CONTROVERSY over the size of a birthday cake engulfed the Madrid Open on Friday as both Carlos Alcaraz and Aryna Sabalenka celebrated their birthdays.
Organisers gave both cakes – and that’s where the controversy began.
Sabalenka received hers backstage, as she wasn’t playing, but Alcvaraz, who was on court at the Manolo Santana Stadium, received his cake in full view of the fans.
And the cake was twice the size!
Some questioned the gender issue again – but Madrid does pay equal prize money – and Holger Rune received a cake, equal in size to Sabalenka’s, without a murmur of dissent.
Tournament director Feliciano was quick to defend the organisers’ choices, as he also mentioned that Holger Rune got a similar cake.
“I’m surprised by this reaction after this gesture! 1. Carlos had just won his match to reach the final. 2. He was playing on centre court. 3. The tournament is played in Spain, even though it is an international event. PS: I hope Rune wasn’t also upset by his treatment.”
Meanwhile, back to the tennis…
Rafa, who’s Rafa?
Travel Madrid’s metro rail, system and you will soon realise Spain is moving on, ready to embrace their next big tennis talent: Carlos Alcaraz.
Countless adverts run the length of the rail network, all with the face of the world No.2 on them, with barely any sign of Nadal.
The Murcian-born player, 20 on Friday, is now taking over from his idol as Spain’s No.1 star, some say it’s becoming as loud and passionate as Beatlemania. Some.
But Alcaraz just takes it in his stride, seemingly undaunted by all the media hype.
Even when soccer stars from the famed Real Madrid come looking for an autograph as Vinicius Junior, Fede Valverde, Dani Ceballos and Rodrygo did last week.
For the record, he currently has 9 titles to his credit including 1 Grand Slam (US Open), 3 Masters 1000, 3 ATP 500 and 2 ATP 250.
And Rafa? He was hoping to return in Rome next week, but it’s not be and now there is massive question mark over Roland Garros.
STILL in Spain, The Madrid Open has come under fire for using models instead of ball girls and boys.
The models, both men and women, have been used on the tournament’s main court, La Caja Magica Stadium, which played host to Carlos Alcaraz’s 6-4, 7-5 quarter-final win over Karen Khachanov.
IS it all over for Emma Raducanu?
The young Brit announced during the week she would miss both Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year after undergoing surgery on her right hand.
Raducanu will also have procedures on her left hand and her ankle, in a bid to overcome a series of injuries that have plagued her career since she won the US Open in 2021.
Raducanu posted a picture of herself laying in a hospital bed with her fingers protruding from a large bandage.
She is unlikely to return to action until September at the earliest, ruling her out of New York as well.
“It is safe to say the last 10 months have been difficult as I dealt with a recurring injury on a bone of both hands,” Raducanu wrote on social media.
“I tried my best to manage the pain and play through it for most of this year and end of last year by reducing practice load dramatically, missing weeks of training as well as cutting last season short to try [to] heal it. Unfortunately, it’s not enough.”
The 20-year-old will drop out of the world’s top 100 this week, but many are now asking if her career is now almost at an end.
She is now in the sporting version of the last chance saloon, if this series of operations doesn’t see an improved win-loss margin when she does eventually return the court, it could all be over before she is 22.
AMANDA Anisimova has hit back at cruel fans who believe she has the wrong body to succeed in tennis.
One fan sent her a private message after she posted a picture on social media.
It read: “The most unathletic body ever! Narrow shoulders and giant boobs.”
Anisimova replied ‘thank you’ but then added the screenshot to her story with a caption stating: “I don’t know what to think? The amount of people who comment on my body every day on social media … will never understand what the hyper fixation is about. But enjoy your life, I’ll go enjoy mine. Thanks for all the input.”
SERENA Williams certainly made jaws drop in New York during the week when she attended the annual Met Gala and revealed that she and husband Alexis Ohanian were expecting their second child.
Williams, 41, let is slip – or was it planned? – during an interview, showing off her bump and telling everyone baby No.2 was on its way.
Then later joking she might call the new arrival after a Disney character.
“I was thinking about… I don’t know the gender, I don’t know if we’re having a girl or a boy,” Williams said.
“So, I’m thinking about some names and I was like maybe I should do something with my favourite Disney characters because I love Disney and as you know, I’m like their biggest fan.
“So, if it’s a girl, it could be like Maleficent, that’s how you say it? It could be Scar if it’s a boy, love Scar, misunderstood a little bit. What else? Gaston, how could I forget Gaston?
“Ursula, classic, got to love Ursula. Lady Gothel, maybe I can call her Lady Gothel if it’s a girl. So just been through these names. Telling you, I’m onto something.”
Sunday Serve is happy to admit it knows of none of those names.
FORMER world No 276 Baptiste Crepatte has been banned from competing at ATP Tour and ITF-sanctioned tournaments after he was found guilty of match-fixing by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA).
Crepatte has been given a three-year ban for multiple breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program rules, which “caused significant damage to the sport’s integrity”, according to the ITIA.
The 29-year-old contested the charges, but the independent Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer, Professor Richard McLaren upheld the charges.
IGA Swiatek took aim at the scheduling at the Madrid Open after losing a three-set final to Aryna Sabalenka.
The world No.1 finished her round-of-16 match at 1am and was playing until midnight in the semi-final.
“It’s not fun to play at 1am though but I’m happy anyway that I was able to get past this experience and survive and be in the final,” she said.
“This hour is tricky only because what’s going on after, you know, going to sleep really late and then waking up the next day. But before the match and during, I don’t think it matters. We just have to kind of adjust tactics.”
AND finally …
Tennis reporter Bastien Fachan has had some fun with AI generated paintings that look align with several player’s nicknames.
Fachan posted the images on his Twitter profile in a thread and featured players include Tsitsipas, Sinner Djokovic, Nadal, Shapovalov, Schwartzman, Rune, Ruud, de Minaur, Medvedev and Musetti.