A TENNIS Cold War is developing across Europe with news that an unnamed Russian player was stopped by Czech police on Thursday from entering the country to compete in the WTA Prague Open, which begins tomorrow.
The event was expected to see a handful of Russian and Belarusian players, including Evgeniya Rodina of Russia or Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, competing as neutrals, without any national flag or symbol, but a Czech government resolution has banned athletes from Russia or Belarus taking part in any events in the country.
Tournament director Miroslav Maly said the unnamed player was the first participant to arrive with a Russian passport.
“The management of the tournament fully respect the current stance of state authorities. We do not expect any player with Russian or Belarusian citizenship to take part in the tournament in this situation,” he said.
The WTA said it would “continue to review the situation as we factor important considerations around these complex geopolitical issues”.
It added: “WTA rules state that all players must be allowed to compete on the WTA based solely on merit, without discrimination.”
But will the WTA act to fine the Prague organisers, as this action clearly violates the rule?
They did when Wimbledon, under pressure from the Ukraine-backing UK government, issued their ban.
A week ago, Polish authorities denied entry to Russian Vera Zvonareva for ‘reasons of state security and public safety’.
AND… Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska wants the WTA to sanction Mirra Andreeva after the young Russian allegedly liked some social media content about the civil war between Russia and Ukraine.
The outspoken Ukranian posted on her own social media calling for the WTA to take action.
So a ‘like’, which may constitute just an opinion, is now not acceptable?
It’s very unlikely the WTA will formally sanction Andreeva even if the allegations are true and as yet the Ukranian hasn’t provided any screenshots or evidence to back up her allegations.
MORE complaints… this time from Casper Ruud, who has criticised the clay courts at the Hamburg European Open.
Ruud, a clay specialist, had just beaten Sebastián Baez at the event, but was clearly not happy.
“After the first three games, Casper Ruud tells the umpire that this Hamburg court is ‘the worst clay court he played all year on tour’,” journalist Jose Morgado reported.
COST of living crisis? Not in Monaco, where millionaire tennis players mingle with … well, millionaire F1 drivers, of course.
Daniil Medvedev, his wife Daria and baby daughter Alisa were recently spotted at FI champion Max Verstappen’s stepdaughter Penelope’s birthday party in the tax haven on the Mediterranean coast.
Verstappen has been in a relationship with Kelly Piquet, the daughter of former Brazilian racing driver Nelson Piquet since 2021 and Piquet was previously dating Russian racing driver Daniil Kvyat, the father of Penelope.
Russian Medvedev has had a long affair with racing, and has frequently been spotted with F1 drivers during his days off in Monaco.
NICK Krygios has dropped a hint he maybe retiring soon.
The outspoken and often controversial Aussie, was speaking in LA during time coaching at the UTS.
“I’m getting old. 28. Yeah,” he said. “But all the drinking and partying, I’m like 57.”
Kyrgios is 28, he has been a regular on the tour since 2014.
In response to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, who is 36, claiming he could play for another five years, Kyrgios quickly dismissed any prospects of that.
“No chance. No way. Bro, there’s no chance I’m playing until 33. Kyrgios playing until 33 is insane! I’m not playing until 33. Nah, I promise you, when I’m gone, you’ll never see me again,” he said.
Kyrgios last week withdrew from the Citi Open in Washington, a decision that will likely see a big drop in the ATP rankings.
“Unfortunately my body is not ready to compete yet. My wrist is still not anywhere near to pain-free. Keep you all updated,” he posted on social media.
EMMA Raducanu’s agent Max Eisenbud has insisted her approach of hiring and firing coaches is nothing new, suggesting a change is unlikely.
And Eisenbud has squashed speculation that sponsors will attempt to cut ties with her her poor run of form, where she has struggled since winning the US Open in 2021.
“None of her sponsors have ever called up and been like ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe she’s not winning!’. No one,” Eisenbud said last week.
“I know people want to say ‘the pressure, she’s got the pressure’, I think the pressure she has is that she won a great tournament and she wants that feeling again and she wants to keep winning.”
But the every changing coach role? Well, that looks likely to continue.
Raducanu, 20, worked with Andrew Richardson for her US Open triumph. Since then, she has had spells with Torben Beltz, Dmitry Tursunov and Sebastian Sachs.
She split with Sachs last month, with no new name as yet to fill a position controlled by her father Ian.
“The coaching situation, right or wrong, and this is something that her dad and Emma pretty much control on all the coaching stuff,” Eisenbud told The Tennis Podcast.
“That has been their philosophy all the way up through the juniors.
“They never had coaches for a long time. You’ve probably heard of that. For them, that is calm waters, having a coach for five months and going on to someone else.”
No doubt injury has been one issue to overcome, but no elite sportsman or woman wins anything without longterm coaching support.
FORMER world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki is set to return to the court on August 8 at the National Bank Open in Montreal.
Wozniacki, 33, announced a surprise return to tennis last month. She retired from the Tour after the 2020 Australian Open.
The Dane, now a mother of two children, has been granted wildcards for Montreal, Cincinnati and the US Open.
“Over these past three years away from the game I got to make up for lost time with my family, I became a mother and now have two beautiful children I am so grateful for,” Wozniacki said.
But I still have goals I want to accomplish. I want to show my kids that you can pursue your dreams no matter your age or role. We decided as a family it’s time. I’m coming back to play and I can’t wait!”
AND finally …
Nick Kyrgios has challenged world No.1 Carlos Alcaraz to an exhibition match in Spain next year.
“He is a force for sure. I would of loved to see how it would of gone down last year when I was healthy and playing lights out,” Kyrgios wrote on social media.
“@carlitosalcarazz what about next year in your town we do an exhibition?
“He’s got that showman about him, which I like.”