Victoria Azarenka beats Monica Puig to reach the third round in Miami - UBITENNIS
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Victoria Azarenka beats Monica Puig to reach the third round in Miami

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Number 13 seed and this year’s Indian Wells champion Victoria Azarenka beat Monica Puig 6-2 6-4 after clinching a tight second set. Azarenka raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first set. Puig clawed one of the breaks back for 2-5 but Azarenka closed out the first set in the next game.

 

Azarenka broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead as Puig made three double faults. Puig broke back in the next game. Puig played at the same level with Azarenka through most of the second set until the 10th game when the player from Puerto Rico made two forehand errors.

“With a game like this, Puig definitely has big potential going forward. I have to be a little more careful because it was an escape a little bit in the second set”, said Azarenka.

Azarenka will take on Magda Linette, who who has reached the third round after Jelena Jankovic was forced to retire after just five games with a right shoulder injury.

Russian qualifier and World Number 96 Elena Vesnina overcame Venus Williams 6-0 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 to reach the third round at the Miami Open.

Vesnina has continued her excellent period of form following up with her back-to-back wins in Miami against Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki in singles and her win in the doubles tournament over Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza (which ended their 41 match winning streak).

Vesnina broke serve in a very long first game with 16 points. Williams had a chance to break back in the 12-point second game but Vesnina held her serve. Vesnina cruised through Williams to win the first set by a bagel.

Williams went up a break twice for 2-0 and 3-1 but Vesnina broke back both times. In the seventh game Vesnina broke serve at 3-3 and served for the match at 5-4 but she failed to convert a match point at 40-30 and was broken back by Williams. The tie-break started with eight consecutive mini-breaks and was won by Venus by 7-5. Vesnina raced out to 3-0 in the decider. Williams broke back to win the next two games for 2-3 but Vesnina broke serve again. The Russian player got another break at 5-2 to seal the win.

“That was a great match, great fight. It’s always an honour to play against Venus. She is a great champion. We played many times against each other and it’s always been a pleasure to play against her. It’s always been a tough match-up. I am really happy that I won today. Even when I was up 5-3, I felt Venus was playing better and better and she raised her level up ”, said Vesnina.

Coco Vandeweghe upset this year’s Doha Qatar Open winner Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4 6-2. The US player won her first match against Suarez Navarro in their third head-to-head match. Vandeweghe saved the only break point chance she faced in the sixth game. In the ninth game Vandeweghe got the first break in the match on her second chance. Suarez Navarro saved two set points in the 10th game but Vandeweghe converted her third chance at deuce to seal the first set. Vandeweghe got an early break in the second set but had to save a break point in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Vandeweghe broke serve in the seventh game to take a 5-2 lead before closing out on her second match point. Vandeweghe will face Monica Niculescu in the third round.

Last year’s US Open finalist and 2016 St- Petersburg champion Roberta Vinci fought back from a set down to battle past twice Grand Slam doubles champion Lucie Hradecka 1-6 6-4 7-6 (7-5). Hradecka got a double break in the first game on her first break point chance and in the third game as Vinc made a double fault. Hradecka broke for the third time to race out to a 5-0. Vinci got her first break to avoid a bagel in the first set.

Vinci broke serve on her sixth opportunity in a first tight game of the second set  Vinci got another break to race out to a 3-0 lead but Hradecka clawed one of the two breaks back in the sixth game. Vinci served out to love to clinch the second set 6-4 forcing the match to the third set.

Vinci went up a break at the start of the third set but she had to save two break points in the second game. Vinci took a 4-2 lead but she dropped her serve in the 8th game after missing a point for 5-3 at 40-30. At 4-4 Vinci got another break but she dropped her serve to 15 as she was serving for the match. At 5-5 Hradecka saved three break points and managed to hold her serve. At 5-6 Vinci rallied from 0-30 by winning four consecutive points to force the match to the tie-break.

Vinci took a 5-3 lead but Hradecka got a mini-break on the 10th point to draw level to 5-5. Vinci converted her first match point at 6-5 as Hradecka made a double fault.

 

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Former No.1 Karolina Pliskova Hits Out At Men Worrying About Equal Pay In Tennis

The world No.4 explains why she personally doesn’t want equal pay on the tour, but criticises those who worry that women players might do so in the future.

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Czech tennis star Karolina Pliskova has labelled men who voice opposition against equal pay as ‘super weak’ as she becomes the latest player to throw her backing behind the possibility of a merger of the two premier tennis Tour’s.

 

Pliskova, who is a former US Open finalist, spoke out about the topic when questioned by the PA Press Agency. In recent weeks there has been growing calls for the ATP and WTA to be merged into one. Support for the idea gained momentum when Roger Federer tweeted his support for it. However the heads of the two governing bodies have already been in discussions about working closer together in some capacity since the start of this year.

Although the prospect of a merger remains low due to the complex process that it would involve, both the ATP and WTA have vowed greater collaboration to help enhance the future of the sport. One of the main talking points behind the calls is pay. There is equal prize money at all of the grand slams, however, it does differ behind the men and women on the Tour. Last year six men earned more than $7 million in prize money compared to one on the WTA Tour (Ash Barty).

Weighing in on the topic, Pliskova has interestingly said that she is not interested in campaigning for her to be paid similar to her male counterparts. Arguing that the two genders should not be compared. However, she has voiced her frustration at those who are against the concept of equal pay.

“I don’t think so and I am not the one who wants it. But I don’t like the men who are complaining that we would get the same money. I think it is super weak from them that they complain we have the same money as them,” she said.
“The only time it is true is at grand slams. I understand they play longer, but they are men. They are stronger than us. I don’t see the reason why we should compare each other. I don’t need to have the same prize money as men. But to have the same chance to play on centre court or to have the same chance to be on TV, that should be possible with these changes.”

As of March 20th Pliskova has made $19,997,689 in prize money throughout her career, which is the 19th highest tally in the history of women’s tennis.

Speaking more specifically about a possible merger, the 28-year-old believes it would help enhance the women’s tour. Although she is staying cautious about the prospect of such a thing happening in the future.

“I think for the women’s tour it can only help. I don’t know exactly what they are discussing but if there is any chance to say yes, then I would say yes,” Pliskova said.
“It needs to be positive also for the ATP so they need to find a balance so it is a forward step for both. It might take a couple of years to get going. It will be different, but I don’t think for the players it would change that much. It would be a good step.”

Pliskova is currently ranked third in the WTA rankings and has won 16 WTA titles. She is set to return to action next week at the LiveScore Cup in Prague.

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Injury Scare Fails To Derail Petra Kvitova From Winning ‘Bizarre’ All-Czech Tennis Event

The world No.12 speaks out about the unusual circumstances she was playing in earlier this week as she sheds light on a recent injury issue she has been dealing with.

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During what was meant to be the first week of the French Open Petra Kvitova is still winning matches albeit in very different circumstances.

 

With professional tennis still halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two-time Wimbledon champion was one of the headline acts at the CTS President’s Cup earlier this week. A Three-day event that features eight men and eight women taking part in a all-Czech tournament. Umpires and ball boys had to wear face masks and there was limited spacing for spectators to watch from the sidelines with organizers mindful of social distancing.

“The gloves, face masks, the fact nobody handed us the towels, no handshakes, that was definitely bizarre,” said Kvitova.
“And playing without people, the atmosphere was not exactly what we are used to.”

Despite the unusual circumstances, it failed to prevent Kvitova for winning the event on Thursday. During a rain-interrupted final she saw off Wimbledon quarter-finalist Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-3. Earlier in the event she also scored wins over former world No.1 doubles player Kateřina Siniaková (7-5, 6-4) and Barbora Krejčíková (7-6, 6-2).

The trio of victories came only days after there was concern if Kvitova would be able to play at all. Leading into the tournament the Czech started to feel pain in her forearm, but was later given the all clear by her doctor. Speaking to reporters, she said the pain she felt was similar to what occurred this time last year when she was forced to withdraw from the French Open.

“Two days before the start of the tournament, my forearm started to stiffen, similar to last year before the French Open,” the 30-year-old explained.
“That’s why I didn’t train on Monday. I was waiting for Mr. Kolář’s verdict, but he said that I would be able to do it (play) in some way.”

Now her first taste of competitive tennis in over three months has concluded, Kvitova has relished the experience. It is still unclear as to when the WTA Tour will resume. At present the suspension is until July 31st. In recent days both the US Open and French Open have said they are optimistic that their events will be able to go ahead later this year in some capacity.

“Given the circumstances and the pandemic, it was a wonderful tournament,” Kvitova stated.

Whilst officials ponder when to restart the sport, Kvitova plans to take some time resting her hand in order to prevent aggravating it further.

“I’ll definitely feel my hand for a few days now, but I’ll take time off, there’s no hurry,” she concluded.

In the men’s final world No.450 Michael Vrbensky, who shocked top seed Jiri Vesely in the first round, won the title.

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Ice Hockey Great Gretzky Heaps Praise On ‘Truly Remarkable’ Bianca Andreescu

The tennis star has been branded a ‘hero’ for children in Canada by one of her country’s sporting icons.

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Reigning US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has been praised for her work ethic by one of Canada’s greatest ice hockey players of all time.

 

Wayne Gretzky said he has been impressed with the world No.6 ever since watching her breakthrough run at the BNP Paribas Open last year. Where Andreescu defeated five seeded players en route to the title. At the time she was only able to enter the main draw of the event with the help of a wild card. Last year Andreescu scored eight wins over top 10 players and claimed three titles overall. Including her maiden grand slam at Flushing Meadows.

Speaking on Tennis United, Gretzy has hailed the 19-year-old for how she has been able to handle the pressure placed upon her at such a young age. Andreescu have already achieved a series of milestones for Canadian Tennis. Including being the first to win a grand slam title in singles and the highest ranked female player from Canada in WTA history.

“I remember watching her first match [at Indian Wells] and thinking that’s one of the hardest working athletes I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Gretzky.
“She went on to win the tournament and then, at the US Open, to play in front of all those fans and everyone cheering the American girl (Serena Williams) – and one of the greatest athletes of all time – was pretty special. My hat goes off to her for how she handled herself and how she handled the pressure.”

Gretzky is particularly impressed with how the tennis star has coped with life in the public eye and dealing with the media. Something he has plenty of experience in. Gretzky, who played in the NHL for 20 seasons, has been labelled as the “the greatest hockey player ever” by many pundits. The four-time Stanley Cup winner has scored 894 goals in the NHL which is 93 more than any other player in history.

“The thing that impressed me most about her – and I’ve said this to a lot of people – is not how good she is or how hard she works but how she handles herself with the media. She handled herself with such poise, she was so humble, so appreciative,” he said.
“I don’t think we could have a better hero in our country for young kids. She’s truly remarkable and deserves all the credit she’s getting.”

Andreescu hasn’t played a match since the WTA Finals last November due to a knee injury. She is set to return to action next month at a 16-player event set up in Charleston. The Credit One Bank Invitational, which is taking place during the Tour shutdown, will begin on June 23rd.

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