Western & Southern Open awards main draw wildcards to Sharapova, Azarenka, Stephens, and Vondrousova - UBITENNIS
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Western & Southern Open awards main draw wildcards to Sharapova, Azarenka, Stephens, and Vondrousova

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The Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, a WTA Premier 5 event, has announced its four main draw wild card recipients, with former champions Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka joining Sloane Stephens and Marketa Vondrousova at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.

 

With the Western & Southern Open featuring as the premier stop on the US Open Series ahead of the final major of the season, the WTA Premier 5 event in Cincinnati awarded its four main draw wildcards to some of the top talent on the WTA. 2011 champion and five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova, still returning from a 15-month doping suspension in April, was gifted a wildcard as well as 2013 winner and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who is returning to the tour after giving birth to her first son, Leo, in December.

Joining two of the biggest names in sport in Mason will be talented American Sloane Stephens, who returned from a nearly year-long foot injury at Wimbledon earlier this month, and big-hitting Czech rising star Marketa Vondrousova. The qualifying wildcards will be announced closer to the tournament’s beginning.

“The addition of these players add to our already strong player field,” said Tournament Director Andre Silva. “We anticipate the WTA’s No. 1 ranking to be on the line during the Western & Southern Open, and adding players of this caliber will make the battle for the top spot even more compelling. 

Sharapova and Azarenka join an already impressive field at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, with 39 0f the world’s top 44 slated to battle for the prestigious WTA Premier 5 title in America’s Midwest this summer.

Victoria Azarenka hits a forehand at the 2013 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati/Zimbio

Adding further intriguing to a stellar field with only two-time winner and 23-time major champion Serena Williams missing due to the expected birth of her child later this fall is that the WTA’s number one ranking will very likely be on the line as newly minted world number one Karolina Pliskova, the defending champion in Cincinnati, looks to fend off 2015 finalist Simona Halep and two-time runner-up Angelique Kerber.

The 2017 Western & Southern Open begins Friday, August 11th with the official draw party at the Lindner Family Tennis Center before qualifying action gets underway the following day Saturday, August 12th. The tournament runs until Sunday, August 20th. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit cincytennis.com.

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Elina Svitolina Splits With Coach After Five Years

The tennis star issued a brief statement saying ‘the time is right’ to go in another direction.

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image via https://twitter.com/ElinaSvitolina

Elina Svitolina is on the hunt for a new coach after parting ways with Andrew Beetles.

 

The two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist issued a statement on Monday confirming that she will no longer be working with her British mentor with them both deciding to go ‘their own ways.’  Beetles, who is the former hitting partner of Ana Ivanovic, spent his first full season with Svitolina back in 2017. He started as an assistant coach before later being promoted. Under his guidance, the Ukrainian rose to a ranking high of three and won 11 Tour titles.

“After 5 years and 11 titles together!! Andy and I both agreed it was the right time to move our separate ways. I am very thankful for all his hard work and endless support. I wish him only the best in his future career!’ Svitolina wrote on Twitter. 

The announcement comes a week after Svitolina suffered a shock first round loss at the Tenerife Open to Colombia’s Camila Osorio who went on to reach the final. So far this season she has won 41 out of 61 matches played on the Tour with her best performance occurring at the Chicago Open where she won the title. Svitolina also won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games and reached the quarter-finals of the US Open. 

Svitolina, who married Gael Monfils earlier this year, is currently ranked sixth in the world. She is hoping to finish the season ranked inside the world’s top 10 for the fifth year in a row.

There is currently no information about who may take over as the new coach of the 27-year-old. 

Svitolina’s 2021 results

  • Melbourne 1 – QF
  • Australian Open – R4
  • Doha – QF Dubai – R2
  • Miami – SF
  • Stuttgart – SF
  • Madrid – R1
  • Rome – QF
  • French Open – R3
  • Berlin – R2
  • Eastbourne – R2
  • Wimbledon – R2
  • Tokyo Olympics – Bronze medal
  • Canadian Open – R2
  • Cincinnati – R2
  • Chicargo – Champion
  • US Open – QF
  • Chicargo 2 – QF
  • Indian Wells – R4
  • Tenerife – R1

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Anett Kontaveit Set To Battle For WTA Finals Spot After Lifting Moscow Crown

It is the third time Kontaveit has won a tournament within the past six months but will she be able to qualify for the season-ending championships?

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Anett Kontaveit (image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit has continued her recent surge in form on the Tour by fighting back from a set down to win her fourth career title at the Kremlin Cup on Sunday.

 

The world No.20 was on the verge of losing to home favourite Ekaterina Alexandrova before battling to a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, victory. At one stage in the match Kontaveit was trailing by a set and 0-4. Then in the decider she was broken at 4-4 before going on to win three games in a row to clinch the title. Overall, she won 69% of her first service points and broke her opponent five times.

“Of course, I am very happy, the match was extremely difficult, I feel relief and joy,” she said afterwards. “I got lucky at match-point, but during the match there were moments when she (Alexandrova) got lucky too. It always takes a little luck to win. She took the lead, controlled the match, it was very difficult for me, I tried to fight for all the points and this helped me to win.”

Kontaveit, who defeated former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza and Markéta Vondroušová earlier in the tournament, has now won 14 out of the last 15 matches she has played on the Tour. Her only loss was to Ons Jabeur in the quarter-finals at Indian Wells. She has played in five finals this year which is the second-highest on the WTA Tour after world No.1 Ash Barty who has played in six.

The 25-year-old is now on the verge of qualifying for the WTA Finals for the first time in her career. However, the prospect of her playing in the season-ending event depends on the results of next week’s tournaments. Kontaveit is playing in Romania and she needs to win the tournament and for rival Jabeur to lose before the semi-finals to qualify.

Meanwhile, runner-up Alexandrova exits Moscow frustrated with her missed opportunities in the match. It was the first time she has played in a final this season and only the third time in her career. Prior to Kontaveit, she scored back-to-back wins over Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to win, I’m very sorry. But I will work on it and I hope next time I will be able to get a better result,” Alexandrova said during the trophy ceremony.
“I want to congratulate Anett, she played great, it was hard for me to do something.” She added.

Kontaveit, who has won three WTA titles since August, is the first Estonian player to win the Moscow trophy. Compatriot Kaia Kanepi reached the final of the tournament back in 2011.

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Simona Halep, Emma Raducanu Heads The Field in Cluj Napoca

On Saturday the draw was revealed for the 32 players playing in Cluj this week at the Transylvania Open.

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Simona Halep (image via https://twitter.com/Simona_Halep)

Despite the fact seven main draw players have pulled out, including Garbine Muguruza and Paula Badosa, the field is pretty deep with a lot of interesting matchups featuring no fewer than six Romanians. 

 

Let’s start at the top with the number one seed Simona Halep who will play her first match against the up-and-coming fellow Romanian Gabriela Elena Ruse. Halep and Ruse most recently teamed up in doubles and made it to the final in Indian Wells.

The number two seed is the Estonian Anett Kontaveit who will play for a title on Sunday in Moscow. She has drawn a qualifier in the first round. Emma Raducanu, the number three seed, will start her tournament against Polona Hercog.

The fourth seed is the Swiss Jil Teichmann who will also face a qualifier in her first-round match. Meanwhile Australia’s Alja Tomljanovic will face Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan who comes in as a late replacement for Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Marta Kostyuk from Ukraine is the number six seed and she will face the American Bernarda Pera. It will be the third meeting between the two players with the Ukrainian winning both of their previous matches.

Irina Camelia Begu from Romania and she will face another Romanian in Maria Irina Bara while the number eight seed is Anhelina Kalinna who faces a qualifier in the first round.

If the seeds hold up the tournament could potentially see quarterfinal matches featuring Halep vs Tomljanovic, Raducanu vs Kostyuk, Begu vs Teichmann and Kalinna vs Konteveitt.

There are indeed some dark horses in the draw that could cause some upsets. Look out for Maria Camelia Osorio who has been playing some amazing tennis this year and it seems to be her breakout year.

Andrea Petkovic is always a dangerous opponent and she actually won the first event in Romania, the Winners Open, back in the first week of August. Anastasia Potapova from Russia is no easy task, and many expect a good week from her.

Main draw action begins on Monday with what is expected to be a great week in Cluj-Napoca.

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