Summary of sports events and persons who made news on Monday
Simona Halep will be without a coach for the first few months of the 2019 season after Australian Darren Cahill left her team due to “family reasons”, the World No 1 said on Sunday.
Halep, who is gearing up for the Australian Open by playing in this week’s Sydney International, has worked with the former Australia Davis Cup captain since 2016 and said she would not replace him until at least the claycourt season.
“The situation is that for the next three to four months, I don’t want to take the coach... I go with the flow and I see how it works,” French Open champion Halep told the WTA website.
“He took the decision because of family and family always comes first. I wasn’t disappointed or upset, I fully understood. We have a very good relationship.”
Cahill has a long track record as a coach, helping compatriot Lleyton Hewitt reach number one in the rankings as well as reviving the career of American Andre Agassi.
“It’s tough... but I feel confident I can do my own things on court. I’m more responsible now on everything that I have to do. Maybe it’s a good thing, I will see,” Halep added.
Meanwhile, Halep said she was pain-free following a back injury that cut short her 2018 season, but believes this week would be the real test of her fitness.
Halep won her maiden Grand Slam at Roland Garros last year but was diagnosed with a herniated disk in October which ruled her out of the season-ending WTA Finals.
The Romanian retained her top ranking for a second straight year despite missing the Singapore tournament and said she was raring to go after a spell during recovery where she did not pick up a racquet.
“The back was good for the off-season. I didn’t have pain and I trained 100 percent, I played some sets, some matches,” Halep said.
“No pain, no stress, but you never know until the official matches, so I’m waiting for this week to see how I feel... I have no pressure, but I’m motivated to see how good I can be this year.
“Six weeks I did nothing, just in the gym to do exercises every day for one hour. No tennis. It was a long time... it’s going to be a tough start because I have almost three months without official matches.”
Top seed Halep, who has a bye into the Sydney second round, will face either Jelena Ostapenko or local hope Ashleigh Barty.
ATP Cup men's team event goes to Sydney, Brisbane
The inaugural edition of the $15 million ATP Cup men's team event will be hosted in Sydney, Brisbane and one other city in the lead-up to the Australian Open next January, Tennis Australia announced on Monday.
Sydney, which will host the knockout rounds and final, announced a A$50.5 million ($36 million) upgrade of the Olympic Tennis Centre venue on Friday, which includes putting a roof on the main showcourt.
Perth, which has hosted the mixed team Hopman Cup for the last 30 years, and Adelaide are the other cities likely to be in the running to host the group stage of the event along with Brisbane.
The 24-team tournament is seen as a threat to the International Tennis Federation's (ITF) revamped 18-nation Davis Cup competition starting in Madrid in November.
The new ATP event also has major implications for the other men's and mixed events in Australia and further afield that have traditionally been used by players to prepare for the year's first grand slam at Melbourne Park.
Brisbane will host ATP Cup matches along with the existing WTA event for women but there is likely to be no men's draw at the Brisbane International from next year.
Sydney also currently hosts men and women's draws at the Sydney International -- a tournament with a history dating back to 1885 -- in the week before the Australian Open.
No details were given about how the hosting of the January 3-12 ATP Cup would affect the men's event but Tennis Australia said there could potentially be a new women's tournament in Australia.
The most contentious potential casualty of the restructuring is the Hopman Cup, which was won by Swiss pairing Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic at the weekend.
Popular with the players, and organised by the ITF rather than the tours, the event has been played out in front of healthy crowds in Perth since 1989 but is unlikely to survive without any top male players.
Tennis Australia is contracted to host the tournament until 2022 and are on record as having said they "planned to honour" that agreement with the local government in Western Australia.
Federer said after his victory last weekend that he hoped Perth would continue to host top class tennis.
"If it’s the Hopman Cup, that’s great. If it’s not, then it’s a pity," he said.
"We had an unbelievable event here for so many years. These events ... get the players closer together — men and women.
"We share a lot of tournaments together, but it’s not the same as when you play together or share the same court. Let’s hope it continues in some way shape or form."
Craig Tiley, who is chief executive of Tennis Australia as well as co-organiser of the ATP Cup, said the time was right to expand the sport's offering to Australian tennis fans.
"We want more players rewarded, more opportunities for them, more opportunities for fans to get to see them ... more global exposure for the sport," he added.
"A major step toward achieving that vision is to deliver world-class tennis to cities across Australia, which is what the ATP Cup will do.
"It is the next piece in a vision that will ultimately grow tennis and provide inspiration for future generations."
Austrian racing car legend Lauda back in hospital after lung transplant
Former Formula One champion Niki Lauda is in hospital in Vienna with the flu, five months after undergoing a lung transplant, Austrian media sites reported on Sunday.
Lauda, 69, an Austrian, was flown in early January from the Spanish island of Ibiza where he had been vacationing to a hospital in the Austrian capital, the publication Oesterreich reported on its website.
Oesterreich reported that Lauda was in the intensive care station but should be released from the hospital later this week, without citing sources.
A spokesperson at the Vienna General Hospital could not immediately be reached for comment.
Lauda, who was badly burned in 1976 in a Formula One race and later became an airline entrepreneur, underwent a lung transplant in August and was recuperating from the complicated surgery.