Ons Jabeur makes top-100 debut, here are Arab tennis players who have ranked as high

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New milestone: For Ons Jabeur.

Tunisian Ons Jabeur made history this week as she became just the second Arab woman, and first in 15 years, to enter the world’s top-100.

She joins an elite club of Arab tennis players to have reached such heights in the sport. The 22-year-old is enjoying a strong 2017 season, where she claimed her first top-10 win (over Dominika Cibulkova at Roland Garros), and became the first Arab woman to make a Grand Slam third round in Paris earlier this summer.

She also became the first Arab woman since 2005 to feature in a Wimbledon main draw, when she made it through the qualifying rounds in June.

Jabeur, a former Roland Garros junior champion, will gain direct entry into a Slam for the first time this month at the US Open.

On the heels of Jabeur’s historic achievement, here’s a look at other Arabs who have ranked in the top-100…

Ismail El Shafei (Egypt)

The Egyptian lefty ranked as high as No34 in the world in 1975. He won the Wimbledon junior title in 1964 and his most famous accomplishment was making the quarter-finals in men’s singles at the All England Club in 1974, beating Bjorn Borg en route. He reached the fourth round at the US Open that same year.

Younes El Aynaoui (Morocco)

His career-high ranking of No14 in the world, reached in 2003, makes him the highest-ranked Arab tennis player in history. The leader of the Moroccan tennis trio that broke through in the 1990s, El Aynaoui was famous for his five-set epic match with Andy Roddick at the Australian Open in 2003, that ended 21-19 in the decider in the American’s favour.

The 193cm El Aynaoui cracked the top-100 for the first time in 1993. He played his last ATP tournament as a 38-year-old in 2010 in Doha, where he won his first round to become the oldest player to win an ATP match since Jimmy Connors in 1995 (a record since broken by Radek Stepanek).

El Aynaoui reached four Grand Slam quarter-finals throughout his career, won five ATP titles and made 11 more finals. He claimed 16 victories over top-10 opponents.

He currently works for the Qatar Tennis Federation, coaching the national team, and at 45 years of age, played a $15k ITF tournament in Bahrain last March, where he won his first round, outlasting some of the players he coaches in the tournament.

Karim Alami (Morocco)

The Moroccan broke into the top-100 for the first time in May 1994 and peaked at 25 in the world in February 2000. Alami won two ATP titles, in Palermo and Atlanta, both in 1996, made four more finals, and reached the quarter-finals at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, where he lost to Roger Federer.

Alami beat a No1-ranked Pete Sampras in Doha in 1994 when he was just 205 in the world and claimed eight more top-10 victories throughout his career. His best Grand Slam appearances came at the French and Australian Opens where he reached the third round three times in total. Alami is now the tournament director of the Qatar Open.

Hicham Arazi (Morocco)

Arazi peaked at No22 in the world in 2001 and cracked the top-100 for the first time in June 1996. He won one ATP title, in Casablanca in 1997, and reached the Monte Carlo (Masters Series) final in 2001. The Moroccan lefty made four Grand Slam quarter-finals (two in Melbourne, two in Paris) and retired from the sport in 2007. He claimed 16 victories against top-10 opposition throughout his career.

Selima Sfar (Tunisia)

Up until last week, Sfar was the only Arab woman to rank in the top-100, before Jabeur joined her in that exclusive club. The Tunisian, who now works as a commentator for beIN Sports, broke barriers for Arab women in the sport and left her home country at the tender age of 13 to train in Biarritz, France.

She peaked at 75 in the world rankings in July 2001 and made the second round at three of the four Grand Slams. She represented Tunisia at two Olympic Games, in Atlanta 1996 and Beijing 2008, and reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals in doubles in 2008.

Malek Jaziri (Tunisia)

The 33-year-old is considered a late bloomer and he only cracked the top-100 for the first time in 2012, at the age of 28. He made his top-50 debut last October and is currently a regular fixture in the world’s top-100. His career-high ranking is 47. Jaziri has reached the third round of the Australian Open twice, in 2015 and 2017, and has made the second round and all three other Grand Slams.

He represented Tunisia at the London 2012 Olympics and has been on their Davis Cup team since 2000. Jaziri owns six Challenger titles, and has reached two ATP semi-finals.

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Novak Djokovic to miss rest of 2017 season with elbow injury. What will his ranking be when he comes back in 2018?

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Time for a break: Novak Djokovic.

Novak Djokovic has announced he will not play for the rest of the 2017 season because of an elbow injury.

It means the 30-year-old will miss the final Grand Slam of the year, the US Open, an event he has won twice.

World number four Djokovic was forced to retire midway through his Wimbledon quarter-final with Tomas Berdych earlier this month because of the problem.

After the match, Djokovic said he had been feeling pain in his right elbow for over a year and half and the 12-time major champion had now decided to take the rest of the year off.

“I have made the decision to not play any tournaments for the rest of the 2017 season,” Djokovic said. “Unfortunately this is the decision that had to be made at this moment. Wimbledon was the toughest tournament for me in terms of feeling the pain that has escalated.

“I have consulted many of the doctors and specialists and various people from both ends of the medicine (profession) in the last 12 to 15 months, and especially the last couple of months when I felt the injury was getting worse.

“They all agree I need rest, I need time. This is one of those injuries where nothing can really help instantly. You have to allow natural rehabilitation to take its course.”

Missing the US Open next month will end Djokovic’s run of 51 consecutive Grand Slam appearances but the Serb has been well below his best in the past year.

After winning four consecutive major tournaments, Djokovic has now gone past the quarter-finals only once in his last five.

He began working with eight-time major champion Andre Agassi at the French Open in May and has confirmed the American will stay on his coaching team when he returns in 2018.

“I am looking forward to be honest to building my body, my game and my team as well. I am happy to share that Andre Agassi is committed to staying with me next year,” Djokovic said.

“I want to thank Andre for being with me this year and obviously sharing his experience and wisdom. I am looking forward to getting back on the practice courts with him and having him in the box in the big tournaments.”

Djokovic is expecting his second child with his wife Jelena within two months, and he’s choosing to look on the bright side of this injury-forced hiatus.

“I’m trying to look at everything from the positive side,” said Djokovic. “I believe that, obviously everything in life happens for a reason.

“So I’ll try to use this time as best as I can to spend quality time with my family. In about a month, a month and a half’s time, hopefully Jelena and I, with God’s help, will become parents again.

“And obviously I will take this time to heal, to do all the different suggested methods of rehabilitation and healing processes so I can get back on the court ASAP.

“It will take a couple of months at least without a racquet.”

Djokovic will drop a total of 3,740 points from now until the end of the year, since he won’t be able to defend his title at the Rogers Cup in Canada, nor his runner-up finish at the US Open and ATP World Tour Finals.

When he returns at the start of 2018, he will most likely be ranked outside the top-10 and potentially out of the top-15, depending on other players’ results. The last time Djokovic was ranked outside the top-10 was in March 2007.

In a press release sent from Djokovic’s camp, the Serb said: ““We’ve been speaking regularly. Andre was with me in Toronto and he helped me find doctors, specialists in treating elbow injuries. During this short period of time.

“We’ve been getting to know each other and building trust and understanding. He supports my decision to take a break, and remains my head coach. He is going to help me get back into shape and bounce back strong after the recovery period.”

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Ilie Nastase banned and fined by ITF for behaviour during Romania-Great Britain Fed Cup tie

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Banned: Ilie Nastase.

The International Tennis Federation on Friday banned and fined Ilie Nastase over racist comments about Serena Williams’s unborn child, inappropriate behaviour towards Anne Keothavong and a member of the press, as well as a foul-mouthed Fed Cup tirade.

The Romanian ex-world No1 was in the ITF dock for his abusive behaviour as Romania’s Fed Cup captain in a tie with Britain in Bucharest in April.

The two-time Grand Slam winner is banned from all ITF competitions until December 2020, excluded from all ITF competitions excluding Grand Slams until December 2018, and fined $10,000.

The controversial 71-year-old was sensationally kicked out of the Fed Cup tie in the Romanian capital on the second day for his irrational conduct.

On the opening day he was overheard making disrespectful remarks about Williams’ unborn child.

“Let’s see what colour it (the baby) has. Chocolate with milk?,” he said in Romanian, remarks then reported widely internationally, including by a British female reporter who he then berated, describing her as “stupid” and “ugly”. He asked pregnant captain Keothavong for her room number, and directed other inappropriate comments towards her.

On day two he was escorted from the Constanta venue after swearing at the umpire as well as the British skipper and a visiting player.

He was heard to call Keothavong and British number one Johanna Konta “f****** bitches”.

Nastase has been charged with:

  • Making a comment about Serena Williams’s unborn child that may be interpreted as racist, in breach of the Introduction to the Welfare Policy;
  • Making advances of a sexual nature towards Anne Keothavong, the Captain of the Great Britain team;
  • Entering, without authorisation, the Great Britain Team Lounge;
  • Making abusive and insulting comments to a member of the accredited press;
  • Making abusive and offensive comments to the match officials and to members of the
    Great Britain team, refusing to leave the court, and inciting the crowd;
  • Mr. Nastase’s conduct as a whole, in breach of the introduction to the Welfare Policy.

Part of Nastase’s defence in the charge related to his comments on Williams’ unborn child is that they were “intended as a joke and were misinterpreted” and that “he comes from a nation where racism is not ‘as delicate an issue as it may be in other parts of the world’. There is also no prior evidence of Mr. Nastase being racist; his friendships and partnerships with contemporaries such as Arthur Ashe and Yannick Noah stand as evidence to the contrary”.

Nastase did not deny the remarks he made to Keothavong but claims “he had no intention to emotionally or physically harm the members of the GB team” and that the fact he “made the requests in public, shows that they were intended as jokes to ‘reduce tension surrounding the Tie’ and to display a ‘friendliness’ towards the GB team”.

The commencement of the period of his suspension was deemed to be April 23, 2017, the date on which he was provisionally suspended.

Full details on the sanction can be found here.

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