A 2014 WTA shot guide: Part 3 (The Net) - UBITENNIS
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A 2014 WTA shot guide: Part 3 (The Net)

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TENNIS WTA SHOT GUIDE – It is offseason time, so Ubitennis is having a look at the past year and rating the WTA players for their abilities in each of the fundamentals of tennis.

 

Season is officially over now. Fed Cup has been won, the Finals have given their verdict and the ranking has finally been decided.

Yes, 2014 is over for tennis fans, but in a little more than a month, the next season will start and, as usual, every player will be immediately tested for all the hard work they will have put in these weeks away from international competitions.

But before this will happen, we thought it would be interesting to redact a guide to the best ground strokes and fundamentals that shone during the past season, as to set a standard for the next one and check who will improve or decline in each section.

  • Volleys

Net game is not dead. It has seen better days, but not all the players have forgot, or rather never learnt, what to do before the ball bounces.

1) Roberta Vinci: the old styled game of the Italian is a joy to watch when she reaches the net. There is nothing she cannot do when she charges, it is not a case she is world number one in doubles and owns a career slam.

2) Petra Kvitova: she is probably the best volleyer who is not a regular doubles’ player. Actually, she is even better than some of the doubles specialists. She has both great anticipation and amazing touch skills, her positioning can be a liability though.

Agnieszka Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska

3) Agnieszka Radwanska: the Pole strikes again, when it comes to hand skills, she is on the front row. However, she lacks of definitive volleys when she has to hit through.

4) Flavia Pennetta: the Italian has been world number one in doubles and she clearly does not miss an opportunity to show why. She does not venture often, but she rarely does it on the wrong moment and even more rarely she loses the point, she has got every solution at the net.

5) Sara Errani: Another Italian on the top of this section, but it is hardly surprising, she pairs with Vinci in doubles and learnt to transfer the doubles’ skills to singles, despite her reduced size.

Honourable mentions: Francesca Schiavone, years are passing for the French Open champion, but never ever underestimate her if she charges the net. Alison Riske, the American does not posses the best volleying by any means, but is probably the last player to opt for serve and volley quite often.

 

  • Passing shots

Even the best volleyers have their natural enemy in some players, who seem to just love passing shots.

1) Angelique Kerber: the German is probably one of the most accurate players in her accelerations, but give her a target to pass at the net and she is just perfect. Her lefty running forehand can be a nightmare if you are charging the net.

2) Eugenie Bouchard: the young Canadian is a very fine baseliner, but it is hard to take away time from her. She reads the game well and can pass you easily from both sides.

3) Simona Halep: the Roland Garros finalist is simply a marksman when it comes to passing shots. To make it harder for her opponents, she hides the direction of her shots until the very last moment.

Caroline Wozniacki by Art Seitz

Caroline Wozniacki by Art Seitz

4) Caroline Wozniacki: the Dane is not as accurate as the ones above and her shots tend to go mostly cross court when her opponent comes to the net. However, you know you may need three or four volleys to close the point and that puts a lot of pressure.

5) Agnieszka Radwanska: you never know what kind of ball she will make you play. Unpredictability is the biggest weapon of the Pole, also when it comes to passing shots.

To be continued next week, who will be the best 5 dancers? Look at their feet and come back next week

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In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title

Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. 

 

The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012. 

“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw. 
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”

Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week. 

“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.

There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open. 

Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20. 

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Naomi Osaka Seeks Resurgence At Home Event After Rollercoaster Year

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Naomi Osaka training at the 2021 Madrid Open (image by Media Hub Mutua Madrid Open)

Former world No.1 Naomi Osaka admits that there have been more downs than ups for her this year but she is maintaining a positive outlook. 

 

The four-time Grand Slam champion has played 22 matches so far this season with her win-loss record currently standing at 13-9. However, at her six most recent tournaments she has failed to win back-to-back matches and is currently on a four-match losing streak. Osaka also missed this year’s Wimbledon Championships due to an achilles injury. 

Currently ranked 44th in the world, Osaka is hoping to break her slump at this week’s Toray Pan Pacific Open which will be held in Tokyo. It will be the first time she has played since losing to Danielle Collins in the first round of the US Open. 

“I think, of course, the year has (not been) the best year for me,” Osaka said during her pre-tournament press conference. “But I think overall I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’m just happy to be healthy. Because in Europe, I did injure myself, and that was like my first injury that took me that long to get healed.

“I think life is kind of ups and downs and this one was kind of more down than up, but overall I’m pretty happy with where I am now.”

Osaka is the defending champion in Tokyo, even though she won the tournament back in 2019. The event has been cancelled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has happened to the Japanese player since she won the title, both on and off the court. Osaka has spoken publicly about her mental health issues and took time away from the sport because of them. 

“It feels really weird to hear that I’m the defending champion because it was the last time I played in 2019,” she said. “I would love to win it again, but I think just taking it one match at a time … and also just playing in front of a crowd in Tokyo again, because the Olympics was crowdless, so it will just be nice to see people.”

This year Osaka does not have a seeding in the Tokyo draw which is in stark contrast to three years ago when she was the highest-ranked player in the tournament. She will begin her campaign against Australia’s Daria Saville and could then face fifth seed, Beatriz Haddad Maia, in the last 16. 

“I think every year for me since the first Slam, there’s been a lot of changes,” Osaka said. “But I think this year it has definitely been a real growing year for me. I think tennis-wise, I don’t really think I can go in a wrong direction. I feel like me as a player, my base is pretty solid. I can only really learn more about myself. I know that I am an aggressive player and I can only hope to keep doing that.

Away from the Tour, the 24-year-old remains one of the highest-earning players in the sport. According to a report published by Forbes in August, she earned in the region of £56.2M over 12 months with $55M of that coming from off-court ventures. She has also set up her own sports agency with long-time agent Stuart Duguid, signing Nick Kyrgios as one of her clients. 

“For everything off court, I think it’s really cool how tennis has let me get so many opportunities in things that I’m interested in, and it’s something I’m really happy and grateful for and I can only hope it keeps evolving.” She commented.

This week Osaka is seeking to win her first title of any sort since the 2021 Australian Open. 

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Simona Halep Ends 2022 Season With Nose Surgery And Mental Exhaustion

Simona Halep will return to the court in 2023.

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Simona Halep (@NewsCentralTV - Twitter)

Simona Halep has ended her season after having nose surgery and suffering from mental exhaustion in recent months.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion has had a mixed season this year with the Romanian almost quitting the sport in February.

However the former world number one reunited with Patrick Mouratoglou and produced a world-class grass court season and US Hard court swing to get back into the world’s top ten.

Despite this, Halep has also had her troubles having had a panic attack at Roland Garros and struggled with anxiety.

This was all produced by the Romanian in her statement when she announced she would not play the rest of the season due to a nose surgery which has been linked to her breathing.

Now Halep will look to recover mentally and physically in time for January’s Australian Open as she will look to become a Grand Slam champion for the third time in her career.

Simona Halep’s 2022 Season:

Melbourne Summer Set 1: Champion

Australian Open: R4 l. Cornet

Dubai: Semi-Finals l. Ostapenko

Qatar: R1 l. Garcia

Indian Wells: Semi-Finals l. Swiatek

Madrid: Quarter-Finals l. Jabeur

Rome: R2 l. Collins

Roland Garros: R2 l. Q. Zheng

Birmingham: Semi-Finals l. Haddad Maia

Bad Homburg: Semi-Finals l. Andreescu

Wimbledon: Semi-Finals l. Rybakina

Washington: R2 l. Kalinskaya

Toronto: Champion

Cincinnati: R2 – Withdrew

US Open: R1 l. Snigur

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