Victoria Azarenka clinches her 18th WTA title and her first since 2013 - UBITENNIS
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Victoria Azarenka clinches her 18th WTA title and her first since 2013

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Victoria Azarenka clinched her 18th career title and her first since her win over Serena Williams in Cincinnati in August 2013 at the Brisbane International beating Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-1.

 

Azarenka has extended her win-loss record to 6-0 in her head-to-head matches against Kerber.

Azarenka clinched a hard-fought first set with 6-3. The first six games went on serve until 3-3. Kerber was solid with her left-handed backhand. The German played a great defense tennis, while Azarenka made good shots at the net. The match was highly entertaining in the first six games with a lot of winners and few errors.

There were three consecutive breaks in the first set from the fifth game. Azarenka earned the first break point at 2-2. Kerber saved the first break point but Azarenka earned another break point and converted it for 3-2 as Kerber missed a forehand wide. Kerber broke straight back in the next game after a great return game to draw level to 3-3 but Azarenka took another break lead in the seventh game for 4-3 with after a great return game before holding her next service game. Azarenka broke for the third straight time closing out the first set after Kerber made a double fault on the set point.

Azarenka saved three break points in the first game of the second set to hold her serve for 1-0 before going up a set and a break in the second game. Azarenka reeled off six her sixth consecutive game to race to a 3-0 lead. Azarenka held her serve in the fifth game for 4-1 before breaking serve for the fifth time in the match in the next game after Kerber made a double fault.

Azarenka earned two championships point at 5-1 40-15. Kerber saved the first chance but Azarenka sealed the win at the second opportunity.

Azarenka hit 23 winners to just nine unforced errors and converted five of her eight break point chances. Kerber hit 25 winners to 27 unforced errors

Azarenka has showed great form at the start of the season and will be one of the players to beat at the Australian Open which starts on 18th January. She won her 18th title in 34 finals. Kerber lost for the 11th time in 18 finals.

Australia is the lucky place for Azarenka who won her first Brisbane title in 2009. Down Under she won two consecutive Australian Open titles in 2012 and 2013. She finished 2012 at the top of the ranking and 2013 in second place behind Serena Williams. Vika has won 35 of her last 39 matches in Australia since 2012.

She reached the Brisbane final in 2014 losing to Serena Williams but she was blighted by injury problems which forced her to miss five months of the season. Azarenka came back in 2015 when she reached the quarter finals at the Australian Open beating Caroline Wozniacki en route before losing to Dominika Cibulkova in three sets.

In Doha 2015 Azarenka scored three wins over top-20 players against Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams before losing to Lucie Safarova in the final. At last September’s US Open she beat Lucie Hradecka, Yanina Wickmayer, Angelique Kerber and Varvara Lepchenko before losing to Simona Halep in three sets.

Azarenka lost just 13 games in her four matches en route to the final beating Elena Vesnina, Ysaline Bonaventure, US Open finalist Roberta Vinci and US qualifier Samantha Crawford..

Azarenka was accompanied by a young girl during the victory ceremony

“Congratulations to Angelique and thank you for pushing me. You always push my limits. I hope we get to play more matches soon and good luck for the rest of the year”, said Azarenka.

Angelique Kerber said during the post-match victory ceremony: “I would like to say congratulations to Vika. You have always been a tough opponent. I think it’s now 0-6. I hope next time you will give me a chance to win”.  

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New British No.1 Cameron Norrie Inspired By Compatriot Raducanu

The Indian Wells champion believes Raducanu’s triumph will trigger a new generation of players in the country.

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Cameron Norrie ad Indian Wells 2021 (Credits: @BNPPARIBASOPEN on Twitter)

Cameron Norrie says he drew inspiration from Emma Raducanu prior to winning the biggest title of his career at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday.

 

The world No.16 stunned the men’s field at the tournament where he had never won a main draw match prior to this year. Norrie defeated Diego Schwartzman, Grigor Dimitrov and Nikoloz Basilashvili to become the first player from his country to win the prestigious title. The run has resulted in him achieving a series of career milestones. After claiming his maiden Masters 1000 title, Norrie has broken into the world’s top 20 for the first time this week and has overtaken Dan Evans to become British No.1.

Norrie credits Raducanu’s US Open run for inspiring him and believes her success is ‘huge for British tennis.’ The 18-year-old became the first qualifier in history to win a major title in New York as she won 10 matches in a row without dropping a set. Her victories include wins over top 20 players Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari.

“That was utterly incredible what she did in New York. To come through qualifying and then to go out and just whack every opponent that she had,” he told Sky Sports.
“She won in straight sets and to do that at such a young age. To do it with that kind of confidence and come out and own every match was extremely impressive.
“It will definitely give the girls around her ranking where she was before the US Open a lot of confidence and a lot of belief.
“I was inspired by her triumph in New York. It’s huge for British tennis. I think for sure it’s going to put a lot of rackets in hand for the next generation of younger boys and girls to start playing tennis at home in the UK.”

Norrie himself is currently in the midst of what has been a breakout season for the 26-year-old who was a former top-ranked player in the US during his college years. He ties Novak Djokovic for most appearances in a Tour final this season at six. Three of those finals were on a hardcourt, two on the clay and one on grass. He won his maiden Tour title in July at the Los Cabos Open. Norrie has also scored multiple wins over top 10 players this season for the first time in his career – beating Dominic Thiem in Lyon and Andrey Rublev in San Diego.

“I want to get to world No 1, that’s the ultimate goal. Everyone on my team has the same target. Clearly it’s extremely difficult to do, and there’s a long road ahead. But we set high expectations and we’re going to strive towards them.” Norrie told The Telegraph earlier this week.

Norrie enters the final stretch of the 2021 season with 47 match wins to his name and is within contention of qualifying for the ATP Finals. To put that into perspective, since its inception in 1970 only three British players has ever participated in the event.

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Flavia Pennetta Believes Raducanu’s US Open Win Is A Bad Sign For Women’s Tennis

The former star of Italian tennis explains why she doesn’t like what is currently happening in the sport.

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2021 US Open Women's Singles Champion Emma Raducanu at the 2021 US Open, Saturday, Sep. 11, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

The fairytale run of Emma Raducanu to her first ever Grand Slam title at the US Open has been hailed by many. However, one former player isn’t happy about it.

 

Flavia Pennetta, who reached a ranking high of sixth back in 2015, believes the shock run by the Brit highlights the lack of consistency among women’s players. Raducanu was playing in only her second Grand Slam main draw at the age of 18. Coming through qualifying she didn’t drop a set in 10 matches played, scoring wins over top 20 players Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari. In the final she defeated Leylah Fernandez, who was also making her debut in a major final.

“I don’t like it. What is happening, this very strong discontinuity, in my opinion, is not good for tennis,” Pennetta told Corriere della Sera earlier this week.
“In my time it could never have happened that a young girl played from qualifying, like Emma Raducanu in New York, to win a Grand Slam.
“Top athletes made too much difference.
“There is something wrong.
“Charisma is missing, so women’s tennis is more difficult to sell.”

Raducanu has been tipped as the next big thing in the sport with a surge in sponsorships and fans. Her more recent endorsement is French fashion house Dior who has named her as their new ambassador. Raducanu, who is currently ranked 24th in the world, also has a high-profile deal with jewellery brand Tiffany & Co.

It has been five years since a woman successfully defended a Grand Slam singles title which was Serena Williams at Wimbledon back in 2016. Since then, the last 20 major titles have been won by 14 different players. The only women to have won multiple titles during that period is Naomi Osaka (four), Simona Halep (two), Angelique Kerber (two) and Ash Barty (two).

“The youngsters, Raducanu and Fernandez, have still to confirm themselves at that level. A Slam champion can’t totally disappear,” Pennetta replied when asked if a decline in Williams’ form has caused this level of inconsistency. “I have never been among the superstars but I stayed at a high level for 15 years, and the same for Francesca Schiavone.”

39-year-old Pennetta is a former US Open champion herself who also produced a surprise run to the title. Seeded 26th in the 2015 draw she knocked out Petra Kvitova and Halep to set up a final showdown with Roberta Vinci which she won in straight sets. Shortly after her shock triumph she announced her retirement from tennis.

Recently it was announced that Pennetta has been shortlisted for the 2022 Hall of Fame ballot. Besides her US Open trophy, she won an additional 10 Tour titles and reached world No.1 in the doubles during her career. Should she receive nomination into the prestigious Hall of fame, she would become only the third Italian in history to do so after former player Nicola Pietrangeli and journalist Gianni Clerici.

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Only Double Vaccinated Players Will Be Allowed To Play Australian Open – Government Minister

Players will not be exempt from a ‘universal application’ applied to those wishing to travel to the country.

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A high ranking official from the Australian government has confirmed for the first time that players will not be allowed to enter the country next year if they have not been double vaccinated against COVID-19.

 

Immigration minister Alex Hawke has stated that there will be no exemptions in force for tennis players hoping to play in the Australian Open amid recent speculation. According to Andrey Rublev, he had been told that unvaccinated players could be allowed to play but will have to enter into a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. However, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday that it was unlikely visas would be issued to those who are unvaccinated.

Trying to clarify the current situation, Hawke has told ABC radio that all entrants into the country will be required to be vaccinated regardless of who they are. His comments come before Tennis Australia has made any official announcement regarding the tournament and it’s entry requirements.

“The government in establishing its borders has said that you’ll need to be double vaccinated to visit Australia. That’s a universal application, not just to tennis players. I mean that every visitor to Australia will need to be double vaccinated,” Hawke said on ABC radio.

The move raises further questions about the prospect of Novak Djokovic being able to attend the Australian Open. The 20-time Grand Slam champion recently said he doesn’t want to reveal his vaccination status to the public. In the past he said he was against the idea of being forced to have a vaccination but rejects allegations that he is an anti-vaxxer.

“I don’t have a message to Novak. I have a message to everybody that wishes to visit Australia. He’ll need to be double vaccinated,” Hawke later added.

Unlike other sports, tennis’ governing bodies have not issued any public statements outlining the vaccination rates among players on their Tour’s. Reuters news agency estimates the vaccination rate is 65% for the ATP and 60% for the WTA based on recent media reports. However, The Age newspaper reports those who are double vaccinated are below half with 35% for the ATP and 40% for the WTA.

As for the suggestion that players who had already contracted COVID-19 should be allowed into the country regardless of their vaccine status, the president of the Victorian Australian Medical Association has dismissed the idea.

“I understand he [Djokovic] had it [coronavirus] but, believe it or not, the immunity from the vaccination is better than the immunity from catching the disease,” Dr Roderick McRae told The Age.
“I think there is an element of standards [here]. It’s important our leaders make these decisions in our interests and it [banning unvaccinated travellers] demonstrates to the community just how important we take this.”

The Australian Open will begin on January 17th. Djokovic and Naomi Osaka are the reigning champions.

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