Crushing The Italians In The Fed Cup, Rebecca Sramkova Is A Star In The Making - UBITENNIS
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Crushing The Italians In The Fed Cup, Rebecca Sramkova Is A Star In The Making

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Rebecca Sramkova (zimbio.com)

Written by Andrei Bucko

It is said Rebecca Sramkova serves stronger than any other female player in Slovakian tennis history with speeds of approximately 200KM. Within the past 12 months she has risen over 200 places in the world rankings as she closes in on the top 100.

 

The most unique fact about the 20-year-old is that all of her achievements have been guided solely by her father and without any cooperation with the Slovakian tennis federation. Her father even built courts for her to practice on, including one on grass! He believes the federation doesn’t help young players and some aged between 22-23 are still playing ITF events, standing 2-3 meters behind the baseline and getting the ball over the net. He wants his daughter to dominate, attack, be aggressive and create the points. But he doesn’t push, he wants her to understand what it takes to be a great player.

Sramkova is a member of the Empire Tennis Club Academy Trnava in Slovakia. It is the same place where rising star is Daria Kasatkina practices with her coach Vladimir Platenik, who use to mentor Dominika Cibulkova. The two players practice together at the venue, but Sramkova is no Cibulkova. Slovakia has never had a harder serving woman in tennis with speeds between 190-200 KM. Last year at the Wimbledon Championships, Cibulkova averaged 160KM.

She started to play tennis at the age of 6 with her father, who was a recreational player. Her father paid for her first practice session, which started her passion. She was always dreaming about having a professional career and believed in herself.

“As a child you always lose some precious time playing with peers or going out, but tennis gave me more than other my friends have. I learnt much more and I gained more than lost,” she said. “I love travelling, meeting new people, new experiences.”

Her first idol was Serena Williams and still is, from the men’s tour it is Roger Federer. She admires Serena’s power, her way of play, professionalism and patience. Sramkova doesn’t want to copy the world No.1, but like Williams her serve is the most important shot. Rebecca wants to be Rebecca, not a copycat, but she likes Serena style. She can see a lot of potential to improve her dangerous service, with more speed and more effect (placing, higher percentage, spin). She likes hitting hard and risking going for her shots.

She always wanted to skip junior tournaments and compete with women. After the Roland Garros 2014 junior quarterfinal, she decided with her father to give up juniors and play in pro events. She didn’t consider the junior competition important. You can’t compare the power, physicality and experience. Juniors play the ball across the net and try to get all back. Meanwhile, professionals dictate the game, combine, prepare the point and think more on the court. This is why it is harder today to break through from juniors. You also need much better fitness preparation to last longer otherwise you will not survive the challenges, mental or physical.

Fed Cup breakthrough

During Slovakia’s Fed Cup tie against Italy, she told the captain before the tie that it could be won without Cibulkova and she can beat both Errani and Schiavone with an attacking style. She was watching and following the Italian players in Melbourne and she said that they don’t play very fast. Sramkova was proven right as she defeated Errani 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, and Schiavone 6-2, 6-4.

Last month at the Australian Open Sramkova qualified for the first time for the Grand Slam main draw, winning 3 matches in Melbourne. Now she is looking to play in bigger tournaments against higher ranked players.

Embarking on the main stage of the WTA Tour is far from straightforward, but Sramkova is receiving valuable advice from compatriot Daniela Hantuchova. Hantuchova was an integral part of Slovakia’s winning spirit with her experience and advice. Daniela and Jeanette Husarova, the Fed Cup coach, are two team members of the 2002 Slovak Fed Cup squad, who won the trophy. Hantuchova’s success against Errani inspired Sramkova to attack Schiavone. She has also asked Daniela for advice about how to organize a season calendar at her age when climbing the ranks to break through.

Sramkova doesn’t have a coach, her father Jozef coordinates her preparation and she is hitting with her  sparring partners. As a member of the Trnava Academy she likes training there because she can play with intensity and against players like Kasatkina, Svitolina and Safarova. But she also hits at home in Bratislava.

Her tennis career is financed by her father and she doesn’t have an agreement with the Slovak Tennis Federation, except for the Fed Cup. She collected her biggest ever cheque advancing to Australian Open main draw this year – 50,000 Australian dollars.

The route to where she is now was tough. Her father was strict, didn’t let her go clubbing, go out, but she is happy and grateful for that, she understands the importance of professionalism. Her dream was to play in the Fed Cup, even more than a Grand Slam tournament, because she attended some ties in Bratislava and always wanted to represent her country. After her successful week at the Australian Open she knew she would be nominated for the recent tie.

Now that she has played the Fed Cup and hopefully established herself in the team, she wants to climb in WTA ranking as well and play Grand Slams main draws. Her best friend on tour is the other Slovak tennis player Natalia Vajdova, daughter of Marian Vajda, Novak Djokovic coach.

Sramkova is currently ranked 118th in the world and has won five titles the ITF Tour.

 

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Iga Swiatek Demands Talks With ITF And WTA After Withdrawing From Billie Jean King Cup

Iga Swiatek is not happy with the ITF and WTA after withdrawing from the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

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Iga Swiatek (@IgaSwi_France - Twitter)

The world number one has announced that she will not compete at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November after criticising tennis’ governing bodies for not looking after player welfare.

 

The event is set to take place the week after the WTA Finals in Glasgow which causes a huge problem and obstacle for many players.

This is definitely the case for Swiatek who has qualified for the WTA Finals which takes place in Texas on the 31st of October.

A huge dilemma which now means Swiatek will not compete for her country at the Billie Jean King Cup.

Speaking on Instagram the Pole criticised the decision from the ITF and WTA and wants to speak to them about player welfare to prevent future decisions from happening, “I was thinking it through a lot and discussing it with my team all over again, but I will not be able to play at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow,” Swiatek said in her Instagram story.

“And it makes me sad. I’m very sorry because I play for Poland whenever it’s possible and I always give it my best. Playing in Poland this year was an honour and I hoped to do this again at the end of the season.

“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. This 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 fans.”

It’s clear Swiatek wants change in terms of player welfare and communication between governing bodies on how to facilitate the schedule.

However Swiatek now turns her attention to preparing for the WTA Finals and first up for the Pole is Ostrava this week.

In her opening match Swiatek will face either Ajla Tomljanovic or Shuai Zhang.

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Cameron Norrie Withdraws From Tokyo After COVID Positive Test

Cameron Norrie will miss the rest of the Asian swing due to COVID.

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Cameron Norrie (@the_LTA - Twitter)

After withdrawing from his quarter-final in Seoul, Cameron Norrie has now withdrawn from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo.

 

The Brit’s absence from the latter stages of the ATP 250 event in South Korea, raised eyebrows with Norrie suffering from illness.

However Norrie then withdraw from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo where he was due to play Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Now his absence has been explained as Norrie confirmed on social media that he tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement originally posted on Instagram, Norrie explained he had no symptoms but has to quarantine in his hotel room in Seoul, “Unfortunately I had a positive COVID test in Korea and wasn’t able to compete in the rest of my matches,” Norrie said.

“I have no symptoms and I am feeling 100%. It’s been a complicated situation and I appreciate the Republic of Korea trying their best to be amicable in a very tough situation.

“I was really hoping to go to Tokyo but because of the quarantine period I will not be able to play there. Looking forward to getting back to Europe for the indoors. See you guys soon!”

This is the second time Norrie has tested positive for COVID with the first time being before the start of the season.

Norrie’s scheduled next tournament will be in Stockholm which will take place on the 17th of October.

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Carlos Alcaraz Faces Rune Test In Astana

Carlos Alcaraz leads a stacked field in Astana next week.

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Carlos Alcaraz (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Carlos Alcaraz returns to the ATP tour next week in Astana next week where he faces Danish talent Holger Rune.

 

The world number one plays his first ATP tournament since winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open and becoming the youngest world number one in history.

Having qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, Alcaraz will now look to build momentum over the coming weeks for the event in Turin.

First up for Alcaraz is the ATP 500 event in Astana next week where the Spaniard faces a tough opening round in the form of Danish talent Holger Rune.

The Dane reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros earlier this year but had struggled for form since then.

However Rune has reached the semi-finals in Sofia this week and is hitting form at the right time so this will be a big test for Alcaraz.

Should Alcaraz get through that test than a potential second round meeting with Stan Wawrinka could be on the cards with the Swiss wildcard facing Adrian Mannarino in his opening match.

Andrey Rublev is the player that could face Alcaraz in the last eight with the eighth seed facing a qualifier in his opening round match.

Rublev is one of a number of players who are chasing the remaining spots at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Also in the top half of the draw is Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz with Tsitsipas facing Mikhail Kukushkin.

While Hurkacz faces Francisco Cerundolo and a potential second round match against home favourite Alexander Bublik could await in round two.

In the bottom half of the draw, Novak Djokovic will continue his search for a surge up the rankings against Cristian Garin.

Djokovic’s potential quarter-final is Jannik Sinner who begins against tricky serve and volleyer Oscar Otte.

Daniil Medvedev is also taking part in a stacked field in Astana as he faces Albert Ramos-Vinolas in his opening round match.

In the bottom quarter there is also an intriguing opening round match between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Here is the full draw with play starting on Monday:

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