Lucie Safarova beats Dominika Cibulkova to set up Miami quarter final against Caroline Wozniacki - UBITENNIS
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Lucie Safarova beats Dominika Cibulkova to set up Miami quarter final against Caroline Wozniacki

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Lucie Safarova beat Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 at the Miami Open WTA Premier Mandatory to secure her spot in the quarter final, where she will face Caroline Wozniacki.

 

Cibulkova led 5-2 in her previous seven head-to-head matches against Safarova. In the first set both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games to draw level to 4-4. Cibulkova held serve putting pressure on Safarova, who served to stay in the first set at 4-5. Safarova held serve at 30 with her fourth ace. Safarova broke serve in the 11th game for 6-5 earning a chance to serve out for the first set. Cibulkova broke back to force the set to the tie-break. Cibulkova got the first mini-break but dropped her serve with a double fault. Safarova got two mini-breaks to earn two set points at 6-4. The Czech player did not convert the first set point, as she made her third double fault but sealed the set on her second opportunity after 54 minutes.

Cibulkova did not convert three break points in the first game of the second set. Safarova went up a set and a break to race out to a 3-0 lead after winning 11 of her next 13 points. She earned a double break to race out a 4-0 lead after a nine-deuce fourth game which featured 22 points. Cibulkova got one break back to trail 1-4 but Safarova closed out on her second match point with a forehand winner after 1 hour and 49 minutes to qualify for her first quarter final of a Premier Mandatory since Madrid 2015. Safarova has scored her first win against a top 10 player since beating Angelique Kerber at the 2015 WTA Finals in Singapore.

“It was a great match and I am really excited to be for the first time here in the quarter final. I knew I had to come out really strong and play fast and not let Dominika play her game. She puts a lot of balls back and she is a very big fighter so I had to be really sharp and strong, which I was. I am really happy it worked out. Winning today means a lot. It feels great to be here again with the best players, being able to beat them means my level is there again”, said Safarova.

Safarova will face Wozniacki, who advanced to the quarter final as Muguruza retired from the match after losing the tie-break of the first set.

Karolina Pliskova beat Barbora Strykova 6-1 6-4 in an all-Czech third round match to reach the quarter final at this tournament for the second time in her career. The two Fed Cup teammates met just twice in their careers. Pliskova won their first head-to-head match in Dubai 2015, while Strykova won their most recent match in Birmingham in 2016.

Pliskova got an early break in the fourth game with a forehand return winner. This year’s Brisbane and Doha champion won 11 straight points and went up a double break in the sixth game with another forehand to race out to a 5-1 lead and served out for the first set to love at 6-1 after 23 minutes. Pliskova dropped just one point in four service games in the opening set, as she made a double fault

The second set started with a trade of breaks. Pliskova saved two game points on Strykova’s serve to break serve in the first game at deuce with a down the line forehand winner. Strykova broke straight back to 30 in the second game as Pliskova made a backhand error. Strykova held serve to take the lead for the first time in the match. Pliskova broke twice in the fifth game to love and again in the seventh game at deuce. As Pliskova was serving for the match at 5-2, Strykova got one break back with a forehand winner. Strykova held serve to love in the ninth game to claw her back into the second set to 4-5. Strykova took a 15-40 lead in the 10th game, as Pliskova was serving for the match. Pliskova saved three break points to close out the final game at deuce on her second opportunity.

Pliskova has reached her fifth quarter final of the season. She has not made it to the quarter final only in one tournament at Dubai where she lost to Kristina Mladenovic one week after her second title of the second in Doha.

Pliskova has clinched her 22nd win to just three losses of the season (she has the best record on the WTA tour this season). The Czech player will face either Mirjana Lucic Baroni or Bethanie Mattek Sands. Lucic Baroni beat Pliskova in three sets in the quarter finals of this year’s Australian Open. Pliskova leads 2-1 against Mattek Sands, altheough they have not clashed since 2014.

“It’s never easy to play against a player I know very well. Everything was fine, going well until 6-1 5-2. I didn’t serve well. I didn’t put any first serves in. She played some good games on her side. I was happy to close it because the end was tricky. She started to slice more. I was a little bit, not really shaking, but the end was a little bit shaky, so I was just happy to get through. Up to that point it was a really high level from my side. I was dictating and she didn’t have much time to play her game, to go to the net and play those slices because I was playing fast from the baseline. Until 6-1 5-2 I am really happy with how I played”, said Pliskova.

Caroline Wozniacki held a one-set lead after winning the first set at the tie-break, when Murguruza was forced to withdraw due to illness. Wozniacki set up a quarter final against Lucie Safarova. The Danish player has won four of her seven head-to-head matches against Safarova, but the Czech player prevailed in their most recent head-to-head match on hard-court in Sydney in 2014.

Muguruza led 3-1 in her head-to-head matches against Wozniacki, but they have not met met since Wimbledon 2015 when Muguruza prevailed 6-4 6-4.

After an early trade of breaks, Wozniacki held serve to love in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. In the fourth game Muguruza looked to be cruising to a hold of serve, when she took a 40-0 lead. Wozniacki earned two break points, as Muguruza made two double faults and got the break with a forehand return winner to take a 3-1 with a forehand before holding her serve to 15.

Muguruza bounced back by breaking serve on her fourth break point after a hard-fought 11-minute seventh game.

Muguruza served for the set at 5-4 but Wozniacki broke straight back to draw level to 5-5. Serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Muguruza saved a set point, when Wozniacki sent her backhand into the net. Muguruza hit her forehand down the line to force the set to the tie-break. Wozniacki earned the mini-break, as Wozniacki hit her fifth double fault. Wozniacki hit her second ace to race out to a 4-0 lead before earning five set points, as Muguruza made a double fault. Wozniacki closed out on her first set point, as Muguruza made an error. Muguruza called it a day after 75 minutes. This was the third time that Muguruza retired from a match this season.

 

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WTA unveils rebrand including new logo, marketing campaign and alignment of tournament tiers

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The WTA has unveiled a comprensive rebrand including a new logo, marketing campaign and alignment of tournament tiers. 

 

The Women’s Tennis Association WTA has introduced a new corporate identity redifining the organization’s strength as a collective utit of inspiring players and tournaments. 

The rebranding includes the WTA’s first logo redesign in 10 years and coincides with the announcement of a simplified numerical naming system for women’s tournaments. 

The new brand identity and marketing campaign has been developed for the WTA by design agency Landor Australia and will be fully integrated across the WTA, including television graphics, print materials, tournament branding, advertising, promotion, digital and social media. 

The WTA’s new brand image incorporates a dynamic reworking of the familiar letters W, T and A, with a tennis ball functioning as the crossbar of the A, and marks the return of a silhouette of a female tennis player. The serve is the only shot in tennis where the player has the absolute control and where the point begins. 

The logo brings a return of a kinetic energy and makes reference to the sport’s global nature, framing the player within a circle that evokes the universal spirit of the WTA platform. 

“The WTA is built on the grit, passion and determination of generations of athletes and tournament promoters. Our new logo embraces the visual language of tennis and celebrates heroic women who come together for “The Game”. We will wear it as a badge of pride and a reminder of the power of unity among strong individuals, by joining forces, we build something bigger than ourselves”, said Micky Lawler, President of the WTA and head of marketing initiatives.   

The WTA For the Game campaign will be highlighted by 30 and 60 second commercial spots as well as influencer stories that will be broadcast, published and posted across WTA player, tournament and affiliate channels. Fans are provided new insights into the individual narratives of players as they describe the defining moments that have shaped their tennis journey and what gives their game purpose. 

The “For the Game” campaign features a series of videos with in-their-own words storytelling from Naomi Osaka, Madison Keys, Garbine Muguruza, Ashleigh Barty, Petra Kvitova, Barbora Krejcikova, Su-Wei Hsieh, Bethanie Mattek Sands and more players from the tour’s singles and doubles ranks. 

The WTA also worked with the ATP to create consistency and alignment across professional tennis. Both Tours will share the same tournament tier and nomenclature system to create simplicity for fans and consumers starting from 2021. WTA tournaments will now be categorized as WTA 1000 (incorporating the former Premier Mandatory and Premier 5 tournaments), WTA 500 (formerly Premier 700), WTA 250 (International) and WTA 125 (125k Series). The revised nomenclature is not tied to specific ranking points (which stay the same) or prize money, it is a categorical system to help define WTA tournament categories. “Fans really respond to the unified approach which tennis is uniquely able to provide. We see it with ticket sales at combined women’s and men’s tournaments, viewership on shared broadcast platforms and the popularity of the “Tennis United” digital content series co-created by the WTA and ATP amidst the challenges of the 2020 season. Adopting this streamlined tournament naming system is 100% about making it easier for WTA fans, corporate partners and the media to engage and follow the sport”, said Lawler. 

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Father Of Dayana Yastremska Reveals The Reasons Behind Her Lacklustre Season

Alexander Yastremsky says his daughter was ‘mentally broken’ in recent weeks due to a personal issue.

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Rising star Dayana Yastremska struggled on the Tour during the second half of 2020 due to a family-related issue, according to her father.

 

The world No.29 closed out her season with three consecutive first round losses at the French Open, Ostrava and Linz to players who were ranked lower than her. Yastremska looked to be on course for a strong year after reaching the final of the Adelaide International in January. However, since then she has only managed to reach the quarter-final stage in one out of 10 tournaments played.

Reflecting on his daughter’s difficult season during an interview with Ukrainian Tennis, Alexander Yastremsky says she had been ‘mentally broken’ in recent weeks due to her mother having a series of surgeries on her eye.

“People were complaining like why Dayana had such poor results at Roland Garros and afterwards but they didn’t know it was a hard time for her mother,” he said.
“Before the first round she had a retinal detachment. She went through three surgeries in Paris and two more at home. Everything is fine now but at that time Dayana was broken mentally.”

Besides her mother’s health scare, Yastremska had to find a new structure in her team after the departure of Sasha Bajin following the US Open. Bajin, who is the former coach of Naomi Osaka, worked with her for less than a year. Last week it was confirmed that he will be working with Karolina Pliskova in the new year.

“Sascha Bajin is a good coach, very helpful but it turned out he wasn’t ours,” said Alexander. “I don’t look at this partnership as a mistake for Dayana, it was another experience for her but I don’t see any advantages either.”
“Everyone looks only at how good you play and what result you get.”

Prior to Bajin, Yastremska worked with Belgium’s Olivier Jeunehomme who guided her to three WTA titles between 2018-2019. Since his departure, she is yet to add to her title tally but did rise to a ranking high of 21st earlier this year.

“It’s not easy to work with Dayana she has a tough personality,” her father admits. “Relationships on and off the court are very important for her.
“Right now we have a new team, very positive and committed . That’s the key for us. There’s no need to brag about their achievements. Results will come and time will tell. Our focus is on the off-season and hard work.”

Yastremska has started her off-season in Dubai. She ends the year with a win-loss record of 15-12 and has made just over $486,000 in prize money.

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Karolina Pliskova hires Sascha Bajin as new coach

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Former world number 1 player Karolina Pliskova has hired German coach Sasha Bajin for the upcoming 2021 season. The Czech player has split up with Daniel Vallverdu. 

 

Under the guidance of Vallverdu Pliskova has not won a single title in 2020 but she reached her second final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, the tournament she won in 2019 beating Johanna Konta. This year she was forced to withdraw from the Rome final against Simona Halep due to an injury problem. 

Pliskova successfully defended her 2019 title in Brisbane and lost to Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova in the third round of the Australian Open and was defeated by Elena Rybakina in the quarter finals in Dubai. She lost to Ons Jabeur in Doha. In her first tournament after the suspension due to the pandemic Pliskova was beaten by Veronika Kudemertova in the second round at the Western and Southern Open in New York. At the US Open Karolina was knocked out by Caroline Garcia in the second round. 

The Czech star lost in the first round in Ostrava after winning the first set. 

Bajin parted his ways with Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska in 2020. The Ukrainian player was not happy after Bajin praised Naomi Osaka, who beat Yastremska at the US Open. 

Pliskova introduced her new coaching team to her fans on Twitter. 

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