Sara Errani breezes aside Barbora Strykova to clinch her ninth WTA title in Dubai - UBITENNIS
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Sara Errani breezes aside Barbora Strykova to clinch her ninth WTA title in Dubai

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Sara Errani breezed aside Barbora Strykova 6-0 6-2 after 66 minutes in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament to clinch her ninth career title in 19 finals and the first at Premier level. The Italian played her second Dubai final three years after the defeat against Petra Kvitova.

Errani had a dream week in which she reached her fifth final at Premier level after beating Yaroslava Schvedova, Madison Brengle (after coming back from 1-4 in the third set) and Elina Svitolina in the semifinal. Strykova reached her first Premier-level final after beating Julia Georges, Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Garcia. Errani led 5-1 in her previous head-to-head matches against Strykova but they tied 1-1 in their hard-court matches (Strykova won in Stuttgart 2008 and Errani beat her Czech rival in Tokyo 2010).

Errani got off to a flying start in the first set, getting a break to love in the opening game. Errani got a double break in the third game to breeze to 4-0 in just 15 minutes. Both players exchanged a 26-shot rally (the longest rally of the match) featuring a slice backhand duel which ended with Strykova hitting a drop-shot into the net. Errani broke for the third straight time for 5-0 as Strykova hit a forehand into the net. Strykova saved three set points as Errani was serving for the first set. Errani converted her fourth set point to close out the first set in just 29 minutes. Errani dropped just five points on her first serve.

In the second set Errani got her fourth consecutive break in the first game as Strykova hit her first double fault. Strykova got her first game on the scoreboard for 1-2 in the third game, but Errani clinched her double break in the fifth game to love to pull away to 4-1.

Errani earned the first championship point at 5-1 but Strykova saved it with her backhand volley. Strykova saved four match points before Errani served out for the match on her fifth opportunity in the seventh game. Errani clinched the second WTA title of 2016 for Italian tennis, one week after Roberta Vinci’s win in St. Petersburg against Belinda Bencic.

The error-stricken Strykova produced 15 winners to 43 unforced errors compared to Errani’s eight and 11. The Italian star dropped just one set in five matches to become the first Italian winner win in the Dubai tournament.

Errani had played her previous final in Bucharest last year when she lost to Ana Karolina Schmiedlova. She has won her first final since February 2015 when she beat Schmiedlova. After today’s final the Italian player has a win-loss record of 9-10 in her 19 finals and will move up to world number 17 next week.

I am happy for me, my family and my team. I tried to be focused on every point. I tried not to think too much about what was happening. At the end I was very nervous. It’s really incredible to be here. I am sorry for Barbora. She is an amazing player. Maybe it was not her day.  It’s tough to win those last points. I had a match point at 5-1 and then I closed it on the fifth match point. There were a lot of nerves“. said Errani.

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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Image via https://x.com/WTAMeridaOpen/

A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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(@Eurosport - Twitter)

Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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