World No.2 Andy Murray says he does not agree with the chauvinistic comments made by fellow BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) nominee Tyson Fury but believes in the boxing world champion’s right to express his views.
The Scot, who has been competing in the Dubai leg of the IPTL, will attend the upcoming ceremony in Belfast but would not go as far as predicting who will win the top honour – the award he scooped back in 2013 after winning Wimbledon.
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Sania Mirza is hoping there will be no repeat of the drama that took place prior to the previous Olympics in London regarding the doubles and mixed doubles partnerships representing India when the decision process for Rio 2016 starts.
The doubles world No1, who won two grand slams with Martina Hingis in 2015, was caught in the middle of disagreements between Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and the All-India Tennis Association (AITA) and she described them as using her as “bait”, slamming them in an open letter in which she accused them of chauvinism.
With the Rio Olympics coming up next season, Mirza says it is still too early to make final calls about doubles and mixed doubles link-ups but she hopes things will go smoother this time around.
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“I hope for the sake of a lot of reasons that the same thing doesn’t happen again because I think it would be pretty bad if I had to come out and speak up again as to how I felt which was very strong, if people remember when I had said,” Mirza told reporters on Tuesday in Dubai after helping her Indian Aces team defeat the Philippine Mavericks 30-17 in the IPTL.
“I sure hope that doesn’t happen. I can’t really say or feel or think from another person’s point of view, I can tell you what I feel. And I don’t feel that right now is the right time to make that call as to who should play together. When we get closer we’ll make that call.”
As the current world No1, who has won 10 titles this year and hasn’t lost a match since August, Mirza is hoping she will be given the chance to weigh in on the decisions unlike what happened before London.
“There’s no decision made, the Olympics is seven months away still. So we have a lot to focus on before that. We have three grand slams to play.
“As tennis players, we don’t have the liberty of preparing for an event seven months in advance. Having said that, rest assured the best team will be put forward, whoever it is at that of time,” said the 29-year-old.
— Indian Aces (@IndianAces) December 16, 2015
“It depends on who is healthy, who is playing well, who is not playing well, which two people get along on the court and which two don’t. It’s just a decision that needs to be made, I don’t think it needs to be made right now.
“Being the No1 tennis player in the world I would imagine that I will have some say in it. But we’ll see. When we get closer to it, we’ll try and make that call.”
Roger Federer has recently confirmed he will be playing mixed doubles with Hingis in Rio and Mirza admits the Swiss pair will be the team to beat.
“Obviously they’re going to be the favourite for gold. I say that with all due respect to my partnership with whoever I’m playing with and to everyone, but on paper they’re probably going to be the best team and the team that everyone is going to go for, for the gold,” said Mirza.
“That’s not going to stop us from trying to get that gold. It will be a lot of fun to play against them.”
Bernard Tomic concedes he has made headlines for the wrong reasons this year but the talented Aussie is looking to turn a new leaf and focus on breaking into the top 10 for the first time next season.
The 23-year-old, who made his IPTL debut yesterday for the Indian Aces in Dubai replacing Rafael Nadal, ended 2015 ranked a career-high No.18 but despite it being a solid season results-wise, Tomic once again was mixed up in controversy as he was arrested in July for refusing to leave his W South Beach hotel room in Miami after an alleged altercation with staff and police.
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But Tomic, whose 3-6 defeat to Philipp Kohlschreiber yesterday did not stop the Aces from beating the Japan Warriors, is targeting a strong start to 2016 and wants to concentrate on having the best preparation possible.
When asked about his countryman Nick Kyrgios, who has also been the subject of numerous controversies throughout the season, Tomic says he understood what the younger Aussie has gone through in 2015.
“I think we both have a bit (made headlines for the wrong reasons),” Tomic said with a hint of a smile.
“I can feel his part also because I myself probably wasn’t in the right headlines this year. So I think I know I can understand what he’s going through. But he’s staying positive and he’s working on good things. Everyone has a different personality and different character.”
While many players have their coaches with them here in Dubai to have their preseason training while playing the IPTL, Tomic is here alone as he got the call up for the league quite late and interrupted his training block to play the last two legs in the UAE and Singapore.
He says he will resume training back in Australia after the IPTL concludes on December 20.
“I think the period now, we only have five or six days left so I’m happy to be joining (the IPTL). I’m doing as much as I can to train, to motivate myself so when I get back and have that two or three-week block I can really push myself hard,” Tomic added.
“People don’t realise we only have a few more weeks to go and then 2016 starts again. It’s very quick and to the players that have been playing the last two weeks that’s obviously good for them but I feel like now when I get back I need to really work the next two to three weeks to be ready…
“I think now for 2016 I have to start strong and really play well in the Australian summer and after that just remain consistent like I was in 2015. I’d really love to get into the top 10. On paper it doesn’t look so far away, six, seven, eight spots but it’s very difficult. So I have to start winning some more bigger titles to get the opportunity to move inside the top 10.”
On what he’ll do differently in 2016, Tomic believes the right scheduling will be key.
“I will prepare much much better than I did for tournaments and obviously not play as many tournaments like I did this year. Because I think once you get there in that block of top 30 or top 20 you get seedings and positions, you need to be fresh for all the tournaments you play. And that’s one thing that I have to approach in 2016, be really ready for every tournament I play,” he says.