TENNIS – Petra Kvitova, 2-time and defending Wimbledon champion is making light work of the draw thus far dropping just 3 games through 2 round of play at these championships. Also showing signs of impressive play is Aga Radwanska who was equally impressive in her match. Cordell Hackshaw
Petra Kvitova (2) is looking very much on track to defend her 2014 Wimbledon title. She took on the tricky opponent Kurumi Nara 6-2 6-0. Considering that Kvitova took care of her 1st round opponent in 35 minutes, the 68 minutes that it took to take care of Nara, seemed a marathon. However, Kvitova’s numbers were just as impressive. She had 10 aces, 23 winners and 14 errors. The Nara’s game never made an impression on Kvitova. The Japanese was only limited to 3 winners for the entire match.
“I’m just glad that I won. That’s important, you know, counting is the last point. I still have a lot of space where I can improve for the next match. That’s a good sign, as well. Of course, the next match will be tough again, and tougher and tougher, if I’m going to stay in the tournament. I have to be prepared for everything,” Kvitova said after the match.
Also looking in great form is the 2012 Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska (13). Radwanska has struggled mightily this year after making the Round of 16 at the Australian Open this year and her much publicized brief spell under the tutelage of Martina Navratilova. However, last week, it seems as though the Polish player is back to good form with a run to the final in Eastbourne. In the 2nd round here at Wimbledon, Radwanska dismantled Ajla Tomljanovic 6-0 6-2 in 46 minutes. Radwanska broke Tomljanovic 6 times whereas the Australian was only able to break once. Both players had 10 winners but but it was the errors that was the deciding factor. Radwanska only committed 5 compared to the 24 from Tomljanovic.
Speaking on the matter, Radwanska had this to say of her year, “Well, I think it was maybe bad timing to hire her when I really had ‑‑ I didn’t feel good. I was a little bit exhausted. I had a couple really tough months. It was the same time she was working with me. Well, now I think, first of all, I’m just feeling much better. I think also grass changed everything, as well. Helps me go to my best level I can play tennis.”
Caroline Wozniacki (5) stumbled in her match against Denisa Allertova as she raced out to a 6-1 5-1 but could not close it out. Twice the Dane served for the match and could not get the job done as Allertova broke each time. Soon it was Wozniacki serving to stay in the set as Allertova got up 6-5. However, Wozniacki was able to push the set to a tiebreaker and take it 8-6 points; Wozniacki 6-1 7-6(6).
Angelique Kerber (10) did not have a quick match today as she did in her 1st round match but she was able to get through in straight sets over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5 6-2. Both Madison Keys (21) and Elizaveta Kulichkova had to play yesterday in an effort to finish up their 1st round matches suspended on Day 2 because of poor lighting. Interestingly enough, they had to play each other for a place in the 3rd round. Keys got through the match in relative ease 6-4 7-6 and has definitely set herself up as a possible contender here at this event.
There were several minor upsets on Day 4 though they were no where as shocking as Day 2 when Simona Halep and Genie Bouchard were bounced out of the event. Most interesting of the seeded players sent home was Ekaterina Makarova (8) who has recently been playing very well at the majors. Her run of making the 2nd week of better stretching back to last year’s Wimbledon, including two consecutive semifinal appearances from the US Open last year to this year’s Australian Open, has ended abruptly. The Russian was summarily dismissed by Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2 7-5. The Slovakian had never won a match at Wimbledon in her entire career, 0-7 at the start of this tournament. Now, she is in the 3rd round and has a legitimate shot at making the 2nd week when she plays Olga Govortsova who knocked out Alizé Cornet (25) in 3 sets 7-6 2-6 6-1. Perhaps it was the pressure of getting back to the 2nd week of Wimbledon as she did last year when she knocked out Serena Williams in the 3rd round, but Cornet just never looked comfortable in this match. Elina Svitolina (17) quarterfinalist at this year’s French Open was also knocked out. She lost to Casey Dellacqua 6-7 3-6.
SURPRISES AND OTHER WINNERS
French Open semifinalist, Timea Bacsinszky (15) is riding on confidence and as she stormed her way into the 3rd round of Wimbledon over Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-2 6-1. Bacsinszky who was playing qualifications last year, is looking to make some major noise here. Camila Giorgi (31) is through to the 3rd round when she also knocked out a Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena 6-0 7-6. Giorgi will take on Wozniacki for a place in the 4th round.
Sabine Lisicki (18), finalist here back in 2013, had to dig deep against her opponent, American Christina McHale. McHale took the opening set 6-2 and was on serve through to the 11th game. However, serving to stay in the set, McHale just lost her way in the match and Lisicki took full control. Lisicki broke to take the 2nd set 7-5 and dropped just a single game in the 3rd set to take the match 2-6 7-5 6-1. Lisicki will take on Bacsinszky in the 3rd round.
Jelena Jankovic (28) and Garbine Muguruza (20) needed three sets to get through to the next round. Jankovic got by Evgeniya Rodina 6-7 6-1 6-3. Muguruza had a tougher fight against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3 4-6 6-2. Svetlana Kuznetsova (26) went off the rails against Kristyna Pliskova, identical twin sister to 11th seed Karolina Pliskova. Kuznetsova took the 1st set but then began being erratic. Kristyna took advantage of this and seized control of the match taking early breaks in the next two sets. She won 3-6 6-3 6-4.
As is often the case, players who score big upsets, fail to win their next match. Jana Cepelova and Ying-Ying Duan who knocked out Halep and Bouchard respectively were both knocked out in the 2nd round. Monica Niculescu beat Cepelova 6-3 6-3 and Tatjana Maria took out Duan 1-6 6-2 10-8.
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.
Ex-No.1 Ash Barty Stands By Retirement Decision
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
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
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
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
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
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
15 to 28 January 2024
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne
Category: Grand Slam
Draw size: 128 singles, 64 doubles
The WTA Tour In 2024 Should Be Even Stronger
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 PLAYED TO WIN
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?
WTA TOUR SHOULD BE EVEN BETTER IN 2024
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 MOVING UP TO THIRD
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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