Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 4th of August 2014 - UBITENNIS English
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 4th of August 2014

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TENNIS BITS & PIECES – An Anglo-Japanese duo aim for the Grand Slam. Wozniacki will run the New York marathon. Players are changing coaches. The young ones are coming through and will we see Fish and Roddick at the US Open? Joshua Bosco

 

A Grand Slam in sight

At this year’s US Open Anglo-Japanese duo Jordanne Whiley and Yui Kamiji will try to emulate Dutch duo Jiske Griffioen and Aniek van Koot and become the second consecutive Wheelchair women’s doubles team to complete the Grand Slam.

“Winning all the Grand Slams would be amazing. That’s the aim for this year” said Whiley, who at the age of fourteen became the youngest ever UK National women’s singles champion in wheelchair tennis.

Wozniacki runs in NY

World No.13 Caroline Wozniacki has announced she will run the New York City Marathon on 2nd November. “It’s always been on my bucket list. And always New York City was the one I wanted to do. […] so I thought, ‘Why not do it?’” said the Dane in an interview.

Wozniacki will become one of the few professional athletes to compete in a marathon during their careers. She will run alongside Meb Keflezighi, reigning Boston Marathon champion, as a Team for Kids Ambassador.

US Open 2015 Wildcard?!

Former World No.1 Andy Roddick and his compatriot Mardy Fish have already been offered a wild card for the 2015 US Open doubles tournament after the pair failed to land a spot in this year’s final Slam.

The American duo wanted to make a one-off appearance at their home-tournament but Roddick was refused entry as his official retirement from tennis removed him from the sport’s anti-doping programme. ITF laws require a tennis player to be in the drug testing programme for three months before being eligible to play in a tournament.

It remains to be seen if a rather unhappy Roddick and Fish will accept the invitation.

Another record for Serena

Today marks Serena William’s 200th non-consecutive week as World No.1. She becomes the third American and just the fifth woman in history to join this elite group after tennis legends Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Martina Hingis.

Her No.1 spot isn’t in immediate danger but Simona Halep, who will rise to World No.2 next week, will certainly do her best to put an end to the American’s permanence at the top.

New coaches

After splitting from Nemanja Kontic, World No.10 Ana Ivanovic has hired Dejan Petrovic as her new coach. The 36 year old, who played for and captained Serbia in the Davis Cup, has previously worked with Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic.

Although neither man has yet confirmed the news, rumour has it that Roberto Bautista Agut has hired Javier Piles, who recently split from David Ferrer after sixteen years of collaboration, as his new coach.

Youngsters rule

It’s been a good month for young Belgian David Goffin. After losing in straight sets to Andy Murray in the first round at Wimbledon, Goffin has been on a roll winning 20 matches in a row and 40 out of 42 sets.

Along the way he picked up titles in three Challengers before reaching, and winning, his first ever ATP final beating home-favourite Dominic Thiem in Kitzbuhel on Saturday.

This was the first ever ATP final played between two players born in the 1990s, and Sunday saw the second when Milos Raonic took on Vasek Pospisil at the Citi Open in Washington. This was also a first – two Canadians in an ATP World Tour final – and Milos Raonic prevailed, taking him just 35 points shy of the World No.5 spot.

Happy Birthday Vika!

Former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka turned 25 last Thursday, but she didn’t have much to celebrate. She lost 6-4 7-6(1) to another former World No.1, Venus Williams, in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic, Stanford.

The Belarusian now has 2300 points to defend in the next couple of weeks, after winning in Cincinnati and reaching the final at the US Open in 2013. All we can do is wish her luck for the near future!

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Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?

Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?

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Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.

 

In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.

Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.

“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.

These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.

“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.

Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.

This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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