Jelena Ostapenko overcomes rain delays, Caroline Wozniacki to reach French Open semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

Jelena Ostapenko overcomes rain delays, Caroline Wozniacki to reach French Open semifinals




Unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko advanced to her first Grand Slam semifinal with a comeback victory over former world number one and 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki, winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 to reach the last four in Paris.


Jelena Ostapenko ended her teenage years with a bang, overcoming untimely rain delays and a set deficit to former world number one Caroline Wozniacki to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal at the French Open. Unseeded Latvian Ostapenko utilized her powerful groundstrokes and aggressive mindset to maintain her dominance over Wozniacki, moving to 4-0 in their head to head with her 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over the 11th-seeded Dane in just under two hours.

In the opening set, Wozniacki began strongly, making her intentions clear to see as the Dane went up a break in the first two games of the set 2-0. The former world number one saved three break points the following game as she eventually held to consolidate the break before backing it up with the double break as the errors and windy conditions continued to plague Ostapenko. Wozniacki saved two more break points to go up 5-0, sending herself a game from a dominant bagel set. 19-year-old Ostapenko held her nerve, managing a game to get on the board with a routine hold of serve for 5-1, forcing the Dane to serve out the opening set. Wozniacki played a tentative service game as she attempted to serve out the first set, getting broken at the Latvian’s third break point to bring the scoreline to 5-2.

Still down a break, Ostapenko’s errors began to pile up, going down early in the eighth game, bringing up two set points for Wozniacki, only for some aggressive play from the Latvian to save both and hold on for 5-3, forcing the former world number one to try and serve out the opening set on her second time of asking. It was a similar service game for Wozniacki as the prior time she had attempted to close out the set, as the fearless play of 19-year-old Ostapenko continued to break Wozniacki, fighting back for 5-4 with the match on serve. Still serving to stay in the set, Ostapenko played a disastrous service game, committing four unforced errors, including a double fault,  to hand over the break and give Wozniacki a hard-fought opening set 6-4.

Caroline Wozniacki hits a backhand at the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris/Clive Brunskill/Zimbio

Despite eventually dropping the first set, the momentum was firmly with Ostapenko, as four of the last five games had gone the way of the Latvian heading into the second set. The pair split holds of serve before exchanging breaks to bring the scoreline to 2-all. As Ostapenko begun to heat up again, the unseeded 19-year-old broke Wozniacki easily before consolidating that break to take a 4-2 advantage over the 11th seed. The momentum continued to build for Ostapenko, breaking again to seize the double break at 5-2 before the rains began to fall over Roland Garros, with Ostapenko having taken nine of the last 12 games before the lengthy rain delay.

Once play resumed at Roland Garros on Court Suzanne Lenglen, it was Ostapenko looking to serve out the second set and level this quarterfinal match. The youngest remaining player in the French Open draw held her nerve, holding on to close out the second set 6-2 and level the match.

In the third set, the pair exchanged holds of serve to begin the decider before Wozniacki saved a break point to eventually take care of her serve and go up 2-1 before the heavens opened up again, as another rain delay descended upon Paris.

Following the second, shorter rain delay, Ostapenko came out a woman on a mission, utilizing her aggressive groundstrokes to punish the defensive play of Wozniacki. After the Dane held serve for 2-all, Ostapenko did not drop a single game from there on, taking both break chances she got and dominating on serve, closing the match out with a hold to love to take the match 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 and book a spot in her first Grand Slam semifinal at the young age of 19.

Following the match, Ostapenko was in an ecstatic mood after reaching a major career milestone. ” Yeah, I mean, it’s really nice, because it’s first time for me in the semifinals of a Grand Slam. I’m just really happy to be there,” said the Latvian.

Jelena Ostapenko hits a forehand at the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris/Clive Brunskill/Zimbio

Asked about her slow start to the match, Ostapenko said, “Yeah, Caroline was playing pretty well today. And at the beginning was really windy and was really tough for me to get my game, because I couldn’t expect where the ball was bouncing. She served pretty well, and then I just got my game back. Yeah, I felt quite confident.”

The 19-soon-to-be-20-year-old has never won a WTA title. When asked about the possibility of her first tour title coming at Roland Garros, a Grand Slam, the unseeded Ostapenko said, ” I mean, I have to take one step at a time and just — I’m still in the semifinal, and it’s gonna be a hard match. So I just have to go out there and just do my best,” concluded the Latvian rising star.

Ostapenko will next face Swiss veteran Timea Bacsinszky, as the 2015 French Open semifinalist put on a brilliant display of variety and guile to defeat French home hopeful Kristina Mladenovic 6-4, 6-4. An interesting subplot to Ostapenko and Bacsinszky’s semifinal encounter on Thursday will be that both women are celebrating birthdays of their own. Unseeded Ostapenko turns 20 while Bacsinszky turns 28. Both ladies of course though will hope to give themselves the best birthday present possible, a spot in Saturday’s French Open final, a first for either Ostapenko or Bacsinszky.

Grand Slam

Grand Slam Matches Among 38 Suspicious Betting Alerts Over Past Three Months

The body is charge of monitoring match-fixing in the sport has issued their latest findings.




The International Tennis Integrity Agency has confirmed they have received ‘match alerts’ concerning a quartet of matches which took place at Grand Slam tournaments during the third quarter of 2021.


Two matches played at Wimbledon and a further two which took place at the US Open were flagged up, according to their quarterly report which was public on Tuesday. The names of the individuals involved in those matches are not made public whilst the ITIA investigate the matter. The alerts are received through their confidential Memoranda of Understanding with the regulated betting industry.

A total of 38 betting alerts were issued to the ITIA during the third quarter with the most coming from matches played on the Challenger Tour (13). There were also nine suspicious matches from ITF $25,000 tournaments on the men’s Tour and another seven linked to $15,000 events. To put that into context the women’s ITF Tour reported a total of three overall.

“It is important to note that an alert on its own is not evidence of match fixing,” the ITIA stated in their report.
“Unusual betting patterns can occur for many reasons other than match fixing – for example incorrect odds-setting; well-informed betting; player fitness, fatigue or form; playing conditions and personal circumstances.”

Five players have been sanctioned within the past three months for match-fixing offences with the most high-profile being Temur Ismailov from Uzbekistan. Ismailov, who reached a ranking high of 397th in 2016, was issued with a life ban after being found guilty of offences in addition to another suspension he was already serving.

The ITIA has also provisionally suspended six Moroccans and one Pervian player in connection with possible violations of anti-corruption rules.

The ITIA was created by the international governing bodies to investigate allegations against players and hand out sanctions. It is currently in the process of merging with the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP) and will oversee the global administration of the TADP from January 1st if it receives Board approval.

Number of alerts (third quarter of 2021 only)

  • Wimbledon: 2
  • US Open: 2
  • ATP Challenger: 13
  • ATP World Tour: 250 1
  • Davis Cup: 1
  • M25 Men’s – World Tennis Tour: 9
  • M15 Men’s – World Tennis Tour: 7
  • W15 Women’s – World Tennis Tour: 2
  • W80 Women’s – World Tennis Tour: 1


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Numbers: On The Unpredictability Of Women’s Grand Slam Tournaments

Over the past four years, every major tournament has been a hunting ground for new players, a sign of discontinuity at the top.





54 – the number of WTA players who’ve reached the quarterfinals at least once in the past 12 Slam tournaments. 

Tennis experts and fans have often pointed out that men’s tennis hasn’t had much of a change of the guard in terms of big tournament winners, generally providing the same face-offs between players in the final rounds. At the same time, the last seasons of the WTA Tour have repeatedly been criticized for not providing any champions the public could become used to due to the steady turnover of winners and players competing in the last rounds of the most prestigious tournaments. To better understand if these assumptions are actually justified, we analysed the Slam draws from the past three years (starting with the 2018 US Open) and listed all the players (male and female) who reached a Major quarterfinal at least once, in an attempt to understand the differences between what’s going on the ATP and WTA tours.


41 male players have reached the quarterfinals of a Slam, while on the WTA circuit the 96 available slots have been occupied by no fewer than 54 different tennis players. We can also see this same discrepancy by looking at some other stats on the number of players to make it through only once to a Major quarterfinal: on the male tour, in the timeframe considered (the last twelve Slams played), there were 17 players, while in the female one the number rose to 21. The women whose only accomplishment was to reach one semi-final are over twice as many as the men who did the same: some of the male players are Pouille, Karatsev and Hurkacz, while the women’s list includes Sevastova, Anisimova, Strycova, Podoroska, Zidansek and Kerber.

The greatest difference between the two tours, however, can be found in the number of players who get past the semi-finals. There have only been four major tournament winners among ATP players in the past three calendar years: Djokovic (the Serbian won 7 times), Nadal (2), Thiem, and Medvedev. Among WTA players, on the other hand, there have been as many as eight different Slam tournament champions:  Osaka (a four-time winner), Barty (2), Halep, Andreescu, Kenin, Swiatek, Krejcikova, and Raducanu.

Del Potro, Zverev, Federer, Berrettini and Tsistipas were the only male players to get to the finals, but there were no fewer than nine female players achieving the same result: Serena Williams (three times), Kvitova, Vondrousova, Muguruza, Azarenka, Brady, Pavlyuchenkova, Pliskova, and Fernandez. “One-time-winners” aren’t easy to find among male players, since all four major tournament-winners (Djokovic, Nadal, Thiem and Medvedev) have done well in several other Slams, which isn’t the case amongst the female players. In the eleven Slams that we’re analysing, two players (Andreescu and Raducanu) didn’t get any other important results other than their wins; in their case, if truth be told, the explanation to this probably lies in their very young age, and in the injuries they sustained, making their “isolated” wins more than understandable.

This fact should, however, be considered together with the cases of three other female players (Krejicikova, Swiatek and Kenin) who, in addition to their finals victory, only reached the quarterfinals once. The absence of continuity in today’s strongest female circuit-players can be inferred from an additional statistic:  among male players in the past three years, Djokovic (10 times), Nadal (9), Federer (5), Thiem (5), Zverev (6), and Medvedev (5) got through to Major tournament quarterfinals at least five times, but amongst the female players only Serena Williams (6) and Barty (6) did the same.

Further confirmation of what we uncovered can be found by looking into the players in the top positions of the ATP and WTA rankings. Among the men, after the 2018 US Open, the only players who reached the first position are Djokovic and Nadal; meanwhile, Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Rublev have reached the Top 5 for the first time in the past three years. And let’s not forget Berrettini, Schwartzman, Bautista Agut, Shapovalov, and Ruud, who also made their debut in the Top 10.

In the WTA rankings, on the other hand, these past 36 months have seen Halep, Osaka and current number 1 Barty pass the queen’s crown around; compared to the men’s circuit, even more players have ascended to the Top 5 for the first time: Sabalenka, Andreescu, Bencic, Kenin. There are “only” two players, Swiatek and Krejcikova, who’ve gotten through to the first ten positions of the ranking in the time frame we’ve been looking at.

In conclusion, the tennis élite has a very different profile in the two tours. It’s a difference that is bound to be reduced as the likes of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic get older: but will the advent of new rivalries at the top be able to preserve the sport’s popularity?

Article by Ferruccio Roberti; translated by Giulia Bosatra; edited by Tommaso Villa

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Grand Slam

REPORT: Australian Open To Hold Qualifying In The Middle East During Build Up To Christmas

Provisional plans of how the first Grand Slam tournament of 2022 will take place has emerged.




It is understood that the Australian Open will hold their qualifying tournaments outside of the country for a second year in a row, according to information obtained by The Daily Mail and The Times newspapers.


Players hoping to secure their spot in the main draw of the Grand Slam are likely to be forced to miss out on the chance of celebrating Christmas on December 25th. According to the provisional plan, the event will likely conclude on December 24th and then players will have to travel to Australia afterwards via charter flights.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are set to be the venues which will hold the men’s and women’s competitions. Both of those cities also held the qualifying event for this year’s Australian Open but in January. However, in 2022 the start date of the Grand Slam will revert back to its original time shot and therefore qualifying will have to take place earlier.

It is also understood that the players who already have secured a spot in the main draw of the Grand Slam will also have their Christmas plans affected. Health officials in Melbourne want those participating in warm-up events in the country prior to the Grand Slam to first spend time in a ‘control bubble’ where they will be allowed to practice and train.

Criag Tiley, who is the tournament director of the Australian Open, has previously suggested that players who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 could have less restrictions placed upon them.

“There will be different conditions for vaccinated versus unvaccinated,’ Tiley told The Controllables podcast in August. ‘If the conditions are vastly different it’s probably better to be vaccinated then you don’t have those different conditions.’

The plans are part of Tennis Australia’s COVID-19 protocol. The country currently has one of the world’s longest border closures related to the pandemic and is closed for most arrivals. Those who are allowed in are required to enter a 14-day quarantine or something similar which has been authorised by health authorities.

Recently the coach of world No.1 Ash Barty has said she may miss the season-ending WTA Finals with one of the reasons being due to Australia’s travel policy. Craig Tyzzer told reporters that Barty is wary that arriving late back in her home country and having to undergo quarantine will have a knock on effect on her off-season training.

The Australian Open main draw will start on January 17th.

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