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Revived Caroline Wozniacki Eyes 2014 US Open Title After Maria Sharapova Upset

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TENNIS US OPEN — We called her the Woz, a word play on the Wiz, and on a court Caroline Wozniacki certainly looked like a wiz, a winner, even if she didn’t own a Grand Slam. There wasn’t a shot she couldn’t chase down, wasn’t a ball she couldn’t return. Art Spander for bleacherreport.com

 

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

She was No. 1 in the women’s rankings for 67 weeks, and in 2009 she made it to the final of the U.S. Open. A loss to Kim Clijsters seemed only a blip, a hiccup as the tennis people say. The Woz was 19, and had to get better.

Instead she got worse.

Maybe it was because the way she played, defensively—defense wins in football, but not necessarily in a racquet sport—or maybe it was because of her now severed relationship with Rory McIlroy, to whom she became engaged before as the world knows he broke it off.

Her ranking kept falling, all the way to 18th this past March. So, in a way, did her reputation as a competitor. She never quit trying or working. She just quit winning.

Until this summer. Until she stepped up from the mystery and the misery.

Wozniacki may not easily or quickly regain the top spot, not with her friend Serena Williams implanted there, however on Sunday she regained a great deal of esteem.

In a match that given the time, place and result has to be Wozniacki’s most impressive of the year, she beat Maria Sharapova, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, to move into a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time in the last 11 Slam appearances.

And given the destruction of the women’s draw, the second, third, fourth, fifth—that was Sharapova—and sixth seeds all having been eliminated, it’s quite possible the Woz will make the final on Sunday. Against Williams.

Yes, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, but why not? Tennis needs some anticipation. Right now, all it has, other than Serena, who’s in the other half of the draw, is a great deal of unpredictability.

Like Wozniacki slipping before doing a U-turn. She had raised herself to No. 10 before this Open and will climb even more when the new rankings are released.

This hard court season has been amazing for me,” said Wozniacki. She next plays No. 13 Sara Errani, who Sunday ended the comeback tale of 32-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, the one-time teenage protégée, with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-0 win.

I actually started already feeling good on court since Eastbourne,” said Wozniacki, referring to one of the mid-June grass court preludes to Wimbledon.  “I have just been building on my game since then. You know today I just kept thinking to myself, just stay in there. Try and take the initiative. It was really hard.”

What was Hard was for Sharapova, one of the sport’s personalities, a five-time Slam winner, including this year’s French Open, was to keep up with Wozniacki. Suddenly the Woz was aggressive. Suddenly Sharapova was making errors.

She made me hit a lot of balls,” said Sharapova. “That’s always been her strength. But she did it extremely well today. She’s a great retriever.

“I think I just stopped doing what helped me get advantage of the points, in the second set. I hit a good shot, and I allowed her to get back in the point instead of looking to come in . . . Caroline is more consistent. Sometimes players look to improve their weaknesses. I think her strength has improved incredibly well.”

So has her distance running. Apropos of nothing but perhaps since her sport demands the ability to race after balls for hours—it was 90 degrees Sunday, and players were allowed 10-minute heat breaks—Wozniacki is training for the New York Marathon in September.

I’m serving well,” said Wozniacki after the win. “I’m running well.” In this instance she meant around a court, as opposed to a 26.2 mile course. She’s taking on that one for a charity. Wozniacki took on Sharapova to prove she again was a contender.

Beating her here at the U.S. Open,” Wozniacki said of Sharapova, “it’s a tough task. I’m happy to be through and have another chance to play in the next round.

“I’ve had a great summer. I told Serena I’m pretty tired of her. Twice (Montreal and Cincinnati this summer) she beat me in three sets. I said, ‘Can you just get out of my way?’ We laugh about it. Maria, again, is a good player. This one was a great win for me. I think mentally as well to get that in my pocket is kind of nice.”

It also has to be reassuring. In tennis, as golf, doubters are prevalent. Even when she was No. 1, the critics said her game wasn’t complete enough to get a Slam. She couldn’t dictate play. Yet her belief was not shaken.

I think my greatest strength is I can go from defense to offense and offense to defense,” insisted Wozniacki. “I think I have done a good job these last few months finding the balance between those two.

“I think I have served really well and returned well. And I never give up. You now even when it looks impossible for me to get to a ball, I’m still going to try.”

A few months ago it looked impossible that Caroline Wozniacki would go this far in the U.S. Open. It doesn’t any more.

Original article on bleacherreport.com

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Why Newly Married Elina Svitolina Has No Plans To Change Her Surname

The Ukrainian explains why she isn’t using her husband’s surname of Monfils just yet as she books her place in the third round at Tokyo 2020.

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Just over a week ago Elina Svitolina tied the knot with her long-time partner Gael Monfils at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Shortly after the world No.6 took to social media and changed her name on Twitter to Elina Monfils as part of the tradition that the woman takes on the man’s name once they are married. As a consequence, various websites started to identify the Ukrainian under that name. Although she would rather that they don’t do such a thing.

“I don’t know why they changed my surname. Maybe they saw that I had changed it on my social networks,” Svitolina told BTU.
“I’m going to play as Svitolina till the very end of my professional career and will change it only after retirement.”

Svitolina explains she believes it is better if all of her achievements are made under the same name instead of two. So far in her career she has won 15 WTA titles, reached two Grand Slam semi-finals and has earned more than $20.5M in prize money.

I had numerous achievements and people know me as Svitolina. My father would be upset if I changed the surname and played as Monfils,” she joked.
“I am proud to be Svitolina and my tennis career will always be connected with this surname.”

Over the coming week the 26-year-old is hoping to add an Olympic medal to her resume. On Monday Svitolina survived a stern scare after coming back from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanović 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and move into the third round of the tournament. Her win came on the day where there were shocks galore in the women’s draw with seeds Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova all crashing out.

Svitolina will play Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the next round whom she has lost to in two out of their three previous meetings.

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Why Ash Barty Isn’t Staying At The Olympic Village In Tokyo

The two-time Grand Slam champion has opted to stay at an alternate venue heading into the Games.

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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

Ash Barty will prepare for her debut at the Olympic Games by staying at a base located outside of the athletes village as part of her ‘performance plan.’

 

The world No.1 heads into Tokyo as one of the favourites for gold following her triumph at Wimbledon where she defeated Karolina Pliskova in the final. She is one of six top 10 players set to play in the women’s singles tournament which will start on Saturday.

Leading up to the Games, the head of the Australian Olympic delegation has told reporters that Barty’s decision not to stay in the village will enhance her gold medal chances. In previous Games athletes have stayed outside of the villages but this year it is more challenging to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tokyo is currently in a state of emergency and fans are banned from attending the event amid fears of the virus spreading if they do so.

“Ash is staying elsewhere,” chef de mission Ian Chesterman told the Australian Associated Press.
“We have a number of athletes staying outside the village. We allow that, it’s just what works best for them.
“Something I’ve always been very big on is driving performance takes a whole lot of flexible decisions, flexible options.
“In terms of her performance plan, it’s best served by her being able to control her environment and we respect that.”

The exact location of Barty’s base has not been disclosed but it is near to the village where she was said to have visited and had a cup of coffee on Tuesday morning.

She is staying in an Australian environment where she can still easily access the village,” Chesterman stated.

The 25-year-old is bidding to become only the second Australian in history to win a medal in the women’s singles at the Olympics. The first was Alicia Molik who claimed a bronze medal back in 2004.

During a recent interview with The ITF, Barty said playing at the event is a dream come true for her as she describes representing her country as the ‘highest honour.’

“Being an Olympian has always been a dream of mine as a kid, I think representing your country is the highest honour,” Barty told the ITF.
“For an Aussie it’s the best thing you can do and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to wear the green and gold.
“You’re playing for something bigger than yourself. You’re playing to represent your nation. You’re playing to make people proud and that’s not just with results it’s with your attitude.”

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Bianca Andreescu pulls out of Tokyo Olympics

The world number five has officially pulled out of the Olympics in Tokyo stating reasons due to the ongoing pandemic situation.

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Bianca Andreescu will not be making the trip to Tokyo to play in the Olympics after withdrawing due to the current pandemic situation.

 

The former US Open champion issued a statement concerning what she describes as a ‘difficult decision.’ Andreescu is the latest top name to pull out of the Olympics. Last week Nick Kyrgios also said he wouldn’t be playing for similar reasons. Due to a a surge of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo, the city has gone into a state of emergency which prompted organisers to ban spectators from attending Olympic events in the city. Athletes will be subjected to tough restrictions during their time at the event, as well as regular testing.

” I would like to inform you that I have made the very difficult decision to not play in the Tokyo Olympics later this month,” Andreescu wrote on Instagram. “I have been dreaming of representing Canada at the Olympics since I was a little girl but with all the challenges we are facing as it relates to the pandemic, I know that deep in my heart, this is the right decision to make for myself. I look forward to representing Canada in future Fed Cup ties, and competing at the 2024 Olympics in Paris! “

The Canadian hasn’t played since losing in the first round of Wimbledon to Alize Cornet of France and most recently split with her coach Sylvain Brunneau after a four-year partnership.

Her 2021 season has been up and down starting in Australia where she lost in the second round before making the semifinals at the Phillips Island Trophy event. She then made the final at the Miami Open before taking a fall in the final against Ash Barty and was forced to retire due to injury.

Then the clay-court season came and Andreescu tested positive for Covid. She was forced to miss events in Madrid and Rome, so she headed to Strasbourg for some preparation before the French Open. The world No.5 won two matches in Strasbourg before pulling out due to an ab injury. She then lost in the first round of the French Open.

The Canadian moved on to the grass-court season heading to Berlin but again would get upset in the first round by Alize Cornet before winning one round in Eastbourne and losing to Anett Kontaveit.

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