AO15: Venus Williams battles past Camila Giorgi - UBITENNIS
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AO15: Venus Williams battles past Camila Giorgi



TENNIS AO15 – Venus Williams fought back from a 4-6 3-5 deficit to battle past Italian Camila Giorgi in three sets with 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-1. Diego Sampaolo


AO2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

Venus Williams survived a big scare when Camila Giorgi was leading 6-4 4-2 0-40 on Venus’s serve but the Italian did not convert three break points. Camila came within two points of winning the match when she was serving for the match at 5-4 but she made a forehand error and committed her 9th double fault. Venus bounced back from the brink of defeat and turned the match around. The US star saved two set points at 5-6 15-40 before clinching the tie-break with 7-3 before winning the decider with 6-1. Giorgi tried to fight back after losing the first two games of the third set when she won a very long third game of 17 minutes after saving seven break points. In the fifth game the young Italian went up 30-0 but she committed her 13th double fault to fall behind 1-4.

Venus collected her 223rd win on the WTA Tour in her legendary career which started in the 1990s.

Williams has reached the second week in a Grand Slam for the first time since Wimbledon 2011. She will take on Agnieszka Radwanska who beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-0 7-5. Lepchenko had a late surge when she rallied from 2-5 down to almost push the match to the decider but Radwanska held on to clinch the second set with 7-5.

Venus leads 5-4 in the previous nine head-to-head matches but Agnieszka won all the last three matches in straight sets since Venus recovered from the Sjogren syndrome which sidelined her for seven months from September 2011 to March 2012. Venus will be looking to qualify for the quarter final in a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2010 US Open.

This old cat has a few tricks up her sleeve. She wasn’t doing anything wrong She was playing so aggressively. I had never played her before and to play someone of her level for the first time in a major, I didn’t know what to expect”, said Venus Williams in the post-match interview.

Camila played amazing. I thought she played awesome and just so aggressive. Everything was working for her. I have never played her before, so it’s challenging to get a rhythm against her. It’s challenging to know what the exact plays are. As the match went on I think I was able to get a little bit more settled and figure that out a little bit. But she played great. I just kept trying to get games on my board so hopefully I would get an opening at some point”

Venus went down a break in the second set and faced a triple break point at 4-2 but Venus managed to keep her focus and managed to recover.

When that was happening, my whole focus was: “Let me try to hold serve instead of saying: It’s almost over. I felt like I had some chances on the 5-4 return game. In the second set I just felt like if I play one or two points better then I am in there.

It feels fantastic to reach the second week. Especially when things happen in your life and it’s not in your control. It just feels awesome to be here but I don’t want to leave it at that. I will try to keep going”, continued Venus.

Venus started her career against players who are now long retired and now faces rivals who are much younger than her.

I think we talk maybe more about the players we see that aren’t playing anymore. We just can’t figure out how we are still here. That’s probably more on our mind. When you walk on that court, there is no such thing as age, height, any of that stuff. It’s really an even playing field. It’s a matter of: Can you get the ball in ? Can you win the point or not. It does not matter any of those variables. That’s what they are: I don’t think that enters our mind out there”

Venus praised Camila Giorgi saying that she is a potential to become a top-10 player. “I think that she has a potential for sure. She has a big game. She has motivation. She looks like she is working hard. She is moving up the rankings. I think the more she plays, she is going to learn. It’s about dealing with the pressure. I think that’s one of the hardest things to learn to do. Every point of the match. Every day that you are playing, it’s not easy for any player.

Venus’ sister Serena also got through to the fourth round. Serena fought back from a set down to overcome Elina Svitolina from the Ukraine in three sets with 4-6 6-2 6-0 to set up a fourth round against Garbine Muguruza who beat Swiss Timea Bacsinszky in three sets. It will be a re-match of the second round clash at last year’s Roland Garros where the young Spanish player upset Serena.

The last time both Williams’ sisters reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, Serena lift her fifth her fifth and last Trophy at Melbourne Park in 2010. She failed to advance the fourth round in 2012 and 2014 and was knocked out in the quarter final in 2013.

Viktoria Azarenka followed up her wins against Sloane Stephens and Caroline Wozniacki with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova to set up a fourth round match against last year’s Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova. Azarenka built up a 6-4 3-0 lead but Zahlavova Strycova clawed her way into the match by drawing level to 3-3. Azarenka broke serve in the seventh game for 4-3 but the Czech player broke straight back to draw level to 4-4. Azarenka broke again for 5-4 before serving out for the match in straight sets. Azarenka clinched 21 of her last 22 matches in Melbourne after winning two titles in 2012 and 2013 and losing to Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarter final in 2014. Her next match rival Cibulkova beat France’s Alizé Cornet 7-5 6-2. Cornet earned four set points at 5-3 and two more at 5-4 in the opening set and went up 2-0 in the second set but Cibulkova fended off all six set points and fought back in the second set by reeling off six consecutive games.


Iga Swiatek Criticises WTA’s Reform Of 2024 Calendar



Iga Swiatek has hit out at the WTA by claiming that only a handful of players were made aware of changes being made to the Tour calendar before they came into effect.


In recent weeks there has been an increase in frustration among players on the women’s Tour with letters being sent to the head of the WTA, Steve Simon, about their concerns. Swiatek has also sent her own letter to the governing body. According to The Athletic, some of the concerns that have been raised relates to higher pay on the Tour, adjustments to scheduling to help support players, expanded childcare and calls for a member of the PTPA to be present on the WTA Player’s Council.

The WTA has also been in the firing line concerning their management of the Tour finals which took place in Cancun last month and was won by Switek. Some of those who took part complained about the court conditions and lack of preparation they had. The stadium court wasn’t fully constructed until the same weekend the tournament began. 

Although, for the world No.1 her principle criticism concerns the 2024 calendar and the rules in place reagrding playing in mandatory events. Swiatek says some of the decisions have been made following discussions with ‘third parties’ and believes players are not being listened to. 

“There is room for improvement,” she said during an interview with newspaper Rzeczpospolita.
“As players, we are dissatisfied with the calendar for next year and the increase in the number of mandatory tournaments and restrictions related to withdrawing from them.’
“We want to change this. We need more balance and time to get back home. Sometimes, however, we beat our heads against the wall. Some decisions seem to be the result of promises made to third parties, federations and tournament organizers.’
“We find out about them after the fact. This causes frustration. Only a handful of players were aware of the calendar reform and the WTA cannot lead to such a situation again, since it considers itself an organization created for tennis players.”

The 22-year-old argues that these changes would give players more time to rest and see their families. Although Swiatek admits that she is in a more fortunate situation than some of her peers from a financial perspective. This season the Pole has earned $9,857,686 in prize money this year which is more than any other female player. 

“I hope that we will be able to change something – for example in the rules regarding withdrawing from tournaments,” she continued.
“Fortunately, I am in a situation where I can afford for my family to go on a trip with me, but not everyone can afford it. Many players rather save all their money to pay their coaches.’
“However, there is a difference between taking your family with you and returning home, when you can wash your clothes and spend time in the place where you grew up. I often miss Warsaw.”

Swiatek has won 68 out of 79 matches played this season, claiming six titles on the Tour. In the Grand Slams, she won the French Open, and reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the other two. She currently has a 245-point lead over second-place Aryna Sabalenka in the WTA standings. 

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‘A Long Way to Go’ – Iga Swiatek Must Improve A Key Element Of Her Game, Says Navratilova



Martina Navratilova has hailed Iga Swiatek’s winning end to her season but believes the Pole needs to continue working on a certain aspect of her game to become a better player. 


Swiatek reclaimed the world No.1 ranking during the WTA Finals where she clinched the year-end title in Mexico. She closes out the year on an 11-match winning streak after also winning the China Open before playing at the WTA Finals. Overall, she has reached the semi-finals or better at 12 out of 17 Tour events played and has won 68 out of 79 matches during 2023. In the Grand Slams, she won the French Open, reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the other two. 

Now sitting at the top of the WTA rankings with a 245-point lead over second place Aryna Sabalenka, Swiatek has begun her off-season which is the period that players normally use to work on their game. 

As to what she needs to work on, Navratilova believes a key issue for the four-time Grand Slam champion involves her volleying technique. Speaking to, Navratilova says there is ‘still a long way to go’ for the former world No.1 but adds that she will become a more formidable player on the Tour if she makes improvements. 

“The thing I’d target is getting to the net. I mean, she’s gotten better but there’s still a long way to go on the volley front, particularly that first volley — the transition volley, which is probably the most difficult shot in the game,” said Navratilova. 
“I think that’s where she can improve the most. Iga still has a tendency to run back to the baseline when she really should be going forward. And if she gets that going? Watch out. She can still get a few more mph on her serve, too. The groundstrokes are solid as a rock. And the drop shot — I think she had something like two drop shots all year. When she adds that and uses it at the right time — because with her topspin she really pushes people back behind the baseline — she’ll be even more deadly.”

Continuing her analysis, the 67-year-old believes Swiatek can also increase the speed of her serves even more. 

“She can still get a few more mph on her serve, too. The groundstrokes are solid as a rock. And the drop shot — I think she had something like two drop shots all year. When she adds that and uses it at the right time — because with her topspin she really pushes people back behind the baseline — she’ll be even more deadly.” She added. 

Navratilova has also highlighted areas that she believes other players need to work on. In her view, Sabalenka’s goal should be to work more on her movement during matches. Meanwhile, for US Open champion Coco Gauff, the development of her forehand will play an important part in her game. 

Swiatek ends the season with five WTA titles to her name. 

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Naomi Osaka Eager To Reclaim No.1 Spot, Says Coach




Naomi Osaka is targeting a return to the very top of the women’s game when she begins her comeback, according to a member of her team. 


Performance coach Florian Zitzelsberger has told that the four-time Grand Slam champion is ‘balanced and happy’ with herself after taking time away from the sport to give birth to her first child, a baby girl called Shai. The 26-year-old hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since the 2022 Pan Pacific Open and currently doesn’t have a ranking due to her inactivity. She has already confirmed her intention to resume her tennis career in 2024 but it is still unclear as to what her first tournament will be.

Providing a glimpse into Osaka’s current progress, Zitzelsberger says she is setting her sights on chasing after more Grand Slam titles. Zitzelsberger is the co-founder of Integralis Physiotherapie and has worked with Osaka in the past. He has also collaborated with the likes of Kevin Anderson, Julia Goerges and Petra Kvitova. 

“Where she is today is what makes working with her so inspiring,” he said. “She wants to get back to world No. 1, she wants to win Grand Slams. She gives me the impression of someone who is totally balanced and happy with herself. She’s very much grounded, mature and embracing the beauty of motherhood.”

In recent months there has been a growing trend of players returning to the sport after giving birth. Notable examples include Victoria Azarenka, Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki.

Zitzelsberger says his recent work with Osaka has been getting her back into shape and then working on certain areas of her game. 

“To reach the highest performance, we start by returning stability within the kinetic chain, which is typically lost somewhat during pregnancy and birth. The kinetic chain runs through the core, stomach and belly, and for a long time, her chain wasn’t playing tennis; it was growing a baby!” He explains. 
“Once that base is attained, we work on specific movement skills, whether that’s acceleration or deceleration, change of direction. The main objective is always strengthening to make the body strong, in addition to improving conditioning and mobility.”

Part of the training process has been trying to change what type of player Osaka is to adapt to the current level of the women’s Tour. After winning the 2021 Australian Open, she only reached one more Tour final which was the following year in Miami. During this period, she struggled with some injury issues and has been open about her experiences with mental health. 

“She’s obviously a great offense player, but I think things have changed in the game over the last half-decade where defense is getting more and more important,” Zitzelsberger commented.
We’re working to make Naomi into a player who can transition more effectively from defense to offense. That way, even if she’s getting pushed into a defensive position, she can still strike an offensive shot.”

Osaka has won seven WTA titles so far in her career and has earned more than $21M in prize money. 

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