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.

No. 1 seed Angelique Kerber gets upset in the first round of the French Open

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Angelique Kerber is the first women’s No. 1 seed to lose in the French Open’s first round in the Open era.

Kerber lost 6-2, 6-2 to the 40th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova of Russia.

Makarova broke Kerber’s serve twice in the opening set and did so again in the second, racing into a 3-0 lead.

Kerber appeared to get back into the match when she recovered one break but the German immediately dropped her serve again.

There was another rapid exchange of breaks before Makarova sealed the result on her first match point with a forehand down the line after recovering from 40-0 down.

Kerber now has just two wins from her past four tournaments.

French Open 2017: 30 is the new 25 in men’s tennis right now

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PARIS — The very top of men’s tennis has never been this old.

For the first time in the history of the ATP computer rankings, which date to the early 1970s, the men sitting at Nos. 1-5 are all 30 or older, the latest sign that the current crop of stars has enviable staying power.

It’s also the latest reason to wonder when a new face will emerge among the elite, because there eventually will come a point – yes, there really will – when the group that was once known as the Big 3, then came to be called the Big 4, and now is considered by some to be a Big 5, is no longer running the sport.

With the French Open starting Sunday, No. 1 Andy Murray, No. 2 Novak Djokovic, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 4 Rafael Nadal (No. 5 Roger Federer is skipping Paris) all have designs on another major trophy. But could someone such as Alexander Zverev, who just turned 20 last month, or the supremely talented – and supremely enigmatic – Nick Kyrgios, 22, or Dominic Thiem, 23, make a breakthrough for the up-and-coming kids?

“We’re probably coming to the end of one of the greatest eras of tennis that, certainly, I’ve ever seen,” ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode said, “and what we need to do as a sport is look to the next generation of players.”

Federer is 35, Wawrinka is 32, Nadal turns 31 on June 3, and Djokovic and Murray turned 30 this month. That quintet has won 46 of the last 48 Grand Slam titles, a dozen-year stretch of dominance.

Zverev’s victory over Djokovic in the Italian Open final last weekend might have symbolized coming change. Zverev was the first man born in the 1990s to win a Masters 1000 title, the youngest champ since Djokovic about a decade ago.

That title also pushed Zverev into the top 10, making him the youngest member since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008.

“It’s nice … for the tour, as well, to have a few younger guys, few younger girls, as well, to be able to play at the top,” said Zverev, who is German. “As I said many times, unfortunately for tennis and unfortunately for the spectators, the top four cannot play forever. So it’s good that younger players are starting to get through.”

So then the question becomes: Why has it taken so long?

Why does someone such as former player and coach Brad Gilbert, now an ESPN commentator, say, “Today’s 30 is like 25 used to be,” as he did this week? Why have these 30-somethings had such staying power? And why is it taking so long for newcomers to make a mark?

There is a similar situation in women’s tennis, where Serena Williams has kept winning Grand Slam titles into her 30s and is the oldest No. 1 in WTA history. Current No. 1 Angelique Kerber was the oldest woman to make her debut at that spot.

“Tennis has changed in the last 15 years … since they slowed down surfaces and there is not much difference in speeds of the surfaces,” said Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams’ coach. “You rarely have many easy shots now. You have to work the points much more, and one of the consequences is you need to be physically much better and able to play long rallies.”

He points out that when Wimbledon’s grass courts, for example, used to play much faster than they do now, a player could succeed there hitting aces by the dozen and going for one winner after another, because “you don’t need the same maturity and understanding of tactics” that are required today.

Gilbert points to Andre Agassi – a man he used to coach, and who is assisting Djokovic during this French Open – as an inspiration to the current old-timers still in charge.

“It used to be, you turned 30, you were completely on the downside of your career. A lot of these guys can remember Andre making a deep run at 2005 at 35 years old. I think that was the turning point in belief, that guys could play a lot longer,” Gilbert said. “You’re seeing Tom Brady be the best quarterback in all of football, maybe ever, and he’s approaching 40, which is dinosaur for a quarterback, but not anymore. Athletes are pushing the envelope all year round. There’s no offseason. Offseason is for more training, diet, technology.”