Evergreen Francesca Schiavone Wins Rio Open and Breaks Back in The Top 100 - UBITENNIS
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Evergreen Francesca Schiavone Wins Rio Open and Breaks Back in The Top 100

Francesca Schiavone beat Shelby Rogers by 2-6 6-2 6-2 to win the 2016 Rio Open, her first WTA title since 2013. Next week the 2010 French Open champion will be back in the top 100.

Ivan Pasquariello

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Francesca Schiavone won her 7th WTA title in Rio de Janeiro, at her 18th final on the tour, beating American Shelby Rogers in three sets by 2-6 6-2 6-2. With this win, the first since 2013 for the 2010 French Open champion, Schiavone will climb back in the top 100 of the rankings becoming the second oldest top 100 player right after Venus Williams, who was born just 6 days before the Italian.

 

At her second WTA final, both conquered on clay, Rogers played a solid first set and was up a break in the second, but then surrendered to the Italian’s better physical condition.

THE MATCH

Rogers is the first player to see a chance to break serve, with Schiavone serving at 2-2 in the first set. The American stays aggressive, and manages to seize her opportunity right away, closing in at the net and winning the point with a backhand volley winner.

Serving at 3-2 Shelby holds serve easily once again, to build a 4-2 lead looking in control of the match. The young American then manages to break again, in the 7th game, after a stunning backhand down the line on which Schiavone can’t manage to create her web of defence. Coming to the net to put pressure on the Italian, Shelby gets another break and leads 5-2.

Shelby closes the first set by 6-2 after 31 minutes at her third set point chance, as Schiavone’s defensive backhand finds the net.

The American starts the second set with 2 chances to break Schiavone’s serve up 15-40. The Italian serves a double fault on the first break point and loses her opening service game.

Francesca sees her first break point in the match as Rogers serves a double fault at 30-30. Returning on the line, the 2010 French Open champions gets the break and screams in relief, setting the score tied at 1-1.

The Italian convincingly holds serve in the third game, to get back to the lead at 2-1.

 

 

As the rallies grow longer, Rogers starts to miss more shots. The American looking in confusion loses her serve for the second time in a row, missing a very easy smash wide. For the first time in the match, Schiavone is up a break 3-1.

 

The Italian swinging more freely closes the fifth game with an ace, to lead 4-1 in the second set, then 5-2. The American can’t control the rallies as she did in the first set and continues with her streak of unforced errors.

 

After more than one hour, Schiavone wins the second set 6-2, as Rogers misses two backhands long in a row from 30-30 sending the match to a decider.

 

Both players start the second set convincingly holding serve, Schiavone at love, Rogers at 15.

The American faces two break points in the fourth game when serving down 1-2, but saves both as the Italian fails to put pressure on the important moments. Shelby holds and shouts “C’Mon”.

Soon after, Francesca seizes her opportunity and breaks in the 6th game, with Rogers serving down 2-3. The Italian gets to 0-40 and then closes the game as Rogers tries a serve and volley approach, missing the forehand volley long.

 

The Italian on a roll closes the 7th game with an ace on the second serve and leads 5-2, assuring herself a chance to serve for the championship.

 

Finally, Schiavone breaks again and wins the match at her second championship point as Rogers hits another shot long.

 

It is the first WTA title for the evergreen Italian, who had last won a WTA title in 2013 in Marrakech.

The match stats:

With Schiavone’s win there are now 6 Italians holding a WTA title, one each.

 

 

 

 

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In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title

Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. 

 

The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012. 

“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw. 
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”

Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week. 

“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.

There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open. 

Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20. 

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Naomi Osaka Seeks Resurgence At Home Event After Rollercoaster Year

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Naomi Osaka training at the 2021 Madrid Open (image by Media Hub Mutua Madrid Open)

Former world No.1 Naomi Osaka admits that there have been more downs than ups for her this year but she is maintaining a positive outlook. 

 

The four-time Grand Slam champion has played 22 matches so far this season with her win-loss record currently standing at 13-9. However, at her six most recent tournaments she has failed to win back-to-back matches and is currently on a four-match losing streak. Osaka also missed this year’s Wimbledon Championships due to an achilles injury. 

Currently ranked 44th in the world, Osaka is hoping to break her slump at this week’s Toray Pan Pacific Open which will be held in Tokyo. It will be the first time she has played since losing to Danielle Collins in the first round of the US Open. 

“I think, of course, the year has (not been) the best year for me,” Osaka said during her pre-tournament press conference. “But I think overall I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’m just happy to be healthy. Because in Europe, I did injure myself, and that was like my first injury that took me that long to get healed.

“I think life is kind of ups and downs and this one was kind of more down than up, but overall I’m pretty happy with where I am now.”

Osaka is the defending champion in Tokyo, even though she won the tournament back in 2019. The event has been cancelled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has happened to the Japanese player since she won the title, both on and off the court. Osaka has spoken publicly about her mental health issues and took time away from the sport because of them. 

“It feels really weird to hear that I’m the defending champion because it was the last time I played in 2019,” she said. “I would love to win it again, but I think just taking it one match at a time … and also just playing in front of a crowd in Tokyo again, because the Olympics was crowdless, so it will just be nice to see people.”

This year Osaka does not have a seeding in the Tokyo draw which is in stark contrast to three years ago when she was the highest-ranked player in the tournament. She will begin her campaign against Australia’s Daria Saville and could then face fifth seed, Beatriz Haddad Maia, in the last 16. 

“I think every year for me since the first Slam, there’s been a lot of changes,” Osaka said. “But I think this year it has definitely been a real growing year for me. I think tennis-wise, I don’t really think I can go in a wrong direction. I feel like me as a player, my base is pretty solid. I can only really learn more about myself. I know that I am an aggressive player and I can only hope to keep doing that.

Away from the Tour, the 24-year-old remains one of the highest-earning players in the sport. According to a report published by Forbes in August, she earned in the region of £56.2M over 12 months with $55M of that coming from off-court ventures. She has also set up her own sports agency with long-time agent Stuart Duguid, signing Nick Kyrgios as one of her clients. 

“For everything off court, I think it’s really cool how tennis has let me get so many opportunities in things that I’m interested in, and it’s something I’m really happy and grateful for and I can only hope it keeps evolving.” She commented.

This week Osaka is seeking to win her first title of any sort since the 2021 Australian Open. 

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Simona Halep Ends 2022 Season With Nose Surgery And Mental Exhaustion

Simona Halep will return to the court in 2023.

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Simona Halep (@NewsCentralTV - Twitter)

Simona Halep has ended her season after having nose surgery and suffering from mental exhaustion in recent months.

 

The two-time Grand Slam champion has had a mixed season this year with the Romanian almost quitting the sport in February.

However the former world number one reunited with Patrick Mouratoglou and produced a world-class grass court season and US Hard court swing to get back into the world’s top ten.

Despite this, Halep has also had her troubles having had a panic attack at Roland Garros and struggled with anxiety.

This was all produced by the Romanian in her statement when she announced she would not play the rest of the season due to a nose surgery which has been linked to her breathing.

Now Halep will look to recover mentally and physically in time for January’s Australian Open as she will look to become a Grand Slam champion for the third time in her career.

Simona Halep’s 2022 Season:

Melbourne Summer Set 1: Champion

Australian Open: R4 l. Cornet

Dubai: Semi-Finals l. Ostapenko

Qatar: R1 l. Garcia

Indian Wells: Semi-Finals l. Swiatek

Madrid: Quarter-Finals l. Jabeur

Rome: R2 l. Collins

Roland Garros: R2 l. Q. Zheng

Birmingham: Semi-Finals l. Haddad Maia

Bad Homburg: Semi-Finals l. Andreescu

Wimbledon: Semi-Finals l. Rybakina

Washington: R2 l. Kalinskaya

Toronto: Champion

Cincinnati: R2 – Withdrew

US Open: R1 l. Snigur

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