Title Contenders Karolina Pliskova, Caroline Wozniacki Pass Opening Tests In Beijing - UBITENNIS
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Title Contenders Karolina Pliskova, Caroline Wozniacki Pass Opening Tests In Beijing



Karolina Pliskova (zimbio.com)

Karolina Pliskova’s quest for her fourth title of the season has got off to a strong start at the China Open following a 6-3, 6-4, win over Carla Suárez Navarro.


The Czech fourth seed won 85% of her first service points as she dictated play against her Spanish rival. Hitting a total of 33 winners compared to Suarez Navarro’s tally of 13, Pliskova proved to be the more consistent player on the court. Her only blip occurred midway through the second set when she lost her break advantage, but regained it in the following game by breaking once more to love.

“I think the conditions suit me well, because it’s pretty fast — the balls are flying,” said Pliskova, who hit eight aces during her match. “I think I was serving well, and playing aggressive from the baseline.”

Pliskova, who is less than 1000 points adrift from world No.1 Garbine Muguruza, will play Germany’s Andrea Petkovic in the second round. Petkovic, who failed to win a match in her three previous tournaments, eased past Kiki Bertens 6-4, 6-0. The former French Open finalist broke Bertens five times in the match and saved four out of the five break points she faced.

“Definitely it’s going to be tough,” Pliskova said about her next match. “She won a few matches here already, so I have to be ready.”

Wozniacki and Radwanska through

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Caroline Wozniacki survived a second set scare to see off home favourite Wang Qiang 6-1, 6-7(4), 6-1. Facing a player who had recently scored wins over Kristina Mladenovic and Sloane Stephens, Wozniacki’s experience proved pivotal. It was a frustrating encounter for the former world No.1, who lead the match by a set and a break before Wang clawed her way back to level 4-4. Then the Chinese player took the tiebreaker when a Wozniacki backhand slammed into the net.

Despite the huge roar for Wang from her home crowd, Wozniacki restored order with a clinical deciding set. Wang illustrated her potential, but it was her unforced errors that resulted in her downfall. In total the Chinese player produced 38 unforced errors compared to 25 winners. On the other hand, Wozniacki maintained a more balanced ratio of 29-29.

“I think second set I play really good,” Wang reflected afterwards. “But at final set is a little bit – she’s mentally stronger than me, so that’s all.”

Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska survived a shaky start to prevail 7-5, 6-3, over Carina Witthöft. The world No.13 dropped her service twice during the opening set, but managed to play the better points on the pressure moments of the set. Illustrated by her break to love to clinch the 7-5 lead. A similar scenario following in the second set with a series of long games played by both players. In nine games, six of those involved at least one break point opportunity. Eventually the Polish player sealed the win by scoring a decisive break for 5-3 and then serving the match out.

“When you’re defending so many points, it’s always a little more pressure,” Said Radwanska, who will next play Zhang Shuai. “There are no easy matches and you’re going to have to play your best game from the first round. I’m very happy with a two set win.”

It was 12 months ago at the China Open where Radwanska claimed her last title on the tour. Since then, her best result was making the final of the Sydney International in January.

Elsewhere at the tournament, Sam Stosur scored her first win since returning to action from a wrist injury. The Australian managed to tame Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 6-2, in just over an hour. Meanwhile, Magdaléna Rybáriková saw off Eugenie Bouchard 6-4, 6-3.

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Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova Hires Ex-Wimbledon Champion As Coach



Image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/

Marie Bouzkova has enlisted the help of Gabine Muguruza’s former coach to help her crack the top 20 in the new year. 


The 25-year-old Czech has appointed Conchita Martinez as her new coach for the upcoming season. A former world No.2 player who won 33 WTA titles during her career, including the 1994 Wimbledon championships. After retirement, Martinez ventured into coaching with her most notable success being with Garbine Muguruza which earned her the honor of being named WTA Coach of The Year in 2021. She has also previously mentored Karoline Pliskova, captained her country’s Billie Jean King Cup team and most recently served as tournament director of the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

“Since February I have taken advantage of the time to rest, after some intense years of travelling. Now I have the energy to train again and enjoy my work. I am very happy to be able to contribute my experience again,” Martinez said during an interview with Eurosport Spain.
“Her (Bouzkova’s) agent contacted me to inquire about my availability and to ask if I wanted to train again. And now that we are at the end of the year and after evaluating everything, I have decided that it was a good time to return because I am excited about the project.”

Buzkova is a former US Open junior champion who is currently ranked 34th in the world. She has won one WTA title so far in her career which was at the 2022 Prague Open. She also reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in 2022 which is her best Grand Slam run to date. This season, Bouzkova was runner-up at a WTA 250 event in Nanchang, China and produced an overall win-loss record of 27-23.

Despite her success, Martinez believes Bouzkova has plenty of room for improvement in her game. 

“I love her because she is a very feisty and competitive player. She has many to continue growing and improving as a tennis player. She is very professional and is focused on her work 100%,” she commented.
“Honestly, I think it has a lot of room for improvement in many aspects. It is true that she is quite complete, but I would like to focus on her gradually playing more aggressively without losing her essence as a great fighter. I definitely think she has the potential to be high in the rankings, but it takes time to work on.”

Bouzkova is also an accomplished doubles player who is currently ranked in the world’s top 30. She has won five WTA doubles trophies with two of those triumphs occuring during 2023. 

The new tennis season begins in less than a month. 

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Emma Raducanu To Begin Comeback In Auckland



Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Former US Open champion Emma Raducanu will end her eight-month absence from tennis at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, at the start of next year. 


The 21-year-old has been sidelined from the Tour since April after undergoing surgery to treat issues with both of her wrists, as well as one ankle. Raducanu hasn’t played a Tour-level match since the Porsche Open in Germany where she was beaten 6-2, 6-1, by Jelena Ostapenko in the first round. This year she has only managed to play in four tournaments with her best performance occurring at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells where she reached the fourth round. 

It will be the second year in a row that the Brit has opted to start her season in New Zealand. At the start of 2023, she won her opening match at the event but rolled her ankle in the process which forced her to withdraw from the tournament. 

Raducanu’s decision to play in Auckland comes as she faces the prospect of having to go through qualifying at the Australian Open. She has a protected ranking of 103 which is significantly higher than her current position of 296. However, she has not made the cut-off to play in the main draw. The only way she can enter the main draw will be with the help of a series of withdrawals, receiving a wildcard or playing three rounds of qualifying. 

Should she have to play qualifying at Melbourne Park, the event will follow immediately after the ASB Classic. The last time she took part in a Grand Slam qualifying draw was at the 2021 US Open where she stunned the field by going on to win the title in what remains her only WTA trophy to date. 

Raducanu, who has been ranked as high as 13th in the world, is understood to have been training at the National Tennis Center in recent weeks leading up to her return. It is still not known who will be coaching her in 2024 with the tennis player yet to comment on the topic.

The ASB Classic will begin on January 1st. 

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Iga Swiatek Criticises WTA’s Reform Of 2024 Calendar



Iga Swiatek has hit out at the WTA by claiming that only a handful of players were made aware of changes being made to the Tour calendar before they came into effect.


In recent weeks there has been an increase in frustration among players on the women’s Tour with letters being sent to the head of the WTA, Steve Simon, about their concerns. Swiatek has also sent her own letter to the governing body. According to The Athletic, some of the concerns that have been raised relates to higher pay on the Tour, adjustments to scheduling to help support players, expanded childcare and calls for a member of the PTPA to be present on the WTA Player’s Council.

The WTA has also been in the firing line concerning their management of the Tour finals which took place in Cancun last month and was won by Switek. Some of those who took part complained about the court conditions and lack of preparation they had. The stadium court wasn’t fully constructed until the same weekend the tournament began. 

Although, for the world No.1 her principle criticism concerns the 2024 calendar and the rules in place reagrding playing in mandatory events. Swiatek says some of the decisions have been made following discussions with ‘third parties’ and believes players are not being listened to. 

“There is room for improvement,” she said during an interview with newspaper Rzeczpospolita.
“As players, we are dissatisfied with the calendar for next year and the increase in the number of mandatory tournaments and restrictions related to withdrawing from them.’
“We want to change this. We need more balance and time to get back home. Sometimes, however, we beat our heads against the wall. Some decisions seem to be the result of promises made to third parties, federations and tournament organizers.’
“We find out about them after the fact. This causes frustration. Only a handful of players were aware of the calendar reform and the WTA cannot lead to such a situation again, since it considers itself an organization created for tennis players.”

The 22-year-old argues that these changes would give players more time to rest and see their families. Although Swiatek admits that she is in a more fortunate situation than some of her peers from a financial perspective. This season the Pole has earned $9,857,686 in prize money this year which is more than any other female player. 

“I hope that we will be able to change something – for example in the rules regarding withdrawing from tournaments,” she continued.
“Fortunately, I am in a situation where I can afford for my family to go on a trip with me, but not everyone can afford it. Many players rather save all their money to pay their coaches.’
“However, there is a difference between taking your family with you and returning home, when you can wash your clothes and spend time in the place where you grew up. I often miss Warsaw.”

Swiatek has won 68 out of 79 matches played this season, claiming six titles on the Tour. In the Grand Slams, she won the French Open, and reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the other two. She currently has a 245-point lead over second-place Aryna Sabalenka in the WTA standings. 

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