Venus Williams Could Follow in Martina Navratilova's Footsteps on Longevity - UBITENNIS
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Venus Williams Could Follow in Martina Navratilova’s Footsteps on Longevity

Ivan Pasquariello

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Reaching the final at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, Venus Williams is very close to finish the year in the top 10 for the first time since 2010. At 35, she would be the oldest top 10 after Martina Navratilova. Winning in the final against Pliskova, Venus has to win to make sure to achieve the feat. 

 

 

The WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai has its 2 finalists. Venus Williams will face-off Karolina Pliskova in the very last premier tournament of the 2015 season for women’s tennis. 35-year-old Venus has set some new records for herself dominating Roberta Vinci in the semifinals on Saturday. The 7-time Grand Slam champion beat the US Open finalist by 6-2 6-2 in just 66 minutes.

Too strong on serve and too proactive the American for the tired Italian in Zhuahai. If there were sparks and drama the last time the two met on court in Wuhan, this time the match went on fast and smooth for Venus. Solid on both her ground strokes, Williams was hardly ever challenged by the Italian’s sliced one-handed backhand. Venus closed with 3 aces and over 60% of the points won on her first serve, meaning she didn’t have a brilliant day on her serve, but moved so fast and was so consistent on court that she didn’t even need her best weapon to dominate top 20′ competition.

Here the highlights of the match:

https://youtu.be/dqCAXiuMS68

With the win against Vinci, Venus could close the season as high as World No.7 in the WTA rankings, overtaking another Italian, Flavia Pennetta, if she were to win the final on Sunday against Karolina Pliskova. At 35, Venus hasn’t had enough of tennis and wants to win more, famished as she was when she approached the sport as a young teenage gun. Williams is currently ranked at No.10 in the WTA live rankings.

The American  holds the 10th spot with 3530 points after reaching the final. Angelique Kerber and Lucie Safarova, ranked respectively 8th and 9th, are both just 60 points away with 3590 points. If Venus beats Pliskova in the final on Sunday, she will have a grand total of 3790 points, enough to overtake No.7 Flavia Pennetta. who currently holds the spot with 3621 points.

Venus will be bidding to close her first top 10 season in 5 years, after finishing at World No.5 in 2010. The oldest player to close the year in the top 10 was Martina Navratilova, who finished the season as No.8 in 1994, when she was 38 years old. Venus is three years away from tying Martina, but surely a top 10 season at 35, considering how modern tennis is all about physicality, would be an impressive achievement and one to be very proud of.

Unfortunately for the American, her direct competition in the rankings will also be her opponent in the final. Karolina Pliskova has dominated Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals in Zhuhai in straight sets, winning by 6-3 6-1. Pliskova played better when it mattered the most, like when she fired a backhand cross-court winner to take the first set. The Czech stayed strong on her serve and forehand in the second, cutting the rallies short, stopping Svitolina in trying to drag the match into a battle.

Here the last game won by Pliskova:

https://youtu.be/-bXrd3Kt4sM

Reaching the final Karolina currently sits on the World No.11 spot in the live WTA rankings with 3285 points. If she wins the final against Venus, she will overtake the American and close for the first time a season in the top 10, with a total of 3545 points (15 more than Venus).

Who will finish the year in the top 10?

 

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Roger Federer Says ‘Revolution’ Needed To Help Next Generation Of Tennis Players

The Swiss Maestro has called for more to be done to address the issue of social media abuse.

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Roger Federer (SUI) Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer believes there needs to be a rethink regarding how the rising stars of tennis are supported on the Tour.

 

The former world No.1 has called for what he describes as the ‘press situation’ to be reconsidered in the wake of some tennis players opening up about their mental health. Earlier this year at the French Open Naomi Osaka revealed that she has been suffering from depression and social anxiety. Osaka opted to skip press conferences during the French Open but it wasn’t until after the tournament she spoke about the reason why she did so. Meanwhile, Emma Raducanu’s run to the fourth round at Wimbledon ended up with her withdrawing from the Grand Slam due to ‘breathing difficulties’ which was partly due to the unfamiliar situation she was in.

40-year-old Federer, who has been one of the biggest names in the sport for well over a decade, says the stress his younger peers experience on the Tour is partly due to social media. Something he said wasn’t as prevalent when he was younger.

It hurts when you see what happens and when they don’t feel well. The stress is so great. And I think a lot has to be down to social media: the first ten years of my life there was no social media, maybe I had just a website, then the next ten years social media was everywhere,” Federer told GQ magazine.

As for how players are treated by the media, the Swiss Maestro has called for a revamp of the protocols with all parties sitting together for discussions. Although he didn’t outline what changes he would make. In Grand Slams players are usually required to conduct press conferences following their matches and could be fined for not doing so.

“In regards to this (social media), the press situation does need to be reconsidered. I think I’m one of the athletes who’s done the most press – ever! And I agree that it’s always the same,” he said.
“I think players, the tournaments, journalists, we need to sit down together in a room and go, “OK, what would work for you and what works for us… We need a revolution. Or at least an evolution of where we are today.’
“I think we do need to help, coach and mentor the younger generation more. I can’t imagine going through the beginning of my career with social media; I have no clue how I would have handled it.”

In recent years one common problem faced by players is a rise in social media abuse. During the US Open Shelby Rogers said she was expecting to receive ‘death threats’ following her loss to Raducanu and Sloane Stephens has been targeted by racist abuse. Meanwhile, during his country’s Davis Cup tie against Belarus Diego Schwartzman was targeted by trolls following a shock loss.

“For every ten nice comments there’s always one negative comment and, of course, that is the one you focus on,” Federer commented. “It’s a horrible situation. Even when I am feeling down I know I need to act a certain way in front of the world’s press. We need to remember that tennis players are athletes and professionals, but we are also human too.”

Federer is currently sidelined from the Tour due to a right knee injury which also troubled him throughout 2020. So far in his career he has won 103 ATP titles, spent 310 weeks as world No.1 and has earned more than $130M in prize money. According to Forbes Magazine, he was the seventh highest paid athlete in the world between May 2020 and May 2021.

Despite the numerous records he has broken and reaching the milestone age of 40, there are still no signs that Federer has any plans to retire from the sport in the near future.

“When, like any athlete, you will just know when the time is right. I am not going to be the one that’s just going to stick around because I want to stick around. You know, I still want to play exhibitions down the road and have fun and go to markets in places I’ve never been before. The fans mean a lot to me, but I do not want to abuse my body. I still want to run around with my kids and ski… So I think you just know,” he concluded.

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Anett Kontaveit Lifts Ostrava Title After Rediscovering Passion For Playing

The 25-year-old is closing in on a place in the world’s top 20 for the first time in more than two years.

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image via https://twitter.com/JTBankaOpen

The recent resurgence of Anett Kontaveit shows no signs of slowing down after she cruised to the Ostrava Open title on Sunday without dropping a set in the entire tournament.

 

Kontaveit, who is currently ranked 30th in the world, battled her way to a 6-2, 7-5, win over Greek fourth seed Maria Sakkari. Throughout the clash the Estonian didn’t drop her serve as she fired a total of 26 winners past her opponent who is the third consecutive top 20 player she has defeated on the Tour. Earlier in the tournament she also dismissed Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and home favourite Petra Kvitova.

Impressively Kontaveit has won 12 out of her past 13 matches played with her only loss being to Iga Switek at the US Open. Her rise started in August at the Cleveland Championships where she lifted only the second WTA title of her entire career. Prior to the tournament, she was on a four-match losing streak.

“I think I really started enjoying playing again, and I think that’s been the main key,” the 25-year-old commented on her recent results on the Tour. “I’m having a really good time on court and I’m having fun through the battles and the tough matches as well. I sort of started finding my way in Cleveland.”

Helping her find footing once again is Dmitry Tursunov, who previously worked with Aryna Sabalenka. The two started collaboration on a trial basis during the summer. Tursunov reached a high of No.20 on the men’s Tour during his professional career and won seven ATP 250 titles.

“My new coach also has given me some new energy and new perspectives as well. I’m just feeling a little more comfortable and enjoying myself more.” She said.

After her success in the Czerch Republic, Kontaveit will climb up the rankings on Monday as she nears an entry back into the world’s top 20 for the first time since September 2019. She is projected to rise to 23rd spot.

“When you are winning matches it definitely gives you confidence,” she explains. “I feel like I am definitely playing better than I was in the middle of the season and I think good things can come of it. I don’t want to put any pressure on myself, I’ve really had a good time on court, and I’ve enjoyed it. That’s the thing I’m really most happy about.’
“One of my friends, who is here this week in Ostrava, she played doubles, she told me ‘While we’re here we might as well enjoy it’ – that really sort of stuck with me this week.”

Kontaveit has won 31 matches so far this season.

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Hubert Hurkacz Reigns Supreme In Metz, Kwon Breaks New Ground In Nur-Sultan

The two players achieved personal career milestones on the ATP Tour but for different reasons.

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Image via https://twitter.com/MoselleOpen/

Top seed Hubert Hurkacz has ended his title drought on European soil after defeating Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in straight sets to win the Moselle Open in France.

 

The world No.13, who claimed his first Masters title in Miami earlier this year, rallied his way to a 7-6(2), 6-3, win over Carreno Busta in less than 90 minutes. Throughout the tournament Hurkacz didn’t drop a set against players such as former world No.1 Andy Murray and Lucas Pouille. In the final, the Pole broke Carreno Busta four times and won 73% of his service points to seal the victory.

“Pablo is an amazing player, so playing against him in the final here is something special,” Hurkacz said in his on-court interview. “I needed to raise my level to play my best to be able to compete with him and today I came out on top and I am super, super happy about this.”

Metz was the first Tour-level event that Hurkacz has played as the top seed. His latest triumph continues what has been a successful season for the 24-year-old who also won the Delray Beach Open earlier this year, as well as Miami. He is the fifth player this year to have won a third title on the ATP Tour after Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Casper Ruud and Alexander Zverev who have all won four trophies.

Speaking during the trophy presentation, Hurkacz paid tribute to the support he has received during the tournament and the atmosphere he has been playing in. Giving a special mention to the band who was playing in the arena.

“The atmosphere here is very special here with all of you guys,” he added. “You guys [the band] make it an amazing atmosphere, so that is so nice that you guys are here.”

Hurkacz’s win-loss for the season has now been improved to 29-16. Besides his successes on the Tour in recent months, he has also experienced disappointment. At one stage of the year he was on a six-match losing streak before reaching the semi-finals of the Wimbledon in what was his best-ever performance at a Grand Slam tournament.

As a result of his win in Metz, Hurkacz will climb one spot in the ATP rankings to 12th on Monday. He is yet to break into the world’s top 10.

Kwon ends South Korea’s 18-year wait

Elsewhere on the ATP Tour, Soon-woo Kwon has become only the second man from his country to ever win a title and the first since 2003. The 23-year-old underdog defeated James Duckworth 7-6(6), 6-3, to complete what has been a memorable performance at the Astana Open. Earlier in the week he knocked out second seed Alexander Bublik and third seed Dusan Lajovic.

“I was thinking before the match this could be my last chance to win an ATP trophy, you never know what is going to happen,” The KTF Press-Service quoted Kwon as saying.
“I did what I can. Thanks to this tournament, I now have a lot of confidence and hopefully I can lift more trophies in the future.’
“After today, I can reach for something like the Top 20, after this week I have more belief that I can do this.”

One of the most impressive aspects of Kwon’s milestone win is the tight turnaround he has made in recent days. Last weekend he was playing a Davis Cup tie on the Grass in America where he scored two crucial wins for his country in their tie against New Zealand.

“Last week I played Davis Cup in Newport. I flew all the way from there to here. it’s a 10-hour difference,” he said.
“I just came with an open mind, an open heart. I knew it would take time to adjust to the courts, so I wasn’t tight. From the first round I was relaxed and hit the ground running. Each match I was getting better and better, I stayed calm and played freely.”

Kwon, who reached the third round of the French Open earlier this year, is now set to break into the world’s top 60 for the first time in his career.

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