The Australian who's defied the odds to return to the Top 100 - UBITENNIS
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The Australian who’s defied the odds to return to the Top 100

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Ebden has had a strong year in 2017 after a bad injury (Zimbio.com)

Australia has a number of promising young players who have made headlines in the past few seasons

 

The likes of Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis, and Bernard Tomic have all at various points helped Australia re-emerge as a country with players who can do well at tournaments.

Yet amongst the three Kyrgios is the only one to finish 2017 in the Top 100, but he isn’t the only Australian. Step forward Matthew Ebden. The 29 year-old has a career-high ranking of No.61 in the world, achieved in 2012 on the back of reaching a Masters 1000 quarter-final in Shanghai.

In early 2016 Ebden suffered a knee injury that required surgery, forcing him to miss six months, causing his ranking to slip to No.698.

So low was his ranking that his home Grand Slam, the Australian Open, did not offer him a wildcard for the 2017 tournament. Forced to try and fight his way through qualifying, Ebden was beaten in the second round by Evgeny Donskoy in a close three-setter.

Ebden reached a quarter-final at the Memphis Open as a qualifier, before a run of three straight opening round losses. After failing to pick up many points during much of his historically strong grass court season, Ebden found success at the last grass event of the season in Newport. He fought his way through qualifying all the way to the final, where he was defeated by John Isner. It was Ebden’s first career ATP singles final.

Ebden’s season picked up, as he often qualified for ATP events before winning a round or two in the event proper. However, it was at the end of the season that Ebden really hit top form.

More than two years after his last title, Ebden won the Canberra Challenger by defeating Taro Daniel in a straight sets final. Two weeks later he won in Toyota, finishing the season with an 11-1 record over his last twelve matches.

His late season run perhaps left him under the radar when it came to significant recognition. Ebden started the year ranked No.699, with his ranking now at No.80. Remarkably, There is still another week left for Ebden to better his meteoric 619 rankings rise in 2017. He is the top seed in the Hua Hin Challenger.

Perhaps surprisingly, Ebden did not feature in the year-end ATP Comeback Player of the Year nominations. He has had a bigger ranking move than any of the players who actually were nominated, though many of his points have been accumulated right at the end of the season, after the award had been given.

Ebden, speaking to the ATP World Tour on his comeback in April: “I’m absolutely satisfied. Last year I had over half the season out injured, but I’ve played really well the last six months. I started the year well in Australia and at the Hopman Cup I got to train with Roger Federer for a few weeks, which was huge, playing lots of sets.

The Australian has put the building blocks in place for a strong season in 2018. With a ranking inside the Top 100 he will gain direct entry into at least the Australian Open, and will likely have to play far fewer qualifying events. Ebden is just 19 places away from his career-high ranking, and on current evidence, there is a strong chance he will get to improve on that in 2017.

 

 

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UBITennis Has An Instagram Page!

UBITennis has it’s own Instagram page here are the details on how you can follow our content!

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UBITennis.net has its own Instagram page with 243 followers already in the last year!

 

This is where you can follow the growing page:

https://www.instagram.com/ubitennis_eng/

The page creates content to do with all the latest news such as stories such as Novak Djokovic’s recent visa saga and any tournament withdrawals.

There are also match results from the grand slams as well all of the major tournaments.

There are also quotes pieces and engaging pieces of content to attract the audience and gain engagement.

So if you want all the latest news, match reports and quotes pieces than the UBITennis Instagram Page is all that you need, here are some examples:

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Emma Raducanu Needs Less Hype And More Consistency To Be Among The World’s Best

COMMENT: Raducanu is a sensation of tennis, but she has a way to go to become a great.

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Emma Raducanu reacts after winning a Women's Singles semifinal match at the 2021 US Open, Thursday, Sep. 9, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

Three months have passed since the world of tennis was stunned by the run of a British teenager at one of its most prestigious events.

 

Emma Raducanu entered the US Open surrounded by hype following her performances earlier in the year. In June she made her WTA main draw debut at the Nottingham Open before going to to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon as a wild card. Becoming the youngest British woman in the Open Era to do so. Unfortunately, her fairytale journey at The All England Club didn’t have a happy ending as she was forced to retire from her last 16 match due to illness which was worsened by high anxiety.

Now in the limelight for the first time, Raducanu continue plucking away on the Tour in North America where she was runner-up at a WTA 125 event in Chicago. This would however be the precursor to the biggest achievement of her career to date. Entering the US Open qualifying draw, the teenager stormed to her first major title without dropping a set in 10 matches played. Those she defeated included Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkri. In the final she downed Leylah Fernandez, who at the time was also on a sensational run after beating a series of top 20 players.

“For me, I don’t feel absolutely any pressure. I’m still only 18 years old,” Raducanu said shortly after her US Open triumph. “I’m just having a free swing at anything that comes my way. That’s how I faced every match here in the States. It got me this trophy, so I don’t think I should change anything.”

After her New York triumph, Raducanu’s wealth rocketed thanks to a surge of endorsements from the likes of Dior, Tiffany & Co., Evian and British Airways. In the UK she was a household name after being on the front pages of every major newspaper. In December she won the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award which is ultimately decided by a public vote. It is also widely reported that she is in line to receive an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

2021 has been the year of Raducanu but what about the future?

There is no doubt that the 19-year-old has what it takes and she has proven this. Tennis great Martina Navratilova has described her as the ‘whole package’ and Billie Jean King says the youngster is ‘the real deal.’ But is the world of tennis getting carried away?

The WTA Tour has a reputation for its unpredictability with numerous players excelling at the very top and then there is a lull. Since 2015 eight women have won their maiden major title without going on to claim a second. Not counting Raducanu’s win at the latest major. Sloane Stephens was tipped to become the next Serena Williams following her 2017 triumph in New York and Bianca Andreescu looked destined to be the best in the world before injury struck.

Perhaps the most appropriate way to describe Raducanu is as a potential star in the making and not a sporting heavyweight. This isn’t to criticise or to devalue her extraordinary achievements but it brings things into perspective.

Only March the 18th was my first session on court in 2021,” Raducanu reflected prior to the start of the Linz Open in October. “And so January, February, March I was literally just sat on my desk staring at a wall for nine hours a day. So I feel like where I am now I just need to really take it all in and enjoy because looking back at how far I’ve come it’s pretty surreal. I just really need to enjoy it because when I was in the beginning of the year I would have never thought this was possible. I’m kind of just really living in the moment right now I feel.”

In 2017 Jelena Ostapenko became the first unseeded woman in the Open Era to win the French Open. It remains her biggest achievement to date and since then the Latvian has failed to shine in any other Grand Slam. In fact, she has only managed to progress beyond the third round in two out of 13 attempts.

When players don’t know you and you’re the underdog in every match, you have nothing to lose against the top players and that can help you to play really well,” Ostapenko told The Independent. “My opponents didn’t know me that well, because I was still new to the tour. But after I won in Paris, everyone knew me and they knew how I played. They knew how to prepare to play against me, so that was way harder for me.”
”The situation turns around when you’re the Grand Slam champion. You’re the favourite and it’s your opponents who have nothing to lose against you. That’s the hardest part of it all.”

Sometimes it is very easy to get caught up in the moment and not look at things from a wider perspective. Raducanu has proven that she has the ability to win the biggest tournaments in the world and produces tennis that millions around the world only dream of having. But she is still young and is yet to spend a full year on the Tour.

As 2022 beckons Raducanu will be guided by Torben Beltz who is known for his work with Angelique Kerber. Many will be talking up her chances of winning the Australian Open but is it the right thing to do?

Historically many players have become media sensations overnight if you look at the performances of Stephens and Ostapenko when they won their maiden Grand Slams. However, those who are referred to as greats of the games are the ones who are able to replicate this on multiple occasions and consistently.

Only time will tell if Raducanu will be known as a sensation or as a great. The important thing for Raducanu in 2022 isn’t how she fares at the Australian Open, it is how she performs at every Grand Slam throughout the year.

As former world No.1 King once said – “Champions keep playing until they get it right.”

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1st December 2021: The Day Women’s Tennis Held China Accountable For Their Actions

With millions at stake, the WTA stands firmly behind their players.

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WTA CEO Steve Simon

Even with the threats coming from the WTA few were convinced that the governing body of women’s tennis would conduct one of the most significant moves in its history.

 

In a statement published on Wednesday, WTA CEO Steve Simon announced that all tournaments in China and neighbouring Hong Kong will be suspended with immediate effect. The remarkable decision is a show of solidarity with Peng Shuai who many fear is being censored by Chinese officials for accusing a former vice-premier of sexual assult. Something the country denies with state-backed media publishing videos and photos of the player. Even a recent video call between Shuai and the International Olympic Committee failed to ease the concerns of the WTA.

“Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way. While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation. The WTA has been clear on what is needed here, and we repeat our call for a full and transparent investigation – without censorship – into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault accusation.” Simon said in a press release.

The bold move has been hailed by many across social media ranging from tennis players to celebrities. Billie Jean King, who is the WTA’s founder, said the organisation remains ‘on the right side of history in supporting our players.’ Meanwhile, former world No.1 Andy Roddick tweeted ‘there are a lot of organisations who can afford to do something a lot more than the WTA Can.’ It is this point by Roddick that speaks volumes to the significance of their announcement.

Over the past 15 years China has injected millions into developing tennis within the country. It began during 1988 when tennis was brought back into the Olympics before Li Na’s mainstream breakthrough triggered a huge surge in interest. Various cities such as Wuhan, Li Na’s birthplace, started to invest millions in facilities in order to stage major events. As the years went by China wasn’t just a fixture in the calendar, it was instrumental for the entire WTA.

In 2019 China hosted nine WTA events which had a combined prize money pool of $30.4M. To put that into perspective the figure works out to be roughly 17% of the entire prize money offerings on the WTA Tour that year. It was also during 2019 when the WTA Finals started in Shenzhen as part of a lucrative 10-year deal which was valued at $1bn at the time of the announcement by The Sports Business Journal. However, the country has been unable to host another edition due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it was instead held in Mexico this year.

Perhaps from a cynical perspective, the pandemic showed to the WTA that they can still hold a highly successful Tour without relying on a single country during one period of their calendar. Would this influence their decision to withdraw from China in support of Shuai? Probably but they are unlikely to admit it. Not that the WTA doesn’t deserve widespread praise for their decisive action which put other governing bodies to shame.

There is also the question as to how will China respond? Will a country that has spent so much trying to promote tennis be prepared to make some deal with the WTA in order to get them to change their minds? In an ideal world, yes, but this isn’t an ideal world.

“I don’t think they (the WTA) have been paying much attention to what has been happening in Basketball and football in threatening the Chinese with Economic sanctions. It’s not going to work and part of the proof of the pudding was they were not able to get in touch with her (Shuai) and that’s her sport,” IOC council member Dick Pound told CNN earlier this week.

Pound has been a spokesperson for his organisation in defending their handling of Shuai and has told multiple news outlets that she is safe based on what the IOC interpreted from the video call. Ironically, he hasn’t seen the video himself and the IOC made no mention of the sexual assault allegations in their press release.

However, Pound’s remarks on China’s stubbornness is supported by past incidents. One of which involved Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who made a comment in public supporting the democracy movement in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong. China’s CCTV stopped broadcasting NBA Games and the sporting body later apologised but it was 15 months before another Houston game was shown on TV.

Money and politics aside, there remains serious concerns about Shuai’s welfare. Whilst she had made headlines around the world, China’s state-owned media have not published a single article. Photos and videos of the tennis player have only been published on Twitter which is blocked in her home country. BBC analyst Kerry Allen has confirmed that Shuai’s Weibo account is still under restrictions. Users are banned from quoting, sharing or commenting on her historic posts.

It would have been so easy for the WTA to sidestep the Shuai case and label it as a domestic matter in order to maintain their relationship with the Asian country. Instead, they have backed their player despite the likely consequence of a financial loss should China not back down. Something that is both brave and inspiring.

Will the men’s ATP or the ITF follow suit and suspend business with China? Only time will tell on that front. The most important thing is trying to establish the true welfare of Shuai. Something the WTA is determined to do no matter what the cost may be.

December 1st, 2021 has been a historic day for tennis.

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