Caroline Garcia beats Simona Halep to win Premier Mandatory tournament in Beijing - UBITENNIS
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Caroline Garcia beats Simona Halep to win Premier Mandatory tournament in Beijing

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Caroline Garcia edged past World number 1 Simona Halep 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in a tight final under the closed roof on a rainy day at the Premier Mandatory in Beijing. With this win Garcia overtakes Johanna Konta in eighth place in the WTA Race to Singapore and is close to qualifying for the WTA Finals in Singapore. This means that Konta will need to reach the final in Moscow to keep her chance alive to qualify for the season-ending tournament.

 

Halep won their previous two head-to-head matches against Garcia in the Round of 16 in Sydney (6-4 2-6 6-1) and in the quarter final in Toronto (6-4 6-2) but the French player has made a big improvement in the recent weeks and reached two consecutive finals in Wuhan and Beijing. Thanks to her final in the Chinese capital Garcia will make her debut in the top 10 on Monday becoming the first French woman to be ranked inside the top 10 since Marion Bartoli.

Halep started the match with an inside-out forehand return winner in the opening game. Garcia broke straight back at 30, as Halep made a double fault. Garcia held her serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. In the fifth game Halep missed a forehand return at 30-30 and Garcia held her serve to take a 3-2 after a long baseline rally.

Halep saved a break point in the sixth game with a big second serve to hold her serve at deuce for 3-3. In the eighth game Halep built a 40-15 lead but Garcia got to deuce with two return winners off her second serve. Garcia missed her second serve into the net to give Halep a game point before hitting a backhand return on her second serve long allowing Halep to hold serve and tie 4-4. Halep fought back from 0-40 to force the ninth game to deuce but Garcia held her serve for 5-4 at deuce, as Halep hit her backhand into the netcord. Garcia earned the crucial break at 30 by converting her first set point after a tight 44-minute first set. Halep lost her first set since her first round match against Alison Riske.

In the first set Garcia converted two of her four break points and hit 8 winners to 13 unforced errors, while Halep had a -7 ratio (4 winners to 11 unforced errors).

There were no break points in the first games of the second set. In the opening game Halep hit a forehand return to take a 15-30 lead but Garcia fought back to to game to game point with a forehand down the line winner before holding with a good first serve.

In the third game Garcia went up 40-0 but Halep rallied to 40-30 by winning the next two points. Garcia held serve for 2-1, as Halep hit a forehand down the line wide.

Garcia avoided a possible break point attempt from Halep and held her serve at 30 in the fifth game with an unreturnable serve out wide for 3-2. Halep held serve to 30 winning a backhand to backhand rally. At 3-3 Garcia went down 0-40 after three consecutive unforced errors and was forced to save nine break points in a very long ninth game before earning a game point in the seventh game. She converted it as Halep hit her backhand into the net to take a 4-3 lead in a marathon 12-point game. Halep held serve to love to tie 4-4.

Garcia held serve in the ninth game at 30 for 5-4. Halep had a strong hold to win her service game at 15 for 5-5, as she was serving to stay in the match. Garcia held at 30 to take a 6-5 lead. Halep held to force the set to the tie-break.

In the tie-break Halep hit an ace to draw level to 1-1 but Garcia got the mini-break, as the Romanian player hit a backhand into the net. Garcia backed up the mini-break to open up a 3-1 lead with a strong volley and pulled away to 4-1 as Halep missed a backhand return. Halep clawed her way back to 3-4 with a forehand passing shot. Garcia earned a championship point at 6-3 after two unforced errors from Halep and converted it on her first attempt after 1 hour and 52 minutes to crown a dream two-week campaign on Chinese soil with two back-to-back titles in Wuhan and Beijing.

Garcia has become the first player to win the two big tournaments in consecutive weeks and the first player since Victoria Azarenka since the Indian Wells-Miami double to clinch two back-to-back titles.

Halep converted just one of her ten break points, including nine in the seventh game of the second set.

“It was incredible. I did not expect to win two titles when I arrived in China. I want to congratulate with Simona for achieving her feat to become world number 1. I have no secrets for my success. I have always believed in myself and I worked hard. Two tournaments in a row is difficult to believe. It was a pleasure to be for two weeks in China. It is always difficult at the end of the season because we are all tired but it’s always nice to come here and meet new fans. I will come back as I have a great memory. I just want to enjoy this moment and I will come back to defend my title. It will be another competition but I will ready to fight for it”. said Garcia after the match during the award ceremony.

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Bianca Andreescu Reunites With Former Coach Ahead Of New Season 

How will the Grand Slam champion fair on the Tour with her latest mentor?

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has brought a familiar face back into her team as she bids to return to her best form in 2023. 

 

Andreescu, who is currently ranked 45th in the WTA rankings, has appointed Christophe Lambert as her latest coach. Lambert had been working as the performance director at Tennis New Zealand and resigned from that position to work with the former US Open champion. He had also previously worked for Tennis Canada and during that time he was a private coach for Andreescu in 2016. 

“Bianca asked me to coach her and I accepted the job. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Lambert told sport.co.nz. 

Lambert, who has also spent time working with the Chinese Davis Cup team and for the British LTA, has stayed in contact with Andreescu ever since coaching her six years ago. 

“It wasn’t like every week or every month. It’s always good to have people calling you when you are up, but when she was down I was checking on her and giving her my opinion.” He said. 

Andreescu had been working with Dutch coach Sven Groeneveld for over a year before they decided to end their collaboration in October. Groeneveld has a wealth of experience in the sport after working with a series of top names, including Maria Sharapova. 

This season the former world No.4 has won 20 out of 33 matches played with her best performance being a run to the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. However, her record against top 10 opposition was 2-5.

“I’m just taking it day by day, and it’s a great way to end off the year as well, just bringing back all the emotions that fire a lot in me,” Andreescu recently told reporters in Glasgow at the Billie Jean King Cup. “I think I’m going to have a great preseason. Next year I really think I can crack the top 10 again.”

Andreescu, who has been hampered by injury issues in recent years, hasn’t won a singles title of any sort since 2019. 

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Four-Time Grand Slam Winner Naomi Osaka Named In FTX Lawsuit 

The former world No.1 took an equity stake in the failed business earlier this year. 

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NAOMI OSAKA OF JAPAN - PHOTO: ALVARO DIAZ / MMO

Naomi Osaka is among a series of high-profile individuals who have been accused of using their celebrity status to promote FTX’s failed business model in a lawsuit filed against the cryptocurrency exchange. 

 

The BBC has reported that over one million people and businesses could be owed money following the collapse of FTX, according to bankruptcy filings. A week ago FTX collapsed into bankruptcy with its former boss Sam Bankman-Fried stepping down as CEO. A massive development in the financial for what was one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world that had the naming rights to a Formula One racing team as well as a sports arena in Miami.

According to the Associated Press, the company is being investigated by state and federal prosecutors over allegations it ‘invested depositors’ funds in ventures without their approval.’ In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, it argues that celebrity backers of FTX such as Osaka should be held just as accountable as Bankman-Fried as they brought ‘instant credibility’ to the company. 

“Part of the scheme employed by the FTX Entities involved utilizing some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment — like these Defendants — to raise funds and drive American consumers to invest … pouring billions of dollars into the deceptive FTX platform to keep the whole scheme afloat,” the lawsuit said.

Osaka took an equity stake in FTX in March where she would be receiving compensation in Crypto. Signing what was described as a ‘long-term partnership’ to become a global ambassador, the tennis star aimed to draw attention to women joining the platform and she played a role in directing its content.

“We have seen the statistics about how few women are part of crypto by comparison, which kind of mirrors the inequality we see in other financial markets,” Osaka said earlier this year.

Osaka, who has won 14 out of 23 matches played this season, has not made any public statement regarding the lawsuit. NFL quarterback Tom Brady, comedian Larry David and basketball team the Golden State Warriors are also defendants in the lawsuit.

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WTA Targets New Multi-Year Deal For Its Premier Event If Agreement With China Fails

Will the WTA Finals return to Shenzhen in 2023?

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WTA CEO Steve Simon

The WTA say they are not willing to compromise their principles concerning the possibility of hosting tournaments in China next year amid uncertainty over the future of their season-ending event. 

 

Steve Simon, who is the CEO of the women’s Tour, says he is hopeful that a resolution can be found with the country but has vowed now to back down on its stance. Last year the WTA suspended tournaments in China over concerns about the safety of former player Peng Shuai who accused a former government official of sexually assaulting her. 

Shuai disappeared shortly after posting her statement on social media before returning a few weeks later with photos and videos of her being posted online by journalists linked to the government-controlled media. There are concerns that the former doubles Grand Slam champion, who has not left her country since making those allegations, is being censored by the government. The WTA wants an investigation to be conducted into the matter. 

“We’ve made a strong stand, and we stand behind that stance, and we’re not going to compromise our principles,” Simon said during an interview with The New York Times. “Clearly when we did it, we understood eyes wide open what it could mean.”
“We’re still in the same place. If they come forward with something else we should look at, of course we are open to it. But we haven’t seen it so far. I’m hopeful we do find a resolution. That’s the goal, to find the right resolution. What’s the truth? Then we can move forward.” He added. 

Simon said he is confident that Shuai is safe in Beijing but he has not been able to make any direct contact with her, despite trying to on multiple occasions. A letter reportedly written by Shuai to the WTA was posted online in 2021 saying that she wishes to be left alone. However, many have doubted the authenticity of that letter with some fearing that she wrote it under duress. 

One of the biggest impacts of the fallout has involved the prestigious WTA Finals, which is a round-robin tournament featuring the eight best-performing players over the past 12 months. In 2018 a lucrative deal was agreed that paved the way for the event to be held in Shenzhen for 10 years. However, the event was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the next two additions were moved elsewhere.

Whilst the WTA is optimistic about a return to Shenzhen in 2023, there are also backup plans in the works. Simon confirmed that it is no longer feasible for the WTA Finals to be held in a location for just one year. So it is likely that the tournament would be held in a city for two or more years in a row if it doesn’t return to China next season. 

“We’re not going to continue to do these one-year decisions,” he said. “It’s not sustainable. If it looks like we can’t go back to China or aren’t ready to go back, then I do think we will carve out a multiyear situation, because we need to for the business.”

The case involving Shuai isn’t the only barrier for the WTA. China’s zero-covid policy has made hosting international events in the region unfeasible and the ATP cancelled all of their events in the tournament this year due to the situation. 

This year’s WTA Finals has a prize money offering of $5M which is more than half of what was on offer at the 2019 tournament in Shenzhen ($14M). 

Simon didn’t provide any deadline for when an agreement must be reached with China must be reached before the WTA considers moving their event elsewhere once again. 

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