French Open Day 14 Preview: The Women’s Singles Final - UBITENNIS
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French Open Day 14 Preview: The Women’s Singles Final

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Simona Halep (zimbio.com)

The first meeting between Simona Halep and Jelena Ostapenko will see one of them become a first-time major champion in Roland Garros.

 

Simona Halep is not only playing for her first major title: she will also become the new #1 in the world with a victory on Saturday. This will be a return trip to the French Open final for the Romanian, having been narrowly defeated by Maria Sharapova in a great three-set 2014 final. Halep is the much more experienced of the two finalists, and has been a regular fixture in the women’s top four rankings over the past three years. Her coach, Darren Cahill, left Halep’s camp after the tournament in Miami earlier this year, as he reportedly did not approve of Halep’s negative attitude. Since Cahill returned several weeks ago, Halep’s attitude and fighting spirit have been most impressive.

Jelena Ostapenko will be 20 years and 2 days old on Saturday. She will not only be playing for her first major title: it would be her first career title of any kind. With a victory, she would become the first woman to win their first career title at a major in nearly 40 years. She would also become the first major winner from Latvia. Before this tournament, she had never played in the second week of a major. With a ranking of #47 in the world, she is the lowest-ranked female finalist at the French Open in the history of computer rankings. She is the first unseeded female finalist at the French Open since 1983.

At first glance this appears like Halep’s match to lose… but is it? Yes, she’s playing against an unseeded, un-tested, title-less youngster. Yes, the final will be on her best surface, while Ostapenko describes clay as her least favorite (though perhaps that opinion will now change). But the match will likely be on Ostapenko’s racquet, something the rather diminutive and defensive Halep has suffered from many times before. Ostapenko’s average forehand speed is actually faster than that of men’s world #1 Andy Murray. The Latvian goes for broke on her strokes, and it’s worked brilliantly through six rounds in Paris.

Halep will know all too well what an amazing opportunity this is to win her first major and become the new #1. The young Ostapenko has yet to show much sign of feeling any pressure at Roland Garros, as she has hit out freely and scorched winners past her opponents. Both players have been known to become negative when they fall behind, but both have not let those emotions defeat them in this tournament. Halep was down 6-3, 5-1 in her quarterfinal, before saving a match point and fighting her way back to victory. Ostapenko appeared to be near tears at times as she dropped the second set of her semifinal, but remained positive and comfortably won the third set.

It was 20 years ago this week at the 1997 French Open when Gustavo Kuerten and Iva Majoli shocked the tennis world. Kuerten was an unseeded player ranked #66 in the world who came out of nowhere to defeat two-time Roland Garros champion Sergi Bruguera. In her only major final, Majoli upset world #1 Martina Hingis (who had been undefeated in 1997 leading into the match). Could Ostapenko repeat their feats 20 years later and shock the tennis world on Saturday? It’s entirely possible, though it’s hard to bet against the big match experience and fighting spirit of Halep. Either way, we should be in for a fascinating final between two players with contrasting styles trying to win their first major.

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Fabio Fognini To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery On Both Ankles

Fabio Fognini is to have surgery on both ankles as he aims to extend his tennis career when the ATP Tour returns.

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Fabio Fognini (@ASB_Classic - Twitter)

Fabio Fognini will undergo Arthroscopic surgery on both ankles in Italy today after re-injuring them in training. 

 

The Italian took to social media to announce that he will have the surgery on both his ankles immediately as he looks to take advantage of Tennis’ hiatus.

In the post Fognini revealed that this is not a new problem he has been suffering from, “I’ve been having a problem with my left ankle for three and a half years now, it’s an issue I’ve learned to cope with,” Fognini explained.

“Then my right ankle started playing up in the past two years as well. I had hoped the various issues would go away during my two months break from the game because of the lockdown but, when I resumed training they were still there. 

“After medical examination and a long discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery on both ankles. I believe it is the right thing to do while the tour is on this enforced break.”

This is big news for the Italian, who is now 33 years-old and with his time on the tour running out this is a big risk but a risk worth taking in order to increase his longevity.

The timing couldn’t have been better for the world number 11 as he looks to take advantage of the hiatus in the tennis calendar and get himself fully ready for the 2021 season.

Since turning pro 16 years ago, Fognini has won 9 ATP singles titles and been a grand slam champion in doubles with his flamboyant style remaining consistent over the years and will look to continue this form after surgery.

Meanwhile a decision on the US Open is expected to be made in the next couple of weeks as the tournament organisers are hoping to still hold the tournament on the 31st of August.

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Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83

Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.

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Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.

 

Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.

Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.

After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.

Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.

The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.

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Novak Djokovic aims at breaking Federer and Nadal Grand Slam records

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Novak Djokovic told US program In Depth presented by Graham Bensinger that he wants to break all Grand Slam records and play for many years. The Serbian player is the third best ever player with 17 Major titles behid Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19).

 

“I believe that the journey chooses you and not the other way around and I know that I still have things to do in sport. At the same time, they are not the only things that motivate me, what really feeds me is the desire to keep growing. I can achieve all feats and become the greatest in history maintaining on the courts”, said Djokovic.

The Serbian legend said that he does not set set any limits. He was still unbeaten before the suspension of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. His winning streak includes a record of 18 consecutive match wins and a 21-match win streak dating back dating back to the Davis Cup Finals last November. He beat Roger Federer in the semifinal and Dominic Thiem in the final to clinch his 8th Australian Open title. He became the third man to win 8 titles at a Grand Slam tournament. Last February he saved three match points against Gael Monfils in the semifinal before beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final in Dubai.

 “I don’t believe in limits. I think limits are just illusions of your ago or your mind. I definitely want to go on for a long time but I know that at the same time I have to maintain the right principles and the routine to maintain the health and well being of my body, mind and soul”, said Djokovic.

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