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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Daria Kasatkina And Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Lead Calls For VAR In Tennis

There have been calls for VAR to be introduced into the sport.

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Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina have called for VAR to be implemented in tennis.

The calls have came after Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik in Dubai.

As Bublik lead 6-5 in the final set, Rublev shouted in the face of an umpire allegedly swearing in Russian which was picked up by one of the officials.

This saw Rublev be disqualified from the event with Bublik reaching the final in Dubai.

However as a result of the incident players have called for a VAR review system with the video showing inconclusive proof of whether Rublev did swear in Russian.

Leading the calls for such innovation are Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina as the duo called for VAR to be introduced on twitter, “So you can just disqualify a player, take away all his points and money, without even checking the video? What a joke, yet another confirmation that we need VAR in tennis and an electronic appeal system in all tournaments,” Kasatkina said on social media.

VAR has been implemented in football and also a similar system in rugby with mixed results.

It’s clear though that more technology would help umpires identify whether a grounds for disqualification would be necessary.

So far VAR has been trialled at the Next Gen Finals and the Nitto ATP Finals.

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Casper Ruud Overcomes ‘Tough Start’ To Set De Minaur Final In Acapulco

Casper Ruud is into his first ATP 500 final after defeating Holger Rune in three sets.

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Casper Ruud is into his second consecutive final in Mexico after defeating Holger Rune 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Acapulco.

The Norwegian had to overcome an electric start from Rune to prevail in 2 hours and 24 minutes.

It was a clinical performance from Ruud who is now into his second consecutive final in Mexico after reaching the final in Los Cabos last week.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted it was a tough start but he’s pleased to be in another final, “It was a tough start,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“Holger just came out firing bullets from the forehand, from the backhand and I had not too much time to play my game. I was frustrated at times, especially at the end of the first set, beginning of the second.

“I didn’t really feel like I got to play any points how I wanted to, so there was some frustration towards myself, towards my box, because I didn’t feel like we were doing the right thing.

“But luckily with one break in the second, it turned around a bit and in the third set it got a little physical. I think maybe Holger seemed like he was struggling a little bit and started firing even more and a couple of games it went in and he broke me, which is frustrating.

“Some unforced errors crept up on him and I served really well in the last game to close it out.”

Ruud is now into his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco where he will face defending champion Alex De Minaur.

De Minaur overcame Jack Draper after the Brit retired at 4-0 down in the deciding set.

Heading into Saturday’s final, De Minaur leads the head-to-head 1-0 although that was in a completely different scoring format in the Next Gen Finals.

Whatever happens on Saturday, Ruud will return to the world’s top ten.

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Andrey Rublev Disqualified In Dramatic Dubai Semi-Final

Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final in Dubai.

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Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik after being accused of swearing in Russian.

The event took place in Dubai where Rublev had more than enough opportunities to win the match having been 4-2 40-0 up in the deciding set.

However Bublik came back into the match as he caught up with Rublev in what was turning into a fascinating contest.

The score was at 6-5 Bublik when Rublev’s frustrations boiled over when he allegedly told the official at the side of the court that he was a ‘f****** moron’ in Russian.

One of the officials on the sidelines at the side of the court reported the incident and the supervisor ruled that Rublev should be defaulted.

The incident below means that Rublev will now lose all his ranking points and prize money, resulting in Rublev exiting the world’s top five.

An ending that didn’t warrant the dramatic contest and after the match Bublik agreed that the consequences, “I highly doubt Andrey said something crazy,” Bublik was quoted by Sports Illustrated.

“He’s not this kind of guy. But I guess that’s the rules. That’s what they did, they just follow the procedure.”

Bublik will hope for a smoother finish to the final when he takes on Ugo Humbert for the title.

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