Steffi Graf Hails Ash Barty’s Return To Tennis, Tips Williams To Break Grand Slam Record - UBITENNIS
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Steffi Graf Hails Ash Barty’s Return To Tennis, Tips Williams To Break Grand Slam Record

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Steffi Graf (zimbio.com)

As the season comes to a close, one player that has attracted the attention of former world No.1 Steffi Graf is Australia’s Ash Barty.

 

The 21-year-old is currently at a ranking high of 20 after experiencing a breakthrough season. A former world No.1 junior player, Barty took take away from tennis to play cricket before returning to the sport in February 2016. The decision has turned out to be a successful one after she reached three WTA Finals in 2017. In March she won her first tour title at the Malaysian Open. Since then she had also progressed to the finals of Premier tournaments in Birmingham and Wuhan.

“It’s been well documented why I needed to take a break, wanted to take a break,” Barty told reporters in Zhuhai on Saturday.
“But I said when I came back I was refreshed and ready to go and that hard work has paid off because I feel great. I feel like if I had to, we could play again next week.”

Barty’s surge hasn’t gone unnoticed by Graf, who was also in Zhuhai as the tournament ambassador. The 22-time grand slam champion has hailed the comeback of the Australian as an ‘incredible story.’ At the start of the year, Barty was ranked 271st in the world. Since then, she has scored wins over four top-10 players and reached the third round of two major tournaments.

“I did see her at the very beginning of her career. You know she came and, I think, surprised all the players with her style early on in her career. I don’t completely know exactly how she came back to playing cricket and then back to tennis, but it is a pretty incredible story.” Said Graf.
“Seeing her play so well, especially this year from where she’s started to where she’s ending, it’s a pretty incredible speed of how she’s finding herself back into the tennis tour. The Australians always have an interesting style of tennis and she’s one of them. She’s got great hands and a lot of potential and it’s great to see her back in the sport of tennis.”

Ending the season with a win-loss of 29-14, Barty was shortlisted for the WTA’s comeback player of the year award. She missed out on the accolade to US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Williams’ grand slam bid

During an extensive press conference, Graf also looked ahead to 2018 and the return of Serena Williams. The American hasn’t played since winning the Australian Open after giving birth to her first child in September. A baby girl called Alexis.

Should Williams win another major title, she would tie Margaret Court’s all-time record of 23 grand slam titles. Williams, Graf and Court are the only players in history to win 20 or more major titles in singles competition alone. Discussing the historic bid by Williams, Graf believes she has the ability to achieve it.

“It sounds from what I hear that she is looking to come back to tennis and, you know, everything that she has shown over her career just makes you believe that if she has that in her sights then she will go after it and achieve it,” Graf said.

There is yet to be a set plan regarding when Williams will return to the tour. The tournament director of the Brisbane Open, which takes place during the first week of January, said it is ‘highly unlikely’ that she will play in the tournament.

“The messaging through her agents was, ‘Thanks for reaching out’. But it is highly unlikely we will see Serena in Brisbane this time,’’ Geoff Quinlan told The Courier Mail.

Prior to her retirement from tennis in 1999, Graf played Williams twice during that year. Winning in Indian Wells, but losing in Brisbane.

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Angelique Kerber: “I am heavy-hearted about the cancellation of the grass season”

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Former Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber has posted her thought on the Wimbledon cancellation.

 

“The thought of playing at Wimbledon has always been the biggest source of my motivation. It goes without saying that I I am heavy hearted that the cancellation of the grass court season also means that I won’t be able to play in front of my home crowd in sport unites, in good and bad times. Once this has passed, it may even help us appreciate our everydayday routines and the beauty of our sport even more than before. Thanks to everyone who is working 24/7 to get us through this uncertain time”.

The German player of Polish origin won three Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and at the US Open in 2016 and at Wimbledon in 2018. She won the Olympic singles silver medal in Rio de Janeiro 2016 losing in the final to Monica Puig.

Kerber lost to Samantha Stosur in the first round in Brisbane. Kerber beat Wang Qiang in straight sets in the first round before retiring from her second round match against Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska due to a left harmstring injury, after the German player was down a set and a break.

At the Australian Open Kerber beat Elisabetta Cocciaretto, Priscilla Hon, Camila Giorgi before losing to Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova. She is currently ranked world number 21 in the WTA Ranking.

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Tour Suspension Will Benefit Novak Djokovic More Than Nadal And Federer, Claims Woodbridge

The former world No.1 doubles player explains why he thinks Djokovic will benefit more than his rivals.

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Australian tennis great Todd Woodbridge believes the current suspension of tennis could have a silver lining for Novak Djokovic and his bid to claim the greatest of all time honour.

 

On Wednesday it was confirmed that all professional tennis tournaments have been suspended until at least July due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision came shortly after Wimbledon was forced to axe their event for the first time since 1945. Prior to the suspension, Djokovic started 2020 unbeaten by winning 18 matches in a row. During that period he guided Serbia to the ATP Cup title, won a record eighth Australian Open title and triumphed at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Now with the tour being brought to a halt, some are speculating as to what the implications could be on the prestigious Big Three. A trio featuring Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Between them they have won 52 out of the last 60 grand slam tournaments.

Woodbridge believes Djokovic is in the best situation because of his age. At the age of 32 he is younger than both Nadal (33) and Federer (38). Although neither of those players are planning to retire from the sport just yet.

“Because of the uncertainty, it makes it hard to see how the three can dominate when they come back because of the age of Roger and Rafa,” Woodbridge told Yahoo Sport Australia.
“It also puts more pressure on Rafa and it changes all of those storylines that were on the table for 2020.
“For Novak, it may come at a good time in his career to actually rejuvenate him again, give him another big burst.
“So if anything, this period helps him the most.”

The biggest question mark surrounds Federer, who recently underwent knee surgery and will turn 39 in August. However, the Swiss Maestro has recently confirmed that he intends to play the 2021 season after pledging to return to the court in Halle. One of the grass-court tournaments that has been cancelled this year.

“We experience difficult times, however, we will arise from it strengthened. Already today I am glad and excited about my return to Halle next year.” He said.

Although Woodbridge believes the suspension will hinder Federer’s dream of extending his record-breaking grand slam tally of 20 titles. He last won a major at the 2018 Australian Open. However, since then Federer has only reached a grand slam final in one out of seven attempts.

“The less match play that you get in this period at that age, it’s so much harder to come back and recover once you start again.” Woodbridge explained.
“So I really think that post-2020 will be a new era of people trying to create records because it’ll have really have broken up a great period in tennis.
“It has stopped the potential, I think, of Federer winning one or two more.
“It becomes very highly unlikely for him.”

Djokovic heads the world rankings with a 370-point lead over second place Nadal. Federer is currently in fourth position behind Dominic Thiem.

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Dominic Thiem Denies Allegation He ‘Misled’ Former Coach

A war of words has broken out between the world No.3 and his former long-time mentor Gunther Bresnik.

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Dominic Thiem - Australian Open 2020 (via Twitter, @AustralianOpen)

Dominic Thiem has stated that he has no intention to publicly disclose the reason as to why he stopped working with his former coach despite recently coming under fire from him.

 

The three-time grand slam finalist has been criticised by Gunther Bresnik, who claims he was ‘misled’ by the world No.3. Bresnik was a key figure in Thiem’s team until last year. Coaching the Austrian throughout his junior and professional career for a 15-year period. He was replaced last April by former Olympic champion Nicolas Massu.

It is unclear as to what was the decisive factor behind the split of a partnership that at one staged looked solid. Thiem met Bresnik at the age of eight when his father applied to work at his academy in Vienna. Under his guidance, he won 11 out of his 15 ATP titles so far in his career.

“Becomes clearer to me with time how things went. It doesn’t make it more aesthetic. There are things I totally don’t understand: honesty, loyalty, values…there was not much left.” Journalist Jannik Schneider quoted Bresnik as saying.
“I have no big problem with it besides the fact that I was misled. You can’t do that to someone that you owe everything. His dad would be a club coach and Dominic a futures player without me.”

The comment has triggered a response from Thiem, who has blasted Bresnik’s suggestion that he wouldn’t have been able to reach the top of the sport without his help. In a statement issued to the Austrian Press Agency (APA), the 26-year-old questioned if his former coach has developed ‘delusions of grandeur.’ A term loosely used to describe a person who believes they are greater than they actually are.

“When he complains about a lack of respect, and says that I owe it all to him, and seriously suggests that I would have been a futures player without him, I have to ask whether he has developed delusions of grandeur.” Said Thiem.

As to the root of the fallout between the two, Thiem is refusing to speak publicly about what happened. Although he denied that Bresnik has been misled in any way.

“I did not part ways with him without a reason,” he stated. “Bresnik knows the reasons and at this time I won’t make them public.”

Since pairing up with Massu, Thiem has enjoyed further success of the tour. During the early stages of their collaboration he won his first Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells last year. Since then, he has gone on to claim another four ATP titles and was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January.

Thiem is the first player from his country to break into the world’s top three since Thomas Muster back in 1997.

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