Sharapova survives a third 3-setter for a 3rd straight French Open Final - UBITENNIS
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Sharapova survives a third 3-setter for a 3rd straight French Open Final

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TENNIS FRENCH OPEN – No one ever discounts Maria Sharapova’s tenacity. In fact, one can say that she has taken her tenacity to the third power. For the third straight match, Sharapova came back from dropping the opening set. In doing so, she has moved into her third consecutive French Open final. This time around, her opponent was be the young Canadian starlet, Eugenie Bouchard and Sharapova won the match 4-6 7-5 6-2. Cordell Hackshaw

 

Interviews, Results, OOP, Draws from the Roland Garros

No one ever discounts Maria Sharapova’s tenacity but one can hardly overlook the fact that this year’s French Open is showing her to be taking that doggedness to another degree. In fact, one can say that she has taken her tenacity to the third power. For the third straight match, Sharapova (7) came back from dropping the opening set to win in three sets. In doing so, she has moved into her third consecutive French Open final. This time around, her opponent was be the young Canadian starlet, Eugenie Bouchard (18) and Sharapova won the match 4-6 7-5 6-2 in about two and a half hours. Sharapova spoke of her comebacks; “You put so much effort, you and your team, to get to this position. If some things are not working out…when you lose the first set or a few games or you’re down a break, that’s not the end of the match. That’s the type of philosophy that I play with.”

As in the two previous matches, Sharapova’s opponent broke her first. Bouchard broke Maria in the 3rd game and consolidated the break with a hold to go up 3-1. Sharapova had an easy hold to keep the gap close and then gave herself chances to break Bouchard’s serve. However, Bouchard showed herself ready for the challenge as she saved two break points to stay ahead 4-2. Sharapova would break Bouchard to level it at 4-4 and served for a 5-4 lead but her serving inconsistencies continued as she soon down triple break points. She was able to save one of them but a brilliant backhand crosscourt winner saw Bouchard now with the 5-4 lead, serving for set. It was whilst serving for this set that Bouchard exhibited signs that she is something special and a future contender for major titles. She stood toe to toe with Sharapova, saving break point to hold onto her serve and take the 1st set 6-4.

Sharapova is not one to go down without a fight and rarely does she lose to young upstarts. She was firing on all cylinders at the start of the 2nd set. Bouchard on the hand came out rather panicky as though she were the one trailing in the match. Sharapova quickly held serve and broke Bouchard who was leaking errors all over the place. She was even missing simple put aways. However, she would settle down to break Sharapova in the 3rd game and led 40-0 to get even at 2-2. Bouchard fell apart once again and became inconsistent on her shots. Sharapova continued her assault to get back into this match as lead 5-2 and force Bouchard to serve to stay in the set.

Bouchard held serve and then became super offensive against Sharapova who was serving for the set at 5-3. Bouchard would deny Sharapova set points in this 9th game and broke the Russian. Bouchard held serve to get to 5-5. Sharapova calm as ever, took the 11th game with relative ease and forced Bouchard once again to serve to stay in the set. It was at this moment that Sharapova really showed her true grit. Whilst serving yet again to stay in the set, Bouchard found herself down 15-40 and though one of the set points was saved, Sharapova would not let another go by as she took the set 7-5.

As in her two previous matches, Sharapova dropped the 1st set, gave her opponents legitimate chances to take her out in straights and when they failed to do so, she took the 2nd set for herself, and became almost unplayable in the 3rd set. Sharapova virtually ran away with it against Bouchard as she led 5-2 and for good measure broke Bouchard again to take the match 4-6 7-5 6-2. Bouchard would not even see a break point on the Sharapova serve in the 3rd set. “I don’t feel that I played my best tennis today, but to be in the semifinals of a Grand Slam and winning a match where I felt my opponent played extremely well, exceptional tennis and I didn’t feel that I was playing my best, I fought, I scrambled, and I found a way to win. I’m happy and proud about that,” Sharapova said after the match.

Bouchard had this to say about her performance in the match: “[I]t was a tough battle, which is what I expected…[T]he whole match I didn’t play as well as I have played earlier in the tournament…I think I might have maybe backed off a little bit on my shots in the second and third…I just maybe wasn’t finishing well in the second and third as much.” Bouchard had looks, chances and great opportunities to take this match but failed to execute at these key moments. The Canadian committed 48 errors for the match, 35 of which were in the last two sets. Her service game was not reliable as she barely got cheap points off it. She was only winning 59% on the first serve and 41% on the second. Sharapova on the other hand despite being very inconsistent and double faulting at inopportune times, was winning 75% of her first serve points and 41% on her second. Sharapova will face Simona Halep (4) in the final on Saturday, a player she recently beat in another 3-set comeback last month in Madrid. The Russian is looking for her 2nd French title in three years as well as her 5th major title overall. With her efforts here in Paris over the past two weeks, very few doubt that she would achieve this career milestone, even if she is a set and two breaks down.

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Bianca Andreescu Reunites With Former Coach Ahead Of New Season 

How will the Grand Slam champion fair on the Tour with her latest mentor?

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has brought a familiar face back into her team as she bids to return to her best form in 2023. 

 

Andreescu, who is currently ranked 45th in the WTA rankings, has appointed Christophe Lambert as her latest coach. Lambert had been working as the performance director at Tennis New Zealand and resigned from that position to work with the former US Open champion. He had also previously worked for Tennis Canada and during that time he was a private coach for Andreescu in 2016. 

“Bianca asked me to coach her and I accepted the job. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Lambert told sport.co.nz. 

Lambert, who has also spent time working with the Chinese Davis Cup team and for the British LTA, has stayed in contact with Andreescu ever since coaching her six years ago. 

“It wasn’t like every week or every month. It’s always good to have people calling you when you are up, but when she was down I was checking on her and giving her my opinion.” He said. 

Andreescu had been working with Dutch coach Sven Groeneveld for over a year before they decided to end their collaboration in October. Groeneveld has a wealth of experience in the sport after working with a series of top names, including Maria Sharapova. 

This season the former world No.4 has won 20 out of 33 matches played with her best performance being a run to the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. However, her record against top 10 opposition was 2-5.

“I’m just taking it day by day, and it’s a great way to end off the year as well, just bringing back all the emotions that fire a lot in me,” Andreescu recently told reporters in Glasgow at the Billie Jean King Cup. “I think I’m going to have a great preseason. Next year I really think I can crack the top 10 again.”

Andreescu, who has been hampered by injury issues in recent years, hasn’t won a singles title of any sort since 2019. 

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Four-Time Grand Slam Winner Naomi Osaka Named In FTX Lawsuit 

The former world No.1 took an equity stake in the failed business earlier this year. 

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NAOMI OSAKA OF JAPAN - PHOTO: ALVARO DIAZ / MMO

Naomi Osaka is among a series of high-profile individuals who have been accused of using their celebrity status to promote FTX’s failed business model in a lawsuit filed against the cryptocurrency exchange. 

 

The BBC has reported that over one million people and businesses could be owed money following the collapse of FTX, according to bankruptcy filings. A week ago FTX collapsed into bankruptcy with its former boss Sam Bankman-Fried stepping down as CEO. A massive development in the financial for what was one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world that had the naming rights to a Formula One racing team as well as a sports arena in Miami.

According to the Associated Press, the company is being investigated by state and federal prosecutors over allegations it ‘invested depositors’ funds in ventures without their approval.’ In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, it argues that celebrity backers of FTX such as Osaka should be held just as accountable as Bankman-Fried as they brought ‘instant credibility’ to the company. 

“Part of the scheme employed by the FTX Entities involved utilizing some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment — like these Defendants — to raise funds and drive American consumers to invest … pouring billions of dollars into the deceptive FTX platform to keep the whole scheme afloat,” the lawsuit said.

Osaka took an equity stake in FTX in March where she would be receiving compensation in Crypto. Signing what was described as a ‘long-term partnership’ to become a global ambassador, the tennis star aimed to draw attention to women joining the platform and she played a role in directing its content.

“We have seen the statistics about how few women are part of crypto by comparison, which kind of mirrors the inequality we see in other financial markets,” Osaka said earlier this year.

Osaka, who has won 14 out of 23 matches played this season, has not made any public statement regarding the lawsuit. NFL quarterback Tom Brady, comedian Larry David and basketball team the Golden State Warriors are also defendants in the lawsuit.

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WTA Targets New Multi-Year Deal For Its Premier Event If Agreement With China Fails

Will the WTA Finals return to Shenzhen in 2023?

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WTA CEO Steve Simon

The WTA say they are not willing to compromise their principles concerning the possibility of hosting tournaments in China next year amid uncertainty over the future of their season-ending event. 

 

Steve Simon, who is the CEO of the women’s Tour, says he is hopeful that a resolution can be found with the country but has vowed now to back down on its stance. Last year the WTA suspended tournaments in China over concerns about the safety of former player Peng Shuai who accused a former government official of sexually assaulting her. 

Shuai disappeared shortly after posting her statement on social media before returning a few weeks later with photos and videos of her being posted online by journalists linked to the government-controlled media. There are concerns that the former doubles Grand Slam champion, who has not left her country since making those allegations, is being censored by the government. The WTA wants an investigation to be conducted into the matter. 

“We’ve made a strong stand, and we stand behind that stance, and we’re not going to compromise our principles,” Simon said during an interview with The New York Times. “Clearly when we did it, we understood eyes wide open what it could mean.”
“We’re still in the same place. If they come forward with something else we should look at, of course we are open to it. But we haven’t seen it so far. I’m hopeful we do find a resolution. That’s the goal, to find the right resolution. What’s the truth? Then we can move forward.” He added. 

Simon said he is confident that Shuai is safe in Beijing but he has not been able to make any direct contact with her, despite trying to on multiple occasions. A letter reportedly written by Shuai to the WTA was posted online in 2021 saying that she wishes to be left alone. However, many have doubted the authenticity of that letter with some fearing that she wrote it under duress. 

One of the biggest impacts of the fallout has involved the prestigious WTA Finals, which is a round-robin tournament featuring the eight best-performing players over the past 12 months. In 2018 a lucrative deal was agreed that paved the way for the event to be held in Shenzhen for 10 years. However, the event was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the next two additions were moved elsewhere.

Whilst the WTA is optimistic about a return to Shenzhen in 2023, there are also backup plans in the works. Simon confirmed that it is no longer feasible for the WTA Finals to be held in a location for just one year. So it is likely that the tournament would be held in a city for two or more years in a row if it doesn’t return to China next season. 

“We’re not going to continue to do these one-year decisions,” he said. “It’s not sustainable. If it looks like we can’t go back to China or aren’t ready to go back, then I do think we will carve out a multiyear situation, because we need to for the business.”

The case involving Shuai isn’t the only barrier for the WTA. China’s zero-covid policy has made hosting international events in the region unfeasible and the ATP cancelled all of their events in the tournament this year due to the situation. 

This year’s WTA Finals has a prize money offering of $5M which is more than half of what was on offer at the 2019 tournament in Shenzhen ($14M). 

Simon didn’t provide any deadline for when an agreement must be reached with China must be reached before the WTA considers moving their event elsewhere once again. 

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