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Czech star’s alarming Roland-Garros revelation

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Czech tennis star Barbora Krejcikova has given an alarming insight into the stresses professional players face during Grand Slams, revealing that she “didn’t even want to step on the court” prior to her fourth-round match against Sloane Stephens.

The world No.33 breezed past Stephens, a former Roland-Garros finalist, with the commanding 6-2 6-0 win booking her a spot in a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final.

Following her dominant display, Krejcikova stunned reporters when she revealed the internal struggle she faced prior to the contest.

“I actually really don’t know what happened today, because I just woke up and I just felt really bad,” she said.

“I don’t know why. I just felt really stressed. I don’t know why or what for.”

The 25-year-old explained that she had even locked herself in the physio’s room before her psychologist eventually convinced her to take to the court.

“You know, half an hour before the match, I didn’t even want to step on the court, because I just felt really bad, and I had to lock myself in the physio room and I had to talk to my psychologist. I was actually crying.

“We talked about it a lot, and she told me, ‘If you can overcome this, what you feel right now, it’s going to be a huge win, and it doesn’t matter if you’re going to win on the court or lose on the court, because it’s going to be a personal win’.”

“I was just happy that I started well. I think after the first point things got a little bit better, a little bit easier. Then I broke her. I just felt like yeah, you know, I can play, I can actually play her.

“So I think I was just more stressed that I’m just not going to be good enough. I think that’s what happened.”

Krejcikova’s shocking insight comes at a time where the mental health of tennis players has been a major topic of conversation, following Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the tournament.

A day after being fined for skipping her media obligations, Osaka revealed significant ongoing problems with depression and withdrew from the tournament after playing her first-round match.

Following Osaka’s withdrawal, French Tennis Federation president, Gilles Moretton, touched on the importance of athletes’ well-being at major tournaments.

“First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka,” Moretton said in a statement.

“The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland Garros is unfortunate. We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi in our tournament next year.

“As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP, and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes’ well-being and to continually improving every aspect of players’ experience in our tournament, including with the media, like we have always strived to do.”

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WTC Final: “Don’t change Rishabh Pant” – Graeme Swann’s passionate plea to Indian fans

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Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann has requested Indian fans to not be too critical of Rishabh Pant in the wake of his failure in the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand.

Rishabh Pant was dismissed for 4 and 41 in his two innings in Southampton against the Black Caps. Both times he perished trying to take on the bowling. He was particularly criticized for his wild hoick against Trent Boult on the last day of the Test.

According to Swann though, Rishabh Pant is a match-winner because of his aggressive stroke play and India will do a disservice to themselves if they ask the dashing wicketkeeper-batsman to tone himself down.

Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda, Swann opined:

“India have got an absolute superstar in Rishabh Pant going in at 6 or 7. Just go back one Test mach in India’s history. That magnificent century he scored against England (in Ahmedabad) that won them that series. Never forget that. It was a counter-attacking innings, played against the grind, playing against the spin a lot of times. It was a brilliant hundred. Had he got in there and “played the situation” and tried to block it, India would not have won that game. It is as simple as that.”

“He is a match-winner. All I want to say to cricket fans in India – don’t fix what isn’t broken. You have some absolute goldmine ready to be unearthed and used well for 10 years. Don’t change Rishabh Pant. Let him fail. Let him be. He is absolutely worth it,” Swann further added.

Virat Kohli had backed Rishabh Pant after WTC loss

Rishabh Pant had come under fire over his failure to adapt to the challenging conditions in England during the WTC final. Like Swann though, Indian captain Virat Kohli too had thrown his weight behind the young cricketer after India’s defeat to New Zealand.

Speaking at a virtual press conference post the WTC final, Kohli had said about Rishabh Pant:

“Rishabh Pant is definitely going to be a very expressive player, whenever he gets an opportunity. Whenever there is a situation that needs to be understood, he assesses it really well. When things don’t come off, you can say that it was an error of judgment. That’s acceptable; it’s sport. But, we don’t want him to lose his positivity or his optimism in changing the situation for the team. That’s where his USP lies ,and we will definitely continue to back him to play that way, find ways to put pressure on the opposition and score runs, which is his natural game.”

Just 23, Rishabh Pant has featured in 21 Tests and has 1403 runs to his name at an average of 43.84 with three hundreds. He was one of India’s chief heroes in the Test triumph Down Under earlier this year. He took on the Aussie bowlers and came out on top.

Edited by Sankalp Srivastava

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Georginio Wijnaldum: Netherlands captain prepared to lead players in walk-off if racially abused in Euro 2020 match

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Netherlands captain Georginio Wijnaldum has called on UEFA to take stronger action against racism and says players subjected to abuse should not have to make a decision on whether to walk off the field in protest.

Wijnaldum said he had thought long and hard about leaving the pitch if subjected to racism when the Netherlands face the Czech Republic in Sunday’s Euro 2020 last-16 tie in Budapest.

UEFA are currently investigating allegations of racist and homophobic behaviour by supporters following incidents in Hungary’s opening two Group F games at the Puskas Arena.

“I’ve thought about it very carefully,” said Wijnaldum, who will wear an armband bearing the words ‘One Love’ and a rainbow motif in a stand for diversity in Budapest.

“I previously indicated that I would walk off but that was easier to say back then because I had never really run into that problem.

“After that, I started to think very hard about it. Gini, you will play in Hungary later in the tournament, what will you do if it happens? What if you play against a weaker team and those fans know that and they antagonise you to get you to walk off the field so that you lose the match?”

Image:
Wijnaldum scored three goals as the Netherlands won all three group matches

Wijnaldum said the responsibility for action lay with the match officials and UEFA.

“I think I will go to the referee but, to be honest, I’m not sure what my reaction is going to be in the heat of the moment,” he said.

“I’ve never experienced it myself and I hope never to. But if it happens, UEFA must act. They need to realise that if they don’t, they are putting a big responsibility on the players.

“UEFA must protect the players. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of the players.

“Some players have walked off in the past but if you ask them if they felt supported, I think they’ll say they weren’t.

“If the referee, or maybe the opponents, jump in, then the signal is stronger. That’s what I’m thinking right now but I’m not ruling out walking off the field if something like that happens on Sunday.”

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Athletics-Berry calls on athletes to seek change in their communities

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EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) – With a raised right fist, American hammer thrower Gwen Berry on Thursday reinforced her quest for social change.

“I want to impact the world,” Berry, wearing an “Activist Athlete” T-shirt, told reporters after qualifying sixth for Saturday’s final at the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon.

“There are a lot of things going on that are bigger than sport. As athletes we can and should use our voices to bring awareness to issues that affect our communities.”

Berry did just that at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, raising her fist when the U.S. national anthem was played during her medal ceremony.

She was suspended for 12 months by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) because of International Olympic Committee rules that ban protests and demonstrations.

The USOPC in March, though, said that athletes competing in the U.S. Olympic trials can protest, including kneeling or raising a clenched fist on the podium or at the start line during the national anthem.

“Our communities are under attack,” said Berry, a 31-year-old mother. “I want to continue even after I’m a hammer thrower.”

Her protest came four days after world 200 metres champion Noah Lyles had raised his left fist that was enclosed in a fingerless glove before the start of the men’s 100m final.

“Black lives matter,” Lyles said. “I felt like it was important that I throw up some symbol. I’ve done it before and I’m going to continue to do it.”

(Reporting by Gene Cherry; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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