Seventh time lucky for Caroline Wozniacki as she claims first title of 2017 in Tokyo - UBITENNIS
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Seventh time lucky for Caroline Wozniacki as she claims first title of 2017 in Tokyo

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In her seventh final of 2017, former world number one and third seed Caroline Wozniacki finally claimed her first title of the season with a brilliant 6-0, 7-5 display against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for her third Toray Pan Pacific Open title.

 

It was seventh time lucky for defending champion and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, snapping her 0-6 record in finals in 2017 with her first title of the year at the Toray Pan Pacific Open. The Danish third seed defended her Tokyo title with a brilliant performance against unseeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, claiming her third title in the Japanese capital 6-0, 7-5 in just an hour and 15 minutes to extend her record to an incredible ten straight years with at least one title.

“It feels great. It was really important for me to get there and just stay focused and aggressive and positive. I think I managed to do that, and it feels great to have won the title,” said Wozniacki on her first title in seven finals in 2017.

“I really enjoy playing here in Tokyo. The court suits my game well and I feel good having won the title this year again,” commented the now three-time Toray Pan Pacific Open champion.

In the opening set it was pure domination from Wozniacki, who extended the nine-game winning streak from her 6-2, 6-0 thrashing of world number one Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals into her final today. The defending champion raced out to an early lead, having no problems on serve and breaking an erratic Pavlyuchenkova to go up 3-0 in just six minutes.

The Danish domination continued, taking only 15 minutes to secure a double break and a big 5-0 lead in the first set. Wozniacki wrapped up the opening set in just 20 minutes, breaking her Russian opponent for a third time to secure the bagel set 6-0, her first set in 13 from seven finals this season.

Caroline Wozniacki hits a forehand at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo/Zimbio/Matt Roberts

The world number six secured the opening game of the second set, making it seven straight games in this final and 16 consecutive games from leading 3-2 in the first set of her semifinal with top seed Muguruza. Pavlyuchenkova began to get her footing in the match, holding for the first time and snapping Wozniacki’s run of games to level at 1-all. Two straight holds from each brought the set to 3-all, with the Russian’s confidence far higher than it was 20 minutes ago.

Wozniacki and Pavlyuchenkova continued their strong serving in the second set, with the third seed holding to go up 5-4 and force the unseeded Russian to serve to stay in the match. Some confident, big-hitting from Pavlyuchenkova got her out of trouble, saving a match point and eventually holding for 5-all in a far more competitive second set.

Despite missing out on her first match point, the third-seeded Dane handled the pressure, holding to go back up 6-5 and put the pressure back on her Russian opponent to serve to stay in the match. This time around Wozniacki was not to be denied, breaking Pavlyuchenkova on her third match point to secure a successful Tokyo title defense and first title of 2017 6-0, 7-5.

Despite the second set surge from Pavlyuchenkova, Wozniacki was confident and happy with her brilliant performances of the last two days. Describing the match, the Dane said, “Obviously, she’s a very strong player. She plays very powerfully, takes the ball early, so it was really important for me to make her move, and serve well especially. In the first set, everything was going my way and was going really well.”

“In the second set, she managed to serve a little bit better, so it was tricky for me to break her serve. But I think it was a good match for both,” concluded the third seed.

Caroline Wozniacki hits a backhand at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo/Zimbio/Matt Roberts

By defending her title here in Tokyo, Wozniacki stays at number six in the world and moves into five in the Porsche Race to Singapore, making her very likely to qualify for the year-ending WTA Finals in Singapore. Asked about that accomplishment, the former world number one said, “I’m just happy that it’s been a great year and hopefully I can finish it off strong with the last few events.”

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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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