WASHINGTON, January 22, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)
While British No. 5 Francesca Jones is feeling blessed these days, after qualifying for the Australian Open last week in Dubai – her first Grand Slam main draw – former British No. 1 Laura Robson is feeling cursed, following a third round of hip surgery that has left her unsure whether she can continue her tennis career.
First, the good news story is about how the 243rd-ranked Jones, a 20-year-old LTA Pro-Scholarship Program player, overcame the odds of booking her place in the Melbourne main draw. She beat No. 200 Lu Jil-Jing of China, 6-0, 6-1, in the final round of the Australian Open qualifiers and faced players ranked up to 100 spots higher than her en route. Earlier, she defeated No. 144 Monica Niculescu of Romania, 6-3, 6-2, in the opening round and No. 209 Jana Fett of Croatia, 7-6 (7), 2-6, 6-1 in the second round.
“I feel blessed that we can even compete,” Jones expressed last week. She reached a career-high ITF Juniors ranking of No. 31 in 2017.
What’s remarkable about Jones is she was born with a thumb and three fingers on each hand, and with only seven toes because she has a rare genetic condition called Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia (EED).
In an interview published on the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) website, Jones said: “I’m definitely excited, I’ve never been to Melbourne before and I’m excited to play on the courts there that I’ve seen on TV since I was a kid.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t do that with qualifying here but it’s actually been quite a nice stepping stone and transition.
“The first match was good tennis, I played well but I think there’s still so much I could have done better. To be honest, in the second match the first two sets were poor from both of us, but I was happy to get through to give myself the opportunity to bring out my best in the final match.
“It’s been different, but I just feel blessed by the fact that we can even compete during this current climate. I’m proud of the work my team and I have done but there’s still much more to be done and I’m aware of that.”
Qualified for her 1️⃣st Grand Slam ✅
Read more about Fran Jones’ journey to the @australianopen 👇
— LTA (@the_LTA) January 19, 2021
Meanwhile, the news about Robson isn’t optimistic. Stuart Fraser of The Times of London reported that Robson recently underwent a third operation “to prioritize the long-term health of my hip.”
She’s unsure at the moment whether she can continue her tennis career.
Robson, 27, was a Wimbledon junior champion at age 14 and an Olympic silver medalist in mixed doubles representing Great Britain at age 18. Then, at 19, she was ranked in the Top 30.
As Christopher Clarey, longtime tennis correspondent for The New York Times wrote on Twitter: “Pro tennis can be brutal on the body and on the mind.”
As Robson wrote on her Instagram platform, “For my birthday this year, I got crutches.”
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Finally, David Law, co-host of The Tennis Podcastand longtime BBC Radio 5 Live tennis commentator, wrote on Twitter: “Real shame. Few cleaner strikers of a tennis ball than Laura Robson. Her wins over Clijsters, Li Na, Kvitova tell you that. She’s had wretched luck with injuries. If a pro tennis return isn’t possible, she’s got a lot to offer as a commentator/pundit, in my view.”
Paula Badosa tests COVID-19 positive
On Thursday, Spain’s Paula Bodosa revealed she’s tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Melbourne last weekend from Abu Dhabi. She posted an update on condition on her social media channels.
— Paula Badosa (@paulabadosa) January 21, 2021
One newspaper, two different viewpoints on Novak Djokovic
The Daily Telegraph of London has two very different viewpoints on Novak Djokovic following events of the past week since arriving in Adelaide as part of a select group who will play an exhibition before the start of the Australian Open. Both columnists make convincing arguments.
Two Telegraph columns by two different writers.
Novak Djokovic has once again showcased his talent for striking the wrong tone – https://t.co/L2QPXY5TtE
Novak Djokovic deserves praise not scorn for highlighting Australian Open inequality – https://t.co/Av1l6DSbP7
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) January 21, 2021
Happy 39th Birthday, Nicolas Mahut
✅ Four ATP Tour singles titles
✅ Career Grand Slam in doubles
✅ 2019 #NittoATPFinals doubles champion
— ATP Tour (@atptour) January 21, 2021
Quarantine chaos: Of mouses and spiders, oh, my!
“im not in the 5 star hotel, (you) are kidding, im in the room with mouses and spiders” Yulia Putintseva, ranked 28th, wrote on Twitter. https://t.co/KZJHZOLW1O
— Post Sports (@PostSports) January 21, 2021
Get well wishes for umpire Carlos Bernardes
Following admittance to hospital (non-Covid related) on Wednesday in Melbourne, we are pleased to report that ATP Umpire Carlos Bernardes is recovering well.
Carlos passes on his gratitude for all the well wishes he’s received, and we wish him all the best for a full recovery. pic.twitter.com/UF9f0aweIZ
— ATP Tour (@atptour) January 21, 2021
What they’re writing
Peter Bodo of Tennis.com asks if Craig Tiley can stage the Australian Open fairly following the events of the first week of player quarantine, in which 72 players are on strict lockdown after being close contacts during their flights to Melbourne.
The 2021 Australian Open: Did Craig Tiley overplay his hand? https://t.co/YIsMNsmDXM
— Pete Bodo (@ptbodo) January 21, 2021
Tumaini Carayol of The Guardian writes that Dominic Thiem denies players are getting special treatment in Adelaide.
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) January 21, 2021
Best quarantine lockdown videos
Ladies and gentlemen, we have now entered the phase of quarantine we like to call: Straight Up Weird. 🤣#LockDownUnder | #AusOpen | @alexdeminaur | @ERogerVasselin | @PabloCuevas22 | @HeatherWatson92 pic.twitter.com/AAunOAEpx5
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) January 22, 2021
What they’re sharing on social media
Carlos Alcaraz / Respecting the quarantine
Intentando no perder las buenas sensaciones en los golpes. Respetando la cuarentena y manteniendome en forma.#AO
Trying not to lose the good feelings on the forehand. Respecting quarantine and staying fit. # AO pic.twitter.com/tLa7rnUoKG
— Carlos Alcaraz (@alcarazcarlos03) January 20, 2021
Donna Vekic / Happy to be out there
— Donna Vekic (@DonnaVekic) January 21, 2021