SIngapore race down to the wire - UBITENNIS
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SIngapore race down to the wire

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Petra Kvitova is still on course to qualify

                                                                      Petra Kvitova is still on course to qualify

The race to be included in the BNP Paribas WTA Finals continues to intrigue this week, as stories regarding top players scheduled to play, or still campaigning to feature in the year-ending event illuminate a fantastic end to the season.

Amongst the latest developments in Maria Sharapova’s withdrawal from Wuhan this week has caused concern about her participation for many further event this year. The Russian former World no.1 has not played a full match since Wimbledon, and has struggled with her team in the last few months, short-lived spell with former Wimbledon champion Jimmy Connors failed to positively impact her game. The early prognosis provides some relief; it is not the same leg injury that plagued her throughout the summer, causing her to miss the US Open. Yet it is an arm injury, the extent of which is not yet known. Sharapova has already committed to playing The Fed Cup, to enable her to play next year’s Olympics event in Rio de Janeiro. Given her injury-plagued season, it is not out of the realm of possibility that she may pull out of the WTA Finals to rest for the Fed Cup.  Sharapova is one of three players already confirmed as having qualified for the event, along with Serena Williams and Simona Halep.

Rules for qualifications differ from the men’s game. Points that go towards qualification must come from all four Grand Slams and the Premier events in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, and China. The best two results from the Premier 5 events, and a total of six other best results from outside these events may also count. An interesting situation for Flavia Pennetta is that her US Open victory does not guarantee her automatic participation. This was a luxury afforded to men’s singles US Open champion 2014, Marin Cilic, who was automatically included despite not being ranked within the top 8. As things stand Pennetta is still on course to qualify, currently sixth in the rankings.

Serena Williams has a record of picking and choosing the events that appeal to her, not playing every event on the tour. Her coach has remarked that “motivation may be low” after her defeat at the US Open. She had been chasing the first complete Slam since Steffi Graf.  The absence of the World number 1 would be a huge blow to the tournament, and could serve to undermine the women’s game. Yet she has played (and won) in each of the last three years, with the last year she did not appear coming in 2011.

Other backstories include the push to qualify. Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova, Angelique Kerber, and Carla Suarez Navarro all hold qualifying positions in the rankings. Kvitova and Safarova are close to qualifying for the event, with just three weeks of events remaining. Emphasising how close the run-in this year is, just forty-two points separate Angelique Kerber in seventh from Garbine Muguruza in eleventh, with surging Belinda Bencic perhaps making a late charge. Agnieszka Radwanska is also very much in the hunt. Many positions could change based on a single round’s play in a major event, such as the Wuhan Open this week

Everything is still very much to play for in this remarkable season. Grand Slam play may be finished for the year, but the tennis is no less dramatic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alex De Minaur Ends 10-Match Losing Streak Against Tsitsipas To Reach Mexican Open Semis

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Alex de Minaur - Australian Open 2024 (foto X @ATPTour_ES)

Alex de Minaur has broken new ground in his career by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas for the first time at the Mexican Open. 

The world No.9 entered into his quarter-final clash against the Greek having lost all 10 of their previous meetings on the Tour. Despite this, de Minaur battled back from a set down to win 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, after more than two hours of play. The victory has denied Tsitsipas the chance of returning to the world’s top 10 next week. 

“Today was a very good victory, obviously with an opponent who I had never beaten before, it’s one of those victories that you enjoy a lot.” The Australian said.
“It is normal that the people of Acapulco support Stefanos, he is a great player who has been here for many years, it is normal. Now that he is not here I hope they support me.”

De Minaur is the first defending champion in Alcapulco to reach the semi-final stage since David Ferrer did so back in 2013. Overall, he has 23 semi-finals on the ATP Tour so far in his career. 

“Tennis-wise I am not feeling the most comfortable, but what I will always do is to fight until the end.” He admits.
“I hope to find my best tennis at the end of the week, now there are several who are playing at a very high level in Acapulco and now [I will] prepare for another battle, [with] a lot of desire.”

Awaiting the third seed next will be Great Britain’s Jack Draper who beat Miomir Kecmanović 6-2, 6-2. Draper has only dropped 11 games in his first three matches played this week. It is the fifth time he has reached the last four of a Tour-level event but the first time he has done so at an ATP 500. 

“I feel great, I feel like it was coming. I made two finals in (ATP) 250’s, I feel like I’m progressing as a tennis player all the time, always improving and I think I can go further.” Said Draper who will rise to a ranking high of at least 37th next week.
“I’ve really tried to focus on my practice and its quality and that has shown in my games so I’m very happy with the way I’m playing.
“These players know who I am, I’ve been injured a lot, played a lot. With Alex, I have had strong battles before and it will be tough, I will always want to win the match, I never want to play freely, I want to compete to win and tomorrow it will be the same.” 

De Minaur has won both of his previous meetings against Draper. However, in each of those matches, he has dropped a set. 

In the other section of the draw, Holger Rune is through to the semi-finals for the second year in a row after beating Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 7-6(2), 7-6(0). The Dane is seeking his first-ever title at an ATP 500 at the age of 20. He will next player Casper Ruud who outlasted Ben Shelton 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-4, in a marathon encounter that lasted more than two-and-a-hlaf hours. 

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Daniil Medvedev Says He Is Far From His Best Despite Easing Into Dubai Semis

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Daniil Medvedev believes there is room for improvement in his game after reaching the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Thursday. 

The Russian top seed dropped just five games during his 6-2, 6-3, win over Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and was only broken once in the match. He is now on an eight-match winning streak at the Dubai event, which he won 12 months ago. In their head-to-head, Medvedev has extended his perfect record against Fokina to 4-0. 

“Alejandro can play really well,” Medvedev said afterwards. “Sometimes during matches, he can have down moments and then he goes up. I knew that no matter the score I needed to go the last point.’
“It got a bit tighter at one moment in the second set but I managed to stay there, win some more games and it was enough today. “

This week is the first time the former world No.1 is playing on the Tour since his loss to Jannik Sinner in the final of the Australian Open where he boasted a two-set lead against the Italian. Looking to get back on track, he has dropped one set in three matches played so far in Dubai. 

His only blip occurred on Wednesday when he had to come back from a 3-6 deficit to beat Lorenzo Sonego. A day after that rollercoaster victory, Medvedev says an outbreak of illness among his team could have affected him. Nevertheless, he admits he hasn’t reached his best form yet. 

“I don’t know what happened with me yesterday. Some people around me got a small virus so maybe it was that,” he reflected. 
“Some days like this happen but I’m happy that today was better. I’m not at my best shape yet but we have some more matches.”

Russia has a double reason to celebrate with Andrey Rublev also booking his place in the last four after his opponent, Sebastian Korda, retired when losing 4-6, 3-4, due to injury. Rublev will next play an in-form Alexander Bublik who has secured his entry into the world’s top 20 for the first time next week as a result of his latest run. The Kazakh also won his quarter-final match via retirement after Jiri Lehecka called it quits when down 4-6, 1-4. 

Medvedev is bidding to become the first player to win the Dubai title in consecutive years since Roger Federer in 2015. He is already the first top seed at the event to reach the semi-final stage since Novak Djokovic in 2020. 

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Frustrated By Retirement Questions, Andy Murray Admits 2024 Will Likely Be His Last Season

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Andy Murray is set to bring his career to an end later this year after admitting that he will unlikely continue playing beyond this summer. 

The three-time Grand Slam champion has faced numerous questions about his future in the sport and has previously indicated that this year could be his last. However, he has given his clearest indication yet after losing 6-2, 6-4, to Ugo Humbert in the second round of the Dubai tennis championships on Wednesday. 

“I’m likely not going to play past this summer,” said Murray. “I get asked about it after every single match that I play, every single tournament that I play. I’m bored of the question, to be honest. I’m not going to talk more about that between now and whenever the time comes for me to stop. But yeah, I don’t plan on playing much past this summer.”

The comments come during what has been a turbulent time on the tour for the 36-year-old who has publically admitted to being frustrated with some of his results. He has now failed to win back-to-back matches at 12 consecutive tournaments. The last time he did so was almost six months ago at the Canadian Open. 

Murray, who has spent 41 weeks as world No.1, has given no indication as to when his final tournament will be. Although it is unlikely to be Wimbledon after the Brit expressed a desire to play at the Olympic Games if he had a chance to do so. He is the only player to have ever won the men’s singles Olympic title two times in a row. This year’s Games will be held in Paris with the tennis event being staged at Roland Garros, the venue of the French Open. 

“Hopefully I can get the chance to compete at another one,” he recently told Radio 4’s Today programme about playing at the Olympics. 
“There’s no right way of finishing your career and everyone is different so what might be the right way for Federer might not be the right way for [Rafael] Nadal, might not be the right way for [Novak] Djokovic.” He later added. 

Murray has won 46 ATP titles and earned more than $64M in prize money so far in his career. He is one of only five male players to have recorded 500 or more Tour-level wins on a hardcourt in the Open Era. 

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