Wimbledon 2015 Day 2: Halep and Bouchard upset as Kvitova and Kerber cruised - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon 2015 Day 2: Halep and Bouchard upset as Kvitova and Kerber cruised

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TENNIS – Two of the current big names in women’s tennis were summarily dismissed from these championships. Simona Halep (3) and Genie Bouchard (12) who both got the semifinal and final here last year respectively, faltered badly in their first round matches as they were battling not only inspired opponents but also nagging injuries. Cordell Hackshaw

 

UPSETS
Jana Cepelova from the beginning looked as though she were certain that she was going to upset Halep. The Romanian just could not sustain much of an advantage in the match particularly after taking the 1st set 7-5. Cepelova continued to be unrelenting in her return of serve and play aggressive in her service games. In the 2nd set, she broke for 5-3 but Halep broke back. Cepelova just stayed focus and broke Halep again to take the set. In the 3rd set, the Slovakian player raced out to a 4-1 lead and though Halep was able to claw her way back into, the Romanian had trouble holding serve. Cepelova broke Halep again for a 5-7 6-4 6-3 win.

“I had a few losses before coming here. My confident wasn’t too high. So I knew that, you know, during the matches it’s difficult because you feel the pressure. If you don’t handle it there very well, you might lose. I knew it would be difficult, but not like today, to be honest … I think emotional. I wasn’t there. I couldn’t handle it very well. She came back in a good way with her game. She was pushing me a lot. She was aggressive. But I can say that I let her come in and play aggressive,” Halep said after the match.

This major upset but no more so than it was to see that last year’s finalist, Bouchard, go out in straight sets to Ying-Ying Duan 7-6 6-4. Bouchard opened the match 2-0 and then it all went downhill for her. She lost the next 4 games and though she leveled the set 4-4, she could not secure the tiebreaker. Duan, playing her first Wimbledon looked the more experienced player on court as she took the breaker and in the crucial 9th game of the 2nd set, she broke Bouchard and served out the match at love 7-6 6-4. Bouchard cited an abdominal tear as the reason for her poor play. She added that she was advised to not play the event but could not resist the opportunity to play Wimbledon with all its prestige and history.

Nonetheless, this loss is merely a continuation of a string of poor performances from Bouchard since the beginning of the year. Since getting to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, Bouchard is 4-13 for the rest of the year. She has been unable to string more than two match wins in a row and that has only happened once at Indian Wells. In 7 of the tournaments she has played, she did not win her opening round match including two first round losses at majors. “You know, a couple months ago when I had a loss in Indian Wells or Miami, I didn’t feel like it was the end of the world, but to some people it was.  We’re closer to the end of the world now,” Bouchard said.

USUAL SUSPECTS
Petra Kvitova (2) and defending champion was in an absolute impeccable form as she took out Kiki Bertens 6-1 6-0 in just 35 minutes. Kvitova dropped only 1 point on serve, which was a double fault in the final game of the match. Poor Bertens had no answer to the power and precision from Kvitova. Kvitova will play Kurumi Nara in the next round. Angelique Kerber (10) completely destroyed her compatriot Carina Witthoeft 6-0 6-0 in just 45 minutes. Kerber has 21 winners to 5 errors, a rather impressive stat. Things most likely will not be so easy for Kerber in her next round as she faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Carolina Wozniacki (5) had to dig deep early in the 1st set against her opponent Saisai Zheng.  Zheng was able to secure the double break in the opening set for 4-1 and despite giving one of the breaks back soon after, she served for the set up 5-4. However, she was unable to close out the set then and this allowed Wozniacki to assert herself in the match. Wozniacki went on a huge run winning 9 straight games for a 7-5 6-0.

Garbine Muguruza (20) took out American Varvara Lepchenko 6-4 6-1 to also move through to the 2nd round. 2012 Wimbledon finalist Aga Radwanska (13) got by the tricky opponent of Lucie Hradecka 6-3 6-2. Radwanska is looking to round into form at this tournament having had a dismal year. She recently got to the final of Eastbourne but lost to Belinda Bencic. Camila Giorgi (31) beat T Pereira 7-6 6-3. It was a tough opening set as she was down 1-4 in the earlier parts of the set. However, Giorgi played like the experienced player she is to secure the win. Ekaterina Makarova (8) is continuing to show signs of major success as she has made it to the 2nd week of the last 4 majors. She took out American Sachia Vickery 6-2 6-4.

SURPRISES
Former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic (28) had a marathon match against Elena Vesnina. Vesnina served for the match up 7-6 in the 3rd but Jankovic broke to level it 7-7. In the 18th game of the set, Vesnina made a couple of errors which handed the match to Jankovic 6-4 3-6 10-8. Jankovic is looking to make the 2nd week at these championships for the first time in her career. French Open quarterfinalist, Elina Svitolina (17) had to win in 3 sets also to get by Misaki Doi  3-6 6-3 6-2 as did Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova over Mona Barthel 6-7 7-6 6-2. Local favourite, Laura Robson, was unable to keep hope alive for the home crowd as she lost 4-6 4-6 to Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina.

OTHER WINNERS
Svetlana Kuznetsova (26) had a comfortable win over Laura Siegemund 6-3 6-4. French Open semifinalist, Timea Bacsinszky (15) got passed Julia Georges in straight sets 6-2 7-5 as did Sabine Lisicki (18) who beat Jarmila Gajdosova 7-5 6-4. American Christina McHale won in straight sets but it was not so simple for Mirijana Lucic-Baroni and Monica Niculescu who both won in three sets. They both beat formidable opponents; Lucic-Baroni took out Yaroslava Shvedova who made the 4th round here back in 2012 and Niculescu knocked out Monica Puig.

 

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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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