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.



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.


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.






Iga Swiatek Criticises WTA’s Reform Of 2024 Calendar



Iga Swiatek has hit out at the WTA by claiming that only a handful of players were made aware of changes being made to the Tour calendar before they came into effect.


In recent weeks there has been an increase in frustration among players on the women’s Tour with letters being sent to the head of the WTA, Steve Simon, about their concerns. Swiatek has also sent her own letter to the governing body. According to The Athletic, some of the concerns that have been raised relates to higher pay on the Tour, adjustments to scheduling to help support players, expanded childcare and calls for a member of the PTPA to be present on the WTA Player’s Council.

The WTA has also been in the firing line concerning their management of the Tour finals which took place in Cancun last month and was won by Switek. Some of those who took part complained about the court conditions and lack of preparation they had. The stadium court wasn’t fully constructed until the same weekend the tournament began. 

Although, for the world No.1 her principle criticism concerns the 2024 calendar and the rules in place reagrding playing in mandatory events. Swiatek says some of the decisions have been made following discussions with ‘third parties’ and believes players are not being listened to. 

“There is room for improvement,” she said during an interview with newspaper Rzeczpospolita.
“As players, we are dissatisfied with the calendar for next year and the increase in the number of mandatory tournaments and restrictions related to withdrawing from them.’
“We want to change this. We need more balance and time to get back home. Sometimes, however, we beat our heads against the wall. Some decisions seem to be the result of promises made to third parties, federations and tournament organizers.’
“We find out about them after the fact. This causes frustration. Only a handful of players were aware of the calendar reform and the WTA cannot lead to such a situation again, since it considers itself an organization created for tennis players.”

The 22-year-old argues that these changes would give players more time to rest and see their families. Although Swiatek admits that she is in a more fortunate situation than some of her peers from a financial perspective. This season the Pole has earned $9,857,686 in prize money this year which is more than any other female player. 

“I hope that we will be able to change something – for example in the rules regarding withdrawing from tournaments,” she continued.
“Fortunately, I am in a situation where I can afford for my family to go on a trip with me, but not everyone can afford it. Many players rather save all their money to pay their coaches.’
“However, there is a difference between taking your family with you and returning home, when you can wash your clothes and spend time in the place where you grew up. I often miss Warsaw.”

Swiatek has won 68 out of 79 matches played this season, claiming six titles on the Tour. In the Grand Slams, she won the French Open, and reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the other two. She currently has a 245-point lead over second-place Aryna Sabalenka in the WTA standings. 

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‘A Long Way to Go’ – Iga Swiatek Must Improve A Key Element Of Her Game, Says Navratilova



Martina Navratilova has hailed Iga Swiatek’s winning end to her season but believes the Pole needs to continue working on a certain aspect of her game to become a better player. 


Swiatek reclaimed the world No.1 ranking during the WTA Finals where she clinched the year-end title in Mexico. She closes out the year on an 11-match winning streak after also winning the China Open before playing at the WTA Finals. Overall, she has reached the semi-finals or better at 12 out of 17 Tour events played and has won 68 out of 79 matches during 2023. In the Grand Slams, she won the French Open, reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the other two. 

Now sitting at the top of the WTA rankings with a 245-point lead over second place Aryna Sabalenka, Swiatek has begun her off-season which is the period that players normally use to work on their game. 

As to what she needs to work on, Navratilova believes a key issue for the four-time Grand Slam champion involves her volleying technique. Speaking to wtatennis.com, Navratilova says there is ‘still a long way to go’ for the former world No.1 but adds that she will become a more formidable player on the Tour if she makes improvements. 

“The thing I’d target is getting to the net. I mean, she’s gotten better but there’s still a long way to go on the volley front, particularly that first volley — the transition volley, which is probably the most difficult shot in the game,” said Navratilova. 
“I think that’s where she can improve the most. Iga still has a tendency to run back to the baseline when she really should be going forward. And if she gets that going? Watch out. She can still get a few more mph on her serve, too. The groundstrokes are solid as a rock. And the drop shot — I think she had something like two drop shots all year. When she adds that and uses it at the right time — because with her topspin she really pushes people back behind the baseline — she’ll be even more deadly.”

Continuing her analysis, the 67-year-old believes Swiatek can also increase the speed of her serves even more. 

“She can still get a few more mph on her serve, too. The groundstrokes are solid as a rock. And the drop shot — I think she had something like two drop shots all year. When she adds that and uses it at the right time — because with her topspin she really pushes people back behind the baseline — she’ll be even more deadly.” She added. 

Navratilova has also highlighted areas that she believes other players need to work on. In her view, Sabalenka’s goal should be to work more on her movement during matches. Meanwhile, for US Open champion Coco Gauff, the development of her forehand will play an important part in her game. 

Swiatek ends the season with five WTA titles to her name. 

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Naomi Osaka Eager To Reclaim No.1 Spot, Says Coach




Naomi Osaka is targeting a return to the very top of the women’s game when she begins her comeback, according to a member of her team. 


Performance coach Florian Zitzelsberger has told tennis.com that the four-time Grand Slam champion is ‘balanced and happy’ with herself after taking time away from the sport to give birth to her first child, a baby girl called Shai. The 26-year-old hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since the 2022 Pan Pacific Open and currently doesn’t have a ranking due to her inactivity. She has already confirmed her intention to resume her tennis career in 2024 but it is still unclear as to what her first tournament will be.

Providing a glimpse into Osaka’s current progress, Zitzelsberger says she is setting her sights on chasing after more Grand Slam titles. Zitzelsberger is the co-founder of Integralis Physiotherapie and has worked with Osaka in the past. He has also collaborated with the likes of Kevin Anderson, Julia Goerges and Petra Kvitova. 

“Where she is today is what makes working with her so inspiring,” he said. “She wants to get back to world No. 1, she wants to win Grand Slams. She gives me the impression of someone who is totally balanced and happy with herself. She’s very much grounded, mature and embracing the beauty of motherhood.”

In recent months there has been a growing trend of players returning to the sport after giving birth. Notable examples include Victoria Azarenka, Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki.

Zitzelsberger says his recent work with Osaka has been getting her back into shape and then working on certain areas of her game. 

“To reach the highest performance, we start by returning stability within the kinetic chain, which is typically lost somewhat during pregnancy and birth. The kinetic chain runs through the core, stomach and belly, and for a long time, her chain wasn’t playing tennis; it was growing a baby!” He explains. 
“Once that base is attained, we work on specific movement skills, whether that’s acceleration or deceleration, change of direction. The main objective is always strengthening to make the body strong, in addition to improving conditioning and mobility.”

Part of the training process has been trying to change what type of player Osaka is to adapt to the current level of the women’s Tour. After winning the 2021 Australian Open, she only reached one more Tour final which was the following year in Miami. During this period, she struggled with some injury issues and has been open about her experiences with mental health. 

“She’s obviously a great offense player, but I think things have changed in the game over the last half-decade where defense is getting more and more important,” Zitzelsberger commented.
We’re working to make Naomi into a player who can transition more effectively from defense to offense. That way, even if she’s getting pushed into a defensive position, she can still strike an offensive shot.”

Osaka has won seven WTA titles so far in her career and has earned more than $21M in prize money. 

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