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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Simona Halep Beats Erractic Anisimova To Reach Wimbledon Semis
The former world No.1 dropped six games against her opponent who produced a series of costly errors.
Simona Halep has stormed into the last four at Wimbledon after producing a comprehensive win over Amanda Anisimova.
The 2019 champion survived a last-minute resurgence from her rival to prevail 6-2, 6-4, over the American on the Center court. Halep was able to dictate the play throughout with the use of her aggressive shot-making in a match that resembled their meeting in Bad Homburg just two weeks ago. It is the first time she has reached the last four of a major since the 2020 Australian Open.
“It’s great to be back in the semi-finals. I am very emotional right now because it means a lot,” said Halep.
“I played a tough opponent today who could crush the ball in the end and I didn’t know what to do. I just believe in myself. I believed until the end that I could win.”
The 16th seed hit fewer winners than her rival (11-13) but the most telling factor was the unforced error count. Halep’s tally of six was more than four times less than that of Anisimova (28).
Out of the active players on the WTA Tour, Halep is only the third to reach a fifth Wimbledon quarter-final after both of the Williams sisters. Taking on Anisimova, the Romanian got off to a blistering start by breaking just three games into their clash. Producing some powerful ball-striking Halep forced her rival to commit back-to-back forehand errors which granted her the early break. Two games later the lead was extended further after yet more Anisimova errors moved the former champion to 4-1. She took the opener after exactly 30 minutes of play with the help of a serve down the line Anisimova returned.
It was a case of deja vu in the second set with Halep’s game simply overwhelming her error-stricken opponent who looked growingly lost on the court. Anisimova continuously looked towards her entourage out of frustration. It eventually all got too much for the world No.25 who began to cry during a changeover after going down 1-4 once again.
Halep’s only struggle in the match occurred when she was tasked with serving it out. With Anisimova hitting more freely and with nothing to lose, suddenly she was the aggressor and retrieved one of the breaks to gradually close her deficit to 4-5. Prompting a big cheer from the crowd.
After going through a period where 13 out of 16 points played went to her opponent, Halep eventually held her nerve to clinch victory.
“I am definitely playing my best tennis (since winning the 2019 Wimbledon title),” she said.
“Last year I struggled a lot and now I am just trying to build my confidence back. My tennis here and all I need to do now is to start to believe in myself.”
Halep is yet to drop a set at Wimbledon after five matches played.
WIMBLEDON: 10 Facts About Semi-Finalist Ons Jabeur
All you need to know about the Trailblazing Tunisian who has created history at The All England Club.
Second seed Ons Jabeur achieved a new milestone for both her and her country at Wimbledon on Tuesday.
The world No.2 battled back from a set down to defeat Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, to reach the last four of a major event for the first time in her career. Jabeur has now dropped only one set in five matches played and is the highest ranked player remaining in the draw. Her major breakthrough comes seven years after she made her Grand Slam debut at the 2015 Australian Open.
“I played really good from beginning of the second set, especially having a early break kind of helps me gain confidence,” said Jabeur.
“I know it wasn’t easy playing Marie. She gets all the balls and doesn’t make, to win a point, easy for me. I’m glad I stepped in with my game. I was more aggressive in the second set, and especially tactically I was playing some angles that she didn’t like much.”
To mark Jabeur’s Wimbledon milestone, here are 10 facts to know about her:-
- She is the first North African player – male or female – to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. The last woman from the entire African continent to reach a major semi-final was Amanda Coetzer at the 1997 French Open.
- Her win over Bouzkova is Jabeur’s 26th Tour-level win on the grass.
- Jabeur has now won 83 matches over the past two seasons. This is more than any other player on the WTA Tour.
- Has won 21 out of her last 23 matches.
- She is the only Tunisian woman currently ranked in the world’s top 700.
- Jabeur had failed to win back-to-back matches on her three out of her four previous appearances at Wimbledon in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She reached the quarter-finals in 2021.
- Coming into Wimbledon she has already earned more than $6.2m in prize money in her career.
- She has won three Tour titles in Birmingham (2021), Madrid (2022) and Berlin (2022).
- Has beaten a top 10 player four times in her career – Dominika Cibulkova (2017 French Open), Simona Halep (Beijing 2018), Sloane Stephens (Moscow 2018) and Karolina Pliskova (Doha 2020).
- In October 2021 she became the first Arab player (mae or female) to crack the world’s top 10 in tennis.
Tatjana Maria – Reaching Wimbledon Semi-Finals is ‘Amazing’ But It Doesn’t Beat Parenthood
The underdog is enjoying her best-ever run at a major 15 years after making her debut.
Germany’s Tatjana Maria reveals people once doubted her ability to return to tennis after having her first child. Now a mother-of-two, she has secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals.
The fairytale run of the world No.103 continued on Tuesday when she ousted compatriot Jule Niemeier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in her quarter-final match. Until the tournament, Maria had never been beyond the third round of a major event. However, that changed with high-profile wins over Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko prior to Niemeier.
“It’s amazing. I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realize something, but it’s still hard to realize it,” she said of reaching the last four at Wimbledon.
Whilst some players prepare for their Grand Slam matches in the gym, Maria’s routine is somewhat unique. She began her day by taking her 8-year-old daughter to her tennis lesson. It wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a 15-month-old baby.
“Outside of the court, nothing changes for me for the moment,” she said. “I try to keep this going, everything the same. We keep going (to the tennis lessons) even if I’m playing the semifinals.”
Incredibly the 34-year-old returned to the circuit following maternity leave less than a year ago. It was during that absence that she decided to switch to a one-handed backhand. She has been ranked as high as 46th in the world and has two Tour titles to her name.
“A lot of people who never believed I would come back. This was already after Charlotte and when I changed my backhand,” she said.
“I showed it last time already that I am back. I reached the top 50 with Charlotte, and now I’m back with my second child. Still, everybody was doubting.’
“I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming.”
Relishing in her best-ever performance at a major event, Maria is another example of a player having a breakthrough later in their career. To put her run in perspective, in the Open Era only five other women have reached the semifinals at Wimbledon after turning 34.
However, in Maria’s eyes, her achievements on the court can’t beat her top priority off the court.
“To be a mum is for me on the top of my life. So I think it helps me in tennis too because now my priority is my kids,” she explains. “I play tennis, I want to do my best, that’s all that I want. But my kids are the priority.’
“If I go out there, I want my kids to be happy, that they are healthy, that everything is okay. That’s the most important thing for me in my life.”
Maria made her Grand Slam debut back at Wimbledon in 2007.
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