AO15: What Happened to Her After That Big Upset Win? - UBITENNIS
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AO15: What Happened to Her After That Big Upset Win?

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Day 1 of the 2015 Australian Open has to be some record with so many upsets on the women’s draw. By the end of first day’s play, 8 of the top seeds in the bottom half of the draw were ousted; that is half of the 16 that were originally slated there. The unseeded field seemed to have had no respect for the rankings as two of the casualties were well within the top-10. The winners of these upset matches played inspired tennis shocking their opponents into submission.

 

Upsets are not uncommon at the majors. In fact, they are to be expected. It does not come to mind an instant when the seeded players have progressed within a major according to their rankings when so much prestige, publicity and potential for more money are at stake. The top players are not alone in planning on peaking at these tournaments. It is the random nature of upsets that is so striking as one rarely knows why, when and where they will occur.

What is even more particular about upsets in tennis is that quite often, when a player score an upset particularly a huge one, for example in 2013 when Steven Darcis shocked Rafael Nadal in the 1st round of Wimbledon, that player often loses the next match. In fact, that player often shows up next match looking nothing like the supreme player he/she were the round before. Perhaps it is the over excitement of their victory or the huge media response or mental fatigue. Whatever the case may be, the player finds him/herself on the losing end of things. Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to see how these 8 ladies who scored an upset win in the 1st round fared in the 2nd round. That is to say, “What happened to her after that big upset win?

The biggest upset of the tournament so far was that of Ana Ivanovic (5). She above all others was the most unexpected loss as she played so well leading up to this major. As a former finalist here back in 2008 and a major winner herself the same year at the French Open, some gave the Serbian an outside chance of collecting her second major title. However, Lucie Hradecka from the Czech Republic saw to it that Ivanovic would have to pursue that goal at another major event. Hradecka now faced Polona Hercog of Slovenia. Hradecka lost the opening set as did against Ivanovic but again came surging back strong as she won 4-6 6-3 6-2. Hradecka, long considered a doubles specialist, has made it clear after her 1st round victory that she intends to get her singles’ ranking back within the top 50. Winning matches at a major would definitely help in that pursuit.

Hradecka will face in the 3rd round another one of those “upset ladies” in the form of Germany’s Julia Goerges who took out Belinda Bencic (32). Goerges was up against Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic in the 2nd round and led by a set and a break, 6-3 2-1, before becoming unraveled. Koukalova seized the momentum and came back to take the 2nd set to force a third. However, Goerges righted her ship and near ran away with the decisive set as she served for it at 5-0. Koukalova made a desperate bid to stay alive in the match by breaking the German. Goerges performed better on her second bid to serve out the match as she took it 6-3 4-6 6-2.

Irina-Camila Begu of Romania had the second biggest upset on the women’s side when she ousted Angelique Kerber (9) in 3 sets. In her 2nd round match, the Romanian would only need 2 sets to take out Katerina Siniakova 7-5 6-4. She will take on another “upset lady”, Carina Witthoeft of Germany, who knocked out Carla Suarez-Narravo (17) in brilliant fashion 6-3 6-1. As she did in the 1st round, Witthoeft was simply ruthless in her play and she crushed American Christina McHale, 6-3 6-0. Witthoeft dropped only 3 points in the 2nd set.

Two very noticeable dismissals on Monday were that of Lucie Safarova (16) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (27) by Yaroslava Shvedova and Caroline Garcia respectively. Both Shvedova and Garcia won their 2nd round matches in straight sets. Shvedova took out Monica Puig 6-2 7-6 and Garcia beat Stephanie Voegele 6-3 6-4. Shvedova will play Shuai Peng (21) in the next round and Garcia will face Eugenie Bouchard (7).

Yanina Wickmayer who took out Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (23) in three sets, continued the trend of the “upset ladies” winning the next round. She again needed three sets to take out her opponent, Lara Arrubarrena, 6-4 4-6 6-4. Wickmayer will have to dig deep if she wants to make it to the Round of 16 as she would be facing the very formidable Sara Errani (14) in the 3rd round.

Unfortunately, it was not a “perfect storm” for the “upset ladies” as one of the eight did not make it to the 3rd round, Kristina Mladenovic. Mladenovic who beat Sabine Lisicki (28) in the earlier round, found herself up against the charismatic and enigmatic American, Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The two fought it out in two-tough-tiebreaker sets and Mladenovic lost them both. Mattek-Sands will need that same grit and much more if she wishes to beat her next opponent, Simona Halep (3).

Interesting enough, the bottom half on the women’s draw was relatively quiet throughout 2nd round play as there were no upsets on the day. There was a very near upset though as Maria Sharapova (2) had to save many crucial break points as well as two match points against Alexandra Panova who is ranked 150 in the world. Sharapova nonetheless moved through 6-1 4-6 7-5.

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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.

https://twitter.com/Simona_Halep/status/1570370209504198656

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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