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WTA Hong Kong: Smooth sailing for top seeds

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All four seeded players in action in Hong Kong safely navigated their way into the quarter finals. Venus Williams was once again relentless as she took just 63 minutes to take care of Wang Yafan by 6-0, 6-2, and thereby reaching her seventh quarter finals of the season.

 

She will next face Alize Cornet, who she has beaten in all four of their meetings, but who, funnily enough, has defeated sister Serena in their last three clashes. The number 8 seed struggled the most to book her place in the last eight as she had to battle back from a set down to knock out Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.

The top seed in action today was number two Angelique Kerber, who proved too powerful on the hard courts of Hong Kong for Kurumi Nara, annihilating the Japanese player 6-2, 6-2. The German will now face Caroline Garcia who brushed past lucky loser Anastasiya Komardina 6-0, 6-2.

With just one week of tournaments to go until qualification for Singapore is decided, Venus Williams now has her destiny in her own hands. With Safarova losing in the first round in Linz, the American could potentially climb all the way to sixth in the race if she wins in Hong Kong, depending on Radwanska’s performance in Tianjin.

 

 

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“97% Would Have Pulled Out” – Ivanisevic Says Djokovic Gave His All To Win Australian Open

The Croatian also gives his view on how much longer he believes Djokovic can continue playing at a high level.

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Image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen

Novak Djokovic battled against the odds to win the Australian Open despite having an injury which would have forced most players to pull out of the tournament, according to his coach. 

 

Goran Ivanisevic admits he was surprised by how well the Serbian overcame his injury woes at the first Grand Slam of the season. Djokovic entered the tournament with a hamstring issue and was seen wearing strapping on his leg throughout most of his matches. Despite the problem, he still managed to seal the title after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets on Sunday. In doing so he has become the first man to win the Australian Open for a tenth time and has equalled Rafael Nadal’s all-time Grand Slam record of 22 titles won.

“I don’t say 100%, but 97% of the players, on Saturday when you get results of the MRI, you go straight to the referee office and pull out of the tournament. But not him,” said Ivanisevic.
“He is from another space. His brain is working differently.’
“He gave everything. 77 therapies a day. Every day was kind of better and better. I didn’t expect this. Honestly, I was shocked.”

Ivanisevic, who won the 2001 Wimbledon title, joined Djokovic’s team in the summer of 2019 and has remained a prominent member ever since. During this period, the Serbian has won seven out of his 22 major titles. 

Yet Ivanisevic admits that he is still stunned by the abilities of the tennis star who will return to world No.1 on Monday for the first time since June. 

“You learn all the time. He’s getting crazier and crazier. It’s no end of the field of craziness. In a positive way, I mean,” he commented.
“I mean, the guy is unbelievable. I don’t know how to describe it in words. I thought I saw everything, and then you see this. I’m probably going to see something else (in the future).”

So how did Djokovic manage to turn the odds around? Speaking to reporters during his press conference, he described each match as a case of survival. In this year’s tournament, he dropped only one set in seven matches played, which was against France’s Enzo Couacaud in the second round. 

“It required an enormous mental energy really to stay present, to stay focused, to take things day by day, and really see how far I can go,” said Djokovic. 
“If I turn back the time two and a half weeks ago, I wasn’t really liking my chance in this tournament with the way I felt with my leg. Then it was just a matter of surviving every single match, trying to take it to the next round.”

It is not the first time he has overcome adversity to triumph at the Australian Open. In 2021 he claimed the title despite suffering a tear in his abdominal oblique muscle in the third round of the tournament. 

At the age of 35, Djokovic is without a doubt entering into the later stages of his career but there are no signs of retirement. According to the current ATP top 100, only four players are older than him with one of those being rival Nadal. The two tennis giants have won 16 out of the last 19 major events between them. 

As for how much longer Djokovic can keep going on the Tour, Ivanisevic has given his estimate.  

“Definitely two, three more years. The way he’s taking care of his body, the way he approaches everything, the food, it’s amazing. It’s unbelievable the level.” He said. 

Djokovic is the third-oldest man to win the Australian Open after Ken Rosewall and Roger Federer. 

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Australian Open: Stefanos Tsitsipas Determined To Make Grand Slam Dream Reality After Djokovic Defeat

Stefanos Tsitsipas is still determined to achieve his Grand Slam dream after losing the Australian Open final.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas (@CitiOpen - Twitter)

Stefanos Tsitsipas is remaining determined to achieve his Grand Slam dream after he lost in the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic.

 

Playing his second Grand Slam final, Stefanos Tsitsipas was dominated by Novak Djokovic in a 6-3 7-6(4) 7-6(5) defeat with Djokovic claiming his tenth Australian Open title.

The result won’t downplay Tsitsipas’ impressive start to the season as he will now climb up to world number three when the new rankings are released on Monday.

Even though Tsitsipas’ dream of winning a Grand Slam title may not have been realised in Melbourne, the Greek is more determined than before to make it a reality in the future.

Speaking after the match Tsitsipas said he was happy with the two weeks as he looks to win more trophies in the near future, “Look, I’m not thinking about the match anymore,” Tsitsipas said in his press conference.

“I’m just happy that I’m in another Grand Slam final. Of course, I was dreaming about the trophy, lifting that trophy. I even dreamt it last night in my sleep. The desire is really there. I really, really want it badly.

“But just dreaming about it won’t make it happen. You got to act. You got to do something out there. You got to be present even more and do better. Today I felt like there were moments that I was close, but the tiebreak didn’t really show that both ways. Just bad starts. So I’ll just eliminate it, take the good things, move on from there.

It’s a long season. It’s an exhausting season. I got to be physically ready for the difficult matches that I will have to play this year against the best players in the world.”

It’s clear that Tsitsipas wants to move onto the future where he will look to improve in winning the biggest titles on the tour.

However the new world number three also reflected on the past and how this year’s loss feels in comparison to the one in Paris where he lost from two sets down to Djokovic.

Tsitsipas said the one in Paris was more heart-breaking and has learnt from that experience, “Well, Paris was heartbreaking. I was two sets to love up. I wasn’t really thinking that I was two sets to love up. I mean, I was aware of it, but it didn’t occupy too much of my thought process,” the Greek explained.

“Let’s say I did some technical decisions there that were wrong, which I’m pretty sure I’m not going to repeat again in my career. Just pure stubbornness from my side. I can’t see or feel the same again, because that was a different final from what we had today.

“That was disappointing, for sure. A lot of not-such-nice things happened for me that day, losing my grandmother the day of the final, not knowing about it but finding out later.

“There was something in the air that day that made it feel that there was something odd about that day. I still remember it. I don’t want to remember it because it’s not a nice feeling.”

Motivated by his two losses in Grand Slam finals, Tsitsipas will now look to have the desire and consistency to achieve his world number one goal.

Concluding his press conference Tsitsipas said that he’s not lowering his expectations despite recent results, “I want to max out in what I do in my profession. No. 1 is on my mind. It doesn’t come easy, I know that. I got to work harder to make that happen,” Tsitsipas claimed.

“What I can say is being on the tour for a few years now, I get a lot of different experiences, I get a lot of different things that I’m faced with.

“It’s my time to aim for something like this. I don’t see any reason to be lowering my expectations or my goals. I am born a champion. I can feel it in my blood. I can feel it as a competitive kid that I was when I was young. It’s
something that is within me.

“I want to harvest that, make it bloom, make it even stronger and fonder, work hard towards those goals.”

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Novak Djokovic Topples Tsitsipas To Clinch Historic Australian Open Title

Djokovic has become the first man in history to win the title at Melbourne Park for the 10th time and only the second to win the same Grand Slam 10 or more times.

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Image via ATP Twitter

Novak Djokovic has drawn level with nemesis Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam titles won by a male tennis player after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets to win the Australian Open.

 

Playing in front of a highly animated crowd on the Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic rallied to a 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5), win over Tsitsipas to become only the fifth player – male or female – to have won a 22nd major title. The triumph has also secured his return to world No.1 on Monday for the first time since June. Djokovic is the third-oldest man to win the Australian Open title and the first to do so for the 10th time in their career.

Taking on third seed Tsitsipas in what was a tense encounter on Sunday, the Serbian claimed victory with the help of 36 winners compared to 22 unforced errors. Winning 75% of his service points and converting two out of five of his break point chances. He has now beaten Tsitsipas in nine out of their 11 Tour meetings.

“What a journey it has been for me and my family. You guys, I don’t know if you will ever forgive me for what I have done to you over the years. This trophy is as much for you as it is for me,” Djokovic said afterwards. 
“This has been one of the most challenging tournaments I have played in my life, considering the circumstances. Not playing last year, coming back this year. There is a reason I have played my best tennis here – in front of legends like Rod Laver.
“Only my team and my family know what I have been through over the last four or five weeks. I think this has to be the biggest victory of my life, given the circumstances.”

The showdown featuring 35-year-old Djokovic and 24-year-old Tsitsipas represented the largest age gap between two players contesting an Australian Open men’s final in the Open Era. From the onset, it was Djokovic who dictated proceedings with the use of some of his best tennis. Taking the ball early and applying pressure directly onto his opponent’s backhand, the Serbian broke for the first time in the fourth game of the match with the help of a Tsitsipas double fault to move ahead 3-1. Djokovic, who won 20 out of his 25 service points during the opener, then eased his way to a 5-3 lead before sealing the first set with a serve out wide that forced an unforced error from across the court. 

Heading into the second frame, the tension between the two was rising. Both players remained firm behind their serve with Djokovic for the first time showing a glimpse of frustration with gestures towards his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, in the crowd. Then down 4-5, he saved a set point by prevailing in a 15-shot rally against Tsitsipas with a forehand winner. 

With little to distinguish between the two, it was a roller-coaster tiebreaker which separated them where seven out of the 11 points played saw the server lose the point. Djokovic eased to a 4-1 lead at the expense of some lacklustre shot-making from Tsitsipas which saw him hit a duo of forehand errors. Then it was his turn to succumb to the pressure after producing a backhand error followed by a double fault to allow the Greek to come back and draw level. Despite the blip, the world No.5 weathered the storm to clinch a two-set lead. 

Another mishap would take place at the start of the third set. After taking a five-minute toilet break, Djokovic was broken immediately when he returned to the court before breaking back immediately in the following game. Although he soon regained momentum in the match with the help of a clinical service display where he won 17 points in a row en route to yet another tiebreaker. 

In what was a case of deja vu, Tsitsipas’ unforced errors were his undoing as he fell behind 0-5 before managing to claw his way back into contention. Meanwhile, Djokovic had to contend with a rowdy crowd as well as his opponent. Two Championship points came and went before he prevailed on his third. Bringing the 10-time champion to tears as he celebrated with his team in the crowd just after the match. 

Djokovic’s sheer emotion comes as no surprise considering his recent history in Australia. 12 months ago he was deported from the country following a legal battle over the validity of his visa and then received an automatic three-year ban from returning. A penalty that wasn’t waived by the government until last November. Then in this year’s tournament, he had to contend with a hamstring injury with some accusing him of saying the problem was more severe than it was. 

Yet few can dispute Djokovic’s achievements in the sport which was hailed by runner-up Tsitsipas during the trophy ceremony. It is the second time Tsitsipas has lost to him in a Grand Slam final after the 2021 French Open. 

“Novak, I don’t know what to say, the numbers say it all,” Tsitsipas said of Djokovic. “It’s been an unbelievable journey for you and I admire what you have done for our sport.
“He’s one of the greatest in our sport – the greatest to have ever held a tennis racket. I’d like to thank you for pushing our sport so far.
“It’s not easy to be here again in the final of a grand slam. But thank you to my team, we are getting there.”

Djokovic has now won 28 consecutive matches at the Australian Open and is 12-0 so far this season. 

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