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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Iga Swiatek Saves Two Match Points To Edge Out Krejcikova In Rome

Iga Swiatek survived a 2 hour and 50 minute clash to advance to the Rome Quarter-Finals.

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Iga Swiatek (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Iga Swiatek saved two match points to defeat Barbora Krejcikova 3-6 7-6(5) 7-5 to reach the last eight in Rome.

 

The defending Roland Garros champion battled and clawed to victory in 2 hours and 52 minutes after saving two match points.

Swiatek will now play the winner of the match between Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals tomorrow.

A summary of the match would be a lot of errors and tentative play throughout as the Pole was too aggressive in the opening set allowing a lot of unforced errors into her game.

Meanwhile Krejcikova was solid but was aggressive with the right angles in the right moments.

This proved crucial for the Czech Republican as she took advantage of Iga’s inability to produce first serves.

A crucial hold at 4-2 was enough for Krejcikova as there were six breaks of serve in the opening set. A long ninth game ended with the Czech taking the set 6-3.

In the second set it was more of the same with Swiatek as she was not able to produce her best tennis.

After going down an early break, Swiatek knew she had to build the points up slowly and gain her confidence. This is what occurred as she got the break back immediately and started to hold serve more comfortably.

Even though the world number 15 looked more confident with her shots and started to construct points better she could not successfully get into Krejcikova’s service games.

Towards the end of the set Swiatek saved two match points as this dramatic contest went to a second set tiebreak.

Swiatek’s mini-break lead was reduced but her fighting spirit was not as Krejcikova felt the pressure and a double fault from her gave the Pole a lifeline as she forced a deciding set.

After spending the change of ends being emotional, Swiatek regained similar form in the final set with her drop-shots being effective.

Krejcikova held nerve of her own as she continued to force the Pole to make unforced errors and just be as solid as she could be.

Swiatek saved three break points in the seventh game to lead 4-3 and then pounced in the 12th game with some heavy returns to take the match and move into the last eight.

Next for the Pole after a mammoth clash will be Garbine Muguruza or Elina Svitolina as she climbs into a new career ranking of 14 in the world.

In other results today Coco Gauff knocked out Madrid Champion Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 6-3 for one of the best wins of her career.

The vibrant American faces world number one Ash Barty who continued her amazing season with with a 6-3 6-3 win over Veronika Kudermetova.

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Serena Williams’ 1000th Match Ends In Defeat To Podoroska

Serena Williams was defeated in Rome as she reaches a landmark milestone of 1000 WTA matches.

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Serena Williams (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Serena Williams’ 1000th WTA tour match has ended in a 7-6(6) 7-5 defeat to Nadia Podoroska in Rome.

 

The American made her return to tour for the first time in 84 days as she looked to build momentum heading into Roland Garros.

If the first few games were to set the tempo of the match then it would prove to be a long contest with Serena struggling to get any free points on her serve.

It was the Argentinian who got the first break of the match in the third game as she tested Serena’s stamina early on in the contest.

In typical Serena fashion, the 23-time grand slam champion produced some stunning ground-strokes especially from central positions to break to love straight away.

On serve, Serena looked fairly comfortable as she ended the match with eight aces although she only made a first serve percentage of 48%.

That was her key downfall as it was Podoroska who looked the more comfortable on return as she used some devastating angles to force unforced errors from the Serena racket.

A break for a 5-4 lead ensured that the last year’s Roland Garros semi-finalist would serve for the opening set.

However Serena used her power and good point construction to once again break back which was met with a roar from the world number eight.

Eventually the first set would head towards a tiebreaker with Podoroska dominating the majority of it.

She had three set points which came and went as Serena used her fighting qualities to roar back into the match.

But once again some unforced errors would cost the four-time champion as Podoroska took the next two point to claim the opening set in 66 minutes.

In the second set, Serena was the early aggressor as she dictated points better setting the pace of the match.

Again though Podoroska extended the rallies and made the American move all round the court exposing as much space as possible.

The Argentinian was rewarded for her court coverage when she broke in the sixth game as Serena began to tire.

As in the first set, Podoroska couldn’t serve out the second set as her cautious play lead to Serena levelling it up at 5-5.

However Serena’s serve was just not working when she needed it too and Podoroska secured the final blow to seal a fantastic victory for her.

For Serena its onto Roland Garros as she will look to improve her fitness in the next couple of weeks.

As for Podoroska she will play Petra Martic after the Croatian beat Kristina Mladenovic today 7-5 6-3.

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Naomi Osaka’s Clay Woes Continue After Pegula Defeat In Rome

Naomi Osaka went out in the second round in Rome to Jessica Pegula.

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Jessica Pegula (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Naomi Osaka’s clay court woes continued in Rome after losing to Jessica Pegula 7-6(2) 6-2.

 

The world number two admitted previously that learning the clay court trade would take time and this continues to be the case after another early defeat on the surface.

After losing in the second round in Madrid to Karolina Muchova, Osaka knew she needed a quick start in this match and she produced that with the early break for a 2-0 lead.

Pegula’s loss in Madrid was in the third round although that was to the eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka and she had every reason not to be intimidated as she slowly worked her way in the match.

The American reaped her rewards as she took her second break point to bring the match back on serve.

Despite the setback, Osaka continued to dictate play using her athleticism to bring shots back with depth and pace as she was arguably playing the better tennis.

In the latter stages of the set, the Australian Open champion had created three set points before some bold Pegula tennis denied Osaka the set.

Eventually the first set went to a tiebreak which saw the world number 31 be more aggressive and produce some stunning tennis to win seven of the nine points on offer to win the tiebreak 7-2.

In the second set, Osaka fell apart as her backhand, net play and general point construction crumbled quickly.

Pegula offered more in attacking combinations and produced some big serves as she broke three times in the second set.

Despite breaking in the sixth game, it was another disappointing performance from Osaka who conceded defeat in 90 minutes.

As for Pegula she has set up a third round clash with Ekaterina Alexandrova.

In other results so far today Elina Svitolina survived a scare as she edged past Amanda Anisimova 2-6 6-3 6-4 in 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Garbine Muguruza also edged past Bernarda Pera 2-6 6-0 7-5 in just over two hours after the Spaniard struggled with a foot injury.

There were comfortable victories for Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova while Petra Kvitova was knocked out by Vera Zvonareva 6-4 3-6 6-4.

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