AO15: Sharapova and Makarova to meet in all-Russian semifinal - UBITENNIS
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AO15: Sharapova and Makarova to meet in all-Russian semifinal



TENNIS AO15 – Maria Sharapova cruised past Eugenie Bouchard in the eagerly awaited quarter final with 6-3 6-2 to advance to the semifinals. Sharapova will face Ekaterina Makarova in a all-Russian semifinal. Makarova reached her second consecutive Grand Slam semifinal after sweeping aside Simona Halep with 6-4 6-0. Diego Sampaolo


AO2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

Sharapova lost to Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round last year in Melbourne, while Bouchard reached her first ever Grand Slam semifinal. In the previous three head-to-head matches Sharapova led 3-0.

Sharapova, who won her last Grand Slam title on hard-court at the Australian Open in 2008, edged Bouchard in a very tight Roland Garros semifinal en route to winning her fifth Grand Slam but this time the Russian star was the dominant player from the beginning of the match and won her fourth head-to-head match against the young Canadian.

Masha broke serve in the opening game of the first set and held serve in the second game for 2-0. In the first two games Bouchard committed six unforced errors. The Canadian earned the chance to break back in the sixth game but failed to convert on her two break points with two backhand errors. Both players held serve until the ninth game when Sharapova got her second break to clinch the first set with 6-3 when Bouchard missed a backhand down the line on the set point.

Sharapova earned a break point early the second set with a forehand return winner but Bouchard saved it with a volley and a down-the-line backhand. Masha broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Sharapova went down 0-30 on her serve in the next game but she held her serve with her serve and a down-the line forehand. She broke again before sealing the win with a huge forehand winner down the line on her first match point.

Sharapova hit 19 winners to 18 unforced errors. Bouchard ended the match with 13 winners and 30 unforced errors.

I felt pretty good from the start. I thought I had a really good start. I kept my focus throughout the whole match. I didn’t feel that I had too many letdowns, which is important. When I had a few slips I was able to come out with great first serves or really powerful returns. But overall I am really happy with the way the match went”, said Sharapova

I knew that I had to play a really complete match. She is one who goes after it and goes after her strokes, so I knew that the second and third balls would be very important. I knew I had to take time away from her and be aggressive”

Like Nadal, who survived a scare in the second round, Sharapova also had to dig deep to beat Alexandra Panova but then her last two matches went easily.

I am not sure if it has anything to do with Nadal. We have been kind of playing before or after each other on the schedule, so I don’t know if that’s something to do it. But, of course, when you’ re down and out like in the second match, it’s like, you know, I don’t want to face that phone call with my father too many times during a tournament. It’s like, I better get my stuff together. It was important to change some things around and just to come out with a little bit of a different perspective and play a bit better. I am happy I was able to do that”

Bouchard, who reached the semifinals last year in Melbourne and at the Roland Garros and the final at Wimbledon, felt obviously disappointed with her match today.

I felt under pressure the whole time, a bit on my back foot. That’s not how I want to play. I feel like I didn’t start well and and it went downhill from there. It’s definitely easier when you have a good start to the match. It’s hard to compare this match with that we played last year in Paris on different surfaces, different circumstances. I think she definitely played well today and she didn’t give me many chances. I am disappointed with that.I did not take the few chances I got here and there. Against great players, you have to take every little chance you can get. Although she didn’t give me many, I know I had some. I am disappointed I could not do better with those”, reflected Bouchard.

Sharapova set up a all-Russian semifinal against Ekaterina Makarova who cruised past Simona Halep with 6-4 6-0 qualifying for her second consecutive Grand Slam semifinal after reaching this stage at last September’s US Open where she lost in the semifinal against Serena Williams. Makarova cruised to 3-0 with a double break lead in the first set. Halep recovered one of two breaks but Makarova was still a break up and earned a set point at 5-3. Halep saved it with a forehand down the line but Makarova served out for the first set for 6-4 as Halep hit her backhand into the net. Makarova eased past the Romanian player with a bagel in the second set. Makarova is the only player not to have dropped a single set in the whole tournament.

Sharapova won all her five previous head-to-head matches against Makarova and dropped just one set.

Besides playing another Russian, I am also facing an opponent that wasn’t necessarily a favourite coming into that stage. That’s always a tricky situation because she is going to come into that match free and almost happy to be in that situation and that’s dangerous. I haven’t faced a lefty in this tournament yet. She has been using her lefty serve extremely well from what I have seen. I will be looking out for that, work on a few things tomorrow and be ready for that match. I don’t know her too much. We have practiced a little bit during the Fed Cup, but that was a few years ago. We already played a few times. There are no secrets in each other’s game. I try not to focus on the fact that every time I play a fellow Russian player the mental part is different compared to players from other countries. I know it’s always tougher. That’s why I always try to focus more on what I have to do to win the match more than we are from. At the end of the day, both of us are both trying to win that last point”, said Sharapova.

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Bianca Andreescu Reunites With Former Coach Ahead Of New Season 

How will the Grand Slam champion fair on the Tour with her latest mentor?




Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has brought a familiar face back into her team as she bids to return to her best form in 2023. 


Andreescu, who is currently ranked 45th in the WTA rankings, has appointed Christophe Lambert as her latest coach. Lambert had been working as the performance director at Tennis New Zealand and resigned from that position to work with the former US Open champion. He had also previously worked for Tennis Canada and during that time he was a private coach for Andreescu in 2016. 

“Bianca asked me to coach her and I accepted the job. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Lambert told 

Lambert, who has also spent time working with the Chinese Davis Cup team and for the British LTA, has stayed in contact with Andreescu ever since coaching her six years ago. 

“It wasn’t like every week or every month. It’s always good to have people calling you when you are up, but when she was down I was checking on her and giving her my opinion.” He said. 

Andreescu had been working with Dutch coach Sven Groeneveld for over a year before they decided to end their collaboration in October. Groeneveld has a wealth of experience in the sport after working with a series of top names, including Maria Sharapova. 

This season the former world No.4 has won 20 out of 33 matches played with her best performance being a run to the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. However, her record against top 10 opposition was 2-5.

“I’m just taking it day by day, and it’s a great way to end off the year as well, just bringing back all the emotions that fire a lot in me,” Andreescu recently told reporters in Glasgow at the Billie Jean King Cup. “I think I’m going to have a great preseason. Next year I really think I can crack the top 10 again.”

Andreescu, who has been hampered by injury issues in recent years, hasn’t won a singles title of any sort since 2019. 

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Four-Time Grand Slam Winner Naomi Osaka Named In FTX Lawsuit 

The former world No.1 took an equity stake in the failed business earlier this year. 




Naomi Osaka is among a series of high-profile individuals who have been accused of using their celebrity status to promote FTX’s failed business model in a lawsuit filed against the cryptocurrency exchange. 


The BBC has reported that over one million people and businesses could be owed money following the collapse of FTX, according to bankruptcy filings. A week ago FTX collapsed into bankruptcy with its former boss Sam Bankman-Fried stepping down as CEO. A massive development in the financial for what was one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world that had the naming rights to a Formula One racing team as well as a sports arena in Miami.

According to the Associated Press, the company is being investigated by state and federal prosecutors over allegations it ‘invested depositors’ funds in ventures without their approval.’ In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, it argues that celebrity backers of FTX such as Osaka should be held just as accountable as Bankman-Fried as they brought ‘instant credibility’ to the company. 

“Part of the scheme employed by the FTX Entities involved utilizing some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment — like these Defendants — to raise funds and drive American consumers to invest … pouring billions of dollars into the deceptive FTX platform to keep the whole scheme afloat,” the lawsuit said.

Osaka took an equity stake in FTX in March where she would be receiving compensation in Crypto. Signing what was described as a ‘long-term partnership’ to become a global ambassador, the tennis star aimed to draw attention to women joining the platform and she played a role in directing its content.

“We have seen the statistics about how few women are part of crypto by comparison, which kind of mirrors the inequality we see in other financial markets,” Osaka said earlier this year.

Osaka, who has won 14 out of 23 matches played this season, has not made any public statement regarding the lawsuit. NFL quarterback Tom Brady, comedian Larry David and basketball team the Golden State Warriors are also defendants in the lawsuit.

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WTA Targets New Multi-Year Deal For Its Premier Event If Agreement With China Fails

Will the WTA Finals return to Shenzhen in 2023?



WTA CEO Steve Simon

The WTA say they are not willing to compromise their principles concerning the possibility of hosting tournaments in China next year amid uncertainty over the future of their season-ending event. 


Steve Simon, who is the CEO of the women’s Tour, says he is hopeful that a resolution can be found with the country but has vowed now to back down on its stance. Last year the WTA suspended tournaments in China over concerns about the safety of former player Peng Shuai who accused a former government official of sexually assaulting her. 

Shuai disappeared shortly after posting her statement on social media before returning a few weeks later with photos and videos of her being posted online by journalists linked to the government-controlled media. There are concerns that the former doubles Grand Slam champion, who has not left her country since making those allegations, is being censored by the government. The WTA wants an investigation to be conducted into the matter. 

“We’ve made a strong stand, and we stand behind that stance, and we’re not going to compromise our principles,” Simon said during an interview with The New York Times. “Clearly when we did it, we understood eyes wide open what it could mean.”
“We’re still in the same place. If they come forward with something else we should look at, of course we are open to it. But we haven’t seen it so far. I’m hopeful we do find a resolution. That’s the goal, to find the right resolution. What’s the truth? Then we can move forward.” He added. 

Simon said he is confident that Shuai is safe in Beijing but he has not been able to make any direct contact with her, despite trying to on multiple occasions. A letter reportedly written by Shuai to the WTA was posted online in 2021 saying that she wishes to be left alone. However, many have doubted the authenticity of that letter with some fearing that she wrote it under duress. 

One of the biggest impacts of the fallout has involved the prestigious WTA Finals, which is a round-robin tournament featuring the eight best-performing players over the past 12 months. In 2018 a lucrative deal was agreed that paved the way for the event to be held in Shenzhen for 10 years. However, the event was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the next two additions were moved elsewhere.

Whilst the WTA is optimistic about a return to Shenzhen in 2023, there are also backup plans in the works. Simon confirmed that it is no longer feasible for the WTA Finals to be held in a location for just one year. So it is likely that the tournament would be held in a city for two or more years in a row if it doesn’t return to China next season. 

“We’re not going to continue to do these one-year decisions,” he said. “It’s not sustainable. If it looks like we can’t go back to China or aren’t ready to go back, then I do think we will carve out a multiyear situation, because we need to for the business.”

The case involving Shuai isn’t the only barrier for the WTA. China’s zero-covid policy has made hosting international events in the region unfeasible and the ATP cancelled all of their events in the tournament this year due to the situation. 

This year’s WTA Finals has a prize money offering of $5M which is more than half of what was on offer at the 2019 tournament in Shenzhen ($14M). 

Simon didn’t provide any deadline for when an agreement must be reached with China must be reached before the WTA considers moving their event elsewhere once again. 

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