A 2014 WTA shot guide: Part 5 (overall game-plans) - UBITENNIS
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A 2014 WTA shot guide: Part 5 (overall game-plans)

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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.

  • Overall aggressiveness

Being aggressive is the ultimate goal of every player, but some of them are naturally or tactically more prone to looking for winners earlier in the point.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvOVW21bZzE

1) Serena Williams: on serve or on return, you can always count on the world number on to step in and look for a fast ending of the point.

Maria Sharapova by Fabrizio Maccani

Maria Sharapova by Fabrizio Maccani

2) Maria Sharapova: one of the Russian’s best qualities is the ability to put a huge mental pressure on her opponents. This is derived from her will to dictate every point and every rally, from the very beginning. Many have criticized her second serve, for the many double faults it hands, but it’s the price to pay for giving no chance to attack that shot.

3) Petra Kvitova: she is the most hot-and-cold player on tour on a high level. You never know what to expect from her in terms of quality of her game on the day, but you can be sure that she will always try to finish each point as fast as possible.

Camila Giorgi by Monique Filippella

Camila Giorgi by Monique Filippella

4) Camila Giorgi: the Italian has quite a unique game for the standards of her country. There is no dead shot in her game, every ball is a chance for a winner in her tactics. It cannot always pay off, but when it does, it becomes hard to stop her.

5) Ana Ivanovic: the Serb is a capable mover, but she rather prefers to set up the point in order to close with her beloved forehand.

  • Overall defence

Some other players are natural defenders, they cannot play a high-risk game or do not possess the power to dictate their game, so they prefer to wear their opponents down until they find the space for winners.

1) Caroline Wozniacki: the former world number one is probably the best retriever the tour has seen in recent years, for which she received the nickname of Wallzniacki. She ran the NYC marathon in quite a stunning time, would you expect her to be tired after a three hours match?

2) Simona Halep: probably the most natural clay courter in the top 10, the Romanian has an amazing ability to turn defence into offence, which makes it hard to play her on any surface.

Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber

3) Angelique Kerber: you can never be sure to have closed a point against the German, until the ball bounces twice on the ground. Her speed on court is probably the highest of them all and her ability to give power to the lowest ball keeps her opponents on their toes until the point is called.

4) Agnieszka Radwanska: she moves well and anticipate even better, but when she is in trouble she can always slow down the point with a tricky slice or a smart lob.

5) Jelena Jankovic: the Serb has not had the best of her seasons, but her stunning movements and ability to absorb power make her a very dangerous opponent if you cannot keep your focus high.

  • All good, but no excellence

The title should not mislead the reader, having no bigger weapon is not necessarily a weakness, especially if you can build around having no big weaknesses your strength. If your opponent has a massive forehand, but a weak backhand, you know where to aim, but it is harder to find a lifeline if they are both as good.

1) Ekaterina Makarova: it is hard to find a big flaw in the game of the Russian, probably only the footwork can let her down, but that is about it. It is no surprise she is so often the name you do not expect to reach the later stage of slams.

Dominika Cibulkova by Fabrizio Maccani

Dominika Cibulkova by Fabrizio Maccani

2) Dominika Cibulkova: being so short is all you can blame her for not being more successful than she is. The first few months of this year, there was little she could not do.

3) Andrea Petkovic: she is probably the definition of a thoroughly built player. Her shots are the result of hundreds of thousands balls being played over and over. Her technique may not look any natural, but it is hard it will break down.

Alize Cornet by Art Seitz

Alize Cornet by Art Seitz

4) Alizé Cornet: a born clay courter, she could beat Serena Williams on hard courts and on grass, she can slice, she moves well, has a good backhand and a reliable forehand. Her biggest weakness is her unpredictable mental game.

5) Elina Svitolina: once I read on an American website “she is the best player you probably have never heard of” and there is a reason why. You can see that she has got it all, but she has not blossomed yet, so for now, she falls in this category as a starting point.

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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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