Roland Garros: Kuznetsova survives thrilling 3 setter to get pass Kvitova - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros: Kuznetsova survives thrilling 3 setter to get pass Kvitova

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TENNIS ROLAND GARROS – The French Open is perhaps Svetlana Kuznetsova’s favourite tournament. She got to the finals in 2006 and won the title in 2009. This year, she makes it 10 of 12 French Opens where she has survived to the second week with an epic win over Petra Kvitova 6-7 6-1 9-7. Cordell Hackshaw

 

Interviews, Results, OOP, Draws from the Roland Garros

The French Open is perhaps Svetlana Kuznetsova’s (27) favourite tournament. She has made it to the 4th round or better 9 of the 11 French Open championships she has played. She got to the finals in 2006 and won the title in 2009. This year, she makes it 10 of 12 French Opens where she has survived to the second week with an epic win over Petra Kvitova (5) 6-7 6-1 9-7. In a match that saw Kvitova served to stay in it and win it twice and Kuznetsova simply reckless with break and match points, this 3 hour and 13 minutes battle was worthy of being a final and not as it was, a third round encounter. “I knew I was going out there, and I was going to give everything I could and run every mile, every meter I could, and put as many balls back, be aggressive…I left out there everything I could. And, yeah, I mean, I come up with a win, you know, but I was very close to the loss, as well” Kuznetsova said after the match. This was also Kuznetsova’s first win in 4 tries over Kvitova.

It was very clear from the onset what Kvitova’s plan was for this match. She was going to be aggressive from the baseline and keep her opponent from getting into the forecourt. Kuznetsova put it as such, “Petra was inside the court and I was next to the fans.” This worked as the Russian was left scrambling for most of the early games. Kvitova had a 3-1 lead before she saw it evaporated by the deft defensive skills of Kuznetsova. With one player being supremely offensive and the other very defensive, a tiebreaker was inevitable as both players came up with some amazing shots as well as brainless errors. Kvitova remained the aggressor in the breaker and raced to a 6-3 lead and then with an ace took the 1st set 7-6(3). Kuznetsova came raging back by taking the 2nd set 6-1 in 37 minutes after Kvitova took a medical time out at the start of the 4th game to deal with a hamstring issue. The Czech’s movement was hampered on the court for a bit as she lost 4 straight games.

In the 3rd set, Kvitova rebounded and took a 2-0 lead with an early break but Kuznetsova was relentless. She was well aware of the brand of tennis Kvitova was capable of producing. “I have to put as many balls back as I could to try to be consistent, because Petra made some unbelievable shots. Sometimes it’s just out of my hand to do something. So what I could have, what I could have and could put more balls in the court, this is I have to take my chances, my possibility.” Kvitova had 49 winners to 26 from Kuznetsova. However, the Czech was error prone with her aggressive baseline tactic, committing 65 errors for the match compared to 20 from her Russian opponent. This saw Kuznetsova back in the set at 4-4 but she continued to squander break point opportunities. She would only convert 8 of the 25 chances she saw to break. However, Kvitova was far tidier in that arena; she broke for a 5-4 lead and serve for the match. The Russian would not go down without a fight. Kvitova noted “She put almost everything back, and it was very tough to win that.” Kuznetsova broke Kvitova to level the set 5-5.

Kvitova began to make more errors and Kuznetsova was throwing her entire weight behind her shots now and got to 6-5 forcing Kvitova to serve to stay in the match. Kuznetsova would see two match points disappear with amazing forehand winners from Kvitova’s racquet and it was 6 games all. Perhaps it was the memory of those wasted opportunities that still lingered for Kuznetsova that saw Kvitova broke her for 7-6 and serve for the match a second time. Kuznetsova soon shook off the memory of those lost chances and created three more break chances to get back even in the set. Kvitova saved two of those break points but the amazing defensive skills of Russian saw her converting on the third one to get to 7-7. Kuznetsova held serve to once force the Czech to serve to stay in the match. Kvitova could not rise to the challenge a second time. She double faulted for the 11th time to bring up match points and then overcooked the forehand to be broken at love to hand the match to Kuznetsova 6-7 6-1 9-7. “It was really a big fight from both of us. I think that both of us showed great tennis out there…[I]t was very close, few points, but that’s the tennis…[I]n the end she really played well,” Kvitova said after the match.

Kuznetsova spoke about her next match up against another left-handed Czech player Lucie Safarova. She mentioned her excitement to play such a talented player. She added that Safarova has been playing well all year pushing top players at tournaments and did not expect it to be an easy match. When asked about winning here in Paris again she said, “I just try to play my best, and you never know how it will go. This is my one favorite tournament, I can play very well here. Just focus on the net. Many other girls are playing extremely well, and you never know who can win the title.”

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Why Peng Shuai’s Video Call With The IOC Has Failed To Ease The Concerns Of The WTA

The WTA said the video hasn’t changed their stance on the matter.

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The governing body of women’s tennis says they still have concerns about the welfare of former world No.1 doubles player Peng Shuai despite her appearing in a video call with the International Olympic Committee on Sunday.

 

Shuai attended a video call with IOC president Thomas Bach in what was her first public interaction with an international official since making allegations of sexual assault against China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli. On November 2nd Shuai published a post on her Weibo account detailing the alleged assault and revealed she had an on-and-off affair with the former influential political figure for a decade. The post was removed less than an hour after it went live and her Weibo account is still restricted.

In a statement issued by the IOC, Shuai was quoted as saying that she is ‘safe and well’ and would like some privacy. It is understood that the video call lasted roughly 30 minutes, which also included IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Emma Terho and IOC Member in China Li Lingwei. However, in the statement there was no mention of the sexual assault allegations which was made by Shuai.

This video does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern.” The WTA told Reuters in response to the video.

There are fears by the WTA that Shuai is under the control of the state and is restricted as to what she can and can’t say. Lingwei, who participated in the video call, is a former athlete who has since worked with the Chinese government and is a member of the people’s congress.

Recently China’s media, which is controlled by the Communist party, has posted a series of photos and videos of Shuai. However, the WTA confirmed at the weekend they will have been prevented from getting in contact with her despite making numerous efforts.

“It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don’t alleviate or address the WTA’s concern about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion,” a WTA spokeswoman said.

China’s Global Television network, which is owned by state media, hasn’t posted a single article about Shuai in recent weeks following her allegations. However, for the first time on Monday they published a story about her meeting with the IOC but made no mention of the allegations.

Hu Xijin is the editor of the Global Times newspaper. He claims that the world wouldn’t believe what Shuai is saying unless they are in line with the Western media who he accuses of trying to damage the reputation of his country. Hu is an influential political figure in his country, whose publications have been used to send messages to the outside world. He has also been accused by some of being a political propagandist for the community party.

“As long as what Peng Shuai said doesn’t accord with the expectation of the Western media, they won’t believe it. They only believe the story about China that they imagine. I’m surprised that they didn’t say the lady who showed up these two days is a fake Peng Shuai, a double,” Hu wrote on Twitter.
“For those who truly care about the safety of Peng Shuai, her appearances of these days are enough to relieve them or eliminate most of their worries. But for those aiming to attack China’s system and boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics, facts, no matter how many, don’t work for them.” He later added.

Like all of the Chinese state-run media and their journalists, Hu has made no mention of the allegations concerning Mr Gaoli.

The WTA have said they are willing to withdraw tournaments from China if their concerns of Shuai’s welfare are not properly addressed.

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REPORT: China Censors Naomi Osaka’s Weibo Account Over Peng Shuai Support

It has emerged that followers are being prevented from commenting on her posts as the WTA warns China they are prepared to stop doing business with them if they can’t guarantee Shuai’s safety.

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Naomi Osaka training at the 2021 Madrid Open (image by Media Hub Mutua Madrid Open)

Restrictions have been placed on the official Weibo account of former world No.1 Naomi Osaka after she posted a statement expressing concern about the whereabouts of Peng Shuai, according to a leading financial newspaper.

 

Nikkei Asia confirmed on Thursday that they have found ‘censoring activity’ on Osaka’s account less than 24 hours after she spoke out about her fellow tennis player. It is understood that comments have been disabled on her latest post even though it is unrelated to Shuai. Weibo is the main social media service in China which is used by millions every day but it is regulated by the country’s strict laws. Other sites such as Twitter is officially banned in the country.

In her post, Osaka wrote on Twitter that ‘censorship is never OK at any cost’ and that she hopes Shuai is safe. It has since been retweeted more than 19,000 times.

On November 2nd a post was uploaded on Shuai’s Weibo account in which she said she was pressured into sex by the former vice-premier of China, Zhang Gaoli, and she had an on-and-off affair with him over a intermittent period of 10 years. The post was removed less than an hour after it was uploaded but observers took screenshots of it which was then reposted online. Since then, Shuai hasn’t been heard of or seen in public.

There are now mounting concerns over Shuai’s current whereabouts after the international branch China’s state-broadcaster published a letter which they claimed the tennis star wrote to the WTA. The letter says that the tennis star denies making the accusations and she is not missing. However, Steve Simon, who is the head of the WTA, has expressed serious concerns about the authenticity of the letter.

“The statement released today by Chinese state media concerning Peng Shuai only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts,” Simon said in a statement. “I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believe what is being attributed to her.”

In recent years China has been a crucial location for the WTA Tour and has generated millions in revenue for the sport. No tournaments have taken place in the country this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but 10 are expected to resume next year, including the prestigious WTA Finals. Nevertheless, the WTA has stated that they are prepared to cut ties with China if they can’t guarantee Shuai’s safety.

“If at the end of the day we don’t see the appropriate results from this, we would be prepared to take that step and not operate our business in China, if that’s what it came to,” Simon told The New York Times.

In 2014 Shuai became the first Chinese player in history to top the world rankings in doubles. During her career, she has won two major titles with Hsieh Su-wei and has been ranked as high as 14th in singles.

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Garbine Muguruza Beats Kontaveit To Win Season-Ending WTA Finals

Muguruza caps off what she describes as her ‘best year’ on the Tour by becoming the first Spanish woman to win the season-ending title.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider/

Garbine Muguruza is the 2021 WTA Finals champion after beating the world’s number eight Anett Kontaveit  6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 38 minutes in Guadalajara, Mexico.

 

The Spaniard hit 16 winners while the Estonian hit 38 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth during both sets before the Caracas native was able to secure the win.

” I want to congratulate Anett (Kontaveit) on her amazing year and managing to qualify for the finals in the last event of the year,” Muguruza said during the trophy ceremony. ”I want to thank everyone who made this possible to play in Latin America and it was a dream come true to play”.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza got off to an aggressive start by looking for the early break in the first game of the match but the world number eight held her ground and managed to hold serve.

At 1-1, the Spaniard had three more chances to take the lead and she was able to break serve at the third time of asking but failed to consolidate it as Kontaveit broke right back the following game.

Once again at 3-3, it was the world number five who got another break and this was able to hold serve the following game. She then broke serve for a second time to take the first set.

The 28-year-old was put under pressure early in the second set and faced two early breakpoints at 1-1 but dug deep and saved both. At 3-3, it was Kontaveit’s turn to apply pressure, and this time she was able to get the break. The 25-year-old had a chance to serve out the second and force a deciding third set but cracked under the pressure as Muguruza broke right back to even the set at 5-5.

At 6-5, Muguruza found herself with three match points on her opponent’s serve and broke one last time to seal the victory and the title.

“I’m just very happy I proved to myself once again I can be the best, I can be the ‘maestra,’ like how we say in Spanish,” Muguruza said in press. “That puts me in a very good position for next year, a good ranking.”

Muguruza ends her season with three WTA titles to her name after triumphing in Dubai and Chicago earlier this year. Making it the first time in her career she has won a trio of WTA events within the same year. Overall, she has won 42 out of 69 matches played during 2021.

“Overall I think it’s the best year for me. I might not have won a Grand Slam, but I deeply feel like I’ve been happier and more stable, less dramatic, and in general very happy about it.” She concludes. 

The former world No.1 takes home a whopping 1.6 million dollars for winning the tournament and her ranking will go up to number three when the new world rankings come out on Monday.

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