Venus Williams Clinches Title No.49 in Taiwan (VIDEO) - UBITENNIS
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Venus Williams Clinches Title No.49 in Taiwan (VIDEO)

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Venus Williams pose for the media with her trophy at the Taiwan Open (image via facebook.com/wtatwopen).

 

Top seed Venus Williams has overcome her disappointing start to 2016 by defeating Japan’s Misaki Doi 6-4,6-2, to win the Taiwan Open.

The world No.12 has suffered back-to-back first round losses in Auckland and Melbourne on the WTA Tour prior to this week. Despite her slow start to the year, the American cruised to the final in Koahsiung without dropping a set. Awaiting Williams in the final was second seed and world No.61 Doi, who also didn’t drop a set on her way to the final.

Throughout the week the 35-year-old has encountered difficulty in her service games and the final was no exception. Williams started convincingly by Breaking Doi in the second game of the match before swiftly opening up a 3-0 lead. The positive start from the top seed was then halted by Doi, who broke Williams two consecutive times to claim four games in a row. Doi’s momentum was disrupted when Williams recovered the break by producing a backhand drive volley to level once again at 4-4. As Doi served to stay in the set, the former world No.1 increase her aggressiveness to race to two break points and more importantly two set points. She failed to convert either of them due to some impressive play from her Japanese rival, however, Williams was more fortunate with her third after a forehand from Doi slammed into the net.

Moving to one set away from her first title on 2016, the top seed still encountered resistance from Doi during the start of the second set. After two exchanges of breaks of serve, the set progressed with serve for five games before Williams dealt Doi another blow. The Japanese player was leading 40-15 before Williams battled back with some heaving striking to put the game at deuce. The 35-year-old then got the vital break after firing a blistering backhand down the line extended her lead to a set and 4-2. Admirably Doi kept fighting, but she was unable to find that little extra to spoil Williams momentum. The match was sealed after the world No.12 hit a clean backhand cross court winner.

In her final triumph, Williams produced nine double faults compared to only two aces. Despite the high number, the American won 58% of her service points compared to her opponents 45%.

The victory in Taiwan is Williams 49th WTA title, placing her seventh on the list for all-time WTA titles wins. The list is headed by tennis great Martina Navratilova, who won 167 titles during her career. Following Taiwan triumph, Williams praised the tournament.

“It’s wonderful to have women’s tennis here. It’s been too long, it’s the first time in 22 years,” The world No.12 said.
“It’s my first time in Taiwan, so thank you for making me feel so welcome and thank you for making me feel at home,” Williams added.

The victory in Taiwan has put Williams just 101 points away from re-entering the top 10.

Trophy ceremony

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IOC Plays Down Reported Use Of Translator During Video Call With Peng Shuai

Dick Pound has hit back at what he describes as ‘silly’ accusations made against the IOC.

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A longtime member of the International Olympic Committee has insisted there was nothing ‘sinister’ about the alleged use of a translator during a recent video with tennis player Peng Shuai.

 

The IOC is the only international body who has been able to speak with the tennis player since she accused a former government official of sexual assault in a Weibo post published on November 2nd. The post was removed within an hour of publication and restrictions are currently in place on Shuai’s account. The WTA has voiced concerns that Shuai is currently being censored by the authorities and has threatened to stop doing business with China should they not guarantee her safety.

In a recent 30-minute video call with IOC president Thomas Bach and two other officials, the governing body said they were satisfied that the two-time Grand Slam champion is safe. Although they didn’t post any clips of their video or mention the allegations in their press release. Prompting allegations from some that they are reluctant to intervene in the matter with China hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Some questions have also been raised over the reported use of a translator during the IOC’s video with Shuai even though she has conducted numerous press conferences in English. Dick Pound, who is a member of the IOC, said he believes there is nothing suspicious about the use of a translator for anyone who doesn’t speak English as their first language. Although the Canadian hasn’t seen the video himself.

“IOC members have not heard the programme (of the video call). I think in anything that could be potentially as serious as sexual harassment claim. Anybody who is not speaking in their first language would probably want to have somebody there who can help in the event that their personal vocabulary was not up to the complexity of the subject. I don’t see anything sinister about that,” Pound told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday.

Pound is a member-at-large on the Olympic Committee and does not sit on their executive board. He says that his organisation is ‘satisfied’ about Peng’s safety as he brushed aside concerns raised by the WTA. The governing body of women’s tennis has tried to contact their player on numerous occasions. The WTA confirmed they have received two purported emails from Shuai but suspect they were written under the influence of others.

“They were all satisfied with the content, the atmosphere and all of that about the conversation. So I would prefer to rely on the people who had the actual contact and not those who tried to contact her.” Pound commented.

As for the allegations that the IOC is backing the claims made by China about Shuai’s safety in order to avoid confrontation, the official branded those remarks as ‘silly.’ Although the organisation has previously been reluctant to interfere in the affairs of another country if the matter isn’t related to the Olympics. In October IOC Vice President John Coates told reporters that challenging China over their human rights record is not within their remit.

Frankly, I think that’s a little silly and it’s not supported by the evidence,” Pound said in response to those allegations.
“All kinds of people were trying to get in touch with her to make sure that she was alive and healthy and not in captivity,” he added. “The only organization in the world that’s been able to establish that is the IOC. I thought it was a very good start and everyone should be reassured she’s fine.”

Shuai hasn’t spoken in public since making her allegations.

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Emma Raducanu Sheds Light On Work With ‘Infectious’ Coach Beltz

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Emma Raducanu reacts during a Women's Singles quarterfinal match at the 2021 US Open, Wednesday, Sep. 8, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Garrett Ellwood/USTA)

US Open champion Emma Raducanu has described her newly appointed coach as somebody who is constantly ‘lifting the mood’ in her team.

 

The 19-year-old has paired up with Germany’s Torben Beltz after deciding to split with Andrew Richardson who guided her to her first Grand Slam title in New York. Raducanu has previously stated that she wants to work with somebody who has a greater experience of life on the WTA Tour. Beltz ticks those boxes after spending multiple stints working with former world No.1 Angelique Kerber. He has also previously coached Croatia’s Donna Vekic.

Raducanu returned to the court on Sunday at the Royal Albert Hall in London where she played an exhibition match against Elena-Gabriela Ruse who she beat 6-3, 7-6(3). Speaking to reporters after, the Brit praised the positivity of her new mentor. The two are set to travel to the Middle East together ahead of the Mubadala World Tennis Championships which takes place in Abu Dhabi.

“Torben is a super positive guy and he brings great energy,” said Raducanu.
“He’s someone whenever you’re around him you can’t help it because it’s just like infectious. It’s really cool to have that in my team so he’s constantly lifting the mood. I’m really excited to work with him and I’ll get a better chance to get to know him better this off-season and see where it goes.
“We’ve been in communication a lot. I’ve just been doing a lot of fitness, like four to five hours a day training and start my tennis next week, so he’s coming in and we’ll be working hard together during the off-season and into Australia.”

Elaborating further on her current training routine, Raducanu says she is encouraged by the work she is putting in. However, the world No.19 is keeping grounded by how much improvement she can make to her game during what is a relatively short off-season.

I start the day on a high and by the fourth hour I’m already feeling it. For me, I know that gives me confidence that I’m putting the work in. I take that as a mental strength and an advantage and although four weeks is a great time, the off-season is quite short,” she said.
“Realistically, I’m not sure how much I can improve in four weeks, but I feel like playing a full schedule next year I’ll improve. Just playing matches and getting match fitness – that’s the only real way it kind of happens.”

Raducanu made her WTA Tour debut at the Nottingham Open in June. Since then she has rocketed up the world rankings which was started by a surprise run to the fourth round of Wimbledon on what was her Grand Slam debut. She went on to reach the final of a WTA 125 tournament in Chicago prior to her major breakthrough at the US Open.

However, the rising star has had mixed results since New York by winning two out of five matches played across three tournaments.

“For me, I am just going about my business. I take the train sometimes. I am doing the same journeys I used to. I feel like I am the exact same person. I will go about everything I used to do,” Raducanu stated.
“I don’t see why I should change the things that got me that title. I am still enjoying it.”

At the Mubadala World Tennis Championships Raducanu is set to play Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic on December 16th.

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New Covid-19 Variant, New Headache For Tennis Australia’s 2022 Masterplan

After months of planning, officials unveiled their calendar for the Australian summer of Tennis which concludes with their pinnacle Grand Slam event. However, a new development in the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to throw plans into chaos.

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The head of Tennis Australia says there remains ‘unanswered questions’ over the new Covid-19 variant amid concerns that it could derail plans recently set out for the start of the 2022 season.

 

Craig Tiley has spoken to government officials about the Omicron variant which has recently been classed by the World Health Organisation as ‘a variant of concern.’ The global body warned on Monday there is a ‘high risk’ of it spreading globally. However, research is still ongoing and one of those who discovered Omicron in South Africa says it is not clear if it causes a more severe disease. Angelique Coetzee, who is the chair of the South African Medical Association, told AFP that dozens of her patients suspected of having the new variant only experienced mild symptoms and recovered fully without hospitalization.

However, it is the uncertainty which is posing a threat to Tennis Australia and their plans to stage a total of 17 tournaments during January across various states. On Monday the country paused the next phrase of their border reopening which was set to take place on December 1st. However, they are not closing their borders completely which is what Japan and Israel have done.

“We knew that when we announced the event there would be some more challenges just because of the nature of the world we have been living in for the last two years,“ Tiley told The Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday. “But we are still waiting. I have been talking with the government over night (Saturday) and this morning. There are a lot of unanswered questions around this and I think in the next 14 days we will get some more clarity. But at this point the plans are going ahead as they are.”

As it currently stands the first charter flight of players is set to arrive in Australia between December 27-28. There will be a total of 20 charter flights operating. All players are required to take a PCR test before departing and then another test upon arrival in the country.

Victoria, which is the state where the Australian Open is held in, has updated their COVID-19 policy. According to The Age newspaper, anybody who tests positive for the Omicron variant or has been in close contact with somebody who has will be required to enter a 14-day quarantine regardless of their vaccination status. Although these rules may change nearer to the Grand Slam starting depending on research into the strain.

We will continue to take sensible and responsive evidence based action, led by medical experts. This will ensure we can open safely, and stay safely open as we learn to live with the virus.” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.

Besides the national government, Tennis Australia is also faced with the tough task of monitoring state rules which differ around the country whilst operating their tournaments. For example the Australian Open stance on vaccination is due to a health mandate which has been enforced by the Victorian Premier. If the tournament took place in another region, the rules might have differed.

As of November 29th Australia has recorded five cases of the Omicron variant.

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