Victoria Azarenka sweeps aside Naomi Osaka to reach the fourth round in Melbourne - UBITENNIS
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Victoria Azarenka sweeps aside Naomi Osaka to reach the fourth round in Melbourne



Number 14 seed Victoria Azarenka swept aside 18-year-old qualifier Naomi Osaka 6-1 6-1 to get through to the fourth round at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Azarenka dropped just five games in three rounds during the first week of the Australian Open confirming that she is one of the greatest favourites to win the title after two seasons ruined by injury problems. Osaka broke serve in the first game of the match but Azarenka broke straight back and reeled off the next eight games to take the first set 6-1 in just 27 minutes and take a 2-0 lead in the second set. Osaka held her serve for 1-2 and earned a break point in the next game but Azarenka was unstoppable and raced out to 6-1 to close out the second set in 56 minutes. Azarenka hit 23 winners to Osaka’s 4.

“If you think about it, it’s my 12th time at the Australian Open. Almost half of my life. It’s a long time. Every day I am living my dream, to live tennis. I was a young kid who wanted to play tennis, visualized being on the big stages and now I am here today. I never want to take it for granted. I don’t want to think of what happened yesterday or what’s going to happen tomorrow. I really want to stay present and enjoy what I do. So I am really just enjoying whatever is happening. For me, what I found interesting is that it was going the wrong way. I had injuries. I had not much of luck happening. I wanted to look and assess what I can do better, what I can improve. First it was getting healthy and then trying to just enjoy. It comes pretty natural, but it required a lot of self-work and really start kind of accepting myself for failures that I had. I really just accepted those and moved forward, trying to see  what I can do better”, said Azarenka.

Azarenka will take on Barbora Strykova who upset Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round on Monday. Azarenka leads 4-0 in her previous head-to-head matches against Strykova.

Ekaterina Makarova beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3 6-2 to reach the fourth round in Melbourne for the sixth consecutive year. Pliskova has never reached the second week in any Grand Slam tournaments so far in her career. Makarova, who reached the Australian Open semifinals last year, hit 35 winners to 15 unforced errors.

Makarova will face Great Britain’s Johanna Konta who beat Czech Denisa Allertova 6-2 6-2. It will be the second head-to-head match between Makarova and Konta.

The British player scored her first win over a top-10 player when she beat Makarova 6-2 6-4 at Eastbourne last June. Konta has reached her second consecutive Grand Slam fourth round after qualifying for the last 16 last September at the US Open.

Konta won 72 percent of her first serve points and never faced a break point. She converted her first break point chance and fired an ace to seal the first set. Konta, who dropped their only previous head-to-head match at last year’s Roland Garros, broke for the third time in the match at the start of the second set and never looked back to close out a one-sided match in 63 minutes.

Last September Konta lost to Petra Kvitova in two tight sets in the fourth round at the US Open.

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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai



Fifth-seed Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3. Humbert had beaten Hurkacz en route to his title in Marseille. 

Hurkacz converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. Humbert saved three match points in the tie-break of the second set before converting his first set point to force the match to the decider. Humbert broke twice to seal the third set 6-3. 

“It was a great battle. I tried to battle for every point. In the tie-break I saved three match points, tried to do my best and thanks to those French fans for the amazing support”, said Humbert. 

Humbert set up a semifinal match against Danil Medvedev, who beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-3. Humbert leads 2-1 in their head-to-head matches, but Medvedev won their most recent match in three sets at the China Open in their most recent head-to-head match in Beijing last year.

“It’s going to be a great challenge against Danil tomorrow. We had a few great fights. Hopefully I will recover well to be ready for this match”, said Humbert. 

Aleksander Bublik was leading Jiri Lehecka 6-4 4-1 when the Czech player was forced to retire due to an injury. Bublik set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who was leading Sebastian Korda 6-4 4-3  when the Czech player withdrew due to injury. 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro



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One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Emma Raducanu Among Trio of Grand Slam Winners Handed Miami Open Wild Cards



Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has avoided the possibility of having to go through qualifying at the Miami Open after being awarded a wild card for the event on Thursday. 

The 2021 US Open champion is among four players to have received passes into the main draw of the prestigious event, which is classed as a WTA 1000 for the women and as a Masters 1000 for the men. It will be the third straight year that Raducanu has played in Miami but she is yet to win a match there. In 2022 she lost her opening match to Katerina Siniakova before getting beaten by Bianca Andreescu 12 months later. 

Raducanu has won two out of five Tour-level matches played so far this year. Recently her agent, Max Eisenbud, hit back at those who have criticised the tennis star’s results since winning the US Open. Raducanu also missed a chunk of last season due to injury after undergoing wrist and ankle surgery. 

“The girl did everything backward. She skipped every step. She won the US Open, she went to the next tournament, she didn’t even know where the player lounge was, she didn’t know where the practice courts were,” Eisenbud told the Served With Andy Roddick podcast.
“I don’t think just being tough on her or critical on her like any other player [is wrong]. But she is still figuring it out. I just think that people should not be malicious.”

Other players to have received wild cards into Miami include Venus Williams, who is a three-time champion at the event but hasn’t won the title since 2001. The 43-year-old hasn’t played on the Tour since August and is currently ranked outside the world’s top 400. 

Carolina Wozniacki completes the line-up of former Grand Slam winners being given wild cards. The Dane was a Miami finalist back in 2017 and has made 12 appearances at the tournament. Earlier this week, she suffered a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, loss to Anna Blinkova in the first round of the San Diego Open. 

As for the men’s tournament, the only confirmed wild card recipient is Kei Nishikori who will be making his first competitive start since July 2023. Recently the injury-stricken Japanese player added Thomas Johansson to his team. 

The Miami Open will get underway on March 17th.

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