Tough wins for Azarenka and Errani early on Day 4 - UBITENNIS
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Tough wins for Azarenka and Errani early on Day 4

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US Open – Two-time US Open finalist (2012-2013) Victoria Azarenka (20) and 2012 semifinalist Sara Errani (16) both had to dig deep to get passed their 2nd round opponents as they were both facing upsets. Azarenka was able to get the job done in straight sets 7-5 6-4 against Yanina Wickmayer and Errani battled hard to escape the clutches of qualifier Jelena Ostapenko 0-6 6-4 6-3.

 

Azarenka was under pressure from the beginning of the match as Wickmayer jumped out to a 2-0 lead. She would sustain this lead until the 8th game when Azarenka broke back for 4-4. Wickmayer broke back for 5-4 and serve for the set but again was unable to hold the lead as Azarenka got back the break and broke her again in the 12th game for the set as Wickmayer was serving to stay in it, 7-5. In the 2nd set, Azarenka was able to be in control of the points better but could not serve out the match when she was up 5-3. Wickmayer on the other hand again could not hold serve when it counted the most. Serving to stay in the match down 4-5, the Belgian could not come up with the goods and so was bounced from the tournament 5-7 4-6. This has to be a tough loss for Wickmayer who has yet to equal her 2009 result when she made the semifinals. Since then, she has only gone past the 2nd round once. Azarenka moves through to the 3rd round where she will play Angelique Kerber (11) who beat Karin Knapp 7-5 6-2.

Errani looked well out of sorts at the beginning of her match. She lost the opening set 0-6 to Ostapenko who was simply on top of every shot. Errani had a medical time out and got some treatment which seemed have helped as the Italian raced out to a 4-0 lead in the 2nd set. Ostapenko was able to get back the double breaks for 3-4. However, Errani remained relentless as she broke back for 5-3 and despite being unable to serve out the set in the 9th game, she broke Ostapenko again to take it 6-4. The 3rd set saw 6 successive breaks of serves for 3-3. However, Errani allowed her experience to shine through as she held serve for 4-3 and broke Ostapenko for the 4th time in the set for 5-3. Errani then fought through the pain and serve it out 0-6 6-4 6-3 in 2 hours.

Errani is set to play Sam Stosur (22), 2011 champion here, who virtually stormed through to the 3rd round with a 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Evgeniya Rodina in just 51 minutes. The Australian had 8 aces added to her total of 29 winners. Rodina only had 1 ace and 7 winners altogether for the match. “I’m very happy with the way I played. I thought I played great from start to finish. [N]ice to get on and off very quickly, especially when it’s hot and I’ve got doubles later today. [M]y first two matches have been really good,” Stosur said after the match.

American Varvara Lepchenko took out Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko who earlier in the tournament upset Lucie Safarova (6). Lepchenko won 7-6 6-2 in just over an hour an a half. Andrea Petkovic (18) was also able to take out her opponent in straight sets. The German got by Elena Vesnina 6-3 7-6. Vesnina was able to gain a 5-3 lead in the 2nd set but was unable to serve it out at 5-4 and could not get much traction in the breaker.

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Davis Cup Chiefs Presses Ahead With Five-City Plan But Admits Not Everybody Will Be Happy

Unanswered questions remain over the staging of next year’s historic team event but both Kosmos and the ITF are confident about their plans.

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MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 05: Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2021 at Madrid Arena on December 05, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

The Organizers of the Davis Cup say that they can’t avoid negative ‘noise’ about them after revealing their plans for the 2022 edition of the tournament.

 

Next year will see the finals of the competition staged across five cities over a 11-day period. The number of teams participating will be cut from 18 to 16 and then split into four groups. Each group will play in a designated city which will be held in a country of one of the qualified teams. Those who progress to the knockout stages will then have to fly to a ‘neutral’ location for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.

There remain a lot of unanswered questions about the latest format change with the host cities yet to be revealed. Something which confused many journalists on Sunday after they originally received an invitation titled ‘next destination’ which indicated that the name of the host countries would be revealed. It is widely speculated that Abu Dhabi will be one of the main cities selected for 2022 and is strongly favoured to host the knockout stages. A somewhat controversial decision to move the event to an area which doesn’t have a rich Davis Cup history.

Refusing to name any countries, the president of the International Tennis Federation, David Haggerty, told reporters that he is ‘unaware’ of any opposition to where the tournament could be held. Even though Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt last week accused officials of ‘selling the soul’ of the competition amid reports it could be heading to the UAE.

“I can tell you that we are in final negotiations. We haven’t signed so we didn’t think it was proper to make an announcement. There is no opposition that we’re aware of. We’re very pleased with the preferred city that we’re in final stages with,” Said Haggerty.

Enric Rojas is the president of Investment firm Kosmos who are in charge of overseeing the Davis Cup after signing a 25-year deal worth millions back in 2018. He confirmed that discussions have taken place with various stakeholders about the competition but it is unclear as to how much say they have had in the decision making process. Whilst the 2021 finals has been praised by some, Rojas acknowledges that he is unable to please everybody.

“We cannot avoid some noise around everything we do. We have faced that since 2018 and in 2019, now in 2021, especially coming from a few countries,” he said.
“I have the feeling after speaking to many players, captains and federations that the noise that we are hearing is because of Abu Dhabi or because of other things, that noise will always happen irrespective of whatever you do.’
“There will be some flexibility in the process, but we are looking for having agreements with the host cities and the countries in between three and five years.”

There is still more clarity needed on the staging of the competition. One of which being what happens if a country who has agreed to host the group stages of the event over a fixed period doesn’t qualify one year. Will they continue to host the competition or do they lose out to another country? One option to avoid this could be the use of wildcards but organisers normally change countries each year.

As for the players, all concede that having an event such as the Davis Cup at the end of a long season is a massive challenge. Marin Cilic played in the title match on Sunday where Croatia lost 2-0 to the Russian Tennis Federation.

It definitely is different,” Cilic commented on the Davis Cup changes in recent years. “But it’s tough to say in the end what is better, what is not. For us the whole system worked. This new system worked amazingly well.”

World No.2 Daniil Medvedev has voiced his backing to the prospect of having the 2022 finals staged across Europe, then moving the knockout stages to the Middle East. However, he admits the timing of the competition is problematic for some of his peers.

“I think the idea itself is very good. Of course, the calendar doesn’t let Davis Cup be in any other week, so that’s where it’s tough. That’s where some top players are not going to play because it’s the end of the season, somebody’s burned out, somebody’s injured, somebody wants to prepare well for Australia, so that’s not easy.” Medvedev told reporters on Sunday.
“It’s going to be tough for any player, especially those who play the Masters (ATP Finals), to be able to cope up with the season.” He added.

According to Kosmos, the four cities which will host the group ties will have to go through a bidding process with the final decision made next March. As for the fifth neutral venue, Abu Dhabi has been described as the ‘preferred option’ but it hasn’t been officially signed off yet. It has been confirmed that the entire 2022 Finals must be staged indoors regardless of the host country in order to minimised players need to adapt to various conditions.

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Davis Cup: Great Britain Handed Wildcard For 2022 Finals, Qualifiers Draw Announced

The Davis Cup Qualifiers draw was announced with Great Britain and Serbia handed a wildcard to next year’s finals.

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Great Britain and Serbia have been handed a wildcard for the 2022 Davis Cup Finals as the qualifiers draw was announced.

 

As this year’s Davis Cup comes to a conclusion, plans for next year’s competition have been put in place.

Although it is still unclear if the Finals will be held in Abu Dhabi next year, we do know which four countries have qualified for the year ending competition next month.

Russia and Croatia will contest the 2021 final, therefore earning themselves an automatic spot in next year’s finals.

However joining them will be two wildcards and they have been given to Novak Djokovic’s Serbia who reached the semi-finals this year as well as Great Britain.

To the surprise of many there was no wildcard for Spain, who are hosting the final this year, further indicating that next year’s competition is unlikely to take place in the country.

Spain join a whole host of other top nations such as Germany, France, USA, Canada and Australia in March’s qualifiers.

Spain will host Romania for a place in next year’s finals while France and USA have been given home ties against Ecuador and Colombia respectively.

Here is the full draw for the qualifiers which will take place on the 4th and 5th of March:

France v Ecuador

Spain v Romania

Finland v Belgium

USA v Colombia

Netherlands v Canada

Brazil v Germany

Slovakia v Italy

Australia v Hungary

Norway v Kazakhstan

Sweden v Japan

Argentina v Czech Republic

South Korea v Austria

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Iga Swiatek Working With Agnieszka Radwanska’s Former Coach After Recent Coaching Split

Iga Swiatek has made some coaching changes ahead of the 2022 season.

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Iga Swiatek will start working with Agnieszka Radwanska’s former coach Tomasz Wiktorowski on a temporary basis after splitting up with her long term coach.

 

The Pole announced the news on Instagram yesterday that she and Piotr Sierzputowski had split up after five years working with each other.

Swiatek had achieved ultimate success with Piotr having won Wimbledon Juniors, reaching her first WTA final in Lugano and the most important achievement of winning her first grand slam title at Roland Garros.

However the 20 year-old now feels its time to move on ahead of the 2022 season, “I’ve started my pre-season, but today I would like to tell you something significant,” Swiatek wrote on Instagram.

“After more than 5 years I’ve decided to finish my cooperation with my coach Piotr Sierzputowski. This change is really challenging for me and this decision wasn’t easy, either… As tennis players we meet on our path a lot of people who contribute great value into our work and, often, into our life too, because we spend almost the whole year on tour together.

“I found out that sometimes in our professional life we need changes to develop more, evolve and meet other people with whom we’re going to create a cooperation for the next stages of our development. 

“I would like to thank you Coach for everything that you did for me. We gave each other so much and I hope that we’ll continue to grow and develop with this experience we’ve gained together. I owe you a lot and truly appreciate the time we’ve spent together. All those years enabled us to be in the place that we are now. 

“I suppose you may have questions about what’s next. I have everything I need to be able to work and I would like to focus on my pre-season without any outside pressure. I hope you’ll understand it.”

https://twitter.com/Sierzputowsky/status/1467456169161678851

Although the news comes as a surprise given that Swiatek was the only woman to reach the last 16 of every grand slam 2021, it is always better for players to change coaches at the end of the season rather than mid-season.

Swiatek’s long-term replacement is yet to be discovered however the Pole has appointed former coach of Agnieszka Radwanska, Tomasz Wiktorowski as an interim replacement according to TenisKlub.Pl.

Wiktorowski was there for most of Radwanska’s successes and knows the polish tennis system well so will have a good working replacement with Swiatek.

The former Roland Garros champion is now starting preparations for the new season as she looks to win a second grand slam title at the Australian Open.

The first grand slam of the season in Melbourne will start on the 17th of January.

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