A 2014 WTA shot guide: Part 4 (Move your feet, keep your head) - UBITENNIS
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A 2014 WTA shot guide: Part 4 (Move your feet, keep your head)

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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.

  • Footwork

In a game where you run a lot and most of the power of shots is given through legs, the footwork is key to being in a good position for hitting at the best of your chances. Natural talent and hard work can make it seem a rare gift, but it is an aspect which is often overlooked.

1) Simona Halep: the short girl from Constanta gives somewhat of a reminiscence of Justine Henin in the way she moves around the court. It is hard to catch her on the wrong foot, she is light and fast, as much as you start wondering if her feet do touch the ground.

Camila Giorgi Eastboburne 17 June 2014 by Giulio Gasparin

Camila Giorgi Eastboburne 17 June 2014 by Giulio Gasparin

2) Camila Giorgi: the Italian’s foot-speed is different from the Romanian’s, it is not as delicate, but it is as effective. It appears to be more of a full-legs movement but she is just as fast. Do not get distracted by her massive power the next time you watch her playing and you will see an incredibly nervous but powerful dance.

3) Agnieszka Radwanska: the Pole’s best quality is the ability to read the opponents’ intentions and so anticipate their shorts, but she could not do much if her feet were not as light and fast as they are.

4) Alizé Cornet: the French best ranked player is one of the best movers on tour. Her complicated and mixed game is depending on her speed on court, but her ability to move as well on grass show how good her footwork is.

Caroline Wozniacki, Eastbourne 2014 by Giulio Gasparin

Caroline Wozniacki, Eastbourne 2014 by Giulio Gasparin

5) Caroline Wozniacki: the Dane’s defence, contrary to the girls that precede her, is based on the actual speed on court, rather than anticipation. However, this does not diminish the quality of her footwork.

Honourable mention: Serena Williams, when she is fit and focused, her feet fare as fast as nobody else with the same muscled structure.

  • Mental toughness

One can be born with an amazing mental attitude or have developed it though the years. However it came to be, there is no doubt that having an ice-cold mind is as important as a big forehand or massive serve.

1) Maria Sharapova: she can look in despair, she can seem on the verge of losing as many times as it is hard to count, but she almost always comes out victorious. There are not as many players that can win as much despite facing an inspired opponent or a bad day.

2) Eugenie Bouchard: finding a great run at the Australian Open when you are still a young player puts you under enormous pressure. She dealt with it stunningly and always found her best game when it most mattered. The only two flops were at her home tournament and at the WTA Championships, but these do not diminish her merits in this department.

Serena Williams by Art Seitz

Serena Williams by Art Seitz

3) Serena Williams: knowing to be one of the greatest players ever puts you under immense pressure, especially if you are on a quest for more slam titles. Her season was pretty much a disaster under this section until the US Open, but her ability to set everything aside in New York and later confirm it in Singapore made her rise in the ranking.

4) Caroline Wozniacki: she left the Roland Garros with one win in two months, a minor injury and a broken heart. In all honesty, it takes quite some guts to bounce back the way she did.

4- ex aequo) Simona Halep: she rose from nowhere last year and many thought it was likely she would slip back to anonymity once the confidence was gone. She reached a career high at number two and the final of the WTA Championships, that is quite something.

Sara Errani Stuttgart 2014

Sara Errani Stuttgart 2014

5) Sara Errani: yes, she should be sixth, but we she deserved more than an honourable mention. If you are that short, with a genetic shoulder problem that does not allow you serving with any power, it takes a lot of mental strength to keep fighting season after season, match after match like she does.

5- ex aequo) Andrea Petkovic: coming back from injuries is not easy, coming back over and over again is harder, but achieving your best results at the nth comeback is simply remarkable.

To be continued next week, with the overall top 5s!

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Tereza Martincova and Belinda Bencic reach the quarter final in Ostrava

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Czech wildcard Tereza Martincova upset Roland Garros Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (8-6) after 2 hours and 19 minutes to advance to the quarter finals at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Martincova claimed her third top 20 win of her career and reached her second quarter final on home soil this season after finishing fourth in Prague. 

Pavlyuchenkova earned the first break to take a 4-3 lead and served for the first set in the 10th game, but she never reached a set point. The Russian player came just two points away from winning the first set at 5-4 30-15, but Martincova won four consecutive points before winning the tie-break 7-5. 

Martincova dropped just eight points in the first six games of the second set. The Czech player fended off two break points to consolidate her lead for 2-0. She raced out to a 7-6 (7-5) 5-1 lead, but Pavlyuchenkova saved two match points to hold serve forcing Martincova to serve for the match. Martincova dropped four consecutive points. Pavlyuchenkova got another break, when Martincova was serving for the match for the third time at 6-5. Martincova went up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break, but Pavlyuchenkova drew level to 4-4 before saving a third match point. Martincova won the final two points to claim the tie-break 8-6. 

Martincova set up a quarter final match against Maria Sakkari, who beat last week’s Luxembourg finalist Jelena Ostapenko. 

This year’s Olympic champion Belinda Bencic cruised to a 6-2 6-3 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo in just 88 minutes. Bencic claimed her 15th win in her last 18 matches. Bencic broke six times and reeled off eight consecutive games from 2-2 in the first set to cruise through to a a straight-set win. Sorribes Tormo saved a break point to win her first game for 1-4 and pulled one break back in the sixth game, but Bencic sealed the win with her third break in the ninth game. “I think I prepared well for this match tactically, and also mentally, because it’s very tough. You have to win the point many times against her, especially on this surface, where it’s very slow. I am happy that I stayed disciplined for the whole match”, said Bencic. 

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Naomi Osaka Withdraws From Indian Wells, Unclear If She Will Play Again This Year

There is no official word but it looking increasingly likly that the world No.8 might have pulled the plug on her 2021 season.

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka has officially withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells just weeks after saying she will take a break from the sport due to personal reasons.

 

The former world No.1 hadn’t played a match since her loss to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open. Speaking to reporters in New York, Osaka said she didn’t know when she would play another match on the Tour. Earlier this year she opened up about her mental health struggles after revealing she has been suffering from social anxiety and depression. Osaka also took time away from the sport during the summer after pulling out of the French Open before deciding to skip Wimbledon.

“This is very hard to articulate. Basically I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. Sorry,” she said following her loss to Fernandez.
“I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while. How do I go around saying this? I feel like for me recently when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal. I didn’t really want to cry.”

Osaka’s withdrawal from Indian Wells was confirmed by the tournament who published an announcement on social media. Although they didn’t specify what reason she used to withdraw from the tournament which is one of the biggest events outside of the Grand Slams in terms of ranking points and prize money on offer.

It was Indian Wells where Osaka won her first prestigious title back in 2018 after defeating Daria Kasatkina in straight sets. The following year she was the top seed in the draw but lost to Belinda Bencic in the fourth round.

There has been no official comment from Osaka or her team about Indian Wells and if she will play again this season. Although it looks increasingly unlikely. She is in with a chance of qualifying for the WTA Finals in November but even if she does make the cut it is unclear if she will attend the event which has been relocated from China to Mexico.

This year Indian Wells will get underway on October 4th which is more than six months later than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Simona Halep Ends Six-Year Collaboration With Coach Cahill

One of the longest coaching partnerships on the WTA Tour has come to an end.

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Former world No.1 Simona Halep is on the lookout for a new coach after unexpectedly announcing her split from Darren Cahill on Wednesday.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion has been working with the Australian mentor for most of the time since 2015. There was a brief period where Cahill stepped away from his duties to spend more time with his family before later returning. Under his guidance, the Romanian reached the top of the world rankings and featured in the final of three major tournaments, winning two of those.

“After six wonderful years working together, Darren Cahill and I have decided that it’s time to end our working relationship,” Halep wrote on social media. “Thank you D for everything, for making me a better tennis player and a better person.”

55-year-old Cahill is a former player himself who has also worked with a series of top players prior to Halep. In the past, he has coached both Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi to world No.1 at different stages of their careers. Doubles specialist Horia Tecău reportedly told Romanian TV that it was rumoured Cahill received an annual salary in the region of one million euros during his time with Halep. Although this has not been verified.

The announcement comes a week after Halep married Macedonian businessman Toni Iuruc. One of those who attended the event was Illie Nastase who was one of the world’s best tennis players during the 1970s, winning both the French Open and US Open.

I didn’t know anything about Simona’s intention to break up with Darren Cahill. It took me a little by surprise. But Simona Halep has proven she knows what she’s doing. As I did not know, I do not see what I could comment. But there is no question of collaborating (with her),” Nastase told playsport.ro.
I didn’t talk to her about this or to anyone else in her entourage… I think only Simona knows who her future coach will be. I trust her choices.”

So far in 2021 Halep has achieved a win-loss record of 15-7 during what has been a rollercoaster season. An Achilles injury forced her to miss both the French Open and Wimbledon, as well as the Tokyo Olympics. Since returning to the Tour from her injury she has won back-to-back matches in one out of three tournaments played. Reaching the fourth round of the US Open.

There has been no official word on who may replace Cahill as Halep’s coach.

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