WTA IW: Serena Williams wins her first match at Indian Wells since 2001 - UBITENNIS
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WTA IW: Serena Williams wins her first match at Indian Wells since 2001



TENNIS WTA IW – Serena Williams made an emotional return to Indian Wells after 14 years of absence with a 7-5 7-5 win over Monica Niculescu. Diego Sampaolo


Serena Williams made an emotional return to Indian Wells after 14 years of absence with a 7-5 7-5 win over Monica Niculescu. Niculescu provided a stiff challenge. Niculescu did not hit any aces in the whole match but she won 68 percent of her first serve points. However Serena prevailed in straight set thanks to her 13 aces.

It was an emotional day for Serena who received a standing ovation when she walked onto the Centre Court. Emotions affected Serena in the early stages of the match. Niculescu, who had never beaten a top-five player in her career, started better and opened up a 2-0 lead in the first set. Williams dropped two of her first four service games in the first set. At 3-5 for Niculescu the US legend held her first serve to love and got the break clawing her way back into the match. Serena had to save two break points in the 11th game but she managed to hold serve. Niculescu made a costly error at 40-40 and dropped the first set. Serena was broken early in the second set but she broke back immediately. The second set went on serve when Serena broke serve before clinching the win with 7-5 on her fourth match point.

I feel really good. I feel like the nerves have gone away. I feel better. I was a little nervous. The weeks leading up were nerve-wracking. I am good that I was able to do it. I just wasn’t able to get through that match. It was a super tricky one for me”, said Williams

Simona Halep rallied from a second down to beat Daria Gavrilova 2-6 6-1 6-2. Halep got the first break of the match in the third game of the first set after Gavrilova made two double faults and two backhand errors. Halep started committing too many unforced errors and dropped five consecutive games to drop the first set with 6-2. The second set started with a series of breaks but Halep was more solid on serve and drew level with a 6-1 win forcing the match to the decider. Halep committed four double faults at the start of the third set but she managed to hold serve. Halep broke serve and cruised to 6-2 to advance to the next round.

Heather Watson beat Camila Giorgi 7-5 7-5. The Italian committed 18 double faults and 54 unforced errors. Giorgi broke serve in the fourth game of the opening set but she committed three double faults at 3-2 enabling Watson to break back. Watson dropped serve again in the next game to go down 3-4. Giorgi committed two double faults and a forehand error to drop her serve for 4-all. At 6-5 for Watson, Giorgi made her 10th double fault and Watson converted her set point to clinch the first set with 7-5.

Watson cruised to 5-0 in the second set after a series of double faults from Giorgi. The Italian broke her losing streak of seven consecutive games by holding her serve. Giorgi clawed her way into the match by drawing level to 5-5 but she committed three errors with her return to drop the 11th game. Giorgi committed two unforced errors and another double fault to drop the final game of the match.

Agnieszka Radwanska eased past Allison Riske with 6-3 6-1. Radwanska won the first five games of the match to open up a 5-0 lead. Riske saved a set point to hold her serve for the first time in the match. Riske broke serve but Radwanska closed out the first set on the third set point. Radwanska broke serve early in the second set and opened up a 4-0 lead before closing out the match with 6-1.

Sloane Stephens beat Angelique Kerber 7-6 (8-6) 6-2. Kerber went up a break twice in the first set to lead 3-0 and 5-3 but Stephens forced the set to the tie-break. Kerber saved two set points but dropped the tie-break with 6-8. Stephens, who hit 37 winners in the match, won the second set easily with 6-2.

Garbine Muguruza came back from a set down to edge Irina Falconi in three sets with 4-6 6-2 6-3. After a first set marked by seven breaks Falconi got the decisive break in the ninth game. Muguruza saved three set points but dropped the first set with 6-4. Muguruza won 82 percent of her first serve points and clinched the second set with 6-2. Falconi won just 25 percent of her second serve points. Muguruza won the third set with 6-3 setting up an intriguing third round match against Karolina Pliskova.

Ekaterina Makarova cruised past her doubles partner Elena Vesnina with 6-4 6-0. Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova beat Barbora Strycova Zahlavova with a double 6-3

World Number 11 Lucie Safarova, who won her first Premier-level tournament in Doha, beat Mona Barthel 6-4 7-6 (7-4). Safarova got the decisive break in the fourth game to win the first set There were more breaks in the second set where Barthel took the lead with 2-1. Safarova broke back in the next game to open up a 4-2 lead. Barthel forced the second set to the tie-break after a series of errors from the Czech player. Safarova won the most crucial points in the tie-break and won it with 7-4 to set up her next match against Elena Svitolina.

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Barbora Krejcikova Does The Double In San Jose



After what has been a challenging past few weeks on the Tour, Barbora Krejcikova has returned to the winner’s circle by claiming both the singles and doubles titles at the San Diego Open. 


The world No.13 battled to a marathon 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, win over Sofia Kenin in what was a clash of the former Grand Slam champions. Krejcikova was pushed to her limits throughout the two-and-a-half-hour clash with there being no break in the decider until the final game. It is the second singles title the Czech has won on the WTA Tour this season after Dubai and her seventh overall. 

“Normally I wouldn’t be here,” said Krejcikova, who received a wild card to play in the tournament “I really want to thank them (the tournament organisers). It was very special. I really enjoyed my stay here.”

Krejcikova’s run to the trophy has also seen her score wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins earlier in the week. She is the first player from her country to win the tournament. 

Following on from that triumph, the 27-year-old then clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The duo beat Collins and Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4.

Krejcikova came into San Jose on a four-match losing streak which started at Wimbledon where she was forced to withdraw from her secound round clash due to a left leg injury. 

“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” she said. “So I just came here and I pretty much was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won [the title].”

It is only the second time in Krejcikova’s career that she has won both the singles and doubles titles at the same event. The first time she did so was at the 2021 French Open where her partner in the doubles was also Siniakova.

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Ex-No.1 Ash Barty Stands By Retirement Decision



Ashleigh Barty (AUS) playing against Angelique Kerber (GER) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Despite the growing number of players returning to competitive tennis after giving birth, Ash Barty says she is contempt in retirement. 


Barty, who is still only 27 years old, stunned the sport at the start of 2022 when she announced her retirement from the sport just weeks after winning the Australian Open. She has won 15 WTA titles during her career with three of them being at Grand Slam tournaments. She also held the world No.1 spot for 121 weeks and earned more than $23.8M in prize money. 

The Australian returned to the media limelight on Friday by attending a special event to announce the return of the Brisbane International next year. It will be the first time the tournament has been held since the COVID pandemic with the women’s draw being increased from 32 to 48. However, no such changes will be made to the men’s draw. There will be a record prize money pool of AUS$3.1M. 

For those hoping that Barty might have a change of heart and return to competitive action at her home event in Brisbane, they are going to be disappointed. 

“I don’t have the time – I don’t have the time to train, I don’t have the time to prepare, and I have so many great memories out on this court, and now I just get to create new memories,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Barty as saying. 

“I’m certainly not coming out of retirement. Pat (Rafter) may be more likely than me.”

Earlier this year Caroline Wozniacki announced her return to tennis following a three-year retirement from the sport. Despite playing in only two WTA tournaments beforehand, she reached the fourth round of the US Open where she was defeated by Coco Gauff who went on to win the title. Meanwhile, Elina Svitolina returned to the Tour following the birth of her first child and reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon. 

Barty has previously said she would like to remain involved in tennis by helping support the rising stars of the game in her home country. Currently, Australia doesn’t have any players in the top 100 on the women’s Tour. In contrast, there are nine Australians in the top 100 on the men’s Tour. 

“It’s depth, you have to play at your top level, you have to be consistent across a 52-week calendar to keep your ranking up with the top of the world,” she said.
“I think it’s exciting for the women’s game, it creates hunger, passion and drive for girls wanting to be the best and knowing there’s an opportunity to take that top spot.
“There’s obviously not as many girls in the top 100 as we would like, but there’s plenty coming through that are learning their craft, developing.
“It takes time to understand how you think you can fit in, how you think you can grow into your play. I’m excited for the next five or 10 years to see where they can get to.”

The Australian tennis season will begin on December 29th with the United Cup. A mixed-team competition that will be held in Sydney and Perth. Two days later, the first singles events in Brisbane and Adelaide will get underway. 

The 2024 Australian Summer of Tennis calendar 

United Cup
Venue: Perth – RAC Arena, Sydney – Ken Rosewall Arena
Group Stage – 29 December 2023 to 5 January 2024
Finals – 6 to 7 January 2024, more details to be announced soon
Category: ATP / WTA international mixed team competition

Brisbane International
31 December 2023 to 7 January 2024
Venue: Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane
Category: WTA 500 / ATP 250
Draw size: WTA – 48 singles / 24 doubles; ATP – 32 singles, 24 doubles

Canberra International
31 December 2023 to 6 January 2024
Venue: Canberra Tennis Centre, Canberra
Category: ATP Challenger 125 / WTA 125
Draw size: ATP – 32 singles, 16 doubles; WTA – 32 singles, 16 doubles

Adelaide International
8 to 13 January 2024
Venue: The Drive, Adelaide
Category: WTA 500 / ATP 250
Draw size: WTA – 32 singles, 16 doubles; ATP – 28 singles, 24 doubles

Hobart International
8 to 13 January 2024
Venue: Domain Tennis Centre, Hobart
Category: WTA 250
Draw size: 32 singles, 16 doubles

AO Opening Week, including Australian Open qualifying (8 to 12 January)
8 to 14 January 2024
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne
Category: Grand Slam 
Draw size: Q128 singles

Australian Open
15 to 28 January 2024
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne
Category: Grand Slam
Draw size: 128 singles, 64 doubles 

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The WTA Tour In 2024 Should Be Even Stronger



Cori Gauff - Australian Open 2023 (Twitter @AustralianOpen)

To Aryna Sabalenka, every shot seems to be a go-for-it.


The two Grand Slam champions in Sunday’s U.S. Open men’s final would say, “Thank you” for a similar approach by their opponent. But Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev don’t play that game often.

They play to win. Sabalenka didn’t, although she wanted so badly to earn her second Grand Slam title this year.


Coco Gauff also played to win, once she got past a one-sided first set. Sabalenka kept going for it, and the world’s new No. 1 player paid the price in a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 loss to young Coco Gauff.

So, what happens now? Obviously, Sabalenka and Gauff will lead the way as the best women’s players in the game . . . for now.

Where does French Open champ and former world’s No. 1 Iga Swiatek fit? Wimbledon titlist Marketa Vondrousova, Jessica Pegula, 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, Ons Jabeur and yes, Karolina Muchova fit into WTA Tour stars led by Sabalenka and Gauff?


The 2024 women’s season is sure to be an exciting one. Any of these eight players could turn out to be superstars by this time next year.

Or it might be that there are simply too many equals in the women’s game, or maybe not enough stability at the top of the game. Superstars are important to a tour.

What would the ATP Tour have looked like without Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal all winning Grand Slams about the same time?

Gauff has been amazing since returning from Europe to the U.S., going 16-0 in the U.S. and suffering her only loss in Canada to doubles partner Pegula.


Gauff is projected to climb three spots in the WTA rankings to No. 3.

But Saturday was the dream come true for the 19-year-old. She simply outplayed the hard-hitting Sabalenka in the last two sets.

Just as Medvedev’s victory over Carlos Alcaraz was set up by Medvedev’s amazing defense, running down practically everything Alcaraz had to offer, Gauff’s victory was secured by her ability to repeatedly chase down what looked like Sabalenka winners.

Gauff usually kept running down Sabalenka’s missiles until the Belarussian missed the court.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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