Elina Svitolina fends off Caroline Wozniacki for fifth title of 2017 at Rogers Cup in Toronto - UBITENNIS
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Elina Svitolina fends off Caroline Wozniacki for fifth title of 2017 at Rogers Cup in Toronto

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Fifth seed Elina Svitolina has continued her career-best 2017 season, claiming her fifth title at the Rogers Cup in Toronto with a 6-4, 6-0 win over former world number one Caroline Wozniacki.

 

The remarkable year of Elina Svitolina continued to roll on, as the world number five claimed a tour-best fifth title of 2017 at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. It was a match of polar opposite story lines for Svitolina and Wozniacki, as the Ukrainian moved to 5-0 in finals in 2017 with her 6-4, 6-0 victory over sixth-seed Wozniacki, while the Dane’s nightmare performances in championship matches continued as she fell to a horrendous 0-6 record in title matches in 2017.

Besides the prestigious WTA Premier 5 title on the line in Canada, both players are still in the running to become world number one following next week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, but with Svitolina’s third Premier 5 of 2017, she moves ahead of Wozniacki in that battle for the top spot.

“I need some time still to really realize, because I had so many matches for the last two days and it’s been really, really tough physically,” said Svitolina. “Today was very hot, so I’ve been really struggling. I’m just very happy that it’s finished – and with a title, it’s even more special.”

“It’s amazing that I achieved this, but I try to take one tournament at a time, to not think so much about all the past titles,” said a jubilant world number five. “Of course it brings me confidence, I have the experience from those finals, but I try to take it as a new challenge and always look forward to it.” 

Elina Svitolina hits a forehand at the Rogers Cup in Toronto/Zimbio/Vaughn Ridley

In the opening set, it was a narrow battle between both, as the opening four games were split. with Svitolina and Wozniacki holding to begin the match before exchanging breaks of serve for 2-all. After the pair both held for 3-all, it was the fifth seed who began to take the driver’s seat as she broke Wozniacki for 4-3. Despite being broken back with a poor service game, the Ukrainian played a pitch-perfect return game the following time, as she broke the former world number one at love to go up 5-4. Looking to serve out the opening set, it was Svitolina who held her nerve, taking the first set 6-4 on her second time of asking.

The second set was another example of a polar opposite on display in Toronto, as Svitolina went on a run, white-washing Wozniacki in the second. The Ukrainian fifth seed set the tone early on in the second set, breaking the former world number one on her first time of asking, a seemingly deflating game for the Dane. Svitolina, having already won this season in Dubai and Rome, kept up her relentless play, consolidating the break only to secure another to go up 3-0 and a double break. The 22-year-old Ukrainian saved the only break point she faced the entire second set before seemingly putting the final nail in Wozniacki’s coffin to go up 5-0 and give herself the chance to serve for the title in Toronto. Svitolina closed out the title in impressive fashion, claiming the title on her second time of asking and wrapping up a strong performance 6-4, 6-0 to take her fifth title of 2017.

Following the match in her post-match press conference, Svitolina said, “I was very, very tired after the first game of first set, and I knew that I need to give everything because Caroline doesn’t miss much. You have to work really hard to get unforced error from her,” said the Ukrainian. “I just decided I’m going to just play every ball and just leave everything on court.” 

“That’s why, emotionally I was relieved when I won the first set, and then was playing better and better in the second. I really couldn’t believe that it all finished and I’m holding the trophy,” commented Svitolina.

“Today, I was going to into the match and I was thinking, ‘Okay, this is not the final.’ Just try to think that this is a quarterfinal, because we could play with Caroline [in a] quarterfinal, semifinal,” said the fifth seed. “The one we played in Dubai I was under big pressure. It was the first time that I was entering top 10. That win was just amazing…but I got the experience from that match because she’s very tough player.”

“You need to have a clear mind and clear plan what you do on court, so I learned little bit more from that match and it really definitely helped me today to manage my nerves and be calm on the important moments,” concluded Svitolina.

Elina Svitolina kisses the Rogers Cup trophy in Toronto/Zimbio/Vaughn Ridley

As for Caroline Wozniacki, the former world number one was visibly disappointed to have lost her sixth final in 2017, but still trying to take the positives out of the successful week in Toronto.

“It was a tough day. She played well. She mixed up the pace and made it uncomfortable for me out there,” said Wozniacki. “Today, probably I could have used some more pace, but she played really smart today and used my pace to her advantage.”

“I wasn’t really expecting much out of myself when I came into the tournament. Obviously, I haven’t won a match [in Toronto] before, but it was a good week and I beat some great players, and I can really take a lot with me and be proud of that,”  concluded the Danish world number six.

Svitolina and Wozniacki will next move on to the hardcourts of Cincinnati at the Western & Southern Open, where both will have a shot at the number one ranking following a second straight WTA Premier 5 event.

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Iga Swiatek Explains How Work With Sports Psychologist Aided Her Rapid Rise

The 19-year-old speaks to reporters for the first time since her Grand Slam milestone in Paris.

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Iga Swiatek (@rolandgarros on Twitter)

Recently crowned French Open champion Iga Swiatek believes work on her mental game was key to her shock run.

 

The 19-year-old Pole stunned the field at Roland Garros as she eased to the title by dropping only 28 games in what is the fewest amount dropped by a female player at the event since Justine Henin back in 2007. En route to the title she beat top 10 players Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin. Prior to the tournament Swiatek was yet to win a title on the WTA Tour and had never gone beyond the fourth round of a major.

Reflecting on her breakout, the teenage rising star believes her work with sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz has been pivotal as she encourages other players to follow the same route as her.

“She understands me and she is a sports psychologist, so both on court and off court she is doing, with me, a great job,” Swiatek told The Associated Press.
“The mental side of tennis is really important,” she added.

Swiatek has been labelled as a future star of the sport after winning the 2018 Wimbledon girls’ title. Since then she has steadily risen up the rankings but had never scored a victory over a top 10 player until this year’s French Open. So far this season she has recorded 16 wins on the Tour with 12 of those taking place across the three Grand Slam tournaments.

“I realized that it doesn’t have a good impact on my tennis and I’m not able to play as good tennis on match(day) as on practice (days), so we tried to change that and we did a great job and I’m really happy that the result of that job is (a) Grand Slam,” she commented on working on her mental game.

Speaking about Swiatek’s rise, Abramowicz said she has managed to ‘use her resources and potential magnificently.’ Dr Abramowicz conducted postgraduate studies in sports psychology at SWPS University of Humanities and Social Sciences in Warsaw.

“Iga is very mindful, despite her young age. She has used her resources and potential magnificently. It wasn’t an easy time though,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
“What you have seen on television is only a fraction of the work done. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t a metamorphosis, but rather an evolution. The doubles proved very helpful in sticking to one’s routines. Iga withstood excellently the difficulties of this tournament.”

Already the first player from her country to win a major title, Swiatek says her ultimate goal is to win every Grand Slam tournament, as well as a medal at the Olympic Games. Her father is a former rower who participated in the 1988 Olympic Games.

She is currently at a ranking high of 17th in the world.

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Is 19-year-old Iga Swiatek bound for greatness?

Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper tennis columnist James Beck reflects on the potential significance of the French Open women’s final.

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Paris is always magical.

 

The City of Love must be.

Iga Swiatek is the French Open women’s singles champion.

Always talented, always athletic.

But until this fortnight the Polish 19-year-old had never demonstrated any true greatness in  women’s tennis. All of a sudden now, even the great John McEnroe is predicting greater greatness from the latest new star of women’s tennis.

A STRANGE YEAR FOR WOMEN’S TENNIS

What a strange year this is in women’s tennis. Sofia Kenin wins the Australian Open before the coronavirus took over the entire world. Kenin came out of nowhere to achieve this amazing feat.

So, just when it appeared Kenin was ready to keep her amazing success story afloat, another surprise arrived with the name Iga Swiatek. It wouldn’t be real surprising that when this coronavirus disappears, hopefully early in 2021, that Swiatek keeps winning Grand Slam titles. It also wouldn’t be surprising if she retires with just one major title.

Swiatek seems to be just that unpredictable.

DID SHADOWS PLAY A KEY ROLE IN THE WOMEN’S FINAL?

Perhaps this time, Swiatek’s glorious day was achieved due to the uncontrollable nature of nature itself. The sun and its shadows appeared to play a major role in how this Grand Slam final started.

Shadows dominated one end of the court at match time on Saturday in the newly covered Court Philippe Chatrier Stadium.

Visibility was dreadful on the TV screen, and it must have been much the same way in Kenin’s eyes when she played the second and third games of the match on the “shadow end” of the court. The 21-year-old American looked out of sorts as if she was playing in darkness and she couldn’t find the ball while falling behind, 3-0.

SHADOWS BRING BACK MEMORIES OF NADAL-SODERLING

The scene brought back memories of Rafa Nadal’s fourth-round match against Robin Soderling in 2009 at Roland Garros. Going into the 2020 final on Sunday against Novak Djokovic, Nadal has suffered only two losses in 88 matches on the red clay of Roland Garros.

Of course, Nadal’s loss to Djokovic in the 2015 quarterfinals at the French Open wasn’t a show stopper, especially when you consider that Djokovic is now slipping up on Nadal’s 19 Grand Slam titles and Roger Federer’s 20 in the all-time major title race.

But for Rafa to lose to the big-hitting Soderling was shocking at the time. Rafa also looked like he was playing in darkness that summer day in 2009. He couldn’t find the ball, either.

KENIN WASN’T NORMAL SELF

Seeing what happened on Saturday in the shadows at Roland Garros, it’s now easier to understand what happened to Nadal that day against Soderling.

Kenin had a miserable day on Saturday. She wasn’t herself, maybe due to the shadows or maybe to her heavily bandaged left thigh. Kenin is a better player than the one audiences around the world saw in her 6-4, 6-1 loss to Swiatek.

FANS FORTUNATE TO CATCH THEM BEFORE THEY BECAME STARS

Watching this French Open women’s final made me acknowledge once again how great it is to reside in a great tennis town that brings the ITF world-wide circuit to your city. It happens all over the world, to large cities and small cities.

Of course, Charleston also has the WTA Tour’s Volvo Car Open where the world’s best current players perform for large crowds of paying viewers.

The ITF Circuit is different.

Swiatek, Kenin and Cori Gauff all played in the $100K ITF tournament at LTP Tennis in Charleston during 2018 or 2019. All free of charge for everyone to view in person or even to enter  the current boundaries of social distancing. Autographs, yes. But autograph seekers were rare for these three young stars even that recently.

James Beck has been the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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Iga Swiatek Not Ready To Step Out of The Shadows Of Radwanska Despite ‘Life-Changing’ French Open Win

The teenage sensation is the latest new star of women’s tennis but how good does she think she can be?

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2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek (image via https://twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Poland has a new tennis sensation but Iga Swiatek says she still has a long way to go following her shock run to the French Open title.

 

The 19-year-old has stunned the sport by lifting her first Grand Slam title without dropping a set. Something that was last achieved by Justine Henin back in 2007. In the process she beat top 10 players Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin in what is an impressive run for the former Wimbledon girls champion who had never previously won a WTA title until now.

Now she has shot into the limelight, the new champion is expected to face a surge of interest both home and abroad from the public and sponsors. She is the first ever Polish player in history to have won a Grand Slam title with some predicting her to become an even better player than Agnieska Radwanska. A former poster girl of tennis in Poland who peaked at a ranking high of No.2 and won 20 WTA trophies before retiring in 2018.

“I just feel like I kind of made history. But I still think that Radwanska has achieved a lot because she played at the top level of WTA for, I don’t know, 12 years,” said Swiatek.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of people who are going to compare us. But I think I have to be really consistent for the next couple years for everybody to name me the best player in Poland because still I have a lot to do. I still think that’s kind of her place.”

Branding her victory over Kenin in Saturday’s final as a ‘life-changing experience,’ Swiatek admits that there is no time for her to be complacent given the recent history of women’s tennis. Since 2017 Kenin, Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu and Jelena Ostapenko have all won a major title without previously reaching the quarter-final of a Grand Slam. Within that period, 12 different players have won a major title.

“I feel like I can make progress in most things because I’m only 19,” she said. “I know my game isn’t developed perfectly. Also I think the biggest change for me is going to be to be consistent.’
“I think this is what women’s tennis is struggling with. That’s why we have so many new Grand Slam winners because we are not as consistent as Rafa, Roger, and Novak. That’s why my goal is going to be to be consistent.”

Without a doubt she is on the right trajectory with many players hailing the uniqueness of her game with shots such as her ‘spinny forehand.’ The phrase Kenin used to describe her opponents shot. She gets her athlete mentality from her father, Tomasz, who is a former Rower that competed in the 1988 Olympic Games for Poland. There is also another key element.

In recent months Swiatek has been guided on the Tour by sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz. Throughout the French Open she has spoken openly about the importance of the mental side when it comes to the sport.

“I use everything that my psychologist taught me during a match. For sure I’m doing the biggest work on the court,” she stated
“What is the role of sports psychology in the performance? I think it is a huge role. I can see the difference when I’m mentally prepared and I’m ready to handle the stress, the pressure. I can see the difference where I can’t. That’s why I’m sometimes losing in the first round and sometimes I can win a tournament.”

Swiatek’s approach should also help her when she comes to terms with her newfound fame. Fellow player Osaka has previously spoken about the difficulty of her rapid rise in the sport and being pushed into the limelight following her maiden Grand Slam win. Although the Pole believes she is ready to embrace it.

“I know it’s going to be crazy. I think I’m going to get used to that, it’s not going to be a problem for me,” she said about her new fame. “I don’t’ have a problem with getting attention, with people surrounding me. I think it’s going to be okay for me.”

On Monday Swiatek will rise to a ranking high of 17th in the world.

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