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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Why Newly Married Elina Svitolina Has No Plans To Change Her Surname

The Ukrainian explains why she isn’t using her husband’s surname of Monfils just yet as she books her place in the third round at Tokyo 2020.

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Just over a week ago Elina Svitolina tied the knot with her long-time partner Gael Monfils at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Shortly after the world No.6 took to social media and changed her name on Twitter to Elina Monfils as part of the tradition that the woman takes on the man’s name once they are married. As a consequence, various websites started to identify the Ukrainian under that name. Although she would rather that they don’t do such a thing.

“I don’t know why they changed my surname. Maybe they saw that I had changed it on my social networks,” Svitolina told BTU.
“I’m going to play as Svitolina till the very end of my professional career and will change it only after retirement.”

Svitolina explains she believes it is better if all of her achievements are made under the same name instead of two. So far in her career she has won 15 WTA titles, reached two Grand Slam semi-finals and has earned more than $20.5M in prize money.

I had numerous achievements and people know me as Svitolina. My father would be upset if I changed the surname and played as Monfils,” she joked.
“I am proud to be Svitolina and my tennis career will always be connected with this surname.”

Over the coming week the 26-year-old is hoping to add an Olympic medal to her resume. On Monday Svitolina survived a stern scare after coming back from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanović 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and move into the third round of the tournament. Her win came on the day where there were shocks galore in the women’s draw with seeds Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova all crashing out.

Svitolina will play Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the next round whom she has lost to in two out of their three previous meetings.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz becomes the youngest ever champion at ATP Tour level since Kei Nishikori in 2008

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Carlos Alcaraz beat Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-2 in the final of the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag becoming the youngest ever champion at ATP Tour level since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori in Delray Beach in 2008 and the youngest Spanish ATP Tour champion since RafaelNadal in Sopot 2004. 

 

Alcaraz earned his first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead with an inside-in forehand winner and he never looked back by holding his next service games. The Spanish teenager broke serve in the third game as Gasquet made a double fault. Alcaraz converted his third break point in the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Gasquet earned three break points but he was not able to convert them. 

“I had a lot of good moments in this tournament. I beat five great tennis players. I think that I grew up a lot in this tournament and  I keep a lot of experience from this tournament. It’s going to be useful for the future”, said Alcaraz. 

Gasquet was aiming to win his first ATP Tour title since s’Hertogenbosch in 2018. 

“It was tough for me to play with his full intensity. I had a tough match yesterday. It was tough, and especially with a guy like Carlos, who is playing really fast with a lot of energy and spin. He is playing unbeievable. He is only 18 and of course he had a great future and Ijust could not play at his level and his intensity”, said Gasquet. 

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