WTA: Race To Singapore, Muguruza strengthens claim - UBITENNIS
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WTA: Race To Singapore, Muguruza strengthens claim

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Muguruza and Bacsinzsky were the big winners this week

With the news last week that Serena Williams has elected to end her season early, forgoing the final major events of the year, the race to be involved in the premier season-ending event is no less exciting. The WTA event in Beijing saw a number of contenders fall early, as a select few pulled away.

 

This week has seen Garbine Muguruza continue to assert her claim to be involved for the first time, as she moved up to No.4 in the race last week. She plays in the final of Beijing after defeating another contender in Agnieszka Radwanska in the semi-finals. Radwanska will move back into contention after her strong semi-final showing.

She will play Timea Baczinszky, who will also improve her bid, by moving into the Top ten for the first time. She came back from a set down to beat Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic meanwhile, looks like joining Serena Williams as a player who qualified for last year’s event who may not appear this year. A good week in Beijing has aided her cause, but she still needs to perform in the final weeks to get back into the reckoning. Eugenie Bouchard will also not appear after suffering a season of poor form and injury problems. Caroline Wozniacki is also struggling to replicate the form that saw her take her place in Singapore last year. She only managed a third round in Beijing this week.

Simona Halep has already qualified again, whilst Maria Sharapova looks well placed to join her. There are just two more weeks of events before the season-ending finale, and Sharapova  would have to be displaced by a number of rivals if she is not to qualify. Petra Kvitova saw her strong position weaken significantly, suffering a shock early exit to Sara Errani. Madison Keys, Flavia Pennetta, and Carla Suarez Navarro, all fell in the third round.Venus Williams suffered a setback in her early defeat to Ana Ivanovic in the second round. She will drop from eleventh in the race. Karolina Pliskova will also fall out as she in the opening round. Belinda Bencic was forced to withdraw with a right hand injury, and Lucie Safarova did not play this week’s event in Beijing.

Angelique Kerber will continue to keep her destiny within her control, a strong quarter-final run saw her put further ground between herself and many of her rivals.

 

 

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Bianca Andreescu: The Canadian Sensation Tipped To Strike Gold At The US Open

Will the rising star be the person to end her country’s grand slam singles trophy drought?

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A year ago, it would have been considered a breakthrough if Canada’s Bianca Andreescu managed to win back-to-back matches at a grand slam tournament. Now only 12 months later, some are naming the big time player as a serious contender for the US Open title.

 

2019 has been nothing but sensational for the 19-year-old, who was born in Ontario to Romanian parents. Prior to this year, she had never been ranked inside the top 100, won a WTA title or even defeated a top 10 player. The rise began in Auckland at the ASB Classic when she stunned the likes of Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki on route to the final. Her first ever on the WTA Tour, which she lost in three sets to Julia Goerges. It was the first major breakthrough for the Canadian prodigy, who enjoyed a successful junior career during her younger years.

Whilst Auckland was a milestone for Andreescu, it didn’t guarantee that success was on the way. The women’s tour are renowned for their stars, but consistency has been an Achilles heel for many players. It was for this reason why Andreescu remained a rising star, but still an outsider. That was until Indian Wells.

Out of nowhere, she burst onto the main stage of tennis at one of the most prestigious tournaments outside of the grand slams. It was at Indian Wells where she claimed her first ever WTA title. Becoming the youngest winner of the tournament since Serena Williams back in 1999. Suddenly Andreescu moved from a newcomer to a force to be reckoned with. It was during that tournament where former world No.1 Martina Navratilova gave her assessment.

“She’s got all the goods – she just believes in herself. What she can improve the most is the forehand, it gets a little off when she gets nervous, physical fitness – that will just happen, she’ll become more match tough.” Navratilova told BT Sport in March.
“She’s got really great hands, knows when to use what shots. Her tennis IQ, shot selection is really outstanding.”

It hasn’t all been plain-sailing for Andreescu, who has been forced to spend weeks on the sidelines due to a shoulder injury in recent time. In fact, she has only played eight competitive matches on the tour since April.

“I had a really good, I guess, a mini pre-season where I was able to focus a lot on my physique and just focus on other aspects of my game. And not only that, but as a person too. I think I really improved a lot of things,” she commented about her injury break.
“So I’m really grateful for that break, and I think all that preparation is paying off.”

The comeback

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Given her time away and lack of preparation, it is rare to name a player who is yet to break the top 10 to win a grand slam title. However, she isn’t an ordinary player. Playing at the most high-profile tournament in her country, the Rogers Cup, Andreescu exceeded expectations. Back-to-back wins over two top five seeds guided her towards the final. Then she ended Canada’s 50-year wait for a champion after her opponent, Serena Williams, retired due to injury three games in.

Regardless of Williams’ retirement, Andreescu’s ability to score a string of wins in her comeback tournament is one few players can manage to do. Within an eight-month period, she has gone from playing her first WTA Final to winning two Premier titles. Inbetween those titles, she had an injury break amounting to almost five months.

“I’m officially a fan,” Williams said of her opponent. “She’s an old soul. She’s only 19. She definitely doesn’t seem like a 19-year-old. Her words on the court. Her game. Her attitude. Her actions.”

Andreescu’s meteoric rise has been compared to that of Naomi Osaka, who also won her first WTA trophy in Indian Wells back in 2018. However is she ready for grand slam glory? Despite her lack of tournaments in recent time, it is hard to say no. The Canadian has played a top 10 player seven times this season and has won all of those encounters.

There is no doubt that the Canadian is a big-time player and looks fearless when taking on the biggest names. It is for this reason why she can’t be ruled out as a top contender. A somewhat surreal statement about a player who wasn’t even ranked high enough to gain entry into the US Open main draw back in 2018.

Andreescu’s wins over top 10 players in 2019

1. Caroline Wozniacki (No. 3) – Auckland Open, New Zealand 6–4, 6–4
2. Elina Svitolina (No. 6) – Indian Wells Open, United States 6–3, 2–6, 6–4
3. Angelique Kerber (No. 8) Indian Wells Open, United States 6–4, 3–6, 6–4
4. Angelique Kerber (No. 4) Miami Open, United States 6–4, 4–6, 6–1
5. Kiki Bertens (No. 5) Rogers Cup, Canada 6–1, 6–7(7–9), 6–4
6. Karolína Plíšková (No. 3) Rogers Cup, Canada 6–0, 2–6, 6–4
7. Serena Williams (No. 10) Rogers Cup, Canada 3–1 ret

 

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Serena Williams’ US Open Outburst Was The Best Moment Of The Past Decade, Claims Coach

The mentor of the 23-time grand slam champion has made some controversial claims about the incident which marred the women’s final at the New York major last year.

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Serena Williams’ dramatic clash with Carlos Ramos in the final of the US Open had a positive impact on tennis, according to her coach in a new interview broadcasted on ESPN.

 

Patrick Mouratoglou was at the centre of the incident which triggered the controversy. Williams was taking on Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the final where during the match she received a violation for coaching. Umpire Ramos said he saw her coach making a gesture in the crowd. However, a bemused Williams denied any wrongdoing and said she would never cheat. The former world No.1 later went on to claim that the official was sexist before calling him a ‘liar’ and a ‘thief.’ Williams then received two further warnings that amounted to a game penalty.

“I felt it was an important moment. … It was probably one of the biggest moments of her career. She was in a Grand Slam final to equal the record of all times. And she’s losing, and I feel at that moment she’s lost on the court. So I try to help her. That’s my job.” Mouratoglou told Don Van Natta in a special documentary about the final.

Ramos was never found to have broken the code of conduct in any form, but the conflict triggered a debate around the world. Some praising Williams and other criticising her. The tennis player was later fined $17,000 following the final for her behaviour.

Despite Williams’ fine, her mentor still blames Ramos for how he handled the occasion. Even though Mouratoglou was the one who broke the rules with his hand gestures. In grand slam tennis, any form of coaching during during matches in the main draws of grand slams are forbidden. Something the Frenchman has criticised in the past.

“His job is also to keep the match under control. He totally lost control of the match, completely, because he reacted with emotions. And he’s not supposed to — he’s a chair umpire, he’s not a player.” He said.

Whilst both Williams and Osaka are happy to forget the occasion, which overshadowed the Japanese player’s first ever grand slam title, Mouratoglou has praised it. Going as far as saying that it was the ‘best moment’ to have happened in tennis over the past 10 years.

“It was horrible for us. It was horrible for Serena. It’s fantastic for tennis. It was unbelievable, that was the best moment in tennis of the past 10 years.” Mouratoglou claims.
“Tennis was everywhere. You don’t have any drama in tennis. We have drama in all the other sports, but not tennis. People should be allowed to be herself and show emotion. You want passion, that’s why people watch sport. They want things to happen. They want to feel emotion, they want to root for someone, they want to be shocked, they want to be happy, they want to be sad. That’s what they want and everybody felt something that day.”

Not everybody has viewed the incident as a positive impact on the sport. A poll set up by New York Times journalist Ben Rothenberg found that 92% of voters disagree with Mouratoglou’s claim. The 92% was based on voting from 2000 respondents.

Von Natta’s documentary ‘Serena vs. the umpire’ was broadcasted on TV in America for the first time yesterday ahead of the US Open.

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Daniil Medvedev Cracks Top Five With Maiden Masters Title In Cincinnati

The new world No.5 has sent out a warning to his rivals ahead of the US Open.

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Daniil Medvedev has become the first Russian player in history to win a Masters title after downing David Goffin in straight sets at the Western and Southern Open.

 

The 23-year-old overcame cramping to edged out his rival 7-6(3), 6-4, in Cincinnati. It was by no means a straightforward encounter for Medvedev, who faced some stern resistance from across the court. During the opening set he saw a 4-1 advantage come and go before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the second, Medvedev saved two break points whilst serving for the title. Eventually closing it out with three consecutive aces.

“It’s hard to find words,” Medvedev told Brad Gilbert after the match. “It’s the hard work I’ve been putting in. It would not be good to lose three finals in a row, so I’m really happy about this. I started cramping at 5-3, actually. It was the first time I cramped in three weeks. I made four serves he didn’t return and it was unbelievable.”

Throughout the clash the Russian No.1 fired 10 aces and dropped only three points behind his first serve. Medvedev also produced only one double fault compared to Goffin’s tally of seven.

Cincinnati was the third consecutive tournament where Medvedev has reached the final in as many weeks. Something that was last achieved by Alexander Zverev during the first half of 2018. Since Wimbledon, he has won 14 out of 16 matches played. The only players to have beaten him was Nick Kyrgios in the Washington final and Rafael Nadal at the Rogers Cup.

“I have to say even if I wouldn’t have finished with the trophy, they were amazing and the best in my life. But of course I think with the trophy is better.” He commented about the past three weeks.
“Especially if I would have lost three finals in a row, I would have not doubted myself but, like, started asking myself how is it possible, three finals, lost all of them? What should I do differently in the final?”
“It’s been the best weeks in my life. My mentality was the best in my life. My serve was the best in my life. My tennis was really consistent. I didn’t have one bad match. I’m just extremely happy.”

The recent surge in form has also helped Medvedev achieve another milestone in his blossoming career. On Monday he rose to a ranking high of fifth in the world. Becoming the first man from his country to break into the top five since Nikolay Davydenko back in 2010. He is one of two Russian men in the top 10 along with Karen Khachanov, who is currently in ninth spot.

“That’s a huge achievement which I couldn’t probably believe three weeks ago, because I just entered the top 10.”

US Open awaits

Given the surge in success, the world No.5 has now been named as a contender in the upcoming US Open, which will begin in a week’s time. He is yet to progress beyond the fourth round at a major. Runner-up Goffin has backed his opponent to become a grand slam champion, but believes the US Open might not be where he triumphs.

“To win a Grand Slam it’s another story, because it’s best of five. It could be unbelievably hot and humid in New York, as well. You know, it’s something different.” Said Goffin.
“This year, I don’t know. Maybe it’s too early, but one day, yes. Why not?”

There is also a danger that Medvedev could have peaked too early prior to the New York major. Also, given the sheer amount of tennis he has contested over the past three weeks, there are also concerns about how he will recover in time. However, Medvedev has no regrets regardless of what happens at the grand slam.

“I try not to think about it, because I have zero regrets from what I have done in these three weeks.” He stated.
“We will work on a plan with my team, how to make the best plan to recover and to be ready for Monday or Tuesday, if I play Tuesday, and hopefully I am. I would say I should be. There is no reason for me not to be ready for US Open.”

Medvedev has now won 44 matches this season. More than anybody else on the ATP Tour.

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