TODD Woodbridge has been slammed by the tennis community on social media for criticising an American journalist’s reporting on World No. 72 Marco Cecchinato.
The Aussie tennis legend — one half of famed doubles pairing “The Woodies” alongside Mark Woodforde — who now commentates for Channel 7, took exception to New York Times reporter Ben Rothenberg’s approach to a story on Italian Cecchinato.
The Italian went on a stunning run into the French Open semi-finals before he was defeated by Dominic Thiem, and Woodbridge took a dig at Rothenberg after he posted a story focusing on Cecchinato’s dark past.
The 25-year-old was convicted of match-fixing at a Challenger Tour event in Morocco in 2015 when he lost in straight sets to then-World No. 338 Kamil Majchrzak. Betting on the match became the subject of an investigation and it was revealed Cecchinato’s father and longtime friend both wagered on him to lose in straight sets.
After initially being slugged with an 18-month suspension and 40,000 Euro fine, Cecchinato’s penalty was reduced on appeal to a 12-month ban and fine of 20,000 Euros.
But per Rothenberg’s story, the case was later declared a mistrial because prosecutors took too long to complete the initial trial phase.
Woodbridge responded to the story by accusing Rothenberg of focusing too much on the negative, rather than the positive of a young player going deep into a grand slam.
That opinion didn’t sit well with tennis media — among others — who quickly and swiftly shut down Woodbridge’s take.
Woodbridge stood his ground, replying to many of his critics. He suggested the story had already been raised in week one of the year’s second major and so should have been left alone as Cecchinato got within arm’s reach of a maiden grand slam final appearance.
Defending French Open champion Rafael Nadal says he has to be prepared to adapt his game and make his experience count when he goes up against Thiem in his 11th Roland Garros final in Paris on Sunday.
The 32-year-old World No. 1 has won 10 French titles and has only been beaten twice in his career at the red clay grand slam tournament. However, even though his dominance of the event makes him a heavy favourite, Nadal goes up against a youthful and big-serving Thiem, who will be competing in his first major final.
Nadal expects a varied performance from the 24-year-old Austrian but remains ready for whatever his young opponent throws at him.
“With the years, you learn that things change very quickly,” said Nadal when asked about the age gap factor ahead of his 24th slam final. “You must never let opportunities go by. You must always think that things might get better or you have to be with your eyes open so that you don’t lose your positive energy.
“I know I have to give a little more than I have given until now in this tournament. This extra thing I have to give, I feel I have it inside me, but I have to go and get it.
“Thiem is a very complex opponent. He’s one of the best players in the world on this surface. I hope that I can win.”
Thiem is the only man to beat Nadal on clay this year, having triumphed at the quarter-finals in Madrid Masters event and also earned success in last year’s Italian Open in Rome.
However, those victories were in best-of-three-set contests and Thiem has never conquered Nadal in a five-setter.
Thiem remains confident that history won’t repeat itself on Sunday, adding he will arrive on Court Philippe Chatrier with a clear mind.
“I have a plan,” he said. “I will try everything that my plan (is) also going to work out a little bit here and not only in Madrid or in Rome. “He likes the conditions more here than in Madrid, for sure. Best of five is also different story. I think also it’s a good thing that I faced him already twice here.
“I think if I’m facing Rafa, I’m not the one who has the pressure.”
— with AAP