US Open: Krunic eliminates Kvitova. Serena into the 3rd round - UBITENNIS
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US Open: Krunic eliminates Kvitova. Serena into the 3rd round

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TENNIS US OPEN – Unlike on Day 5 when several big names tumbled out of the draw, things were relatively calmer in the women’s draw. Flavia Pennetta played first up on the Arthur Ashe stadium and she was the first woman into the Round of 16 when she knocked out American Nicole Gibbs for the 2nd straight year 6-4 6-0. The real big upset of the day also happened early when reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova (3) got dismissed by Aleksandra Krunic. From New York, Cordell Hackshaw

 

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

Unlike on Day 5 when several big names tumbled out of the draw, things were relatively calmer in the women’s draw. Flavia Pennetta played first up on the Arthur Ashe stadium and she was the first woman into the Round of 16 when she knocked out American Nicole Gibbs for the 2nd straight year 6-4 6-0. The real big upset of the day also happened early when reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova (3) got dismissed by Aleksandra Krunic 6-4 6-4. Kvitova has always struggled in the heat and humidity during the North American hardcourt swing and it clearly showed in her play.

In other matches, Serena Williams (1) has finally made it past the 3rd round of major since the Australian Open this year. Williams took on yet another American, her third successive in this tournament, Varvara Lepchenko. Again Williams made winning easy look very difficult. She seemed rather bothered through much of the match as she won 6-3 6-3 in just over an hour and a half. Lepchenko played very well within herself but in the big moments, she could not capitalize. Williams was very gracious to her opponent as they practice and hit together often, “[S]he gives 100% on the court. She always tries to do the best … She is an incredible fighter.”

Two-time finalist here, Victoria Azarenka (16) is seemingly getting better and better with each round. She dismantled Elena Vesnina 6-1 6-1 in 57 minutes. This victory marked Azarenka’s 100th major win in her career. She will play Krunic in the Round of 16. Azarenka said, “I don’t know about her much … [S]he obviously is playing great tennis and really inspired here, you know, so many matches in a row and upsetting such a great player.” Nonetheless, it might be that Azarenka is extremely grateful for Krunic’s upset win over Kvitova as she has never beaten the Czech in any of their encounters.

The other top named player who made it through to the 4th round was Eugenie Bouchard (7) who is continuing to show that when it comes to the major stage, she is ready, present and willing to play. She took on Czech Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova. Zahlavova-Strycova is no stranger to playing big names as she had a wonderful Wimbledon this year making it to the quarterfinals for the first time in 33 appearances at a major. However, Bouchard has had an even better year at the majors and her experience showed through on the big points. Bouchard took the 1st set 6-2 but went down 3-5 in the 2nd set. Zhalavova was getting more aggressive on court and benefitting from the random errors from Bouchard. However, Bouchard fought her way back into the set to lead 6-5 but Zahlavova was able to hold serve to force a tiebreaker where she was able to level the match.

In the decisive set, there was definitely shifting momentums after the 6th game; 3 games all. There were 3 consecutive breaks of serve which saw Bouchard serving for the match up 5-4. The Canadian was able to serve it out for the win 6-2 6-7 6-4. “I was disappointed in myself, not necessarily about going to a third, but by my level in the second set. I was surprised I could do so many unforced errors in one set. You know, that’s something I definitely don’t want to repeat again. But I’m determined to do better in my next match,” Bouchard said after the match.

Bouchard’s next round opponent will be Ekaterina Makarova (17) who go to the Round of 16 when she took out Zarina Diyas 6-2 6-4. Other winner on the day was Kaia Kanepi who is continuing to have a wonderful tournament after she knocked out Sam Stosur (24) in the 1st round. Kanepi again upset another seeded player, this time Carla Suarez-Navarro (15) in straight sets knocked out another seeded player Carla Suarez Navarro (15) 7-5 6-0. She will have to maintain this winning form as she faces Williams in the next round. Casey Dellacqua (29) also finds herself in the Round of 16 after she knocked out Karolina Pliskova 6-3 3-6 6-4. It was a hard fought contest all the way to the end. Dellacqua will play Pennetta for a spot in the quarterfinals.

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Bianca Andreescu Reunites With Former Coach Ahead Of New Season 

How will the Grand Slam champion fair on the Tour with her latest mentor?

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has brought a familiar face back into her team as she bids to return to her best form in 2023. 

 

Andreescu, who is currently ranked 45th in the WTA rankings, has appointed Christophe Lambert as her latest coach. Lambert had been working as the performance director at Tennis New Zealand and resigned from that position to work with the former US Open champion. He had also previously worked for Tennis Canada and during that time he was a private coach for Andreescu in 2016. 

“Bianca asked me to coach her and I accepted the job. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Lambert told sport.co.nz. 

Lambert, who has also spent time working with the Chinese Davis Cup team and for the British LTA, has stayed in contact with Andreescu ever since coaching her six years ago. 

“It wasn’t like every week or every month. It’s always good to have people calling you when you are up, but when she was down I was checking on her and giving her my opinion.” He said. 

Andreescu had been working with Dutch coach Sven Groeneveld for over a year before they decided to end their collaboration in October. Groeneveld has a wealth of experience in the sport after working with a series of top names, including Maria Sharapova. 

This season the former world No.4 has won 20 out of 33 matches played with her best performance being a run to the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. However, her record against top 10 opposition was 2-5.

“I’m just taking it day by day, and it’s a great way to end off the year as well, just bringing back all the emotions that fire a lot in me,” Andreescu recently told reporters in Glasgow at the Billie Jean King Cup. “I think I’m going to have a great preseason. Next year I really think I can crack the top 10 again.”

Andreescu, who has been hampered by injury issues in recent years, hasn’t won a singles title of any sort since 2019. 

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Four-Time Grand Slam Winner Naomi Osaka Named In FTX Lawsuit 

The former world No.1 took an equity stake in the failed business earlier this year. 

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NAOMI OSAKA OF JAPAN - PHOTO: ALVARO DIAZ / MMO

Naomi Osaka is among a series of high-profile individuals who have been accused of using their celebrity status to promote FTX’s failed business model in a lawsuit filed against the cryptocurrency exchange. 

 

The BBC has reported that over one million people and businesses could be owed money following the collapse of FTX, according to bankruptcy filings. A week ago FTX collapsed into bankruptcy with its former boss Sam Bankman-Fried stepping down as CEO. A massive development in the financial for what was one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world that had the naming rights to a Formula One racing team as well as a sports arena in Miami.

According to the Associated Press, the company is being investigated by state and federal prosecutors over allegations it ‘invested depositors’ funds in ventures without their approval.’ In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, it argues that celebrity backers of FTX such as Osaka should be held just as accountable as Bankman-Fried as they brought ‘instant credibility’ to the company. 

“Part of the scheme employed by the FTX Entities involved utilizing some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment — like these Defendants — to raise funds and drive American consumers to invest … pouring billions of dollars into the deceptive FTX platform to keep the whole scheme afloat,” the lawsuit said.

Osaka took an equity stake in FTX in March where she would be receiving compensation in Crypto. Signing what was described as a ‘long-term partnership’ to become a global ambassador, the tennis star aimed to draw attention to women joining the platform and she played a role in directing its content.

“We have seen the statistics about how few women are part of crypto by comparison, which kind of mirrors the inequality we see in other financial markets,” Osaka said earlier this year.

Osaka, who has won 14 out of 23 matches played this season, has not made any public statement regarding the lawsuit. NFL quarterback Tom Brady, comedian Larry David and basketball team the Golden State Warriors are also defendants in the lawsuit.

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WTA Targets New Multi-Year Deal For Its Premier Event If Agreement With China Fails

Will the WTA Finals return to Shenzhen in 2023?

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WTA CEO Steve Simon

The WTA say they are not willing to compromise their principles concerning the possibility of hosting tournaments in China next year amid uncertainty over the future of their season-ending event. 

 

Steve Simon, who is the CEO of the women’s Tour, says he is hopeful that a resolution can be found with the country but has vowed now to back down on its stance. Last year the WTA suspended tournaments in China over concerns about the safety of former player Peng Shuai who accused a former government official of sexually assaulting her. 

Shuai disappeared shortly after posting her statement on social media before returning a few weeks later with photos and videos of her being posted online by journalists linked to the government-controlled media. There are concerns that the former doubles Grand Slam champion, who has not left her country since making those allegations, is being censored by the government. The WTA wants an investigation to be conducted into the matter. 

“We’ve made a strong stand, and we stand behind that stance, and we’re not going to compromise our principles,” Simon said during an interview with The New York Times. “Clearly when we did it, we understood eyes wide open what it could mean.”
“We’re still in the same place. If they come forward with something else we should look at, of course we are open to it. But we haven’t seen it so far. I’m hopeful we do find a resolution. That’s the goal, to find the right resolution. What’s the truth? Then we can move forward.” He added. 

Simon said he is confident that Shuai is safe in Beijing but he has not been able to make any direct contact with her, despite trying to on multiple occasions. A letter reportedly written by Shuai to the WTA was posted online in 2021 saying that she wishes to be left alone. However, many have doubted the authenticity of that letter with some fearing that she wrote it under duress. 

One of the biggest impacts of the fallout has involved the prestigious WTA Finals, which is a round-robin tournament featuring the eight best-performing players over the past 12 months. In 2018 a lucrative deal was agreed that paved the way for the event to be held in Shenzhen for 10 years. However, the event was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the next two additions were moved elsewhere.

Whilst the WTA is optimistic about a return to Shenzhen in 2023, there are also backup plans in the works. Simon confirmed that it is no longer feasible for the WTA Finals to be held in a location for just one year. So it is likely that the tournament would be held in a city for two or more years in a row if it doesn’t return to China next season. 

“We’re not going to continue to do these one-year decisions,” he said. “It’s not sustainable. If it looks like we can’t go back to China or aren’t ready to go back, then I do think we will carve out a multiyear situation, because we need to for the business.”

The case involving Shuai isn’t the only barrier for the WTA. China’s zero-covid policy has made hosting international events in the region unfeasible and the ATP cancelled all of their events in the tournament this year due to the situation. 

This year’s WTA Finals has a prize money offering of $5M which is more than half of what was on offer at the 2019 tournament in Shenzhen ($14M). 

Simon didn’t provide any deadline for when an agreement must be reached with China must be reached before the WTA considers moving their event elsewhere once again. 

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