US Open: Williams and Azarenka move through to the 2nd round - UBITENNIS
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US Open: Williams and Azarenka move through to the 2nd round



TENNIS US OPEN – The 2013 women’s singles finalists were both in action yesterday but they have completely different paths to the 2nd round. Serena Williams (1) easily triumphed over Taylor Townsend 6-3 6-1 whereas Victoria Azarenka (16) had to battle hard to get past Misaki Doi 6-7 6-4 6-1. From New York, Cordell Hackshaw


For the past 3 years at the US Open, Serena Williams (1) and Victoria Azarenka (16) have meet at some stage in the tournament, most notably in the last two finals with Williams winning all the encounters. However, it seems as though this year, their usual US Open meeting might not take place. Azarenka is struggling to get herself back into major contention shape, battling injuries for much of the season. Williams on the other hand, is looking poised to make her 4th straight final here if she keeps up this great form.

Williams took on young American Taylor Townsend in the last match on the main court, Arthur Ashe. This match of course has special significance besides the fact they represent the current and future generations of American tennis. Williams and Townsend, both African Americans, are continuing the legacy of the great Althea Gibson, the first black athlete to win a major tennis tournament. The first day of the Open this year incidentally would have been Gibson’s 87th birthday were she alive today. Gibson won two US Open titles (pre-Open era) in an era when black athletes were not afforded the same opportunities as they are now. Gibson had to leave the tour in 1958 after winning 11 major titles in an effort to seek out more profitable ventures.

Today, near 60 years later, there are numerous black athletes on the circuit not only in the US but in Europe who are making a very decent living playing professional tennis. Even more poignant about this match is the fact that Williams and Townsend played on Arthur Ashe stadium, so named after another African American barrier breaker in the world of tennis.

Nonetheless, regarding the match between the two, Williams was most impressive. She won in straight sets 6-3 6-1 in less than an hour. This was Townsend’s US Open debut but she handled the moment surprising well. “It was just a lot of different emotions and feelings that were coming. It was hard to deal with … I was playing against one of my tennis idols, someone I’ve been watching for years and years. Playing in my home, the last slam of the year in front of an American crowd.” Williams was simply stellar on her serving. She dropped only 5 points on serve with 16 winners and 8 errors. The top seed is set to play another American Vania King in the 2nd round.

Williams said of the matchup, “She gets a lot of balls back. She likes to hit lots of rallies. She’s another American. So it’s a shame that Americans have to keep playing each other. But, hey, at least an American can go to the third round.”

Azarenka’s matchup against Misaki Doi was a battle. The former number 1 player simply looked uncomfortable against her opponent. This time last year, Azarenka would have made quick work of Doi in under an hour but this year, she was on court for near 3 hours. In the 1st set, Azarenka could not put away Doi who kept getting the ball back into play. The diminutive Japanese player was pulling off some big shots particularly on her forehand wing. The lefty swing was causing Azarenka a lot of problems. This only added to the serving issues Azarenka was having on the day. She double faulted 11 times for the match, 3 of which came in the crucial opening set tiebreak allowing Doi to take it 7-63.

In the 2nd set, Azarenka got the early break for 4-2 but her serving woos continued as she was unable to consolidate the break. Doi broke back for 3-4 but she too could not hold serve as Azarenka lead 5-3. Serving for the set, Azarenka was broken again but it would not matter as Doi was unable to level the set at 5-5 and Azarenka took it 6-4. It was clear that this 2nd set meant a lot to the Belarusian as she screamed out “Come On!” in full battle cry. The 3rd set saw a different Azarenka on court as she lifted her game to level that got her to the final stage of this tournament two years in a row. She closed it out 6-1.

After the match, Azarenka said, “In any match you play, you got 50/50 chances. No matter how much of a favorite you are or somebody else is, you still got to go and win … [Y]ou got to fight hard, and that’s it. Anything can happen. So to have respect to my opponent, I definitely had that.” Azarenka had 47 errors for the match to 36 winners. The only reason why these errors did not hurt her as badly is because Doi made 49 errors to 30 winners. Azarenka will next play American Christina McHale for a place in the 3rd round.

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Barbora Krejcikova Does The Double In San Jose



After what has been a challenging past few weeks on the Tour, Barbora Krejcikova has returned to the winner’s circle by claiming both the singles and doubles titles at the San Diego Open. 


The world No.13 battled to a marathon 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, win over Sofia Kenin in what was a clash of the former Grand Slam champions. Krejcikova was pushed to her limits throughout the two-and-a-half-hour clash with there being no break in the decider until the final game. It is the second singles title the Czech has won on the WTA Tour this season after Dubai and her seventh overall. 

“Normally I wouldn’t be here,” said Krejcikova, who received a wild card to play in the tournament “I really want to thank them (the tournament organisers). It was very special. I really enjoyed my stay here.”

Krejcikova’s run to the trophy has also seen her score wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins earlier in the week. She is the first player from her country to win the tournament. 

Following on from that triumph, the 27-year-old then clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The duo beat Collins and Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4.

Krejcikova came into San Jose on a four-match losing streak which started at Wimbledon where she was forced to withdraw from her secound round clash due to a left leg injury. 

“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” she said. “So I just came here and I pretty much was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won [the title].”

It is only the second time in Krejcikova’s career that she has won both the singles and doubles titles at the same event. The first time she did so was at the 2021 French Open where her partner in the doubles was also Siniakova.

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Ex-No.1 Ash Barty Stands By Retirement Decision



Ashleigh Barty (AUS) playing against Angelique Kerber (GER) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Despite the growing number of players returning to competitive tennis after giving birth, Ash Barty says she is contempt in retirement. 


Barty, who is still only 27 years old, stunned the sport at the start of 2022 when she announced her retirement from the sport just weeks after winning the Australian Open. She has won 15 WTA titles during her career with three of them being at Grand Slam tournaments. She also held the world No.1 spot for 121 weeks and earned more than $23.8M in prize money. 

The Australian returned to the media limelight on Friday by attending a special event to announce the return of the Brisbane International next year. It will be the first time the tournament has been held since the COVID pandemic with the women’s draw being increased from 32 to 48. However, no such changes will be made to the men’s draw. There will be a record prize money pool of AUS$3.1M. 

For those hoping that Barty might have a change of heart and return to competitive action at her home event in Brisbane, they are going to be disappointed. 

“I don’t have the time – I don’t have the time to train, I don’t have the time to prepare, and I have so many great memories out on this court, and now I just get to create new memories,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Barty as saying. 

“I’m certainly not coming out of retirement. Pat (Rafter) may be more likely than me.”

Earlier this year Caroline Wozniacki announced her return to tennis following a three-year retirement from the sport. Despite playing in only two WTA tournaments beforehand, she reached the fourth round of the US Open where she was defeated by Coco Gauff who went on to win the title. Meanwhile, Elina Svitolina returned to the Tour following the birth of her first child and reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon. 

Barty has previously said she would like to remain involved in tennis by helping support the rising stars of the game in her home country. Currently, Australia doesn’t have any players in the top 100 on the women’s Tour. In contrast, there are nine Australians in the top 100 on the men’s Tour. 

“It’s depth, you have to play at your top level, you have to be consistent across a 52-week calendar to keep your ranking up with the top of the world,” she said.
“I think it’s exciting for the women’s game, it creates hunger, passion and drive for girls wanting to be the best and knowing there’s an opportunity to take that top spot.
“There’s obviously not as many girls in the top 100 as we would like, but there’s plenty coming through that are learning their craft, developing.
“It takes time to understand how you think you can fit in, how you think you can grow into your play. I’m excited for the next five or 10 years to see where they can get to.”

The Australian tennis season will begin on December 29th with the United Cup. A mixed-team competition that will be held in Sydney and Perth. Two days later, the first singles events in Brisbane and Adelaide will get underway. 

The 2024 Australian Summer of Tennis calendar 

United Cup
Venue: Perth – RAC Arena, Sydney – Ken Rosewall Arena
Group Stage – 29 December 2023 to 5 January 2024
Finals – 6 to 7 January 2024, more details to be announced soon
Category: ATP / WTA international mixed team competition

Brisbane International
31 December 2023 to 7 January 2024
Venue: Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane
Category: WTA 500 / ATP 250
Draw size: WTA – 48 singles / 24 doubles; ATP – 32 singles, 24 doubles

Canberra International
31 December 2023 to 6 January 2024
Venue: Canberra Tennis Centre, Canberra
Category: ATP Challenger 125 / WTA 125
Draw size: ATP – 32 singles, 16 doubles; WTA – 32 singles, 16 doubles

Adelaide International
8 to 13 January 2024
Venue: The Drive, Adelaide
Category: WTA 500 / ATP 250
Draw size: WTA – 32 singles, 16 doubles; ATP – 28 singles, 24 doubles

Hobart International
8 to 13 January 2024
Venue: Domain Tennis Centre, Hobart
Category: WTA 250
Draw size: 32 singles, 16 doubles

AO Opening Week, including Australian Open qualifying (8 to 12 January)
8 to 14 January 2024
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne
Category: Grand Slam 
Draw size: Q128 singles

Australian Open
15 to 28 January 2024
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne
Category: Grand Slam
Draw size: 128 singles, 64 doubles 

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The WTA Tour In 2024 Should Be Even Stronger



Cori Gauff - Australian Open 2023 (Twitter @AustralianOpen)

To Aryna Sabalenka, every shot seems to be a go-for-it.


The two Grand Slam champions in Sunday’s U.S. Open men’s final would say, “Thank you” for a similar approach by their opponent. But Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev don’t play that game often.

They play to win. Sabalenka didn’t, although she wanted so badly to earn her second Grand Slam title this year.


Coco Gauff also played to win, once she got past a one-sided first set. Sabalenka kept going for it, and the world’s new No. 1 player paid the price in a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 loss to young Coco Gauff.

So, what happens now? Obviously, Sabalenka and Gauff will lead the way as the best women’s players in the game . . . for now.

Where does French Open champ and former world’s No. 1 Iga Swiatek fit? Wimbledon titlist Marketa Vondrousova, Jessica Pegula, 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, Ons Jabeur and yes, Karolina Muchova fit into WTA Tour stars led by Sabalenka and Gauff?


The 2024 women’s season is sure to be an exciting one. Any of these eight players could turn out to be superstars by this time next year.

Or it might be that there are simply too many equals in the women’s game, or maybe not enough stability at the top of the game. Superstars are important to a tour.

What would the ATP Tour have looked like without Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal all winning Grand Slams about the same time?

Gauff has been amazing since returning from Europe to the U.S., going 16-0 in the U.S. and suffering her only loss in Canada to doubles partner Pegula.


Gauff is projected to climb three spots in the WTA rankings to No. 3.

But Saturday was the dream come true for the 19-year-old. She simply outplayed the hard-hitting Sabalenka in the last two sets.

Just as Medvedev’s victory over Carlos Alcaraz was set up by Medvedev’s amazing defense, running down practically everything Alcaraz had to offer, Gauff’s victory was secured by her ability to repeatedly chase down what looked like Sabalenka winners.

Gauff usually kept running down Sabalenka’s missiles until the Belarussian missed the court.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

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