News bites: Safin ruffles feathers, Kuznetsova in doubt

Published by Matt Trollope

Marat Safin (L) with Rafael Nadal at the 2009 China Open; Getty Images
While Marat Safin has made some bold statements concerning the Big Three, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Serena Williams’ participation at the Australian Open hangs in the balance.

Think the tennis world slows down once the last ball of the 2017 season is hit?

You’d be wrong. We wrap up the last 24 hours in the latest edition of News Bites.

Safin speaks

Marat Safin’s latest comments on the stars of the men’s game are bound to ruffle the feathers of its die-hard fans.

The Russian two-time major champion and former world No.1 believes Novak Djokovic will not trouble a healthy Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal when he returns to tennis in 2018, and also said Nadal was a more impressive tennis player than Federer due to the fact he’s to work so much harder than the Swiss to achieve what he has.

“The next season Nadal and Federer will always be in the lead, while I do not see Djokovic able to return to very high levels, for him it will be a difficult situation,’ Safin said. “Murray will have some highs and lows, but if Nadal and Federer do not hurt, he will not be able to do anything.

“Nadal is more impressive than Federer,’ he added. “The latter had everything to be successful, while Nadal is a true wrestler and worker. He’s sweating more and does not get tired. For Federer it’s all easier, though Nadal gives the impression that tennis is a simple thing for him.”

Kuznetsova may miss AO

Svetlana Kuznetsova’s wrist injury may keep her out of Australian Open 2018.

The Russian, as per reports in Express newspaper, has apparently undergone two wrist surgeries, leaving her comeback date in doubt.

She had already withdrawn from the Hopman Cup, with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova stepping in as her replacement to partner Karen Khachanov.

Serena may be absent too

An even bigger name may also miss the first Grand Slam event of 2018.

Much has been made of Serena’s comeback to tennis at the Australian Open, but she’s yet to enter a lead-up tournament and has apparently not yet made a decision about what she will do in January.

This was what her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, told CNN:

“Serena is getting ready for 2018. She is practicing and getting back in shape. I will be joining her soon in Florida. We will see how her body is reacting and how her tennis level is and we will take a decision regarding Australia.”

Jana Novotna’s funeral

The life of Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna was honoured and celebrated at a funeral service in her home town of Brno, Czech Republic.

Among the hundreds of attendees were Petra Kvitova and Helena Sukova.

Novotna passed away on 19 November at age 49 after a battle with cancer.

Joyce splits with Azarenka

Michael Joyce has released a statement announcing his decision to stop working with Victoria Azarenka.

The respected coach linked up with the Belarusian midway through 2017 after she gave birth to her son Leo and returned to the tour during the grasscourt season.

But with Azarenka out of action indefinitely as she works her way through a messy child custody dispute, Joyce felt he had to make a move.

“Vika is an extremely talented player. While I am excited to see her return to tennis, I also encourage and respect her decision to put her family first,” he said. “It is with deep regret that I have decided to move forward with my coaching career while she continues to work out her private life. I look forward to seeing her on the tour soon and wish her the best of luck.”

According to a BBC report, he could be set to work next with Johanna Konta.

Konta nominated for BBC award

Speaking of the Brit, Konta is among the nominees for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award.

She’s been nominated alongside Elise Christie, Mo Farah, Chris Froome, Lewis Hamilton, Anthony Joshua, Harry Kane, Jonnie Peacock, Adam Peaty, Jonathan Rea, Anya Shrubsole and Bianca Walkden.

Andy Murray gave the award some amusing publicity recently with this tweet, in reference to the now infamous Donald Trump tweet.

WTA rule changes

Tennis Life has reported on a number of pending rule changes for the WTA in 2018.

There are set to be less restrictions on how Premier-level tournaments allocate their wildcards, as well as on players returning from maternity leave. Age eligibility tournament restrictions will be eased slightly for young players who are flourishing, while coaches who tamper with their microphones during on-court time-outs face stiff penalties – as so the players they coach.

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