Revived Caroline Wozniacki Eyes 2014 US Open Title After Maria Sharapova Upset - UBITENNIS
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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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Garbine Muguruza moves into the second round in Dubai

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Last year’s Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza beat Irina Camelia Begu 6-3 7-5 after 96 minutes to move into the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. 

 

Muguruza hit 23 winners to just 10 for Begu. The Spaniard earned a break in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead, but Begu pulled back the break. Muguruza broke for the second time with a backhand winner down the line to open up a 5-3 lead and consolidated the break with a hold to close out the first set 6-3. 

Begu went up a break twice in the second set. She served for the set at 5-3, but Muguruza pulled back on serve with a forehand winner off the netcord on break point. Muguruza broke again to take a 6-5 lead and sealed the win with a forehand winner. 

Muguruza has improved her 2021 win-loss record to 13-4. 

“Begu and I have played before, we have also trained together, so we know each other’s games. I gave her a big battle and in important moments I tried to be focused and be smart and efficient”, said Muguruza. 

The former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion will face Amanda Anisimova, who eased past qualifier Ana Konjuh 6-2 6-2. 

Elise Mertens came back from one set down to beat lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova 4-6 6-2 6-4. Tomova was a last-minute replacement for last week’s Lyon semifinalist Fiona Ferro. Mertens converted eight of her nine break points. Tomova broke for the fourth time in the opening set after a six-deuce game to clinch the first set 6-4. Mertens never dropped her serve and broke serve with a backhand winner down the line to seal the second set 6-2. Mertens went up a break at 1-0 and 4-2 but Tomova pulled back both breaks. Mertens broke to love to take a 5-4 lead, but she had to save two break points, as she was serving for the match. The Belgian player broke serve in the 11th game to close out the match.

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Naomi Osaka Brands Appointment Of Female Olympic Chief As Inspiration For The World

The world No.2 sees the development as one that let young girls know ‘anything is possible.’

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Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has hailed the recent appointment of a woman to oversee this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

 

Seiko Hashimoto was named as the head of the Tokyo Olympic Committee last month following the resignation of Yoshiro Mori. Mori was accused of being sexist after saying women should be limited to how much they speak during meetings because they talk too much. He said that if more female members were appointed to the board they will have to ‘make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying.’

Controversy aside, Osaka believes Hashimoto’s appointment could have a significant impact on gender equality. A former professional speed skater and cyclist, Hashimoto have participated in seven Olympic Games which is more than any other Japanese athlete in history.

This is such an important moment for Japanese women, and women around the world; and I hope it’s an inspiration to a young girl with big dreams to know that anything is possible,” the world No.2 told the International Olympic Committee.

Osaka’s comments coincide with International Women’s Day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Tennis is considered as one of the top sports in the world when it comes to gender equality with equal prize money being awarded at every Grand Slam since the 2007 Wimbledon Championships. Last year Forbes magazine concluded that nine out of the 10 highest paid female athletes in the world are tennis players.

“I love seeing women in leadership roles like Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama,” Osaka commented. “In sport I’ve seen progress too, with women involved in various positions even in men’s sport, like Kim Ng, who is now the General Manager of the Miami Marlins. Then you have myself and Serena [Williams] as owners of NWSL [National Women’s Soccer League] teams – so I hope these kinds of leadership positions inspire the next generation of women and reflect some level of progress and change.”

The 23-year-old is a part-owner of North American women’s football team North Carolina Courage. Whilst her direct involvement in the club will not be substantial she will be acting as a ‘strategic advisor.’

Osaka is currently on a 21-match winning streak on the WTA Tour. Last month she defeated Jennifer Brady to win the Australian Open for the second time in her career.

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Elina Svitolina Admits Cut In Prize money Due To COVID-19 Affecting Motivation

The 26-year-old says it is not easy adjusting to the changes after being ‘spoiled’ by the WTA.

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Elina Svitolina says that a decline in financial incentives at tournaments could alter her schedule over the coming weeks.

 

The world No.5 says less money available at smaller events compared to previous years are having an influence on her decision to play them. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic tournaments across the world have been forced to slash or adjust their prize money pool’s. For example at this year’s Miami Open the singles winner will take home $300,110 which is a massive 80% reduction on what was awarded in 2019 ($1.354 million).

Svitolina will be the top seed in the upcoming Dubai Tennis Championships, which has also been forced to cut their payouts. This year’s winner will walk away with 68% less than what the previous champion won ($221,500 compared to $696,860).

“I had to adjust, like for example with my team, with my daily life,” AFP news quoted Svitolina as saying during her Dubai press conference on Sunday. “Maybe be a little bit smarter and I think for everyone it’s important to readjust because right now there is definitely a significant change in the prize money,”
“I think it’s really not easy for some players to adjust and for me, personally, it’s maybe also a little bit [tough] right now, because we’re a bit spoiled from the years that the prize money was really high.”

As of the week commencing March 1st, 2020, 26-year-old Svitolina is the 18th highest earning WTA player of all time in terms of prize money won. Her earnings currently stand at $20,112,704. This is more than what Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles, Li Na and Jelena Jankovic won during their entire careers. So far the Ukrainian has won 15 titles but is yet to reach the final of a Grand Slam.

Speaking about the current situation on the Tour, Svitolina admits she now feels more inclined chose to skip lower level events.

“Now for sure it gets into your head that you know you have less motivation at some tournaments to play because the prize money is much lower and you’re playing for example a smaller tournament and you’re tired afterwards to play a big one, so you would skip it,” she explained.
“So that, for sure, plays a little role in the motivation, in my opinion. Hopefully we can step by step improve and get back to where we were before.”

Recently the ATP confirmed revealed a series of new initiatives to support players during the pandemic including the use of a ‘covid-19 protected ranking.’ Although the women’s Tour hasn’t revelled any similar measures yet and it is unclear as to if they will. The WTA has already adjusted their ranking calculations.

Svitolina will start her campaign in Dubai against Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova who she leads 4-1 in their head-to-head. It will be the fifth tournament of her 2021 season but she is yet to progress beyond the quarter-final stage.

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