Australian Open 2015: 19 Times Serena! The World Number 1 Wins her 6th Melbourne title - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open 2015: 19 Times Serena! The World Number 1 Wins her 6th Melbourne title

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TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2015 – Serena Williams edged Maria Sharapova 6-3 7-6 (7-5) to clinch her sixth Australian Open title (her first since 2010) and her 19th overall Grand Slam trophy. She has overtaken Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert in the all-time ranking of the players with most Grand Slam wins. Only Steffi Graf won more times with 22 titles. Diego Sampaolo

 

AO2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

Serena won 16 consecutive matches against Maria and extended to 17-2 in her head-to-head matches against her Russian rival. She clinched 12 of these matches in straight sets. Sharapova has not beaten Williams since the WTA Championships final in Los Angeles.

Williams won her previous Australian Open final against Sharapova in 2007 in straight sets with 6-1 6-2 They met only once more in 2005 in the semifinals when Williams won in three sets with 2-6 7-5 8-6. The Russian star won one of her four finals Down Under in 2008 when she defeated Ana Ivanovic.

Williams earned a break point in the first game as Sharapova hit a backhand wide. Serena got the break for 1-0 with a double fault from the Russian player. Serena won the first significant rally of the match with a backhand winner with 40-30 and held serve with a backhand winner.

Sharapova capitalized on a couple of errors and to go up 30-0 before winning her first game to love with a serve and a forehand winner. In the fourth game Sharapova won the point after the best rally of the match with a drop-shot. Serena hit a forehand winner and her first ace of the match before going up 40-30. Williams won the game to pull away to 3-1 after an unsuccessful challenge from Sharapova.

The Russian five-time Grand Slam champion kept the pace by holding serve for 3-2. Sharapova hit a forehand winner and came close to a break point in the sixth game but Williams clawed her way back to draw level to 30-30. The match was stopped for 13 minutes at 30-30 in the sixth game when rain came down heavier. After the roof was closed and the match was resumed Williams hit an ace and a forehand to win the game for 4-2.

Sharapova double faulted to hand Williams three break points. Serena converted on her first break point chance for 5-2 as Maria hit a forehand long.

In the next game Sharapova earned three chances to break back as Williams hit her backhand into the net. Williams saved the first chance with her forehand and the second with an ace but Sharapova converted the break-back point chance on the third opportunity when Williams made a double fault.

After an exciting rally Sharapova missed a forehand down the line to hand Williams a break point. Williams hit a backhand winner to convert on the break point to close out the first set with 6-3

There were no breaks of serve in the second set. Williams hit her fifth and the sixth aces in the opening game of the second set before going up 1-0 with a forehand down-the line winner. Williams earned a break point chance but Sharapova saved it when Williams sent a backhand long. Williams held serve for 2-1 in the third game.

Sharapova missed a forehand to go down 15-30 but she held on and hit a backhand winner into the corner to draw level to 2-2. Sharapova hit 18 of her 21 winners and saved four break points during the second set

Sharapova hit a winner to go up 0-30 on Williams’ serve but the US legend hit two aces to draw level to 30-30 before clinching the fifth game with tow more aces for 3-2. Williams earned a break point in the sixth game with a backhand winner but failed to convert it when she sent a forehand long.

Sharapova started the seventh game with a forehand winner but Williams survived a tough game with her 13th game for 4-3. Sharapova won the 8th game to draw level to 4-4.

Williams brought up a match point with Sharapova serving at 4-5 30-40. Masha hit a forehand down the line winner to save the first of two match points and held her service game in the 10th game.

Sharapova won a long and exciting rally to draw level to 30-30 but Williams hit two aces to clinch the 11th game and edge ahead with 6-5 but Sharapova won the service game to force the second set to the tie-break.

Sharapova hit a winner into the corner on Williams’ serve to get the mini-break but was broken back immediately. With her 17th ace Williams pulled away to a 4-1 lead but Sharapova clawed her back into the match after a couple of misses from Williams.

Williams build up a 6-4 lead in the tie-break. Sharapova saved the second match point with a winning service return. Williams hit her 18th ace to clinch her 19th Grand Slam title on her third match point. Only Steffi Graf won more titles with 22 Grand Slam titles. With her sixth title Serena has become the oldest winner of the Australian Open women’s tournament.

Williams won 37 of her 44 first serve points and hi 38 winners.

I have to congratulate Maria. She played a wonderful match. She really pushed me tonight. She gave us a great final not only for you guys but for women’s tennis. I am really honoured I got to play you in the final. Growing up I wasn’t the richest, but I had a rich family in spirit and support and standing here with 19 championships is something I never thought would happen. It feels really good to be sitting here as the champion. I definitely didn’t think I would be here at the beginning of the week or the beginning of the two weeks, but it feels pretty excellent. I was not feeling great. Every time I didn’t feel great I started to feel better, and then the next day I got worse. I had a bad cough. I ended up throwing up. I have just got a bad cold. When that happens, you stay in bed, you don’t play matches every day. There was a lot of ups and downs. So I just thought that I was somehow still in the tournament and now I somehow I have won. It’s really exciting”, said Williams

The match definitely got tough in the second set. Maria started playing a lot better. She started being a little more aggressive. I think I got a little more passive. She was just trying to get the ball back in play but I started serving better in the second set because I knew if I wasn’t having my groundstrokes where I wanted them to be. I knew I could serve it out. It got really interesting. I had a lot of moments. I had some easy shots that I missed in the second set on her serve, and then she came up with a big serve when she was down a breakpoint, which was great. I definitely can look back and say: I could have done a few things better just for the future”

Sharapova admitted in the post-match press conference that she fell short in the finish during the tie-break.

It’s always tough getting to a final stage of an event where it’s down to two players and you end up become the one that’s going home with the smaller trophy. There is no doubt about it. No matter how you played, well or not, whatever the scoreline is. It’s always tough. In the finish I definitely thought I could have put a few more serves in the tiebreaker. Giving her many looks on the second serve. Event though they were good, deep second serves, she was ready. She was aggressive. She hit a couple of winners. Then in some of the service games where I had 15-30 and 30-all, she came up with really big serves, ones I sometimes couldn’t get my reach at. Those you just have to let go and keep going. One of her biggest strengths is her serve. Maybe it’s something that has saved her in many matches, situations where you cannot get her racquet on the ball. When the games on her serve were 30-all. 40-30 or 15-30 a few times, she came up with really great serves. I have not beaten her for a long time but I love every time I step out on the court with her. I have had some of the best memories of my career on this court and some of my toughest losses but that’s the life of a tennis player”, 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?

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

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 sport.co.nz. 

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. 

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NAOMI OSAKA OF JAPAN - PHOTO: ALVARO DIAZ / MMO

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?

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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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