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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Why Peng Shuai’s Video Call With The IOC Has Failed To Ease The Concerns Of The WTA

The WTA said the video hasn’t changed their stance on the matter.

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The governing body of women’s tennis says they still have concerns about the welfare of former world No.1 doubles player Peng Shuai despite her appearing in a video call with the International Olympic Committee on Sunday.

 

Shuai attended a video call with IOC president Thomas Bach in what was her first public interaction with an international official since making allegations of sexual assault against China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli. On November 2nd Shuai published a post on her Weibo account detailing the alleged assault and revealed she had an on-and-off affair with the former influential political figure for a decade. The post was removed less than an hour after it went live and her Weibo account is still restricted.

In a statement issued by the IOC, Shuai was quoted as saying that she is ‘safe and well’ and would like some privacy. It is understood that the video call lasted roughly 30 minutes, which also included IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Emma Terho and IOC Member in China Li Lingwei. However, in the statement there was no mention of the sexual assault allegations which was made by Shuai.

This video does not change our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern.” The WTA told Reuters in response to the video.

There are fears by the WTA that Shuai is under the control of the state and is restricted as to what she can and can’t say. Lingwei, who participated in the video call, is a former athlete who has since worked with the Chinese government and is a member of the people’s congress.

Recently China’s media, which is controlled by the Communist party, has posted a series of photos and videos of Shuai. However, the WTA confirmed at the weekend they will have been prevented from getting in contact with her despite making numerous efforts.

“It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don’t alleviate or address the WTA’s concern about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion,” a WTA spokeswoman said.

China’s Global Television network, which is owned by state media, hasn’t posted a single article about Shuai in recent weeks following her allegations. However, for the first time on Monday they published a story about her meeting with the IOC but made no mention of the allegations.

Hu Xijin is the editor of the Global Times newspaper. He claims that the world wouldn’t believe what Shuai is saying unless they are in line with the Western media who he accuses of trying to damage the reputation of his country. Hu is an influential political figure in his country, whose publications have been used to send messages to the outside world. He has also been accused by some of being a political propagandist for the community party.

“As long as what Peng Shuai said doesn’t accord with the expectation of the Western media, they won’t believe it. They only believe the story about China that they imagine. I’m surprised that they didn’t say the lady who showed up these two days is a fake Peng Shuai, a double,” Hu wrote on Twitter.
“For those who truly care about the safety of Peng Shuai, her appearances of these days are enough to relieve them or eliminate most of their worries. But for those aiming to attack China’s system and boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics, facts, no matter how many, don’t work for them.” He later added.

Like all of the Chinese state-run media and their journalists, Hu has made no mention of the allegations concerning Mr Gaoli.

The WTA have said they are willing to withdraw tournaments from China if their concerns of Shuai’s welfare are not properly addressed.

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REPORT: China Censors Naomi Osaka’s Weibo Account Over Peng Shuai Support

It has emerged that followers are being prevented from commenting on her posts as the WTA warns China they are prepared to stop doing business with them if they can’t guarantee Shuai’s safety.

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Naomi Osaka training at the 2021 Madrid Open (image by Media Hub Mutua Madrid Open)

Restrictions have been placed on the official Weibo account of former world No.1 Naomi Osaka after she posted a statement expressing concern about the whereabouts of Peng Shuai, according to a leading financial newspaper.

 

Nikkei Asia confirmed on Thursday that they have found ‘censoring activity’ on Osaka’s account less than 24 hours after she spoke out about her fellow tennis player. It is understood that comments have been disabled on her latest post even though it is unrelated to Shuai. Weibo is the main social media service in China which is used by millions every day but it is regulated by the country’s strict laws. Other sites such as Twitter is officially banned in the country.

In her post, Osaka wrote on Twitter that ‘censorship is never OK at any cost’ and that she hopes Shuai is safe. It has since been retweeted more than 19,000 times.

On November 2nd a post was uploaded on Shuai’s Weibo account in which she said she was pressured into sex by the former vice-premier of China, Zhang Gaoli, and she had an on-and-off affair with him over a intermittent period of 10 years. The post was removed less than an hour after it was uploaded but observers took screenshots of it which was then reposted online. Since then, Shuai hasn’t been heard of or seen in public.

There are now mounting concerns over Shuai’s current whereabouts after the international branch China’s state-broadcaster published a letter which they claimed the tennis star wrote to the WTA. The letter says that the tennis star denies making the accusations and she is not missing. However, Steve Simon, who is the head of the WTA, has expressed serious concerns about the authenticity of the letter.

“The statement released today by Chinese state media concerning Peng Shuai only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts,” Simon said in a statement. “I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believe what is being attributed to her.”

In recent years China has been a crucial location for the WTA Tour and has generated millions in revenue for the sport. No tournaments have taken place in the country this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but 10 are expected to resume next year, including the prestigious WTA Finals. Nevertheless, the WTA has stated that they are prepared to cut ties with China if they can’t guarantee Shuai’s safety.

“If at the end of the day we don’t see the appropriate results from this, we would be prepared to take that step and not operate our business in China, if that’s what it came to,” Simon told The New York Times.

In 2014 Shuai became the first Chinese player in history to top the world rankings in doubles. During her career, she has won two major titles with Hsieh Su-wei and has been ranked as high as 14th in singles.

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Garbine Muguruza Beats Kontaveit To Win Season-Ending WTA Finals

Muguruza caps off what she describes as her ‘best year’ on the Tour by becoming the first Spanish woman to win the season-ending title.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider/

Garbine Muguruza is the 2021 WTA Finals champion after beating the world’s number eight Anett Kontaveit  6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 38 minutes in Guadalajara, Mexico.

 

The Spaniard hit 16 winners while the Estonian hit 38 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth during both sets before the Caracas native was able to secure the win.

” I want to congratulate Anett (Kontaveit) on her amazing year and managing to qualify for the finals in the last event of the year,” Muguruza said during the trophy ceremony. ”I want to thank everyone who made this possible to play in Latin America and it was a dream come true to play”.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza got off to an aggressive start by looking for the early break in the first game of the match but the world number eight held her ground and managed to hold serve.

At 1-1, the Spaniard had three more chances to take the lead and she was able to break serve at the third time of asking but failed to consolidate it as Kontaveit broke right back the following game.

Once again at 3-3, it was the world number five who got another break and this was able to hold serve the following game. She then broke serve for a second time to take the first set.

The 28-year-old was put under pressure early in the second set and faced two early breakpoints at 1-1 but dug deep and saved both. At 3-3, it was Kontaveit’s turn to apply pressure, and this time she was able to get the break. The 25-year-old had a chance to serve out the second and force a deciding third set but cracked under the pressure as Muguruza broke right back to even the set at 5-5.

At 6-5, Muguruza found herself with three match points on her opponent’s serve and broke one last time to seal the victory and the title.

“I’m just very happy I proved to myself once again I can be the best, I can be the ‘maestra,’ like how we say in Spanish,” Muguruza said in press. “That puts me in a very good position for next year, a good ranking.”

Muguruza ends her season with three WTA titles to her name after triumphing in Dubai and Chicago earlier this year. Making it the first time in her career she has won a trio of WTA events within the same year. Overall, she has won 42 out of 69 matches played during 2021.

“Overall I think it’s the best year for me. I might not have won a Grand Slam, but I deeply feel like I’ve been happier and more stable, less dramatic, and in general very happy about it.” She concludes. 

The former world No.1 takes home a whopping 1.6 million dollars for winning the tournament and her ranking will go up to number three when the new world rankings come out on Monday.

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