WTA Miami: Shuai Peng Gets First Win After 13 Months, WTA Rising Stars, Gasparyan, Kasatkina and Kovinic Advance - UBITENNIS
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WTA Miami: Shuai Peng Gets First Win After 13 Months, WTA Rising Stars, Gasparyan, Kasatkina and Kovinic Advance

The US Open 2014 Semifinalist, injury-plagued Shuai Peng has won her first match since Dubai 2015, beating Alison Van Uytvanck 6-3 7-5. Laura Robson is another player who’s trying to make a comeback, but the Brit is waiting for a win at a WTA tournament since Beijing 2013. Robson was once again not successful here, losing to Kirsten Flipkens 6-7(4) 2-6. The WTA Rising Stars, Daria Kasatkina, Margarita Gasparyan and Danka Kovinic also got wins in their first round matches.

Jakub Bobro

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Daria Kasatkina played probably the craziest match of the day against the Ukranian Kateryna Bondarenko. After an hour and 33 minutes, Kasatkina came out on top, winning 6-2 1-6 6-2. There were many more crowd-drawing matches, such as the wild card, Nicole Gibbs, confirmed her excellent form by beating Yulia Putintseva 6-4 6-2. There were also two complete blowouts. First one, the more extreme, was the Kazakh Zarina Diyas letting Olga Govortsova win only one game, beating her 6-0 6-1. Barbora Strycova is keeping up the great form, defeating Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-2 6-0. Strycova will definitely need to bring her best game into her second round match, where she will have to face the World No.3 Angelique Kerber. However Kerber has been struggling since her grand slam title at the Australian Open. She has since won only one match, and suffered losses to Denisa Allertova and Saisai Zheng. Allertova did not follow up on her good result from Indian Wells here, losing to Danka Kovinic 6-7(5) 4-6. Shuai Zhang, another player that had great success has handled it differently. Zhang has been playing really well, and started off with a win in Miami as well, beating the 16 years old wild card Sofia Zhyuk 6-1 6-2. An unusual match happened- a match between two Brazilians. This almost never happens, as Brazil has only one player in Top 100, Teliana Pereira, but with the young Beatriz Haddad Maia receiving a wild card, they were able to meet in Miami. Pereira was the winner, winning 7-6(2) 6-1.

 

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Grand Slam Winner Francesca Schiavone Returns To Tennis As Coach For Top 25 Star

The former world No.4 is teaming up with a old rival of hers on the Tour.

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Francesca Schiavone will be returning to women’s tennis next week but as a coach for the 21st best player in the world, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

 

The 2014 French Open champion has agreed to start working with Croatia’s Petra Martic who she will be mentoring throughout the entire clay swing. It is understood that their first tournament together will be at the Istanbul Open which will start next Monday. Matic has been ranked as high as 14th in the world and reached the quarter-finals of the French Open back in 2019.

It is not the first time Schiavone has taken on a coaching role after previously collaborating with Caroline Wozniacki during 2019. That also occurred during the clay swing of the Tour. Since then the Italian has experienced her own personal battle after being diagnosed with cancer shortly after her stint with Wozniacki. She has since beaten the illness and even written a book detailing her memoirs.

“I was supposed to do something different, but then I got sick and that year (2019) was very difficult,” Schiavone told wtatennis.com last year. “In that moment, I had some projects I had to totally change. I couldn’t fly, go anywhere to see people. It changed everything. Once I started feeling better, COVID happened. Every project went in a different way.”

The 40-year-old has previously crossed paths with Martic on the Tour as a player. In 2016 she beat the Croat in the semi-finals of the Rio Open en route to the trophy. Rio was the second last title she ever won on the WTA Tour. They have also played against each other in doubles at the 2010 US Open and the 2012 Italian Open.

It is understood that Schiavone’s latest mission will also see her work with Martic in Madrid, Rome and the French Open. It is unclear as to if the partnership is just for the clay swing or a longer stint. Neither person is yet to publicly comment on their plans but they have been confirmed by multiple Italian media sources.

Schiavone has been ranked as high as 4th in the world. She has won eight WTA titles during her career and played in 70 Grand Slam main draws over a 18-year period.

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Victoria Azarenka Pulls Out Of Stuttgart

The world No.15 has decided to skip her next event but it is for a very good reason.

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Two-time Australian open champion Victoria Azarenka has withdrawn from next week’s Porsche Open in Germany to get a COVID-19 vaccination. 

 

The former world No.1 issued a statement on Wednesday confirming that she will not be playing in the tournament as it collides with when she is set to receive her first dose. In recent weeks there has been a debate among players about whether they should have the vaccination given the nature of travelling they do. Both the ATP and WTA have issued statements urging players to do so when they get the opportunity.

“I will unfortunately not be able to compete in Stuttgart at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix next week as I will be receiving my first dosis (sic) of the vaccine at the same time. I wish the tournament all the best, and I do hope to be able to compete again in Stuttgart next year,” Azarenka wrote on Twitter.

Recently the Volvo Open in Charleston, which is a WTA event, became the first on the Tour to offer vaccines to all players participating. It is understood that the tournament and Plantation Pharmacy, a local drugstore, formed an agreement. All players were contacted by email and offered a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccination. It is unclear as to if any other tournaments will do similar initiatives in the future.

Azarenka has played in four tournaments so far this season and won five out of nine matches played on the Tour. Her best run was at the Doha Open where she reached the semi-finals before being forced to pull out due to a back injury. 

Despite the absence of the world No.15, Stuttgart is set to have a world-class field with seven top 10 players participating in the draw. Held at the Porsche-Arena and held on indoor clay, the event has been held in the city since 2006. This year’s edition will be headlined by world No.1 Ash Barty who has already won two titles this season. Simona Halep, Sofia Kenin and defending champion Petra Kvitova are also participating. 

The main draw will get underway on Monday.

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Veronika Kudermetova Finally Has Her Own Trophy

The Russian repeatedly went for winners and had all the answers in the clutch moments of the Charleston final.

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Veronika Kudermetova finally has her name on a WTA Tour 500 tournament championship trophy after winning the Volvo Car Open singles title on Sunday in Charleston, S.C.

 

The slender Russian with a “fighter” mentality is listed right there with the likes of Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Steffi Graf, Justine Henin,  Martina Hingis, Gabriela Sabatini and many other former greats of the women’s game who have won the long-running tournament that once was named the Family Circle Cup.

No wonder Kudermetova was so happy. In addition to winning her first WTA Tour title, she earned a check worth $68,570 and a sparkling white new Volvo car to use for one year.

NEW VOLVO HITS THE SPOT

“I am most proud I continue to play my game,” the 23-year-old  told the Tennis Channel. “I work every day to be able to put my name on a trophy. I hope I can continue to play like this and win more trophies.”

And maybe more new cars?

“Maybe I give it (the Volvo) to my parents. I think they deserve this car, because they help me a lot, and I think this is for my family.”

RUSSIAN TOO GOOD FOR KOVINIC

The hard-hitting and aggressive Kudermetova was too good for 91st-ranked Danka Kovinic of Montenegro. Despite falling behind in each set, Kudermetova won four of the last five games of the first set and the final five games of a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Kovinic. It took only 96 minutes for the 38th-ranked Kudermetova to reserve her place among the top 30 (at No. 29) in the new  WTA rankings.

In becoming the first VCO champion to not drop a set since Serena Williams in 2012, Kudermetova didn’t just attack the 26-year-old Kovinic’s game, she attacked the clay court.

KUDERMETOVA SERVED WITH A PURPOSE

Kudermetova repeatedly went for winners, and she missed more than her share of shots, but in clutch situations she usually had the answer.

One of the answers was a serve that produced six aces, a little above her average in her first five victories in which she drilled 25 total aces.

That serve also put only 49.2 percent of her first serves into play. Yet, she was broken only once (the fourth game of the match) and faced a total of only two break points in the match.

Kudermetova often got out of trouble by dealing up unreturnable second serves. Kovinic simply couldn’t get a handle on hardly any serve that Kudermetova put into play (she double-faulted only twice).

NEW WTA TOUR 250 EVENT STARTS

After the win, Kudermetova got a quick hug from her coach, Sergey Demekhine. After all, Demekhine is her husband of four years.

Many of the players in the VCO will stick around Charleston to begin play in a WTA Tour 250  tournament that starts on Monday. Tunisa’s Ons Jabeur, who was eliminated by Kovinic in the VCO semifinals, has climbed to 27th in the world and is the top seed in the new tournament.

See James Beck’s Post and Courier columns at postandcourier.com (search on James Beck column). James Beck can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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