160423 nadal

Rafael Nadal wants his drug-test results made public

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LONDON (AP) Fed up with being accused of doping, Rafael Nadal has written to the president of the International Tennis Federation and asked for all of his drug-test results and blood profile records to be made public.

“It can’t be free anymore in our tennis world to speak and to accuse without evidence,” the 14-time Grand Slam champion said in a letter obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Nadal’s letter was sent to ITF President David Haggerty on Monday, the same day he filed suit against a former French government minister who suggested he had been doping.

“I know how many times I am tested, on and off competition,” Nadal wrote in the letter. “Please make all my information public. Please make public my biological passport, my complete history of anti-doping controls and tests.

“From now on I ask you to communicate when I am tested and the results as soon as they are ready from your labs. I also encourage you to start filing lawsuits if there is any misinformation spread by anyone.”

The ITF confirmed it received the letter from Nadal, including the request for his test results to be released under the Tennis Anti-Doping Program.

“The ITF can confirm that Mr. Nadal has never failed a test under the TADP and has not been suspended at any time for an anti-doping rule violation or for any other reason related to the TADP,” the ITF said in a statement sent to the AP.

The ITF said Nadal, like other players, has access to his anti-doping records through the World Anti-Doping Agency’s database “and is free to make them available.”

“The accuracy of any such release would be verified by the ITF,” the federation said.

The Spanish star said he was writing the letter because of remarks by Roselyne Bachelot, France’s former minister for health and sport. She said on a French television show last month that Nadal’s seven-month injury layoff in 2012 was “probably due to a positive doping test.”

Nadal, who won his 49th clay-court tournament on Sunday in Barcelona and will go for his 10th French Open title next month, filed a defamation suit against Bachelot in Paris.

“It is unacceptable and mostly unfair that someone that should have knowledge of sports to a certain point and degree can publicly say something like this with no proof or evidence,” Nadal said in the letter to Haggerty.

Nadal said some media, fans, and sponsors don’t trust tennis’ anti-doping program.

“They don’t trust the sport. They think governing bodies cover things up and do nothing,” he said. “We know this is not true. … I believe the time has arrived, and our sport and our governing bodies need to step up in communicating well to the world.”

Nadal said he has never shied away from sharing his thoughts on anti-doping.

“I believe we have to continue with the fight against doping and make the fight stronger and better if possible,” he wrote. “As a player, first an amateur and then a professional, I have been sure that our sport is clean. It is necessary that our sport becomes a flagship in a world where transparency and honesty are two pillars of our conduct and way of living.”

Nadal’s letter comes at a time when tennis is dealing with Maria Sharapova’s high-profile doping case. The Russian has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for the newly banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open in January. She is awaiting an ITF disciplinary hearing.

Venus Williams through to third round at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) It was inevitable after such an energetic performance in her second-round win over Stefanie Voegele at the Australian Open that Venus Williams would get asked about transcending the generations in tennis.

The 36-year-old, seven-time major winner played the first of her record 73 Grand Slam tournaments at the French Open in 1997. Back then, she got to play against the likes of Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

In a 6-3, 6-2 win over the 26-year-old Voegele on Wednesday, Williams mixed up her game, clearly not content on relying purely on the kind of power game that helped her make a mark on the sport.

“I have to talk about this every interview,” Williams said in reply to what has become a regular post-match question to the oldest player in the women’s draw here. “I’ve played some of the greats.

“It’s an honor and privilege to start that young,” she added, laughing, “and play this old.”

Venus and Serena Williams withdrew from a scheduled first-round doubles match later Wednesday, citing an injury to Venus’ right elbow. The sisters have won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles together, including four at the Australian Open.

Venus Williams put plenty into her second-round singles match, which lasted 1 hour, 23 minutes.

In the second set, serving and with a game point, she chased the ball like a teenager from one side of the court to the other, and back, trying to finish off. Her forehand landed too long, but her intention was clear. Get through the round ASAP. She won the subsequent two points to hold.

At 15-15 and 5-2 in the second, she was still remonstrating with herself after missing a point. She finished off the match later in the same game, another break, to reach the third round. Williams lost to eventual semifinalist Johanna Konta in the opening round last year.

In the next round she’ll play Duan Yingying, who beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 3-6, 10-8.

Venus is playing her 17th Australian Open, but has never won the title. Her best run was to the final in 2003, when she lost to Serena.

No. 11 Elina Svitolina had a 6-4, 6-1 win over U.S. qualifier Julia Boserup to advance to a third-round match against No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over fellow Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva .

In another match, Alison Riske beat No. 20 Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-1.

On the men’s side, fifth-ranked Kei Nishikori reached the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Jeremy Chardy.

Frances Tiafoe among young Americans coming of age in Australian Open

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 17:  Frances Tiafoe of the USA plays a backhand during his first round match against Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan on day two of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 17, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) More than 13 years after Andy Roddick won the 2003 U.S. Open, the last time an American man triumphed at a Grand Slam, the future of U.S. men’s tennis appears bright.

The next generation of young players, all aged between 18 and 20, is starting to emerge and showing enough promise at this year’s Australian Open to suggest they may be on the cusp of a breakthrough.

Seven made the main draw at Melbourne Park and three were still in contention after the first round.

Frances Tiafoe, who turns 19 on Friday, defeated Mikhail Kukushkin 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday, while 20-year-old Ernesto Escobedo beat Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1. They joined 20-year-old Noah Rubin, who won his opener a day earlier to set up a second-round match against Roger Federer.

The others failed to advance, but not before serving notice to the tour’s old guard.

Reilly Opelka, 19, lost a tight five-setter to 11th-seeded David Goffin, while Jared Donaldson, 20, lost to Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva after leading two sets to none. Taylor Fritz and Michael Mmoh, both 19, each put up good fights in defeats to veterans Gilles Muller and Gilles Simon, respectively.

“We’re all really supportive of each other and happy to see all of us doing so well,” Tiafoe said. “Hopefully we can keep going and not stop now.”

Much has been expected of Tiafoe, the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, since he won the Orange Bowl at age 15, the youngest champion in the prestigious 18-and-under tournament’s history.

Tiafoe just missed out on a career-defining win at last year’s U.S. Open, where as a wild card, he led the long-time top-ranked U.S. player, John Isner, by two sets to none before the match slipped away. It was a heartbreaking loss, but one Tiafoe learned from.

“I was like, the next opportunity I’m definitely going to take it,” he said after his first-round win on Tuesday, flashing a wide grin. “Now, getting through relatively comfortable today means a lot. … I really feel like I belong now.”

He next plays another 19-year-old, his close friend, Alexander Zverev of Germany.

Both Opelka and Donaldson, meanwhile, got their own tastes of Grand Slam agony in Melbourne.

Opelka, a 6-foot-11 (2.11 meter) former Wimbledon junior champion with a booming serve and whip-like forehand, had two break points to go up 4-2 in the fifth set against Goffin, but couldn’t convert either and ultimately lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

Opelka had never before played a five-set match and was making his debut in the singles main draw of a Grand Slam. Yet he showed grit – and no hint of nerves – deep into the fifth set against a seasoned pro like Goffin, even as he started to cramp and struggled to move.

“I’ve played some guys in the top 10 before so I wasn’t uncomfortable,” he said. “With the way I play, hopefully it really shouldn’t matter who’s on the other side of the net.”

Donaldson’s loss was less expected. The Rhode Island native made a stunning run to the third round of last year’s U.S. Open, upsetting the 12th-seeded Goffin and Viktor Troicki, a former top-20 player.

And he was well on his way to a commanding win over Dutra Silva before the Brazilian stormed back for a 3-6, 0-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

“Losses like this really define your character,” he said. “So I can be upset and sulk about it or I can get back on the practice court and keep working hard and get better so matches like that don’t happen again.”