Flavia Pennetta won her biggest title of the career by defeating world number 3 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-1 in the Premier Mandatory final of Indian Wells.
Pennetta, aged 32, has with this conquered her 10th career title, less then a year after plummeting to world number 166 and on the verge of retiring after a nasty wrist injury.
In a match evidently influenced by the injury of the second seed, Pennetta showed anyway lots from her new and improved repertoire, demonstrating how this victory is the result of hard work and dedication.
Pennetta, who had lost four times to Radwanska out of as many matches before this season, surely knew she would have had her chances as she came into this match strong of a sensational win over the Pole in Dubai.
The match started immediately with a puzzling kick-off from Radwanska, who looked tentative in her first attempts to win points off the Italian, who had two chances to break her serve already in the first game.
The Pole managed to hold, but Pennetta replied with a solid service game as well.
Despite being the first time for the 20th seed in a singles’ final of this prestige, she showed a great attitude and in the fifth game she found the way to break her opponent’s serve and impose her game throughout the set, closed 6-2 in her favour.
The hints that something was wrong with the world number 3 were all there in the first set, as despite the good performance of the Italian, she had hit an unusual number of unforced errors.
Then in the second set, Radwanska called for the trainer on court and had her already-taped knee once again checked and bandaged.
It is never easy to play against an evidently injured opponent, if it is your career biggest final, it is if possible even harder.
Similarly to what happened to Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open final, Pennetta suffered little nerves in the early games of the second set, but she immediately tamed them and took full advantage of the situation to fly 5-1 up.
Radwanska tried to push her body to the limit in the very last game; her defence improved enough to force the game to the advantages, but there was no way Pennetta would have let this match run away from her hands.
So, as the last defence from the Pole flew long, the Italian rose her arms to the sky and let all the happiness flaw.
The hug at the net and the lovely words during her speech, clearly testified the worry of the new Indian Wells champion for her opponent, but as she said: “this is my day,” and rightfully so.
Pennetta, who was the first Italian woman to enter the WTA top 10 back in 2009, has decided to write the story of tennis for her country once again becoming the first Italian to win a Premier Mandatory –she already became the first finalist after the win over Li Na.
The Indian Wells champion, thanks to this win, will be ranked 12 in the world starting from Monday, but even more impressive is her fifth place in the Race to Singapore.
However, there will be no rest for players and tennis fans, because starting from tomorrow the action will take place in Miami, for another Premier Mandatory spread over the next two weeks.
In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title
Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.
Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012.
“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw.
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”
Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week.
“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.
There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open.
Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20.
Naomi Osaka Seeks Resurgence At Home Event After Rollercoaster Year
Former world No.1 Naomi Osaka admits that there have been more downs than ups for her this year but she is maintaining a positive outlook.
The four-time Grand Slam champion has played 22 matches so far this season with her win-loss record currently standing at 13-9. However, at her six most recent tournaments she has failed to win back-to-back matches and is currently on a four-match losing streak. Osaka also missed this year’s Wimbledon Championships due to an achilles injury.
Currently ranked 44th in the world, Osaka is hoping to break her slump at this week’s Toray Pan Pacific Open which will be held in Tokyo. It will be the first time she has played since losing to Danielle Collins in the first round of the US Open.
“I think, of course, the year has (not been) the best year for me,” Osaka said during her pre-tournament press conference. “But I think overall I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’m just happy to be healthy. Because in Europe, I did injure myself, and that was like my first injury that took me that long to get healed.
“I think life is kind of ups and downs and this one was kind of more down than up, but overall I’m pretty happy with where I am now.”
Osaka is the defending champion in Tokyo, even though she won the tournament back in 2019. The event has been cancelled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has happened to the Japanese player since she won the title, both on and off the court. Osaka has spoken publicly about her mental health issues and took time away from the sport because of them.
“It feels really weird to hear that I’m the defending champion because it was the last time I played in 2019,” she said. “I would love to win it again, but I think just taking it one match at a time … and also just playing in front of a crowd in Tokyo again, because the Olympics was crowdless, so it will just be nice to see people.”
This year Osaka does not have a seeding in the Tokyo draw which is in stark contrast to three years ago when she was the highest-ranked player in the tournament. She will begin her campaign against Australia’s Daria Saville and could then face fifth seed, Beatriz Haddad Maia, in the last 16.
“I think every year for me since the first Slam, there’s been a lot of changes,” Osaka said. “But I think this year it has definitely been a real growing year for me. I think tennis-wise, I don’t really think I can go in a wrong direction. I feel like me as a player, my base is pretty solid. I can only really learn more about myself. I know that I am an aggressive player and I can only hope to keep doing that.”
Away from the Tour, the 24-year-old remains one of the highest-earning players in the sport. According to a report published by Forbes in August, she earned in the region of £56.2M over 12 months with $55M of that coming from off-court ventures. She has also set up her own sports agency with long-time agent Stuart Duguid, signing Nick Kyrgios as one of her clients.
“For everything off court, I think it’s really cool how tennis has let me get so many opportunities in things that I’m interested in, and it’s something I’m really happy and grateful for and I can only hope it keeps evolving.” She commented.
This week Osaka is seeking to win her first title of any sort since the 2021 Australian Open.
Simona Halep Ends 2022 Season With Nose Surgery And Mental Exhaustion
Simona Halep will return to the court in 2023.
Simona Halep has ended her season after having nose surgery and suffering from mental exhaustion in recent months.
The two-time Grand Slam champion has had a mixed season this year with the Romanian almost quitting the sport in February.
However the former world number one reunited with Patrick Mouratoglou and produced a world-class grass court season and US Hard court swing to get back into the world’s top ten.
Despite this, Halep has also had her troubles having had a panic attack at Roland Garros and struggled with anxiety.
This was all produced by the Romanian in her statement when she announced she would not play the rest of the season due to a nose surgery which has been linked to her breathing.
Now Halep will look to recover mentally and physically in time for January’s Australian Open as she will look to become a Grand Slam champion for the third time in her career.
Simona Halep’s 2022 Season:
Melbourne Summer Set 1: Champion
Australian Open: R4 l. Cornet
Dubai: Semi-Finals l. Ostapenko
Qatar: R1 l. Garcia
Indian Wells: Semi-Finals l. Swiatek
Madrid: Quarter-Finals l. Jabeur
Rome: R2 l. Collins
Roland Garros: R2 l. Q. Zheng
Birmingham: Semi-Finals l. Haddad Maia
Bad Homburg: Semi-Finals l. Andreescu
Wimbledon: Semi-Finals l. Rybakina
Washington: R2 l. Kalinskaya
Cincinnati: R2 – Withdrew
US Open: R1 l. Snigur
Botic Van de Zandschulp beats Joao Sousa to reach the second round in Tel Aviv
Holger Rune reaches the second round at the Sofia Open
Dominic Thiem battles past Laslo Djere in three sets in Tel Aviv
Ilya Ivashka battles past Mikael Ymer in the longest match in the history of the Sofia Open
Cameron Norrie Vows To Make ‘Big Push’ In Bid To Reach Tour Finals
Roger Federer To Make Last-Minute Decision Over Laver Cup Participation, Says Coach
Juan Martin Del Potro Reveals Physical And Mental Trauma From Tennis Retirement
Andy Murray Calls For Earlier Start To Davis Cup Ties After Great Britain Loses Late-Night Thriller
Serena Williams’ Spectacular US Open Outfit Includes Diamond-Encrusted Shoes
US Open 2022: John McEnroe Lashes Out At Journalist In Midst Of Nadal Row
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty ’Satisfied’ With Davis Cup Format Despite Issues
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty Reacts To Federer’s Retirement
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Elena Rybakina’s Wimbledon Win Was Good But The Level Wasn’t Great
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE): Novak Djokovic Battles Past Norrie, Faces Kyrgios In The Final
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Brad Gilbert Makes A Bold prediction on Sinner, Backs Kyrgios To Trouble Nadal
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