Yaroslava Shvedova Beats Naomi Osaka to Take the 2015 Hua Hin Crown - UBITENNIS
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Yaroslava Shvedova Beats Naomi Osaka to Take the 2015 Hua Hin Crown

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The finals of Hua Hin, a new WTA 125K event, pitted eighteen year-old Naomi Osaka against the much more experienced Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan.  In an exciting and dramatic 2 hour and 51 minute thriller, Shvedova prevailed 6-4, 6-7, 6-4.

Osaka had a somewhat easier path to the finals having beaten the third seed Nao Hibino in handy fashion 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 on Saturday. Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Osaka is 5’11” and uses her height to full advantage with a strong service game. Against Hibino, Osaka had seventeen aces against just three double faults; further, she won 83% and 78% of her first and second serves-in, respectively. The right-hander is currently ranked number 203 and is the WTA Rising Stars invitational champion.

Shvedova had to work harder to get to the finals in a topsy-turvy 2 hour 42 minute match against Qiang Wang of China that included two tie-breaks. Shvedova’s terrific stamina and perseverance were on display all weekend. The 28 year-old is the fourth seed and is currently ranked 82 on the WTA tour. She played somewhat erratically against Wang; in particular her serve was unreliable and she was especially vulnerable at times on her second serve.

The final match began with a significant twist; Shvedova was the better server from the outset. With her first opportunity in the second game she placed all five of her first serves including an ace for good measure. Osaka’s serve was effective but not the dominant and reliable weapon displayed against Hibino.

Leading 2-1, Osaka had her first big chance to break on the sixth point but dumped a second serve opportunity into the net. Shvedova went on to win the game and Osaka seemed rattled. In the next game she had her first double fault and was broken at love.

Again in game six Osaka had another major chance to break back. Shvedova was a bit erratic and the lead shifted back and forth over twelve points. However, Shvedova rallied and put up an ace followed immediately by a second serve ace to win the game and lead the set 4-2.

Osaka rallied immediately and won her next service game at love and recorded her first ace of the match. But again Osaka failed to capitalize on her opportunities. In game eight Shvedova started to lose her serve and suffered on double fault. But she rose again to the challenge winning the 14-point game with another big ace.

The gripping 22-point final game of the first set was marked by a number of long rallies, some great court coverage and clever shots. However, Shvedova once again found the fortitude to hang tough. At deuce on the 21st point she had a nice get off of a terrific lob by Osaka and hit a short, unreturnable shot just over the net. She won the next point and took the first set 6-4.

Early in set two Osaka showed considerable frustration and negative body language. She was broken immediately and fell behind 0-2 as Shvedova easily confirmed the break. She was not serving nearly as well as in the semi-finals, typically landing 50% or less than her first serves in.

Down 1-3 and serving in game five the teenager temporarily found her service form and won at love punctuated with an ace. She carried this momentum and broke-back in game six to level the match at 3-3.   Neither player could gain the advantage and the set went to a lengthy tie-break marked by seven mini-breaks. Osaka took the set but it was anyone’s guess who had the advantage.

The third set was a see-saw of momentum. Osaka struck first in set three with a break of Shvedova in the third game.   Shvedova broke back immediately in game four but handed game five right back to Osaka. With the set at 3-2 favoring Osaka neither player could seem to muster a decent service game. Osaka double faulted twice in game eight and the set was leveled at 4-4. Shvedova held at love and the match was now teetering on Osaka’s racket. At 15-30 Osaka threw in her sixth double fault of the set. At Championship Point Osaka seemed to foil Shvedova with a short drop shot but the speedy 28 year old was able to move in an lift a beautiful ball over the net, past Osaka and down the line for a winner.

For Shvedova this is her second career WTA title and her first for 2015. Osaka is an up and comer with a great serve and very good ground-strokes and court coverage. Off of their strong showings at Hua Hin both are poised to start 2016 with confidence and promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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REPORT: French Open Attendance To Be More Than Halved Amid COVID-19 Threat

It is understood that the number of fans allowed to attend daily has been cut by roughly 55%.

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This year’s French Open has been forced to dramatically reduce their initial plans for 11,500 daily visitors, according to information obtained by L’Equipe newspaper.

 

The number has reportedly been cut to just 5000 following a ‘governmental decision’ linked to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Organisers had originally set out plans for three separate zones with two holding up to 5000 people and an additional welcoming 1500. However, it has now emerged the new number will only be applied to one specific zone where the premier Philippe-Chatrier Court is located. Meaning that it is possible that matches played on courts Suzanne-Lenglen and Simonne-Mathieu will not be opened to the public.

In recent days France has seen a rise in coronavirus cases and reported 9784 new infections in the country on Wednesday. A slight dip of France’s all-time high of 10,561 which was recorded last Saturday. It is understood that the decision to reduce the crowd size at Roland Garros is also based on spikes in other countries apart from France.

There has been no official comment from the French Tennis Federation (FFT) but L’Equipe reports that the change has been made in line with new local government guidance. The ruling will have no impact on next week’s qualifying tournament which is being played behind closed doors.

Leading up to the clay-court major some players have voiced caution about attending the event with crowds. Outspoken player Nick Kyrgios, who is not playing in Paris this year, went as far as accusing organisers of not taking the pandemic seriously enough. Former champion Simona Halep has also voiced her own concerns.

“I just read that they will have fans,” Halep told reporters earlier this week. “But I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be very strict.
“We cannot be with the fans, we cannot be with the people that are not in the bubble, so I think they will be separate. Hopefully it’s going to be safe, and we will feel like here, like in the bubble.”

The French Open will start on September 28th. Rafael Nadal and Ash Barty are the reigning champions but Barty will not be defending her title due to travelling concerns related to COVID-19.

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Jannik Sinner: “I played a great match against Tsitsipas and I am thrilled”

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Jannik Sinner upset Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1 6-7 6-2 in 2 hours and 13 minutes in the battle between Next Gen ATP champions on the famous Pietrangeli Court at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome to score his second win over a top ten player. 

 

Sinner won his first Masters 1000 match in 2019 in Rome against Steve Johnson. 

Sinner set up a third round match against former Rome semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, who cruised past Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1 6-0. 

Sinner won 11 of the first 14 games before Tsitsipas fought back to win the second set at the tie-break forcing the match to the third set.

Sinner converted on 7 of 14 break points and dropped serve twice from three break point opportunities. The Italian teenager broke three times and lost two points on serve to win the opening set 6-1 in 30 minutes. Sinner earned his first break in the opening game with a forehand winner, but he wasted two more break point chances in the third game before winning four consecutive points at 3-1. Sinner rallied from 15-40 down in the seventh game to break serve after a double fault from Tsitsipas. 

Sinner went up a break in the second game of the second setto build up a 5-2 lead and served for the match in the ninth game. Tsitsipas broke back to draw level to 5-5 and earned another break at 5-5 to serve for the set. Sinner broke back to force the second set to the tie-break. Tsitsipas saved two match points at 6-7 and 8-9 and won the tie-break 11-9 after Sinner made a forehand error. 

Tsitsipas reeled off 16 consective points on serve and broke serve with a forehand down the line winner. Sinner got another break and held serve at love to build up a 4-0 lead. Sinner closed out the match with another hold at love. 

“Tsitsipas is obviously a very experienced player. I played against him last year in Rome. I just wanted to play my game and move better. In the beginning, I was feeling great and I knew it was his first match on clay. When I served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, I hit one double fault and the tie-break and could have gone either way. I tried to start strongly in the third set. While you are young, you can achieve many things within a year. I think I have improved everything, especially the serve. I served a little bit better today, changing rotation and everything. Playing against Tsitsipas is never easy. Last year was my first test against a top 10 player, while I knew I had the level to compete better against him today. It was a great match, and I am thrilled. I have improved a lot since my last match against Tsitsipas”, said Sinner. 

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‘Her Values Are Not What Tennis Stands For’ – Andy Murray Backs Calls To Rename Margaret Court Arena

The British tennis star is the latest top name to hit out at Court over her history of anti-gay comments.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has said the Australian Open should consider renaming one of their premier courts after Margaret Court due to her controversial views.

 

The former world No.1 says 78-year-old Court, who holds the record for most singles Grand Slam titles won, doesn’t represent the values of the sport. Despite being one of Australia’s most decorated tennis players of all time, Court has a history of making various anti-gay views but maintains that she is not homophobic. She once said that the women’s tour was ‘full of lesbians‘ and during her playing career described rival Martina Navratilova as a ‘bad role model’ due to her sexuality. In other incidents she also boycotted Qantas airlines due to their support of marriage equality and publicly criticised former player Casey Dellacqua for having a baby with her same-sex partner.

Murray joins a list of figures calling for a change along with Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe who both held an on-court protest back in January calling for the name change. The Brit argues that the controversy surrounding Court takes focus away from tennis and this should not be the case. This year the Australian was honoured at the Melbourne major with a low-key event to mark the 50th anniversary of her calendar Grand Slam.

“She has obviously offended and upset a lot of people over the years. I think the players certainly have spoken up, which is a positive thing,” Murray told pridelife.com.
“As far as renaming the venue. I think that yes, it’s something the sport should consider. I don’t know who makes the final decision on that but I don’t think her values are what tennis stands for. When you get to the Australian Open you want to concentrate on the tennis. Court’s views detract from that.”

Tennis Australia, who oversees the Australian Open, has previously distanced themselves from Court’s views. In a statement previously issued they said the decision to recognise the 50th anniversary of her triumph was solely due to her achievements and they do not endorse her views.

“Court was given a ceremony at the Australian Open this year to mark her achievements in the game, but the reception she received from the public was lukewarm,” Murray commented.

The issue of gay rights is rarely spoken about in the world of men’s tennis. Unlike the women’s game there are no openly gay male players and only a handful have publicly spoken about their sexuality in recent years. The most well known being former top 100 American player Brian Vahaly who came out after he retired from the sport.

“I think, certainly in men’s tennis, there have been a number of players who have come out as gay, but not while they’re competing. I think there’s still a stigma around it which obviously shouldn’t be the case,” said Murray.

There are various theories about the reasons where there may be no openly gay players on the Tour. Murray says he has never witnessed or heard homophobic comments whilst playing in the sport, but admits that it may be different if somebody did come out.

“I wouldn’t say that I have heard it in the locker room. If more gay men came out it’s something you might see more of potentially,” he explained.
“There have been a few things said in articles I’ve read where players have made homophobic comments, but I’ve not been in the presence of anyone when they have made homophobic comments in the locker room.”

Murray will return to action in less than two weeks time at the French Open in Paris.

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