Ekaterina Makarova Finds Her Australian Open Form, Upsets No. 6 Dominika Cibulkova To Make Round of 16 - UBITENNIS
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Ekaterina Makarova Finds Her Australian Open Form, Upsets No. 6 Dominika Cibulkova To Make Round of 16

No. 30 seed Ekaterina Makarova pulled off the upset over World No. 6 Dominika Cibulkova after marathon 2 hours and 53 minutes, winning 6-2 6-7(3) 6-3.

Jakub Bobro

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Cibulkova and Makarova have very different playing styles, almost contrasting, making it an exciting match-up. The Slovakian was leading the head-to-head 3-0, all matches on hard court, strengthening her claim as a favorite for the match. However, that all went out the window the moment the match started. Makarova was looking sharp out of the gate, got two break and jumped to a 4-1 lead. Cibulkova broke back to 2-4, and had the look in her eyes that tells you she will fight for this set. However, Makarova wasn’t too struck with Cibulkova’s rise in level, and kept playing her game. After getting another break, Makarova served the set out to love after just 37 minutes.

 

Makarova went up 4-0 after two breaks in the second set. It seemed all over, but that glimmer in Cibulkova’s eyes told you this wasn’t over yet. Cibulkova went on a “Pome!”-ful streak and won 5 games in a row. 6th seed was surprisingly solid on her serve, giving Makarova only one break point in her 3 service games. Cibulkova went up 5-4, and had 3 set points saved by Makarova, who still kept it together. After two clean games from both players, second set went to a tiebreak. Cibulkova was dominant and won the tiebreak 7-3. After an incredible hour and 15 minutes, this match went to a final set.

The Russian took the lead 2-0 as usual, but this time Cibulkova broke back almost immediately and it was 2-2. The remainder of the set was incredibly high level, it could have easily been a semifinal. At 3-3, Cibulkova had 3 break points to take the lead which would have probably given her the match. However, she confirmed the Slovak hockey-based proverb which translates to: “If you don’t score when you’ve got the chance, you will surely concede.” This happened as Cibulkova was serving at 3-4. Despite having the 40-30 lead, she lost the next 3 points and Makarova was serving for the match. Makarova didn’t succumb to the nerves, and after Cibulkova missed a forehand in the net at 40-30, she was the winner after nearly 3 hours of incredible women’s tennis. The Russian had an on-court interview as is the custom, where she was asked about the greatest moments of her career:

“It was our dream from kids and for me, to be honest, it was much more for me to win gold for Russia than to win a Grand Slam but we won the Grand Slam also in doubles,” Makarova said. “Now I really want to win the singes, of course.”

“It was an amazing match, an amazing fight,” Makarova said. “I got tight a little bit at 4-0 in the second set but this is my favourite Grand Slam and I really want to still play here.”

30th seed Makarova has reached quarterfinals in Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, both times losing to Sharapova. She is now just one match away from repeating her maximum, and in her way will stand 9th seed Johanna Konta. However, if the Russian will play like she did today, she definitely won’t be without a chance.

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Billie Jean King Praises Grand Slam Semi-Finalist Nadia Podoroska For Coming Out

The Argentine recently marked her girlfriend’s birthday with an Instagram post which was also the first time she went public about her personal life.

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Tennis legend Billie Jean King has congratulated Nadia Podoroska on being her authentic self after the tennis star recently confirmed she is in a same-sex relationship with another player. 

 

Podoroska, who shot to the limelight at the 2021 French Open by reaching the semi-finals before being hampered by injury, made a low key coming out on social media. In an Instagram post, the tennis star uploaded a series of photos of her with her girlfriend along with the caption “Today I celebrate you from afar, but I feel you by my side every day of my life.’ The post was done to mark her birthday. 

Fellow player Guillermina Naya is Podoroska’s partner and the two have been in a relationship for some time, according to Women’s Tennis Blog. Naya, who is also from Argentina, is currently ranked 814th in the world but has been as high as 533rd. Although she has not played on the Tour this year. 

Due to injury problems, Podoroska was unable to start her 2022 season until July on the lower-level ITF Tour. Since then she has made steady progress by reaching the final of an ITF W60 event in Gran Canaria and more recently reaching the semi-finals of the Chennai Open in India. 

“I had been suffering from physical discomfort in one leg. I decided to stop in order to recover. Then I had a bone oedema, I couldn’t walk, and I had to wear a boot. Then I got a knee injury in the other leg,” she said of her injury woes during an interview with Clay Tennis.

The 25-year-old credits her girlfriend Naya for the support she received during her 10-month absence from the sport. She is the latest player on the WTA Tour to open up about their sexuality, joining the likes of Daria Kasatkina, Alison Van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen.

“Congratulations to WTA player ⁦⁦Nadia Podoroska ⁩ on her announcement. Living authentically takes such courage, but it is always worth it,” multiple Grand Slam champion King wrote on Twitter. 

In response to the post, the tennis star also paid tribute to King for the impact she has had on the sport. King helped form the WTA Tour and was a key figure in the fight to equal prize money during the early part of the Open Era. She was also one of the first world-class athletes to publicly come out as gay back in 1981. 

Whilst there are various female LGBT players in tennis, there are still no openly gay players on the men’s Tour. 

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ITF Chief Addresses Iga Swiatek’s Concerns Over Unsafe Scheduling

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The head of the International Tennis Federation is ‘sorry’ that Iga Swiatek will not be participating in the Billie Jean Cup and has vowed to work on making improvements to the 2023 schedule. 

 

The women’s world No.1 issued a statement on Monday confirming her withdrawal from the team event after taking a swipe at both the ITF and WTA over their scheduling. Swiatek said she had hoped to represent Poland in the Billie Jean Cup but its proximity to the WTA Tour Finals is problematic. The end-of-season WTA event takes place in Texas and ends a day before the start of the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow. 

“I’m disappointed that tennis governing bodies didn’t come to an agreement on something as basic as the calendar of tournaments, giving us only one day to travel through the globe and changing the time zone,” Swiatek said in a statement published on her Instagram account.
“The situation is not safe for our health and could cause injury.
“I’m going to talk to the WTA and ITF in order to change something. This situation is difficult not only for the players like me, but mainly for the tennis fans that support our sport.”

ITF chief executive David Haggerty has insisted that his organization has been working with the WTA but they were unable to find a more suitable date as the venue for the Tour Finals wasn’t confirmed until late in the season. The event is likely to return to China next year. The women’s tennis body has suspended its events in the country amid concerns over the safety of player Peng Shuai who previously accused a senior government official of sexual assault.

“The ITF is sorry that Iga Swiatek is unable to take part… and recognises that the schedule for the two major year-end events presents a challenge for players competing in both events,” Haggerty told the Reuters news agency.
“We have been working with the WTA to try to coordinate suitable dates.
“While we were able to confirm the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Glasgow back in June, the WTA Finals venue in Fort Worth, Texas was confirmed during the U.S. Open and restricted in terms of available dates.”

The tennis official adds that negotiations are ongoing to find a more suitable schedule for 2023 for players to play both events if they wish to do so. 

We are committed to working with the WTA on the 2023 schedule so that we have a better transition between the two competitions,” he said. 

Haggerty states that provisions would have been made for Poland to play their opening match in the 12-team competition as late as possible to accommodate Swiatek’s travel from America if she had wished to play this year. 

The WTA Finals will be held between 31 October – 7 November and the Billie Jean King Cup will take place from 8 November – 13 November. 

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In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title

Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. 

 

The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012. 

“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw. 
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”

Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week. 

“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.

There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open. 

Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20. 

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