ITF backs Carlos Ramos in row with Serena Williams during US Open final

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The International Tennis Federation has backed umpire Carlos Ramos in the row over his handling of the US Open final, saying he acted with “professionalism and integrity”.

The experienced Portuguese official has found himself at the centre of a storm involving accusations of sexism and racism over the way he treated Serena Williams.

Williams was docked a game in the crucial second set of her match against Naomi Osaka for calling the experienced Ramos a “thief” having previously received two code violations – and she used her subsequent post-match press conference to call her penalty “sexist”.

Her stance was swiftly backed by the WTA Tour’s chief executive Steve Simon and US great Billie Jean King, both of whom also questioned the initial code violation handed to Williams for on-court coaching.

Having initially said it would not comment, the ITF, the world governing body, later released a statement in support of Ramos’ decision-making.

The statement read: “Carlos Ramos is one of the most experienced and respected umpires in tennis. Mr Ramos’ decisions were in accordance with the relevant rules and were re-affirmed by the US Open’s decision to fine Serena Williams for the three offences.

“It is understandable that this high profile and regrettable incident should provoke debate. At the same time, it is important to remember that Mr Ramos undertook his duties as an official according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.”

Serena Williams confronts officials at the US Open

Former umpire Richard Ings, who penalised John McEnroe a game during a match against Boris Becker in 1987, hailed Ramos for his decisions and said he umpired the match “absolutely perfectly”.

Speaking on BBC Radio Four‘s Today programme, Ings said: “Carlos Ramos is an umpire with 40 years of experience.

“He handled that match absolutely perfectly. He saw violations and he had the courage of his convictions to call them when he saw them.

“I support him 110 per cent. It was one of the best officiating jobs that I’ve seen in years.”

Former British tennis number one Annabel Croft said that, while she had sympathy for Williams, her claim that she had been treated differently because she is a woman was wide of the mark.

“I definitely feel sympathy for her because I was actually commentating on the match and I witnessed the whole thing unfolding and it was incredibly dramatic,” Croft told ITV‘s Good Morning Britain.

“But Carlos Ramos is not, I don’t believe, sexist. He’s a very strict, very decisive umpire, who takes nothing from any opponent whether they’re male or female.

“I’ve seen him giving time violations to Rafael Nadal out there on the court many, many times, but he’s someone who just plays it by the rule book.”

Great Britain Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong also suggested Williams was in the wrong, tweeting: “Sexism is a problem in the wider picture of tennis but I don’t believe the decisions Carlos Ramos made that night had anything to do with it.”

Writing in the New York Times, Martina Navratilova criticised Williams for her behaviour, saying: “It’s difficult to know, and debatable, whether Ms Williams could have gotten away with calling an umpire a thief if she were a male player. But to focus on that, I think, is missing the point.

“If, in fact, the guys are treated with a different measuring stick for the same transgressions, this needs to be thoroughly examined and must be fixed. But we cannot measure ourselves by what we think we should also be able to get away with. In fact, this is the sort of behaviour that no one should be engaging in on the court.”

Osaka, for whom this was a first grand slam title, had to be comforted by Williams on the podium as loud jeers erupted around the stadium.

Talking to the Today show on NBC, the 20-year-old said: “I felt a little bit sad because I wasn’t really sure if they were booing at me, or if it wasn’t the outcome that they wanted.”

Osaka blocked out what was going on around her as she tried to focus on winning the match, and has not yet had a chance to watch the footage back.

She said: “I can’t really form an opinion right now. For sure I want to watch everything and I want to know what happened because this was one of the biggest things that happened to me.”

Toni Nadal, formerly the coach of his nephew Rafael Nadal, was penalised for coaching several times and believes Williams was harshly treated.

He said: “There are some umpires who seem to enjoy being protagonists rather than to try to make the match unfold without this kind of incident. There are others who understand, however, that this measure is somewhat relative and they are more inclined to warn you before punishing you.

“I won fame for talking to my nephew from the box during the matches, and on occasion the referees told Rafael, ‘Tell your uncle to shut up’, or they showed me with their eyes that they were vigilant. It’s always been absurd to me that the coach cannot give a shout to his player.”

Nadal, though, did not excuse Williams’ reaction, saying: “It can be understood it was a moment of maximum stress for the player and that she felt impotent in a final that was becoming frankly uphill.

“What is difficult to understand, however, is that an athlete of the magnitude and prestige of the American cannot control their nerves on the court and be carried away by their emotions. You have to demand the good behaviour of the players on the court. About that I think there is no argument.”

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US Open wrap: Djokovic and Osaka shine, Zverev and Muguruza disappoint

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A hot, humid, and manic US Open concluded on Sunday with Novak Djokovic clinching a third title in New York, a day after Naomi Osaka made history for Japan as the first player from her country to clinch a Grand Slam singles title.

Here’s a look at those who stood out, and others who fell short during the fortnight at the Open.

BEST PLAYERS

Novak Djokovic

He started the season with a 6-6 win-loss record in his first six events and by mid-May had dropped out of the top-20. Fast-forward to today, and Djokovic has won 26 of his last 28 matches, picked up titles at Wimbledon, Cincinnati and the US Open, and is up to No. 3 in the world. He took his tally of Grand Slam titles to 14, tying Pete Sampras in third place on the all-time list of most majors won by a man and is in the running for the year-end No. 1 ranking.

Not bad for someone who had elbow surgery in February and was on a two-year Grand Slam title drought prior to Wimbledon.

He held serve in 101 of his 108 (93.5%) service games at the US Open and didn’t drop a set from the third round onwards.

Naomi Osaka

The 20-year-old Japanese-Haitian had a stunning US Open. She took out five top-40 players en route to her maiden Grand Slam title, dropping just one set (to Aryna Sabalenka in the fourth round), and losing a mere total of 34 games across her seven matches. She showed poise and focus all two weeks and played big-time tennis, especially on the crucial points.

Osaka saved 29/34 (85.3%) break points throughout the tournament and won more than half of her return games (31/60).

She’s now up to a career-high ranking of No. 7, and is at No. 4 in the Porsche Race to Singapore.

BIGGEST FLOPS

Alexander Zverev

No one expected Zverev’s new partnership with coach Ivan Lendl to pay dividends right away, but his third round US Open exit to fellow German Philipp Kohlschreiber is still no doubt a disappointment for the talented youngster. The world No. 5 is 10-4 at the majors this season and has now reached just one Slam quarter-final in 14 main draw appearances.

Garbine Muguruza

The two-time Grand Slam champion was shocked in round two by 22-year-old Czech qualifier Karolina Muchova, who was ranked 202 in the world during the US Open. Muchova had never won a tour-level match prior to the Open but produced some brilliant tennis to upset Muguruza, who lost in the second round at three of the four Slams this season. The Spaniard is ranked 14 in the world at the moment and is 16 in the Race.

SURPRISE PACKAGES

John Millman

The 29-year-old Aussie was ranked 218 in the world last October and was considering swapping tennis for an office job a few years ago. Millman hadn’t made it past the third round in any of his previous 14 major appearances but his fourth round upset of Roger Federer saw him reach the quarters at the US Open, and gave him his first win against a top-10 player in 12 meetings. His reward is a career-high ranking of 37.

Marketa Vondrousova

The talented teenager made waves last year when she won her first WTA title in Biel aged 17 and ranked 233 in the world.

The Czech lefty barely made it into the US Open main draw because she was ranked 103 at the time of the entry cutoff. She was the last direct acceptance into the tournament and ended up reaching the fourth round, her first showing in a second week of a Slam, taking out Cincinnati champion Kiki Bertens and Eugenie Bouchard along the way.

IMPRESSIVE YOUNG GUNS

Alex de Minaur

Although he blew a two-sets-to-love lead against former US Open champion Marin Cilic in the third round, De Minaur has a lot to be proud of from his performances in New York. The 19-year-old Australian showed why he’s considered one of the most exciting young talents on tour, and backed up his third round showing at Wimbledon with another at the US Open.

Aryna Sabalenka

The ‘Summer of Sabalenka’ will be one the Belarusian will remember forever. Just 20 years old, and playing her first US Open, she reached the fourth round in New York, taking out Petra Kvitova en route after winning the first title of her career in New Haven the week before. Semis in Cincy and last 16 in Montreal came before that. She’s now 20 in the world after starting the season at 73.

BEST COACHES

Jan de Witt

This may not have made any headlines but De Witt’s partnership with Nikoloz Basilashvili saw Georgian reach the fourth round at the Open (defeated Bedene, Sock, Pella) and take a set off of Rafael Nadal. It came on the heels of Basilashvili winning his first ATP title in Hamburg late July. De Witt, who previously coached Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon, teamed up with Basilashvili in May and their union is already paying off as he hits a career-high ranking of 31 this week.

Sascha Bajin

Osaka’s coach has undoubtedly played a huge part in her progress this season. They teamed up last December and have now won Indian Wells and the US Open together. Osaka says Bajin brings lots of positivity to the table, which is something she really struggled to have in the past. She hit a rough patch prior to the Open but has rebounded with a vengeance, and says enjoying her time on the court has been the biggest factor behind her success.

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Former umpire Richard Ings supports Carlos Ramos' handling of Serena Williams during US Open final

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Former leading umpire Richard Ings has backed Carlos Ramos against allegations of sexism and other improprieties in the wake of Serena Williams‘ US Open final defeat.

Williams was docked a game in the crucial second set of her match against Naomi Osaka for calling the experienced Ramos a “thief” – and she used her subsequent post-match press conference to call her penalty “sexist”.

Her stance was swiftly backed by the WTA Tour’s chief executive Steve Simon, and US great Billie-Jean King, both of whom also questioned the initial code violation handed to Williams for on-court coaching.

But Ings, who penalised John McEnroe a game during a match against Boris Becker in 1987, hailed Ramos for his decisions and said he umpired the match “absolutely perfectly”.

Speaking on BBC Radio Four‘s Today programme, Ings said: “Carlos Ramos is an umpire with 40 years of experience.

“He handled that match absolutely perfectly. He saw violations and he had the courage of his convictions to call them when he saw them.

“I support him 110 per cent. It was one of the best officiating jobs that I’ve seen in years.”

Former British tennis number one Annabel Croft said that, while she had sympathy for Williams, her claim that she had been treated differently because she is a woman was wide of the mark.

“I definitely feel sympathy for her because I was actually commentating on the match and I witnessed the whole thing unfolding and it was incredibly dramatic,” Croft told ITV‘s Good Morning Britain.

“But Carlos Ramos is not, I don’t believe, sexist. He’s a very strict, very decisive umpire, who takes nothing from any opponent whether they’re male or female.

“I’ve seen him giving time violations to Rafael Nadal out there on the court many, many times, but he’s someone who just plays it by the rule book.

“It doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the net, what icon they are, what status they are in the game, he will just play it by the rules.”

Great Britain Fed Cup captain Anne Keathvong also suggested Williams was in the wrong, tweeting: “Sexism is a problem in the wider picture of tennis but I don’t believe the decisions Carlos Ramos made that night had anything to do with it.”

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