Sloane Stephens and Sam Stosur both upset in Wimbledon 1st Round - UBITENNIS
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Sloane Stephens and Sam Stosur both upset in Wimbledon 1st Round

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – Both Sam Stosur and Sloane Stephens probably came into 2014 Wimbledon Championships feeling very confident about their game. They both got to the 4th round of the French Open a few weeks ago and the grass courts of Wimbledon do favour their style of play. However, Stosur was ousted by Belgian’s Yanina Wickmayer 3-6 4-6 and Stephens by Russian Maria Kirilenko 2-6 6-7. Cordell Hackshaw

 

Results, Order of Play, Draws and Interviews from The Championships

Both Sam Stosur (17) and Sloane Stephens (18) probably came into 2014 Wimbledon Championships feeling very confident about their game. They both got to the 4th round of the French Open a few weeks ago and the grass courts of Wimbledon do favour their style of play. However, watching their matches today, one would have figured that Stosur and Stephens were playing their first match on grass as they both looked so unsure of themselves. They were outplayed and outwitted by their opponents and in the end sent packing in straight sets to provide the tournament with its first upsets on Day 1. Stosur was ousted by Belgian’s Yanina Wickmayer 3-6 4-6 and Stephens by Russian Maria Kirilenko 2-6 6-7.

Wickmayer started the match by breaking her Australian opponent and held serve for 2-0. Stosur then picked up her play. She was serving up aces whenever in trouble, 13 for the entire match, and going for her big forehand. However, whenever pushed to the backhand side, she found herself in danger as Wickmayer kept pressuring it relentlessly. Wickmayer was able to stay ahead for 5-3 by escaping a tricky 8th game. Continuing her aggressive style of play, Wickmayer secured two more break points on the Stosur serve for set points in the 9th game. Stosur’s backhand was again under pressure and Wickmayer with her a more formidable backhand was able to break to take the set 6-3 in half an hour.

Wickmayer raced to a 5-2 lead after she broke Stosur in the 6th game. Stosur favoured running around the backhand for a huge forehand return whenever she had the chance on the Wickmayer serve. However, this left the court wide open on the forehand side and Wickmayer made her pay for this as she hit all short balls into the open court. Stosur now serving to stay in the match, held serve at love and forced Wickmayer to serve for the match. Wickmayer found herself down triple break points. She saved one with an ace but a scorching forehand return from Stosur got things back on serve 4-5. Stosur, again serving to stay in the match, could not hold on to the momentum as she opened with a double fault. She was now facing two match points and though she saved one, she could not save the other. Wickmayer with an amazing forehand crosscourt winner, knocked out the 17th seed Stosur 6-3 6-4 in 69 minutes.

In 2012, Kirilenko made it to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, one of her best efforts in a major. She quickly followed that up with a 4th place in the singles and bronze medal in doubles at the London Olympics, which was held at Wimbledon. However, since then, the former top-10 Russian has been plagued with injury and now ranked 109th in the world. Perhaps Stephens, ranked 18th in the world, was looking Kirilenko’s current status and not considering that she was facing a formidable opponent as she started the match very flat. The American failed to convert a break point chance in the 3rd game of the match and then saw Kirilenko raced ahead 5-2 in the 1st set. Stephens found herself being outmatched by Kirilenko’s big forehand and making careless errors at key moments in the match. Kirilenko, with the momentum largely on her side, broke Stephens again to the take the set 6-2 in 35 minutes.

In the 2nd set, Stephens looked more alert for the match. She broke Kirilenko in the 3rd game of the set and led 3-1. She maintained the lead to 4-2 but Kirilenko hungry for more Wimbledon success continued going for her forehand and broke Stephens for 4-4. Kirilenko then held serve for 5-4 to have Stephens serve to stay in the match. Stephens up 40-0, lost concentration once again and saw her game points disappeared for deuce. Stephens sensing the end close at hand, held her serve with a clutch forehand down the line. Kirilenko held serve for 6-5 and again pressured Stephens to hold serve. Stephens fought off five match points in this 12th game to push the match in a 2nd set tiebreaker. Stephens then captured the momentum in the breaker up 6-4. However, Kirilenko would not be denied as she capitalized on Stephens errors on these big point to take it 6-2 7-6(6) in just over an hour and a half.

Wickmayer and Stosur were near dead even in almost all categories. They both got 61% of 1st serves in and won over 70% of those points. They each had 25 winners and very close on errors; Stosur had 9 errors and Wickmayer 8. However, the main difference was the 2nd serves as Wickmayer won 13/20 of those points and Stosur 7/20. This in turn saw Wickmayer able to break Stosur four times and only being broken once in the match. Kirilenko, on the other hand, had a wonderful serving day as she got an impressive 85% of her 1st serves in and winning 73% of those points and 60% on her 2nd serves. She had 27 winners to 14 errors compared to Stephens who had 25 winners and 18 errors. Stephens got 70% of her 1st serves in but was only winning 63% of them and 46% on her 2nd serves. Kirilenko would be hoping to carry this fine form into the 2nd round where she will far Shuai Peng for a place in the 3rd round. Wickmayer will play Ana Konjuh of Croatia in the 2nd round.

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Billie Jean King Praises Grand Slam Semi-Finalist Nadia Podoroska For Coming Out

The Argentine recently marked her girlfriend’s birthday with an Instagram post which was also the first time she went public about her personal life.

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Tennis legend Billie Jean King has congratulated Nadia Podoroska on being her authentic self after the tennis star recently confirmed she is in a same-sex relationship with another player. 

 

Podoroska, who shot to the limelight at the 2021 French Open by reaching the semi-finals before being hampered by injury, made a low key coming out on social media. In an Instagram post, the tennis star uploaded a series of photos of her with her girlfriend along with the caption “Today I celebrate you from afar, but I feel you by my side every day of my life.’ The post was done to mark her birthday. 

Fellow player Guillermina Naya is Podoroska’s partner and the two have been in a relationship for some time, according to Women’s Tennis Blog. Naya, who is also from Argentina, is currently ranked 814th in the world but has been as high as 533rd. Although she has not played on the Tour this year. 

Due to injury problems, Podoroska was unable to start her 2022 season until July on the lower-level ITF Tour. Since then she has made steady progress by reaching the final of an ITF W60 event in Gran Canaria and more recently reaching the semi-finals of the Chennai Open in India. 

“I had been suffering from physical discomfort in one leg. I decided to stop in order to recover. Then I had a bone oedema, I couldn’t walk, and I had to wear a boot. Then I got a knee injury in the other leg,” she said of her injury woes during an interview with Clay Tennis.

The 25-year-old credits her girlfriend Naya for the support she received during her 10-month absence from the sport. She is the latest player on the WTA Tour to open up about their sexuality, joining the likes of Daria Kasatkina, Alison Van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen.

“Congratulations to WTA player ⁦⁦Nadia Podoroska ⁩ on her announcement. Living authentically takes such courage, but it is always worth it,” multiple Grand Slam champion King wrote on Twitter. 

In response to the post, the tennis star also paid tribute to King for the impact she has had on the sport. King helped form the WTA Tour and was a key figure in the fight to equal prize money during the early part of the Open Era. She was also one of the first world-class athletes to publicly come out as gay back in 1981. 

Whilst there are various female LGBT players in tennis, there are still no openly gay players on the men’s Tour. 

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ITF Chief Addresses Iga Swiatek’s Concerns Over Unsafe Scheduling

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The head of the International Tennis Federation is ‘sorry’ that Iga Swiatek will not be participating in the Billie Jean Cup and has vowed to work on making improvements to the 2023 schedule. 

 

The women’s world No.1 issued a statement on Monday confirming her withdrawal from the team event after taking a swipe at both the ITF and WTA over their scheduling. Swiatek said she had hoped to represent Poland in the Billie Jean Cup but its proximity to the WTA Tour Finals is problematic. The end-of-season WTA event takes place in Texas and ends a day before the start of the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow. 

“I’m disappointed that tennis governing bodies didn’t come to an agreement on something as basic as the calendar of tournaments, giving us only one day to travel through the globe and changing the time zone,” Swiatek said in a statement published on her Instagram account.
“The situation is not safe for our health and could cause injury.
“I’m going to talk to the WTA and ITF in order to change something. This situation is difficult not only for the players like me, but mainly for the tennis fans that support our sport.”

ITF chief executive David Haggerty has insisted that his organization has been working with the WTA but they were unable to find a more suitable date as the venue for the Tour Finals wasn’t confirmed until late in the season. The event is likely to return to China next year. The women’s tennis body has suspended its events in the country amid concerns over the safety of player Peng Shuai who previously accused a senior government official of sexual assault.

“The ITF is sorry that Iga Swiatek is unable to take part… and recognises that the schedule for the two major year-end events presents a challenge for players competing in both events,” Haggerty told the Reuters news agency.
“We have been working with the WTA to try to coordinate suitable dates.
“While we were able to confirm the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Glasgow back in June, the WTA Finals venue in Fort Worth, Texas was confirmed during the U.S. Open and restricted in terms of available dates.”

The tennis official adds that negotiations are ongoing to find a more suitable schedule for 2023 for players to play both events if they wish to do so. 

We are committed to working with the WTA on the 2023 schedule so that we have a better transition between the two competitions,” he said. 

Haggerty states that provisions would have been made for Poland to play their opening match in the 12-team competition as late as possible to accommodate Swiatek’s travel from America if she had wished to play this year. 

The WTA Finals will be held between 31 October – 7 November and the Billie Jean King Cup will take place from 8 November – 13 November. 

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In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title

Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

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. 

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