Maria Sharapova claims first match win in US in over two years over Jennifer Brady in Stanford - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova claims first match win in US in over two years over Jennifer Brady in Stanford

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Maria Sharapova made a winning return to US tennis, downing American Jennifer Brady 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 to mark her first match win since May and advance to the Bank of the West Classic second round in Stanford.

 

It was a night to remember under the cotton-candy colored skies of Stanford, California for five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova as she made a successful return to competition in the US with an up and down 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 victory over Jennifer Brady. Sharapova, playing in her first match since a thigh injury forced her to retire to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in Rome in May, looked rusty at times but ultimately the inconsistency of Brady, a college player at UCLA, gave the Russian former world number one a spot in the second round at the Bank of the West Classic in just over two hours on court.

In the opening set, it was Sharapova bossing play and fighting through some close games. breaking in the first game of the match on her fourth time of asking before saving a break point the following game to go up an early 2-0 lead. The wildcard entrant, currently ranked 171 as she comes back from a 15-month doping suspension, secured a double break the next game, only to give it straight back for 3-1. The five-time major winner fought back strongly though, snatching the two-break advantage right back to go up 4-1 before consolidating that lead to force Brady to serve to stay in the opening set. The world number 80 continued to falter on serve as Sharapova’s aggressive returns paid dividends, as the 30-year-old broke again and took the opening set 6-1 under the beautiful evening sky of the Bay Area.

Maria Sharapova hits a backhand at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford/Bank of the West Classic

The second set was a far different affair for both players as Sharapova’s wobbles on serve, unpunished in the first set, went noticed here in the second as Brady went out a double break immediately to go up 3-0. A surge by the Russian-born Los Angeles resident helped her gain back both breaks of serve but that was short lived as the 80th-ranked American went back on the attack, breaking Sharapova again to go up 4-3. That break advantage was all she needed as she rode that lead to the finish line in the set, taking it 6-4 and forcing a third in front of a record Monday night crowd in Stanford.

After a disastrous second set, Sharapova was ruthless in the third as she fended off early break points in the first and third games and broke on her first time of asking on Brady’s serve to go up 3-0. The five-time Grand Slam winner would not look back, not facing another break point from there on, ending the American’s resistance for 4-0 and a double break before claiming a much-needed hold to love to force the UCLA player to serve to stay in the match. Sharapova kept dialing up the pressure on her return as the former world number one and wildcard entrant broke Brady for a ninth time to secure a first match win in the US in over two and a half years and book her spot in the second round here in Stanford 6-1. 4-6, 6-1 off a powerful backhand down-the-line winner to seal the match.

Following the match in the on-court interview, Sharapova was ecstatic about her welcome return to US tennis and thanking her home state California fans for making her feel so welcome in the Bay Area.

“I just want to hug everyone.Thank you for being here. It’s my 1st match in the US in a long time. It’s the closest thing to home for me.”

Asked to describe Brady’s comeback in the second set as emcee Andrew Krasny put it, Sharapova would think of it a little differently.

“Those are really nice words about the 2nd. I’d have put it a bit differently,” said a humorous and relaxed Sharapova. “I had a bit of a letdown but that’s the way it is; you finish a set and think you’ve got it, but she came out firing, capable of hitting winners and big serves. I had to look out for that,” commented the former world number one.

Maria Sharapova reacts after winning a point at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford/Bank of the West Classic

Discussing her comeback from the 15-month doping suspension and more recently a thigh injury that forced her out of Rome and the entire grass court season, the five-time major champion said, “I feel like I face a lot of things: not competing for a long time, an opponent who’s able to play some great tennis – what a year she’s had already!”

“I feel like I’m playing catch-up against everyone who’s had a head start. All that matters is that I keep playing. As long as I’m the one winning the last point, I get to play another match, and another. The more I play, the better I’ll do. That’s the goal,” said a very honest Sharapova.

The Russian wildcard will continue her comeback to tennis on either Wednesday or Thursday in the second round against Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.

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Why Newly Married Elina Svitolina Has No Plans To Change Her Surname

The Ukrainian explains why she isn’t using her husband’s surname of Monfils just yet as she books her place in the third round at Tokyo 2020.

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Just over a week ago Elina Svitolina tied the knot with her long-time partner Gael Monfils at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Shortly after the world No.6 took to social media and changed her name on Twitter to Elina Monfils as part of the tradition that the woman takes on the man’s name once they are married. As a consequence, various websites started to identify the Ukrainian under that name. Although she would rather that they don’t do such a thing.

“I don’t know why they changed my surname. Maybe they saw that I had changed it on my social networks,” Svitolina told BTU.
“I’m going to play as Svitolina till the very end of my professional career and will change it only after retirement.”

Svitolina explains she believes it is better if all of her achievements are made under the same name instead of two. So far in her career she has won 15 WTA titles, reached two Grand Slam semi-finals and has earned more than $20.5M in prize money.

I had numerous achievements and people know me as Svitolina. My father would be upset if I changed the surname and played as Monfils,” she joked.
“I am proud to be Svitolina and my tennis career will always be connected with this surname.”

Over the coming week the 26-year-old is hoping to add an Olympic medal to her resume. On Monday Svitolina survived a stern scare after coming back from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanović 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and move into the third round of the tournament. Her win came on the day where there were shocks galore in the women’s draw with seeds Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova all crashing out.

Svitolina will play Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the next round whom she has lost to in two out of their three previous meetings.

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Why Ash Barty Isn’t Staying At The Olympic Village In Tokyo

The two-time Grand Slam champion has opted to stay at an alternate venue heading into the Games.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) playing against Angelique Kerber (GER) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Ash Barty will prepare for her debut at the Olympic Games by staying at a base located outside of the athletes village as part of her ‘performance plan.’

 

The world No.1 heads into Tokyo as one of the favourites for gold following her triumph at Wimbledon where she defeated Karolina Pliskova in the final. She is one of six top 10 players set to play in the women’s singles tournament which will start on Saturday.

Leading up to the Games, the head of the Australian Olympic delegation has told reporters that Barty’s decision not to stay in the village will enhance her gold medal chances. In previous Games athletes have stayed outside of the villages but this year it is more challenging to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tokyo is currently in a state of emergency and fans are banned from attending the event amid fears of the virus spreading if they do so.

“Ash is staying elsewhere,” chef de mission Ian Chesterman told the Australian Associated Press.
“We have a number of athletes staying outside the village. We allow that, it’s just what works best for them.
“Something I’ve always been very big on is driving performance takes a whole lot of flexible decisions, flexible options.
“In terms of her performance plan, it’s best served by her being able to control her environment and we respect that.”

The exact location of Barty’s base has not been disclosed but it is near to the village where she was said to have visited and had a cup of coffee on Tuesday morning.

She is staying in an Australian environment where she can still easily access the village,” Chesterman stated.

The 25-year-old is bidding to become only the second Australian in history to win a medal in the women’s singles at the Olympics. The first was Alicia Molik who claimed a bronze medal back in 2004.

During a recent interview with The ITF, Barty said playing at the event is a dream come true for her as she describes representing her country as the ‘highest honour.’

“Being an Olympian has always been a dream of mine as a kid, I think representing your country is the highest honour,” Barty told the ITF.
“For an Aussie it’s the best thing you can do and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to wear the green and gold.
“You’re playing for something bigger than yourself. You’re playing to represent your nation. You’re playing to make people proud and that’s not just with results it’s with your attitude.”

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Bianca Andreescu pulls out of Tokyo Olympics

The world number five has officially pulled out of the Olympics in Tokyo stating reasons due to the ongoing pandemic situation.

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Bianca Andreescu will not be making the trip to Tokyo to play in the Olympics after withdrawing due to the current pandemic situation.

 

The former US Open champion issued a statement concerning what she describes as a ‘difficult decision.’ Andreescu is the latest top name to pull out of the Olympics. Last week Nick Kyrgios also said he wouldn’t be playing for similar reasons. Due to a a surge of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo, the city has gone into a state of emergency which prompted organisers to ban spectators from attending Olympic events in the city. Athletes will be subjected to tough restrictions during their time at the event, as well as regular testing.

” I would like to inform you that I have made the very difficult decision to not play in the Tokyo Olympics later this month,” Andreescu wrote on Instagram. “I have been dreaming of representing Canada at the Olympics since I was a little girl but with all the challenges we are facing as it relates to the pandemic, I know that deep in my heart, this is the right decision to make for myself. I look forward to representing Canada in future Fed Cup ties, and competing at the 2024 Olympics in Paris! “

The Canadian hasn’t played since losing in the first round of Wimbledon to Alize Cornet of France and most recently split with her coach Sylvain Brunneau after a four-year partnership.

Her 2021 season has been up and down starting in Australia where she lost in the second round before making the semifinals at the Phillips Island Trophy event. She then made the final at the Miami Open before taking a fall in the final against Ash Barty and was forced to retire due to injury.

Then the clay-court season came and Andreescu tested positive for Covid. She was forced to miss events in Madrid and Rome, so she headed to Strasbourg for some preparation before the French Open. The world No.5 won two matches in Strasbourg before pulling out due to an ab injury. She then lost in the first round of the French Open.

The Canadian moved on to the grass-court season heading to Berlin but again would get upset in the first round by Alize Cornet before winning one round in Eastbourne and losing to Anett Kontaveit.

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