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Serena Williams returns in Stanford

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TENNIS – Serena Williams will make her much-awaited come-back this week at the Stanford Premier Level Tournament which starts the US Open Series. Stanford marks the first tournament for Serena since her third-round defeat against Alizé Cornet and her strange withdrawal from a doubles match with her sister Venus at Wimbledon. Diego Sampaolo

Serena suffered from a viral infection which caused her lose her equilibrium during a doubles match with Venus at Wimbledon.

I was scared. It reminded me of when I had my other illness a while ago. I didn’t realize how I felt until later. I did not realize how sick I was. I was really ill. I did not feel great walking on the court. I didn’t even warm up for the match.”

Her sister Venus convinced Serena to stop playing.

Venus kept saying: ‘Walk off the court. I am the older sister and I say you have to leave’.

Because of family history I will undergo a series of tests”, said Serena.

Serena has been drawn in the same half as Azarenka, Ivanovic and her sister Venus, Andrea Petkovic and Sam Stosur at the star-studded Stanford Tournament. Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber have been drawn in the bottom half.

Serena, who will turn 33 in less than two months, has remained at the top of the WTA Ranking for 74 consecutive weeks (the longest streak since Martina Hingis’ 80 weeks in 1997 and 1998), although she has not reached the quarter final in any of the first three Grand Slam tournaments.

Williams restarted her career in Stanford in 2011 when she won her first tournament in over one year. At that time she was ranked World Number 175 and the win in Stanford helped her move up the ranking and end the year as the World Number 12th.

Stanford will be the first hard-court tournament in the build-up to the US Open where she will chase her 18th Grand Slam title

I feel really good about the tournament. It has been a special place for me”, said Williams.

The US legend will make her debut against Karolina Pliskova from Czech Republic who beat Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-1 6-3. It will be their first ever head-to-head match.

The first round features some exciting matches like Ana Ivanovic vs Sabine Lisicki, Dominika Cibulkova vs Garbine Muguruza, Andrea Petkovic vs Anja Tomljanovic. Venus, who received a wild card from the organizers, may face Azarenka in the second round. The Bank of he West Classic is special for Venus who made her debut on the professional circuit at the age of 14 when this tournament was held in Oakland in October 1994. Venus, who won this tournament twice, will play against Paula Kania

The first major upset of the Stanford Premier Tournament was Sam Stosur’s defeat against 16-year-old Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka who fought back from a set down to win 4-6 7-6 7-5 after the Australian player got a match point at 7-6 in the second set and took a 5-3 lead in the decider. Osaka will face Andrea Petkovic in the second round. Petkovic recovered from a break down in the second set to beat Anja Tomljanovic 6-1 6-4.

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Elina Svitolina Splits With Coach After Five Years

The tennis star issued a brief statement saying ‘the time is right’ to go in another direction.

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image via https://twitter.com/ElinaSvitolina

Elina Svitolina is on the hunt for a new coach after parting ways with Andrew Beetles.

 

The two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist issued a statement on Monday confirming that she will no longer be working with her British mentor with them both deciding to go ‘their own ways.’  Beetles, who is the former hitting partner of Ana Ivanovic, spent his first full season with Svitolina back in 2017. He started as an assistant coach before later being promoted. Under his guidance, the Ukrainian rose to a ranking high of three and won 11 Tour titles.

“After 5 years and 11 titles together!! Andy and I both agreed it was the right time to move our separate ways. I am very thankful for all his hard work and endless support. I wish him only the best in his future career!’ Svitolina wrote on Twitter. 

The announcement comes a week after Svitolina suffered a shock first round loss at the Tenerife Open to Colombia’s Camila Osorio who went on to reach the final. So far this season she has won 41 out of 61 matches played on the Tour with her best performance occurring at the Chicago Open where she won the title. Svitolina also won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games and reached the quarter-finals of the US Open. 

Svitolina, who married Gael Monfils earlier this year, is currently ranked sixth in the world. She is hoping to finish the season ranked inside the world’s top 10 for the fifth year in a row.

There is currently no information about who may take over as the new coach of the 27-year-old. 

Svitolina’s 2021 results

  • Melbourne 1 – QF
  • Australian Open – R4
  • Doha – QF Dubai – R2
  • Miami – SF
  • Stuttgart – SF
  • Madrid – R1
  • Rome – QF
  • French Open – R3
  • Berlin – R2
  • Eastbourne – R2
  • Wimbledon – R2
  • Tokyo Olympics – Bronze medal
  • Canadian Open – R2
  • Cincinnati – R2
  • Chicargo – Champion
  • US Open – QF
  • Chicargo 2 – QF
  • Indian Wells – R4
  • Tenerife – R1

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Anett Kontaveit Set To Battle For WTA Finals Spot After Lifting Moscow Crown

It is the third time Kontaveit has won a tournament within the past six months but will she be able to qualify for the season-ending championships?

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Anett Kontaveit (image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit has continued her recent surge in form on the Tour by fighting back from a set down to win her fourth career title at the Kremlin Cup on Sunday.

 

The world No.20 was on the verge of losing to home favourite Ekaterina Alexandrova before battling to a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, victory. At one stage in the match Kontaveit was trailing by a set and 0-4. Then in the decider she was broken at 4-4 before going on to win three games in a row to clinch the title. Overall, she won 69% of her first service points and broke her opponent five times.

“Of course, I am very happy, the match was extremely difficult, I feel relief and joy,” she said afterwards. “I got lucky at match-point, but during the match there were moments when she (Alexandrova) got lucky too. It always takes a little luck to win. She took the lead, controlled the match, it was very difficult for me, I tried to fight for all the points and this helped me to win.”

Kontaveit, who defeated former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza and Markéta Vondroušová earlier in the tournament, has now won 14 out of the last 15 matches she has played on the Tour. Her only loss was to Ons Jabeur in the quarter-finals at Indian Wells. She has played in five finals this year which is the second-highest on the WTA Tour after world No.1 Ash Barty who has played in six.

The 25-year-old is now on the verge of qualifying for the WTA Finals for the first time in her career. However, the prospect of her playing in the season-ending event depends on the results of next week’s tournaments. Kontaveit is playing in Romania and she needs to win the tournament and for rival Jabeur to lose before the semi-finals to qualify.

Meanwhile, runner-up Alexandrova exits Moscow frustrated with her missed opportunities in the match. It was the first time she has played in a final this season and only the third time in her career. Prior to Kontaveit, she scored back-to-back wins over Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to win, I’m very sorry. But I will work on it and I hope next time I will be able to get a better result,” Alexandrova said during the trophy ceremony.
“I want to congratulate Anett, she played great, it was hard for me to do something.” She added.

Kontaveit, who has won three WTA titles since August, is the first Estonian player to win the Moscow trophy. Compatriot Kaia Kanepi reached the final of the tournament back in 2011.

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Simona Halep, Emma Raducanu Heads The Field in Cluj Napoca

On Saturday the draw was revealed for the 32 players playing in Cluj this week at the Transylvania Open.

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Simona Halep (image via https://twitter.com/Simona_Halep)

Despite the fact seven main draw players have pulled out, including Garbine Muguruza and Paula Badosa, the field is pretty deep with a lot of interesting matchups featuring no fewer than six Romanians. 

 

Let’s start at the top with the number one seed Simona Halep who will play her first match against the up-and-coming fellow Romanian Gabriela Elena Ruse. Halep and Ruse most recently teamed up in doubles and made it to the final in Indian Wells.

The number two seed is the Estonian Anett Kontaveit who will play for a title on Sunday in Moscow. She has drawn a qualifier in the first round. Emma Raducanu, the number three seed, will start her tournament against Polona Hercog.

The fourth seed is the Swiss Jil Teichmann who will also face a qualifier in her first-round match. Meanwhile Australia’s Alja Tomljanovic will face Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan who comes in as a late replacement for Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Marta Kostyuk from Ukraine is the number six seed and she will face the American Bernarda Pera. It will be the third meeting between the two players with the Ukrainian winning both of their previous matches.

Irina Camelia Begu from Romania and she will face another Romanian in Maria Irina Bara while the number eight seed is Anhelina Kalinna who faces a qualifier in the first round.

If the seeds hold up the tournament could potentially see quarterfinal matches featuring Halep vs Tomljanovic, Raducanu vs Kostyuk, Begu vs Teichmann and Kalinna vs Konteveitt.

There are indeed some dark horses in the draw that could cause some upsets. Look out for Maria Camelia Osorio who has been playing some amazing tennis this year and it seems to be her breakout year.

Andrea Petkovic is always a dangerous opponent and she actually won the first event in Romania, the Winners Open, back in the first week of August. Anastasia Potapova from Russia is no easy task, and many expect a good week from her.

Main draw action begins on Monday with what is expected to be a great week in Cluj-Napoca.

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