Serena and Maria move one step closer to a semis clash - UBITENNIS
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Serena and Maria move one step closer to a semis clash

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TENNIS – The 2013 Miami finalists, Serena Williams (1) and Maria Sharapova (4) are both on the same side of draw this year and if the seeds hold true to form, they are expected to meet in the semifinals. However, coming into their 4th round match ups, neither player has showed anything that might indicate that they may even get to the semifinal. Cordell Hackshaw

The 2013 Sony Ericsson Open women’s finalists, Serena Williams (1) and Maria Sharapova (4) are both on the same side of draw this year and if the seeds hold true to form, they are expected to play each other in the semifinals. They are the biggest names in all of women’s tennis today. They have a much touted rivalry which in fact is no rivalry as Williams dominates the head to head at a staggering 15-2 with those two losses coming far back in 2004. Nonetheless, their meeting in a match is always a hot ticket for fans. However, coming into their 4th round match ups, neither player has showed anything that might indicate that they may even get to the semifinal much more win the title.

 

Sharapova was up first against Kristin Flipkens (19) of Belgium. Sharapova did not have much to fear from this matchup as she has a 4-0 lifetime record over Flipkens having never dropped a set in any of the encounters. However, with the Russian looking vulnerable so far this tournament and having failed in spectacular fashion to defend her Indian Wells title last week, conditions seemed ripe for an upset. Flipkens, it seemed also sensed this moment. She jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the 1st set. Sharapova was unable to get any rhythm from her opponent as Flipkens threw “junk” her way; off speed shots, high loopy forehands as well as her infamous slice backhand. This forced the Russian to generate her own pace, which ultimately made her very erratic. Sharapova got one of the breaks back but could not mount a comeback as errors continued to pour off her racquet. Flipkens took the set 6-3.

 

However, this is Maria Sharapova and her competitiveness is far more renowned than her game at times. She put the fact that she only had one winner and five double faults in the 1st set behind her and raced out to a 4-0 lead in the 2nd set. Flipkens was unable to call upon the game plan she had successfully employed earlier in the match but yet the determination to get this first win over Sharapova remained. She called recently retired ATP tour player, Xavier Malisse who was now her coach on court. Malisse’s advice seemed to have done the trick as Flipkens broke and was had break point and a 2nd serve to play with to get back on serve 4-4. However, the tennis gods, if they do indeed exist, were not on her side. The chair umpire’s microphone system chose that precise moment to go on the fritz. This gave Sharapova a much needed reprieve and another 1st serve because of the unintended delay between serves. Sharapova did not waste this gift and edged ahead 5-2. Flipkens broke Sharapova as she served for the set 5-3 and was serving to even the set at 5-5. Yet again, the Belgian’s A game deserted her giving Sharapova 3 set points. The Russian only needed one; 6-4 Sharapova.

 

In the 3rd set, Sharapova finally found her range and greatly cleaned up her game. She got an early break and was up 3-0. The serve was in full effect winning 78% of her first serve and 60% of her 2nd serve. Flipkens had four break points at 1-3 to get back on serve but Sharapova was determined to not relinquish another of her service game. She held serve, broke Flipkens again and served it out 6-1. Sharapova 3-6 6-4 6-1.

 

This was far from Sharapova’s best and if she wishes to win this title for the 1st time after 5 previous failures in the finals, this level of play will not change her luck. She herself noted, “I wasn’t doing too much from my end and made a lot of mistakes from the first ball, which gives your opponent that confidence and the time they need to do whatever they want.” Sharapova’s next opponent in the quarters will be Petra Kvitova (8), 2011 Wimbledon Champion who won that title over Sharapova. Kvitova is looking to be in fine form as she completely dismantled her 4th round opponent here Ana Ivanovic (12) 3-6 6-0 6-0.

 

Williams took the court after the Sharapova’s victory against fellow American Coco Vandeweghe. This was their third meeting, first since the summer of 2012. One needs not speak of Williams’ many accomplishments from that point onward but Vandeweghe has been lost in the depths of tour since then. Ranked outside the top 100, Vandeweghe was given a wild card last week at Indian Wells. She lost in the 1st round but came through the qualification rounds in Miami and took out Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (21) and Sam Stosur (16) along the way to set up this 4th round meeting with Williams. However, this was not the same Coco Vandeweghe from 2012. She now possessed a massive serve capable of popping it up to the 120mph range and a deadly backhand particularly the one down the line.

 

In the early parts of the match, Vandeweghe was hanging tough with the top ranked Williams. She was keeping her honest and not letting Williams get any early advantage in the match. However, this match was vital to Williams to send a message that she was indeed here to retain her title. Williams broke to go up 4-2 but soon faced break point to get back on serve. No sooner had she saved it to get back to deuce than the infamous Florida rain came to disrupt play.

 

When play resumed just over an hour later, it appeared as though the rain had washed away any impediments to Williams’ game. She served out the game and lead 5-2. Vandeweghe was able to make the scoreline in the 1st set respectable by forcing Williams to serve it out 6-3. However, in the 2nd set, it was all Williams. She was ready for the Vandeweghe first serve and the younger American was only able to win 46% of her 1st serve in the set compared to 77% in the 1st set. Williams on the other hand only dropped one point on serve for the entire 2nd set and thus took the set 6-1. Williams 6-3 6-1.

 

Williams was very complimentary of her compatriot in her on court interview, commending her serve and even noting that “It was a much tougher match than the scoreline showed.” Vandeweghe should not be disheartened by this loss. With her performance here this week, she is back in the top 100 and giving her automatic main draw entry into both the French Open and Wimbledon draws. Hopefully, this level of play continues and improves throughout the year. She also has the added bonus of Williams’s open invitation to play doubles together; providing of course big sis’ Venus Williams is not around and she has the time, Williams added. Vandeweghe is very stoked by the idea and ready whenever Williams is ready.

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Venus Williams Explains Met Gala Photo With Maria Sharapova

The former world No.1 says she and her sister Serena have ‘respect and love’ for Sharapova.

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Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams at the 20201 Met Gala (image via Instagram)

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams says there are no hard feelings between her, her sister Serena and Maria Sharapova after the trio took a photo together at the Met Gala.

 

The former world No.1s was seen smiling and laughing together at the New York fundraising event with both of the Williams sisters uploading a photo of them all on their Instagram story. Prompting surprise from some fans considering the at times icy rivalry between Serena and Sharapova that dates back to the 2004 Wimbledon Championships.

In her 2017 autobiography, Unstoppable: My Life So Far, Sharapova mentioned Serena’s name more than 100 times. She says the American hated her for beating her at Wimbledon that year and that the two were ‘not friends.’

“What I heard when I came in to the locker room was Serena Williams bawling,” Sharapova wrote.
“Guttural sobs. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there.
“I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds … I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment.
“But mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry. She’s never forgiven me for it.”

Responding to the claims, Serena hit back at the book in 2018 by describing it as ‘hearsay’ and said she never had any ‘negative feelings’ towards Sharapova. The two clashed on the Tour no fewer than 22 times with Serena winning 20 of those meetings.

“So I don’t have any negative feelings towards her, which again, was a little disappointing to see in that hearsay book,” Williams commented back in 2018. “So I have always, you know, and especially having a daughter, like, I feel like negativity is taught. One of the things I always say, I feel like women, especially, should bring each other up.”

Three years later and it now seems that all parties have put their disagreements behind them. At the Met Gala they were seen getting on pretty well. Besides posing for a photo together, they were also seen together in the bathroom at the event. A photo taken by pop star Anitta and rapper Saweetie which showed them in the background.

Speaking about the event for the first time, 41-year-old Williams said she wishes Sharapova was still playing before adding that they still ‘respect and love’ each other.

“First of all, Serena and I were talking about Maria the day before,” the 41-year-old explained on Instagram.
“We were like, ‘Damn, I wish Maria was still playing.’
“And we saw her, and we both told her separately, ‘Oh my gosh, we were just talking about you yesterday, we wish you were still on tour.’
“We were so happy to see each other. There was hugs, there was laughing, there were stories, and there was a photo.
“So the backstory is that even though us players compete really hard of the court for years, we still respect and love each other, and love Maria
.”

Williams, Serena and Sharapova have won a total of 35 Grand Slam singles titles between them.

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Emma Raducanu Launches Own Weibo Account With Viral Video

In her first video, the teenage sensation promised to play in China next year.

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Emma Raducanu reacts after winning a Women's Singles semifinal match at the 2021 US Open, Thursday, Sep. 9, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu is gaining a rapidly growing fan base in China with her first video on the social media account Weibo surpassing one million views in less than two days.

 

The 18-year-old has become one of the most talked about athletes in the world of tennis following her unprecedented run to the US Open title. At the Grand Slam she didn’t drop a single set in 10 matches played to become the first qualifier in history to ever win a major title. Even more remarkable was the fact Raducanu was playing in a Grand Slam main draw for only the second time in her career.

In her native UK bookmakers are already tipping the youngster as a strong contender to win this year’s prestigious BBC Sports personality of the Year award. Although it isn’t just Britain where she is proving to be a hit. Raducanu was actually born in Canada to a Romanian father and Chinese mother who both work in the finance section. The family moved to the UK when Raducanu was two-years-old.

“My mum comes from a Chinese background. They have very good self-belief. It’s not necessarily about telling everyone how good you are, but it’s about believing it within yourself. I really respect that about the culture,” she said.
“She’s always instilled a lot of discipline and respect for other people into me, so I think that having parents like I do, they always push me, they have high expectations so I’ve always tried to live up to that. And I just hope I did them proud this week and I’m going to keep trying to go, keep going.”

Shortly after her US Open win, the world No.23 delivered a message in mandarin which was posted on the tournament’s Weibo account. SportsPro Media reports that the video generated more than 11 million impressions.

Now Raducanu has launched her own Weibo account with a video message to her fans. Shine.cn, which is a website powered by Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily, said that the British player has promised to play in the country next year. This season’s Asian swing has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Shine also said she spoke with a slight ‘accent from northeast China’ where her mother is from.

According to the latest view count, the video has been watched more than 1.22 million times since it was published. The view count may look impressive but it is by no means a one off. The Guardian newspaper recently reported that two hashtags related to Raducanu on Weibo have been viewed at least 200M times each as a result of her US Open win. These hashtags were ‘18-year-old ethnic Chinese young player wins US open championship‘ and ‘Raducanu.’

Despite her relative inexperience on the Tour, many are tipping Raducanu to become one of the most marketable athletes in the world. Her ability to interact with the Chinese market will play a significant role in those considering the country has invested millions into the sport and hosts a series of prestigious women’s events. However, in the immediate future the teenager says her focus is on the tennis.

“I have a few days’ rest and recovery – I think needed after the last seven weeks,” she told CNBC’s Closing Bell earlier this week.
“But then I am straight back to training and hungry to get better and come back out and play some more tournaments.”

Besides Weibo, Raducanu also has over 583,000 followers on Twitter, 1.9M Instagram followers and 63,000 followers on her official Facebook page.

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World No.1 Ash Barty May Skip WTA Finals Over ‘Ridiculous’ Conditions, Says Coach

The decision to move the event to Mexico could result is the loss of the wortld No.1.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) celebrates defeating Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) in the fourth round of the Ladies' Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 7 Monday 05/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Florian Eisele

The season-ending WTA Finals could take place without the world’s highest ranked player due to the change of venue and its conditions, according to her coach.

 

Ash Barty is the reigning champion of the event, which was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is usually held in the Chinese city of Shenzhen but this year’s edition has been relocated to South America. Earlier this week the WTA confirmed that it will be hosted in Guadalajara, Mexico during the early part of November.

Reacting to the latest development, the mentor of reigning Wimbledon champion Barty has hit out of the new location. Craig Tyzzer has voiced his concern over the decision to use pressure-less balls at the event which will be played at high altitude. Going as far as describing the situation as ‘ridiculous.’

“We only just found out it’s in Mexico at 1500 metres (above sea level) and they’re using pressure-less balls,” Tyzzer told the Australian Associated Press.
“Pressure-less balls absolutely fly. It’s a ball that, if you use it in normal conditions, it doesn’t bounce. It’s not the greatest advertisement for the best girls in the world to be playing something they’ve never done before.’
“In conditions they’ve never played, in a country they don’t play and at altitude, I just feel it’s ridiculous. As a spectacle, it’s just frightening.”

Guadalajara already hosts a WTA 250 event during the first quarter of the season. In this year’s tournament no top 20 players were present in the main draw which was won by Canada’s Leylah Fernandez.

Barty is currently taking a break from the Tour following her third round loss at the US Open. Tyzzer said the chances of the world No.1 playing in the WTA Finals is up in the air due to the current travel restrictions in place. When Barty returns to her native Australia she is required to spend two weeks in isolation. Therefore the later she leaves it to go home, the less time she will have to prepare during the off-season.

“Indian Wells (next month) is still on the radar but she just needs a rest. So I told her to just get away and have a holiday,” he said.
“It certainly isn’t easy for us to get there and to play that event in Mexico and then to come back and have to do two (more) weeks (in quarantine) and then your summer is sort of ruined as well. It’s a decision we’ll have to sit and mull over quite a bit.”

So far this season Barty has registered a win-loss record of 42-7 and has won a total of five Tour titles. Besides Wimbledon, she has also triumphed at two Premier Mandatory and two Premier 700 events.

The WTA Finals features the eight highest ranked players in the world with a multi-million dollar prize money pool. This year will be the first time in it’s 49-year history that the tournament will take place in South America before returning to the scheduled home of Shenzhen in 2022.

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