WASHINGTON, December 22, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)
World No. 23 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and World No. 10 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia are the latest tennis players to disclose they’ve tested positive for the coronavirus. The Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Bencic, who last week lost to Jabeur in an exhibition match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, disclosed Tuesday on social media that although she is fully vaccinated, she recently tested positive for COVID-19.
— Belinda Bencic (@BelindaBencic) December 21, 2021
Bencic, who is on the entry list for a pair of WTA 500 events in Adelaide and Sydney in advance of the Australian Open, wrote that she is currently isolating and experiencing “quite severe symptoms (fever, aches, chills).” She indicated she plans to travel to Australia “as soon as I am cleared and past the isolation period.”
— Mubadala World Tennis Championship (@MubadalaWTC) December 16, 2021
Later Tuesday, Jabeur disclosed her fate in a social media message to her fans: “I am writing these words to let you know that, despite being vaccinated, I tested positive for COVID-19.
“Even thought I’m experiencing strong symptoms, I hope to overcome the virus quickly and get well soon.
“I’m currently isolating in Tunisia and I will provide you an update when I have fully recovered.”
Will be back soon! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/iJCktGQ1VT
— Ons Jabeur (@Ons_Jabeur) December 21, 2021
Additionally, Emma Raducanu, whom Jabeur replaced in the Mubadala exhibition, tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Abu Dhabi early last week.
Like Bencic, Jabeur is currently entered in two Australian Open warm-up tournaments, the Adelaide International and the Sydney Tennis Classic.
On Monday, Rafael Nadal, who also participated in the Abu Dhabi exhibition event last week, disclosed he had tested positive for COVID-19 upon return to Spain. Then, prior to Bencic’s announcement on Tuesday, Nadal’s coach, Carlos Moya, also confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning to Mallorca.
Buenas a todos,quería deciros que yo también he dado positivo por COVID.El domingo,al aterrizar en Mallorca y con algunos síntomas,di negativo en test de antígenos.Unas horas más tarde,al confirmarse un positivo en el equipo,fui a hacer pcr y di positivo.
— Carlos Moya (@Charlymoya) December 21, 2021
Meanwhile, on a more positive note, Bencic shared on her social media platforms Monday that while she was in Abu Dhabi, she had the opportunity to visit the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque. “This has been on my bucket list for a very long time. So glad to finally see it while in Abu Dhabi,” Bencic wrote on Twitter.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque 🕌🐫
This has been on my bucket list for a very long time. So glad to finally see it while in Abu Dhabi pic.twitter.com/15eu7uzXnP
— Belinda Bencic (@BelindaBencic) December 19, 2021
Mutual Madrid Open launches new promo campaign
The Mutua Madrid Open revealed a new promo campaign centered on the theme of “Ven a la fiesta del tenis” – “Join the tennis fiesta” in celebration of the tournament’s upcoming 20th anniversary.
— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) December 20, 2021
Among the players featured in the new promo campaign are Spaniards Rafael Nadal, Garbiñe Muguruza and Paula Badosa, and men’s World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Mertens announces David Goffin’s brother as new coach
World No. 21 Elise Mertens of Belgium, who last week parted ways with coach Robbe Ceyssens, announced on Monday her new coach will be Simon Goffin, brother of Belgium No. 1 David Goffin.
Robbe and I decided to end our coach-player relationship.
It has been an incredible journey together. No words can describe how much we learned from each other. Here are a few pictures & memories we had during our journey.
I wish Robbe all the best in the future! pic.twitter.com/uPw5W6UoYb
— Elise Mertens (@elise_mertens) December 19, 2021
Korda caddies for his sister Nelly at PNC Championship
Sebastian Korda of the United States put down his tennis racquet last week – not because of injury or illness. Instead, he served as a caddy for his sister Nelly, the top-ranked women’s player in the world, at the PNC Championship event in Orlando, Fla.
“Just being with Nelly and what she’s bring to the women’s sport and women’s golf and myself to be a part of it, what more can I ask,” said Korda, who finished the year ranked No. 41, fifth best among U.S. men’s players.
All in the family (literally)! 😆
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) December 19, 2021
Another big week for Emma Raducanu
Reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu‘s week began with her being named BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Now, on Tuesday, she wrote on Twitter that she’s joined British Airways as a brand ambassador.
“The airline has already been part of a special time for me, flying me home from the US Open. I look forward to working with the iconic British brand on some exciting projects!” the young British star wrote on Twitter.
thrilled to join the @British_Airways family as a global brand ambassador! The airline has already been part of a special time for me, flying me home from the US Open. I look forward to working with the iconic British brand on some exciting projects!#britishairways ✈️ pic.twitter.com/TJiQCubFjs
— Emma Raducanu (@EmmaRaducanu) December 21, 2021
Former NCAA champion Hartono breaks into WTA Top 200
Arianne Hartono of the Netherlands, the 2018 NCAA singles champion from the University of Mississippi, has jumped 200 spots in the WTA rankings this year – a remarkable climb by any measure – since the start of the season.
The 25-year-old Dutch rising star is seeded fifth in this week’s WTA 125 Hana Bank Korea Open in Seoul, South Korea. On Tuesday, the 197th-ranked Hartono defeated No. 289 Carol Zhao of Canada, 6-2, 6-3, in her opening-round match. The victory was her 47th of the year in all competitions.
Arianne Hartono, the 2018 NCAA singles champion from @OleMissWTennis, has jumped 2️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ spots in the WTA rankings this year! She’s now inside the top 200. https://t.co/E3hbzp1qNs pic.twitter.com/DP7itnS7sW
— John (@JTweetsTennis) December 21, 2021
Hartono has spent much of the season competing on the ITF Circuit. Her best finish in a WTA event this season came in September, when she reached the round of 16 in Luxembourg.
Happy 67th Birthday Chrissie Evert
21 major titles, over 1,400 career victories, the @WTA‘s first world No. 1, and much more in a lifetime in tennis than we can fit in one tweet 🙌
Happy Birthday to one of the all-time greats, @ChrissieEvert! 🥳🇺🇸
— Tennis Hall of Fame (@TennisHalloFame) December 21, 2021
By the numbers
Of the four 2021 Australian Open women’s singles semifinalists – Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, Jennifer Brady and Karolina Muchova – only Osaka is currently healthy enough to compete in the first major 0f 2022 in Melbourne that starts in less than a month. On Tuesday, Muchova, who has been idle since playing in the US Open, confirmed her new season would not begin in Australia.
Im sad to announce that my 2022 season will not start in Australia.
Im doing all I can to get back on the court as soon as Im able.💪🏽🖤 pic.twitter.com/36OPeaSdX7
— Karolina Muchova (@karomuchova7) December 21, 2021
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas … just ask Petra Kvitova.
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