including Sunday starts or Saturday finals).

If you're using Google Calendar, you can add these calendars (ATP and WTA separately, for those who only want one of them) to your schedule with a couple of clicks (in fact, if you've already added the 2013/14 version to your Google Calendar, the 2015 events are already there!).
If you're using a different calendar, you can import the calendars separately in XML or iCal format for the ATP, and the same for WTA (XML, iCal). Or, you can just use the calendar in this post, if you wish!
If, for some reason, you want to get only the 2015 events (the current calendars include all events from 2013 to this day), you can download the 2015-only calendars from here.

Enjoy, and let me know if there's anything else you'd like to see here.




Wednesday, 12 November 2014

World Tour Finals 2014 - Qualification Scenarios (Group A)

After 4 days of incredibly one-sided results, Group A looks very similar to Group B in terms of possible scenarios. In fact, the scenarios are exactly the same.

Friday's matches are Djokovic-Berdych and Wawrinka-Cilic. Here are the qualification scenarios for every possible outcome of those matches (winner + number of sets). Where it says "GR", it means we're going to have to calculate the game ratios (games won out of total played games) of all players to know who qualifies (Cilic can only qualify if he wins in 2).


Wawrinka in 2 Wawrinka in 3 Cilic in 3 Cilic in 2
Djokovic in 2
1. Djokovic
2. Wawrinka
1. Djokovic
2. Wawrinka
1. Djokovic
2. Wawrinka
1. Djokovic
2. GR
Djokovic in 3
1. Djokovic
2. Wawrinka
1. Djokovic
2. Wawrinka
1. Djokovic
2. Wawrinka
1. Djokovic
2. Berdych
Berdych in 3
1. Djokovic
2. Wawrinka
1. Djokovic
2. Wawrinka
1. Berdych
2. Djokovic
1. Berdych
2. Djokovic
Berdych in 2 GR (see below)
1. Berdych
2. Djokovic
1. Berdych
2. Djokovic
1. Berdych
2. Djokovic

Game ratios for Wawrinka in 2/Berdych in 2:


Djokovic needs to win 2 games to qualify (and he'll be the first in his group if he does that).

World Tour Finals 2014 - Qualification Scenarios (Group B)

It's that time of the season again! Maths and scenarios and calculations galore.

Group B of the 2014 World Tour Finals ended its second day of matches, and we can already calculate most of the possibilities for the semifinal qualifications. (Also check out the similar scenarios for Group A)

Thursday's matches are Federer-Murray and Nishikori-Raonic. Here are the qualification scenarios for every possible outcome of those matches (winner + number of sets). Where it says "GR", it means we're going to have to calculate the game ratios (games won out of total played games) of all players to know who qualifies (Raonic can only qualify if he wins in 2).

ETA: Of course, Raonic's withdrawal changed everything, as Ferrer can't qualify no matter what he does. I'm writing this as the Nishikori-Ferrer match is at 6-4 4-6, so whoever wins, does it in 3 sets. This leaves us with the following scenarios:

Ferrer in 3 Nishikori in 3
Federer wins
1. Federer
2. Nishikori
1. Federer
2. Nishikori
Murray in 21. Murray
2. Federer
1. Murray
2. Federer
Murray in 3 1. Murray
2. Federer
1. Federer
2. Nishikori


The old scenarios, for those curious:

Nishikori in 2 Nishikori in 3 Raonic in 3 Raonic in 2
Federer in 2
1. Federer
2. Nishikori
1. Federer
2. Nishikori
1. Federer
2. Nishikori
1. Federer
2. GR
Federer in 3
1. Federer
2. Nishikori
1. Federer
2. Nishikori
1. Federer
2. Nishikori
1. Federer
2. Murray
Murray in 3
1. Federer
2. Nishikori
1. Federer
2. Nishikori
1. Murray
2. Federer
1. Murray
2. Federer
Murray in 2 GR (see below)
1. Murray
2. Federer
1. Murray
2. Federer
1. Murray
2. Federer

Game ratio scenarios:

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Full Translation of Tarpischev's Comments about the Williams Sisters

Shamil Tarpischev, the president of the Russian tennis federation, was recently fined and suspended by the WTA for problematic comments he made on a popular Russian talk show regarding the Williams sisters' gender and appearance. Today, the WTA published an apology letter sent by Tarpischev the day before the fine was publicized.

The full content of the talk show, "Vecherniy Urgant" (Evening Urgant), is available on YouTube, and I bring here the full translation of the relevant part, in which Ivan Urgant, the show's host, talks to Tarpischev and Elena Dementieva about the Williams sisters, seemingly for no other purpose than to make fun of their physique. The translated part starts at 8:04.



Urgant: "I want to share with you my personal observation... for the first time in my life I was in a big tournament, it was the olympics - which is important - unfortunately not THAT olympics, Lena, where you became an olympic champion... It was the olympics where Masha Sharapova played with one [female] of... with one [male] of... those... "
Tarpischev: "- the Williams brothers -"
Urgant: "... the Williams brothers, because my tongue gets twisted, I can't understand how - look at ours, our [female] tennis players, how they're all slender and elegant - and then when [somebody like that] comes out... It's just that... Well, a *sister* passed by me - [laughter] - we went under the tribunes, and one of the sisters passed by me, and I have huge respect for these outstanding sportswomen, but... when she went by, I was covered in shade, and only after 40 seconds the shade disappeared, all this power... Lena, wasn't it scary to play against one of the Williams sisters?"
Dementieva: "Vanya, it was scary, but what could I do?"
Urgant [interjects]: "What could you do?"
Dementieva: "What could I do? You weren't there to help me, I was all alone by myself" [smiles]
Urgant: "I don't think I could have helped much! I don't think so... And what do you think, Shamil Anvarovich? When... when they come out, they're such incredibly physically gifted sportswomen, I understand that against other players the game is more or less on the same level, from a physical point of view, but this... what is this, they can just go like this with the racquet [mimics bending a racquet]."
Tarpischev: "It's scary, really, only when you look at them [laughs]. But Lena had to play ball - when a sportsman comes out on court, if he's focused only on the ball, he doesn't see the stands, the opponent, nobody. It's a question of performance, what you're doing with the ball, then you forget about everything. It's a question of concentration."
Urgant: "So basically, you're not paying attention to who's behind the net, only to what's flying over the net?"
Dementieva [trying to deflect]: "Shamil Anvarovich?"
Tarpischev: "Yes, only to what's flying away [laughs]"
Dementieva: "I think tennis players pay attention to everything, just like good hockey players, yeah? They need both to play and to see the blonde in the stands"
Urgant and Dementieva talk a bit more about how she paid attention to everything that happened around the court, he congratulates her on the birth of her daughter, and finally the conversation veers elsewhere (the upcoming Kremlin Cup).

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Israel Tennis Association appeals the ITF decision on the Israel-Argentina Davis Cup tie

The ITF's Davis Cup Committee has recently announced its decision on the location of two Davis Cup ties scheduled to take place on September 2014. While Ukraine is currently allowed to host Belgium in Kiev, it was determined that Israel wouldn't be able to host Argentina in the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv.

Yesterday, the ITA (Israel Tennis Association) submitted an official appeal to the ITF.

The Israeli appeal quotes several precedents which the ITA feels should affect the decision regarding the tie's location. First, it quotes the parallel decision on holding the Ukraine-Belgium tie in Kiev.
"The tie in Ukraine is confirmed to be played in Kiev despite the civil unrest and an ongoing war in the East of the country.
[...] the ITF has approved the home match being staged in Kiev, based on the fact that it is believed that secure environment may be provided for both teams.
[...] We agree that the fighting is away from Kiev, and we totally support the Ukrainian Tennis Federation in their ability and knowledge to provide the required arrangements for the tie."
Similarly, the ITA is suggesting to move the tie with Argentina from Tel Aviv to Haifa, since
"a) The Haifa Area is far away of the Gaza Strip and life in Haifa continued as normal even during the difficult days of the military activities in Gaza.
b) Israeli security is one of the best in the world, and "arranging necessary needs" would be an understatement regarding the security measures to be taken."
Next, the ITA brings examples of ties which were held on different dates than their original schedule. Specifically, there are ties being played on October 24-26, and there is the week of the Davis Cup Final in November. The ITF, in its original decision, stated that the tie can't be moved to November, due to several reasons - there's no guarantee that the security situation will be different; it will hurt the players' rest period; it clashes with the Davis Cup final; finally - it will delay the draw for the 2015 season and will prevent proper preparation for the new season by all the other countries.
"Even if the ITF decides that playing in Israel in September is not possible - there are another OFFICIAL Davis Cup weeks during 2014. All national [associations] must make themselves available during these designated weeks and it is an integral part of the tennis year."
The ITA add that the 2nd Round Play Off in Europe/Africa Group I or in Asia/Oceania Group I are both played on October 24-26, which is an alternative to playing during the Davis Cup final. To support their request to postpone the tie, the ITA bring an example of a rescheduled tie between China and Vietnam.
"'The ITF Davis Cup Committee approved the change of dates based on the vast social significance of Chinese New Year in both countries and the operational difficulties it would create for the host National Association, players, public and sponsors if the ties were played over the weekend of 31 January-2 February 2014.'
This is a quote from the Davis Cup Website about postponing China vs. Vietnam tie early in 2014.
This is a great proof of one of the Davis Cup values: 'To strive placing people in the heart of everything they do' (BNP Paribas and Davis Cup values - ITF website)"
 The ITA adds that moving the tie to a neutral ground
[... involves] not just the operational difficulties (as described in CHN vs. VIE tie) - it is a forced cancellation of all activities including crowd's experience, players' attitudes, huge financial losses for the national association and local sponsors.
The final paragraphs of the appeal say:
"We call upon the Board of Management to review the inconsistency and discrepancy of the decisions made in the above two cases and request that reconsideration be given to return the hosting of the tie to Israel, either in Tel Aviv or Haifa, and either in September, October or November.

To sum up I would like to emphasis how extremely important it is (especially during these tough times), for Israel as a country, for the Israeli people in general and for the sport in Israel in particular, to host this prestigious event at this time or at a later date.

Sincerely yours
Shlomo GLICKSTEIN
CEO, Israel Tennis Association"
A decision on the appeal will be made by the ITF on August 12, 2014. Meanwhile, the ITA has until August 14 to submit an alternative venue (on neutral ground) for the ITF's consideration. If Israel doesn't choose a neutral venue, the ITF can decide to hold the tie in Argentina or in a neutral venue of its own choice. If the tie is held in Argentina, Israel will have choice of ground in the next two ties between the countries.

All the aforementioned quotes are direct excerpts from the official appeal submitted by the ITA to the ITF. The Hebrew translation of the full appeal can be found on the ITA website.