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Victoria and Venus victorious in their Wimbledon debut

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – Two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka (8) and five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams (30) have both been battling injuries this season. However, both ladies are hoping to change their fortunes at 2014 Wimbledon Championships. Azarenka took out Lucic-Baroni 6-3 7-5 and Williams won over Torro-Flor 6-4 4-6 6-2. Cordell Hackshaw

 

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

Two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka (8) and five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams (30) have both been battling injuries this season. Azarenka had not won a match since the Australian Open in January and Williams continues to deal with effects of a bad back and Sjögren’s syndrome. However, both ladies are hoping to change their fortunes at 2014 Wimbledon Championships. Azarenka began her comeback against tour veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Williams played Spain’s Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor. Azarenka and Williams had to battle hard past their first round opponents but in the end they came through in dominating fashion. Azarenka took out Lucic-Baroni 6-3 7-5 and Williams won over Torro-Flor 6-4 4-6 6-2.

Lucic-Baroni held serve to begin and begin pressuring the Azarenka serve. Azarenka held serve and quickly got herself two break points in the 3rd game. Azarenka converted on the second break point and then raced ahead to a 4-1 lead including a double break. Lucic-Baroni was overcooking her shots and misfiring on both wings. However, she capitalized on the sloppy serving from Azarenka to get one of the breaks back. Serving down 3-5, Lucic-Baroni found herself facing set point. Azarenka converted to take the set 6-3 in 38 minutes.

Lucic-Baroni is no stranger to the big courts of Wimbledon as she made it to the 1999 semifinal before losing to Steffi Graf in 3 sets. So it was hardly surprising when she broke Azarenka for a 2-0 lead at the start of the 2nd set. Azarenka would break back in the 6th game to level it at 3-3. Lucic-Baroni broke again in the 7th game and held serve to go up 5-3. Azarenka serving to stay in the set denied Lucic-Baroni a set point on her serve. Lucic-Baroni up 5-4 serve for the set would see several more set points come her way but unable to convert as Azarenka remained adamant about not going to a 3rd set. Azarenka broke Lucic-Baroni for 5-5 and held serve for a 6-5 lead. The pressure was now back on Croatian to serve to stay in the match. Lucic-Baroni would fight off five match points but on the 6th one, her forehand went long. Azarenka, having been down 3-5, won 4 consecutive games to take the match 6-3 7-5.

Azarenka should be count herself lucky that her opponent was so erratic and failed to capitalize on her poor serving. Azarenka had 8 double faults and only got 52% of her first serves in. She was able to win 80% of those points but she only won 43% on her second serves. Lucic-Baroni served even poorer as she was only winning 52% of her first serves and 43% of her second serves. Despite having 23 winners, Lucic-Baroni had too many errors at 29, which mostly came at key moments in the match. Azarenka had 20 winners and 17 errors. Nonetheless, having not won a match since the 4th round in Melbourne, Azarenka will take this win and move on to the 2nd round where she will face Bojana Jovanovski.

Williams had a bit more challenging match than Azarenka but she showed excellent form throughout. Williams and Torro-Flor remained on serve through the first 8 games of the match 4-4. However, the more experienced Williams knew to be more alert in the 9th game as she earned the first break point of the match. Torro-Flor went for too much on her shots only to go long and then followed that up with a double-fault to give Williams the lone break of the set. For her first four service games, Williams closed each one out with an ace. On her 5th service game, trying to close out the set, it would be no different as Williams punctuated it with an ace for 6-4 in just 35 minutes. The 2nd set almost went the same way as the first as they remained on serve for the first 9 games. Williams got sloppy with her net play down 4-5 and was broken to give Torro-Flor the 2nd set 6-4.

A 3rd set is what most Williams’ fans are afraid of because her stamina comes into question on account of the Sjögren’s syndrome. As of late, Williams has lost several key matches in the 3rd set usually looking very laboured by the middle of the set. However today, it was her opponent who looked ragged in the decisive set. Williams broke in the 5th game and held serve for a 4-2 lead. She then broke Torro-Flor at love to serve out the match at 5-2. Williams did not win the match with an ace but an error as Torro-Flor dumped her forehand into the net. Williams through to the 2nd round of Wimbledon 6-4 4-6 6-2. This is the first time she has made it this far since 2011. She skipped last year due to injury and lost in the 1st round in 2012. Nonetheless, despite it being a three-set match, Williams should be proud of her play today, she got 65% of her 1st serves in, winning 89% of the points (41/46) and 64% on the 2nd serve. She was up at net 20 times and won the point 18 times. She was 3/3 on break points with 41 winners including 11 aces and 16 errors. Williams will play Japan’s Kurumi Nara in the next round to set up a possible encounter with 2011 champion Petra Kvitova in the 3rd round.

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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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Naomi Osaka Seeks Resurgence At Home Event After Rollercoaster Year

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

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. 

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Simona Halep Ends 2022 Season With Nose Surgery And Mental Exhaustion

Simona Halep will return to the court in 2023.

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Simona Halep (@NewsCentralTV - Twitter)

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

Toronto: Champion

Cincinnati: R2 – Withdrew

US Open: R1 l. Snigur

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