TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – World’s number 2, Na Li has made another early round exit from a major for the second time in a row. She loses third round to Czech Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova 7-65 7-65. Cordell Hackshaw
Na Li (2) went out early again in her second major in a row. Several weeks ago, she went out in the first round of the French Open and now, she was dismissed in the 3rd round of Wimbledon. Since winning the Australian Open, she has struggled to find similar form and show herself to be a consistent contender for major titles. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova who has been showing superb form on grass this year, making it to the finals of Birmingham couple of weeks ago, remained focus and determined as she knocked out Li 7-65 7-65 in the near 2 hours and 20 minutes battle. “Well, the key was just the belief, the belief in myself, to not give her any easy points. I think I did that right. I was serving very well. I was following the tactic what my coach said. I think that was the key,” Zahlavova-Strycova said after the match.
Li came out in fine form as she broke Zahlavova-Strycova in the opening game. She looked to be very aggressive in her return game but all this momentum soon dissipated as Li was immediately broken when she double faulted on break point in her opening service game. Li continued in this passive mood as she was broken yet again in the 4th game to see Zahlavova-Strycova go up 3-1. Li was making some rather strange and amateurish errors. One such error from Li came in the that 4th game when on game point Li allowed her opponent to get away with a poor lob which Li inexplicably misjudged to go out since the ball landed right near her feet well inside the baseline. Li would make 21 unforced errors altogether in the 1st set compared to 14 from Zahlavova-Strycova. Zahlavova-Strycova remained positive on court despite being broken in the 5th game as she went after her shots particularly on the Li serve. Li saved a break point in the 8th game which would have given Zahlavova a chance to serve for the set at 5-3. The set went to a tiebreaker as they remained on serve.
In the breaker, again Li started off aggressively by taking the first two points but then became lackadaisical as she allowed Zahlavova-Strycova to be the one dictating play in the breaker particularly on Li’s service game. Up 6-5, the Czech was able to take the set 7-65 after Li mishit the ball and could not keep it in play. In the 2nd set, they would remain on serve for its entirety with no break point opportunities for either player. Li had chances to force issue up 5-4 and again at 6-5 on Zahlavova-Strycova’s serve but she missed two easy overhead shots which would have given her break points had she made them. Instead Zahlavova-Strycova held serve to extend her life in the set and be that closer to the upset victory.
Another tiebreaker would decide the set and as in the first one, Li took the early lead 2-0. However, she was unable to maintain this lead as she could not put the returns on Zahlavova-Strycova’s serves in play. Zahlavova-Strycova kept things even throughout until she edged head ahead ever so slightly at 6-5. On match point, Li serving, it appeared as though another of her forehand went long. Zahlavova-Strycova, ecstatic, came up to net to shake hands but Li had challenged the call. The celebration was cut short as Li was right; her ball was in and she had another shot at saving match point as they re-played the point. However, with this second chance at life, Li double faulted and handed the match to Zahlavova-Stryvoca 7-65 7-65.
Zahlavova-Strycova summed up her feelings on this big win, “I feel great here and I felt great on Birmingham. I believed in myself coming into this match. I thought I can do it. That what happened. I’m really glad I could pull this through.” This is indeed an impressive win. The Czech was able to stay so mentally sharp throughout the match not only by holding serve but more importantly playing the big points very well. She was clearly the one dictating play on court, finding her way up at net and winning 21/29 points there, compared to Li was 16/34. This was the major difference in the match as they had similar stats everywhere else. Zahlavova-Strycova will next face Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the quarterfinals; “[S]he’s a great player … This will be a challenge for me. This is my first time in the second week of a Grand Slam so I will enjoy. I will do the same like I did the previous matches: I will focus on myself, on my game … I like to play volleys, I like to serve good. So we see how it goes.”
Iga Swiatek Criticises WTA’s Reform Of 2024 Calendar
Iga Swiatek has hit out at the WTA by claiming that only a handful of players were made aware of changes being made to the Tour calendar before they came into effect.
In recent weeks there has been an increase in frustration among players on the women’s Tour with letters being sent to the head of the WTA, Steve Simon, about their concerns. Swiatek has also sent her own letter to the governing body. According to The Athletic, some of the concerns that have been raised relates to higher pay on the Tour, adjustments to scheduling to help support players, expanded childcare and calls for a member of the PTPA to be present on the WTA Player’s Council.
The WTA has also been in the firing line concerning their management of the Tour finals which took place in Cancun last month and was won by Switek. Some of those who took part complained about the court conditions and lack of preparation they had. The stadium court wasn’t fully constructed until the same weekend the tournament began.
Although, for the world No.1 her principle criticism concerns the 2024 calendar and the rules in place reagrding playing in mandatory events. Swiatek says some of the decisions have been made following discussions with ‘third parties’ and believes players are not being listened to.
“There is room for improvement,” she said during an interview with newspaper Rzeczpospolita.
“As players, we are dissatisfied with the calendar for next year and the increase in the number of mandatory tournaments and restrictions related to withdrawing from them.’
“We want to change this. We need more balance and time to get back home. Sometimes, however, we beat our heads against the wall. Some decisions seem to be the result of promises made to third parties, federations and tournament organizers.’
“We find out about them after the fact. This causes frustration. Only a handful of players were aware of the calendar reform and the WTA cannot lead to such a situation again, since it considers itself an organization created for tennis players.”
The 22-year-old argues that these changes would give players more time to rest and see their families. Although Swiatek admits that she is in a more fortunate situation than some of her peers from a financial perspective. This season the Pole has earned $9,857,686 in prize money this year which is more than any other female player.
“I hope that we will be able to change something – for example in the rules regarding withdrawing from tournaments,” she continued.
“Fortunately, I am in a situation where I can afford for my family to go on a trip with me, but not everyone can afford it. Many players rather save all their money to pay their coaches.’
“However, there is a difference between taking your family with you and returning home, when you can wash your clothes and spend time in the place where you grew up. I often miss Warsaw.”
Swiatek has won 68 out of 79 matches played this season, claiming six titles on the Tour. In the Grand Slams, she won the French Open, and reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the other two. She currently has a 245-point lead over second-place Aryna Sabalenka in the WTA standings.
‘A Long Way to Go’ – Iga Swiatek Must Improve A Key Element Of Her Game, Says Navratilova
Martina Navratilova has hailed Iga Swiatek’s winning end to her season but believes the Pole needs to continue working on a certain aspect of her game to become a better player.
Swiatek reclaimed the world No.1 ranking during the WTA Finals where she clinched the year-end title in Mexico. She closes out the year on an 11-match winning streak after also winning the China Open before playing at the WTA Finals. Overall, she has reached the semi-finals or better at 12 out of 17 Tour events played and has won 68 out of 79 matches during 2023. In the Grand Slams, she won the French Open, reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the other two.
Now sitting at the top of the WTA rankings with a 245-point lead over second place Aryna Sabalenka, Swiatek has begun her off-season which is the period that players normally use to work on their game.
As to what she needs to work on, Navratilova believes a key issue for the four-time Grand Slam champion involves her volleying technique. Speaking to wtatennis.com, Navratilova says there is ‘still a long way to go’ for the former world No.1 but adds that she will become a more formidable player on the Tour if she makes improvements.
“The thing I’d target is getting to the net. I mean, she’s gotten better but there’s still a long way to go on the volley front, particularly that first volley — the transition volley, which is probably the most difficult shot in the game,” said Navratilova.
“I think that’s where she can improve the most. Iga still has a tendency to run back to the baseline when she really should be going forward. And if she gets that going? Watch out. She can still get a few more mph on her serve, too. The groundstrokes are solid as a rock. And the drop shot — I think she had something like two drop shots all year. When she adds that and uses it at the right time — because with her topspin she really pushes people back behind the baseline — she’ll be even more deadly.”
Continuing her analysis, the 67-year-old believes Swiatek can also increase the speed of her serves even more.
“She can still get a few more mph on her serve, too. The groundstrokes are solid as a rock. And the drop shot — I think she had something like two drop shots all year. When she adds that and uses it at the right time — because with her topspin she really pushes people back behind the baseline — she’ll be even more deadly.” She added.
Navratilova has also highlighted areas that she believes other players need to work on. In her view, Sabalenka’s goal should be to work more on her movement during matches. Meanwhile, for US Open champion Coco Gauff, the development of her forehand will play an important part in her game.
Swiatek ends the season with five WTA titles to her name.
Naomi Osaka Eager To Reclaim No.1 Spot, Says Coach
Naomi Osaka is targeting a return to the very top of the women’s game when she begins her comeback, according to a member of her team.
Performance coach Florian Zitzelsberger has told tennis.com that the four-time Grand Slam champion is ‘balanced and happy’ with herself after taking time away from the sport to give birth to her first child, a baby girl called Shai. The 26-year-old hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since the 2022 Pan Pacific Open and currently doesn’t have a ranking due to her inactivity. She has already confirmed her intention to resume her tennis career in 2024 but it is still unclear as to what her first tournament will be.
Providing a glimpse into Osaka’s current progress, Zitzelsberger says she is setting her sights on chasing after more Grand Slam titles. Zitzelsberger is the co-founder of Integralis Physiotherapie and has worked with Osaka in the past. He has also collaborated with the likes of Kevin Anderson, Julia Goerges and Petra Kvitova.
“Where she is today is what makes working with her so inspiring,” he said. “She wants to get back to world No. 1, she wants to win Grand Slams. She gives me the impression of someone who is totally balanced and happy with herself. She’s very much grounded, mature and embracing the beauty of motherhood.”
In recent months there has been a growing trend of players returning to the sport after giving birth. Notable examples include Victoria Azarenka, Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki.
Zitzelsberger says his recent work with Osaka has been getting her back into shape and then working on certain areas of her game.
“To reach the highest performance, we start by returning stability within the kinetic chain, which is typically lost somewhat during pregnancy and birth. The kinetic chain runs through the core, stomach and belly, and for a long time, her chain wasn’t playing tennis; it was growing a baby!” He explains.
“Once that base is attained, we work on specific movement skills, whether that’s acceleration or deceleration, change of direction. The main objective is always strengthening to make the body strong, in addition to improving conditioning and mobility.”
Part of the training process has been trying to change what type of player Osaka is to adapt to the current level of the women’s Tour. After winning the 2021 Australian Open, she only reached one more Tour final which was the following year in Miami. During this period, she struggled with some injury issues and has been open about her experiences with mental health.
“She’s obviously a great offense player, but I think things have changed in the game over the last half-decade where defense is getting more and more important,” Zitzelsberger commented.
“We’re working to make Naomi into a player who can transition more effectively from defense to offense. That way, even if she’s getting pushed into a defensive position, she can still strike an offensive shot.”
Osaka has won seven WTA titles so far in her career and has earned more than $21M in prize money.
Hamad Medjedovic moves to 2-0 in Red Group at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah
Abdullah Shelbayh upsets Alex Michelsen to win his first win at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah
Arthur Fils eases past Flavio Cobolli to move to 2-0 at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah
Dominic Stricker cruises past Luca Nardi at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah
Andrey Rublev: ‘Everything Needs To be Improved’
Record-Breaking Novak Djokovic Hungry For More Glory
‘It Wasn’s My decision’ – Coco Gauff Confirms Split From Coach After WTA Finals Win
Carlos Alcaraz Searches For Improvement Ahead Of ATP Finals
WTA Yet To Decide On Host For 2024 Tour Finals After Cancun Controversy
WTA Finals & ATP Paris Masters Daily Preview: Djokovic Plays Rune in a Rematch of Last Year’s Final
(VIDEO): Malaga Line-Up Set As Davis Cup Most Unpredictable Tournament In History
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Steve Flink, Ubaldo Scanagatta Review The 2023 Wimbledon Men’s Final
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Steve Flink, Ubaldo Scanagatta Review The 2023 Wimbledon Women’s Final
(VIDEO): Novak Djokovic Faces Sinner Test, Women’s Semis Take Centre Stage
(VIDEO): Novak Djokovic Sets Rublev Quarter-Final Clash
Latest news2 days ago
Fabio Fognini beats Roberto Bautista Agut to win the ATP Challenger in Valencia
Latest news2 days ago
Arthur Fils faces Luca Nardi in the opening match of the Next Gen Finals
Hot Topics2 days ago
Players Free To Play Russian Exhibition Without Facing Penalties, Says WTA
Hot Topics14 hours ago
REPORT: Rafael Nadal To Start Comeback In Australia
Latest news2 days ago
Grand Slam Champions Sabalenka, Rybakina To Start 2024 Campaigns In Brisbane
Latest news1 day ago
Arthur Fils edges Luca Nardi in the opening match of the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah
Hot Topics13 hours ago
Andrey Rublev: ‘Everything Needs To be Improved’
Latest news1 day ago
Flavio Cobolli beats Dominic Stricker on his debut at the Next Gen Finals