Pennetta beats Vinci in the all-Italian US Open Final - UBITENNIS
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Pennetta beats Vinci in the all-Italian US Open Final

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US OPEN – It has been coined the improbable final as no one saw either Flavia Pennetta (26) and the unseeded Roberta Vinci in the finals or anywhere close to it. However, both players came through the 6 previous rounds to create history of the first ever all-Italian major final. Pennetta, the more accomplished singles player took this grand stage to put on a once in a lifetime dream performance. She took the match 7-6(4) 6-2 in an hour and 33 minutes to not only rise to the top of the tennis world right now but to go out with a bang. After capturing her first major title, the 33-year-old Italian let the world know that she would soon be retiring from the professional world of tennis. Vinci, on the other hand, is still simply overjoyed at her run at this major.

 

In the opening games of the match, it looked as though Pennetta was dealing with the nerves of her first major final. Vinci looked comfortable after all, she took out the world’s number one in the semifinals. However, despite the nervy start, Pennetta was the one who broke first for 3-2. Vinci was having trouble holding serve in that 5th game giving Pennetta many looks at break points before one was finally converted. Pennetta consolidated the break for 4-2 but Vinci came on strong in the next few games to level the set at 4-4 and then serve strong to go up 5-4 to force Pennetta to serve to stay in the set. Pennetta sorted out her game to get back into the match and the opening set was forced into a decisive tiebreaker at 6 games all.

The winner of this breaker was vital as the winner of most of their encounters has always been decided by the one to took the opening set. Pennetta, the more experienced player in the big moments, took a 4-2 points lead. Vinci’s shots were unreliable and she rarely put Pennetta under pressure. Pennetta got up to 5-3 and then led 6-4 off another Vinci error. Now on serve, Pennetta hit a searing serve out wide which proved unreturnable for Vinci and Pennetta took the set 7-4 in the breaker, in exactly an hour.

After the match, Vinci would say that she was a bit exhausted in the first set after that massive upset over Serena Williams in the semifinals. She would add that it was a tough match facing Pennetta. The toll of the last 24 hours clearly showed in Vinci’s game in the 2nd set as she soon found herself down a double break. Vinci was able to break Pennetta for 1-4 and reduced the deficit to 2-4. Pennetta extended the lead to 5-2 and forced Vinci to serve to stay in the match. With the grey clouds circling, Vinci sensed the end was near and her game completely unraveled. She played a poor final game to be broken at love giving Pennetta the maiden major win, 7-6(4) 6-2 in an hour and half.

In the post match interview, Pennetta’s joy was unbridled. She was beaming with joy and Vinci was beyond ecstatic for her childhood friend and professional colleague biggest win in her career. This was a major moment for both players as they had never made it this far in a major in their entire professional singles career. The match statistics do not tell much of the match although Pennetta had the better numbers with 28 winners to 22 errors compared to Vinci’s 21 winners and 30 errors. Vinci would say, “I think she played better. She was more solid than me and she play much better backhand, long line, and she served better than me today.” However, the real difference in the match was that Pennetta seized the moment. She relaxed into the match and played her brand of tennis. Vinci was never really allowed to settle on this big stage. Pennetta will now play out the rest of the year and retire on a high note with her lone major title. She said that her biggest dream prior to this tournament was to win the Rome clay court title. However, winning the US Open, the last major of the year in 2015 has surpassed even her wildest expectations.

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Endorsed By Federer And Nadal, Teenage Star Jannik Sinner Shines At Australian Open

With praise coming from some of the biggest names in tennis, the teenager rallied through his opening match at Melbourne Park.

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Despite his young age, Italian rising star Jannik Sinner is already being compared to the likes of greats such as Novak Djokovic.

 

At the age of 18, the world No.82 is the youngest player currently ranked inside the top 200 on the ATP Tour. A breakthrough he secured at the end of 2019 following his triumph at the Next Gen Finals, which he won as a wild card. Now in the full limelight of the world’s media, Sinner has a new task of trying to cope with the high expectations placed upon his shoulders.

Although it didn’t seem like he was experiencing any difficulty during his opening match at the Australian Open on Tuesday. Participating in the main draw of a grand slam for only the second time in his career, Sinner eased to a 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 6-4 win over Australia’s Max Purcell in a rain-interrupted match. Despite the delay, the youngster proved too good for his opponent as he broke five times in total and won 68% of his service points.

“He hits such a nice ball and he’s mentally so stable on the court,” Purcell told the Australian Associated Press.
“It motivated me to take my tennis a little bit more seriously.
“Not that I wasn’t, but there are a few one per centers where I could get more on top of.
“He showed you that one week here or one week there can really change how your year goes.
“He is flying and the sky’s the limit for him.
“I said to my manager at Wimbledon last year when (Sinner) was outside 200, I had a bet that he’d finish the year inside the top 75 and he finished up 78, so I thought I called that pretty well.”

The rapid rise of Sinner has caught the attention of the big guns. This time last year he was ranked outside the top 500 with no professional titles of any sort to his name. However, since then, he has triumphed in two Futures and Three Challenger events. As well as the Next Gen Finals. An impressive performance for somebody who during their junior years was also a top level skier in Italy.

Trying to pinpoint what it is about Sinner that has got everybody talking, Federer believes his movement on the court is a huge asset. The Swiss Maestro has hit with him in both Rome and Monaco.

“He has great footwork for a big guy, because we forget how tall he is,” Federer said on Monday.
“He can play like most of the best movers in the game right now, he can also play open stance and closed stance, which I think is a huge advantage for movement for the future.”

19-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal is another top figure to predict a bright future for Sinner following a training session they had. The Spaniard was 17 when broke into the world’s top 100 and 19 when he won his first grand slam. Sinner is the youngest player to be in the ATP year-end top 80 since Nadal back in 2003.

“I practiced with him the other day. He has a good character on court. He’s positive.” Said Nadal.
“I see him having a great tennis career. He has everything to achieve a great tennis career. The only thing that he needs to do, in my opinion, is having the right people around and work.”

Others to praise Sinner include John McEnroe, who has hailed him as one of the best talents he has seen over the past decade on the men’s tour.

Whilst he is the right path to the top, there are also warnings about placing too much pressure on Sinner. For the youngster, he has vowed to take it all in his stride and gradually improve his tennis. He currently coached by Ricardo Piatti.

“I just try to play week after week better. That’s my goal.” Sinner stated on Tuesday in his press conference.
“And then after, obviously if I play better, the ranking will be better, for sure.’
“But I’m not thinking so much about the ranking. We are just trying to make match after match good, trying to play better, and then we will see. I don’t want to rush this.”

Sinner will play Marton Fucsovics in the second round.

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Bad Behaviour Overshadows Fabio Fognini’s Epic Australian Open Win

There was a lot of F-bombs and even a dig at world No.1 Rafael Nadal during the animated encounter in Melbourne.

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Fabio Fognini has found himself at the centre of controversy once again following his spat with the umpire during his opening match at the Australian Open.

 

The Italian 12th seed staged a marathon comeback to edge out America’s Riley Opelka 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(5), during the two-day clash. Fognini started his campaign on Monday, but his match was suspended due to the rain. The win improves his career record in five-set matches to 21-13.

Tuesday’s victory wasn’t the talking point of Fognini’s match, it was the behaviour of both him and his opponent. Whilst trailing the match by two sets, 32-year-old smashed his racket onto the ground out of anger. Then in a separate incident he was seen punching his equipment. Prompting a frustrated Opelka to brand umpire Carlos Bernardes as ‘pathetic’ for seemingly not penalising Fognini for time wasting when he received a code violation for the same thing earlier in the match.

“How many f—ing times are you going to let him get away with it?” Opelka could be heard saying.
“You’re f—ing pathetic. He’s done it four times.”

Then it was Fognini’s turn to lose his cool on the court. After being hit with a code violation, the fiery Italian accused Bernardes of giving preferential treatment to players. Suggesting that no such penalty would have been issued if Rafael Nadal had done it. Who Fognini describes as ‘His Majesty’ during a heated exchange between the two.

“I can’t play with a referee who doesn’t give me tranquillity,” Fognini said in Italian.
“When Rafael Nadal asks for it, you [ATP] do it, when Fognini asks for it, you don’t. When His Majesty asks for it, you do it.
“You’re a shame. You’re not fit for this. You can’t give me point penalty for throwing my racket when [Opelka] is saying ‘f**k, f**k’ all the time.
“It’s not like I’m telling you to f**k off, if I told you to f**k off it’d be different.”

It appears that the 32-year-old was making a reference to Nadal’s past request to not have his matches umpired by Bernardes. That was made during 2015 after the two clashed with each other at the Rio Open.

Following the dramatic clash between the two, Opelka admitted that his outburst had a negative effect on him.

“No, not at all. It hurts me.” He told AFP.
“It’s a negative emotion, especially against a guy like him. You want to keep him out of the match as much as possible.
“You don’t want to engage with a guy like that. It’s definitely not a positive thing.”

As for Fognini he is left nursing a bruised index finger after punching his racket. Which he is now having difficulty bending.

Fognini will play Jordan Thompson in the next round.

 

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Maria Sharapova Fuels Retirement Speculation After Australian Open Exit

Is this the biggest hint yet that the Russian will be walking away from the sport this year?

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Maria Sharapova has admitted that she is unsure if she will play in the Australian Open again following her first round loss in Melbourne Park on Tuesday.

 

Sharapova, who received a wild card into the main draw, fell 6-3, 6-4, to Croatian world No.20 Donna Vekic. Still on the comeback from a shoulder injury that hampered her 2019 season, the former world No.1 failed to capitalise on a 4-1 lead in the second set after dropping six consecutive games to crash out. Furthermore, Sharapova also produced almost twice as many errors compared to Vekic with 31 against 17.

“If I’m looking at that part of the match, it’s a combination of she definitely stepped up on those points, played well, played big, deep, and a little bit of making the wrong choices.” Sharapova reflected during her press conference.

Losing in the first round of Melbourne for the first time since 2010, speculation is mounting about Sharapova’s future in the world of tennis. When questioned by reporters, she said she ‘doesn’t know’ what will happen in 12 months time when asked if she will be returning to Australia. It was at the Australian Open where she played her first grand slam main draw match back in 2003 at the age of 15.

“I don’t know. I was fortunate to get myself to be here and thankfully to Craig (Tiley) and the team allowing me to be part of this event.” She said.
“It’s tough for me to tell what’s going to happen in 12 months’ time.”

The comment comes after what was a troublesome 2019 season. Due to injury issues, Sharapova only managed to play in eight tournaments in which she won eight matches. The five-time grand slam champion has now dropped to 144th in the world rankings. Her lowest position since starting her return from a doping ban back in 2017.

Whilst there is no immediate indication of a retirement from the sport, it is unclear as to what Sharapova’s plans are over the coming months. She is currently trained on the tour by prestigious Italian coach Riccardo Piatti. A partnership she intends to continue. Although she is unsure if she will be able to get in shape to play the tournaments she wants to.

“I would like to. I don’t know, I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you if I can or if I will, but I would love to.” Sharapova told reporters.

Should this year’s Australian Open be the last one for Sharapova, she exits with 15 main draw appearances. The 2008 champion has won 58 matches in what is her most successful grand slam tournament in terms of match wins to date.

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