WTA Singapore: Draw set, Halep to face Sharapova in Group Play, Muguruza with Kvitova for company - UBITENNIS
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WTA Singapore: Draw set, Halep to face Sharapova in Group Play, Muguruza with Kvitova for company

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Simona Halep

Simona Halep is the highest ranked player after Serena Williams withdrawal

The two groups for the WTA season finale at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore has been released, and some intriguing encounters already stand out. In the Red Group, Simona Halep will face Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Flavia Pennetta. The White Group sees Garbine Muguruza take on Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, and Lucie Safarova. Seven players will be looking to win this event for the first time.

It will be the first meeting of the year for Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova, who last met in 2014. Sharapova leads the head-to-head by a commanding five-love record. But Halep has enjoyed a remarkable 2015, finishing second only to Serena Williams in the year rankings. Singapore will also mark the final tournament of the career of Flavia Pennetta,who won the US Open this year. Her head-to-head record with the other member of the Red Group Agnieszka Radwanka, is three-five, with Radwanska winning their lone meeting in 2015 in Doha. Sharapova dominates the head to head with Radwanska, winning twelve of their fourteen meetings, including their lone meeting this year, and their meeting in this event last year. Pennetta has won three of her five meetings with Sharapova. Sharapova though comes into the event with very poor form, having played little tennis since her withdrawal from the US Open with a right leg injury.

Garbine Muguruza had enjoyed a stunning year, highlighted by a runner-up finish at Wimbledon. She will face former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. It will be an intriguing first meeting between the two. Angelique Kerber and Lucie Safarova make up the remaining competitors, with Safarova the latest to qualify last week. These two have split their two previous meetings, with Safarova winning the most recent in 2014. Muguruza and Kerber are also tied in their head-to-head at three apiece.

The draw means that Garbine Muguruza cannot face Maria Sharapova or Simona Halep until the knock-out stages. However, it could mean that she has to defeat one or both of them if she is to win the title on her tournament debut.  She comes in though as perhaps the form player, with a runner-up and title finish in Wuhan and Beijing in recent tournaments.

The players enjoyed a tour of Singapore, and undertook some promotional responsibilities before the draw.

Last year’s winner Serena Williams is absent, with the only previous champion in the field Petra Kvitova, from 2011. Maria Sharapova is twice a runner-up. She will look to take advantage of the absence of her nemesis Williams to win the title for the first time. This year marks the first since 2011 that there is no Williams sister in attendance.

 

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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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