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



Steffi Graf (

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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Lorenzo Musetti, Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov reach the semifinals in Chengdu



Lorenzo Musetti moved past Arthur Rinderknech 6-3 6-3 in one hour and 28 minutes at the Chengdu Open to reach his third semifinal of the season following Barcelona and Bastad. 


Musetti earned his first break in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. The Italian player broke twice in the first and ninth games to close out the second set 6-3. 

“It was a step forward from yesterday. Yesterday’s match gave me a lot of confidence and today I started very well, breaking him immediately and that was the key to my win. A really solid performance from the baseline and I am really happy to be in the semifinals”, said Musetti.   

Musetti set up a semifinal match against this year’s Wimbledon quarter finalist Roman Safiulin, who advanced to his first semifinal of the season as Jordan Thompson was forced to withdraw from the match after Safiulin had won the first set 7-6 (7-1). 

Alexander Zverev came back from one set down to beat Miomir Kecmanovic 5-7 7-5 6-2. Zverev has reached his seventh semifinal this season. 

Kecmanovic earned an early break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Zverev broke straight back in the fifth game and held on his serve to draw level to 3-3. Kecmanovic broke for the second time in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5. 

Zverev broke in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. Kecmanovic broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Zverev earned his second break in the 11th game to seal the second set 7-5. The German player earned two breaks in the first and seventh games to close out the third set 6-2. 

The German player is currently seventh in the ATP Race to Turin and is aiming to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. Zverev will face Grigor Dimitrov, who cruised to a 6-4 6-1 win over Australia’s Christopher O’Connell. Dimitrov, who won the 400th match win of his career at ATP Tour leve, is chasing his first title since his triumph at the 2017 ATP Finals. Dimitrov broke three times in the 10th game of the first set and in the second and sixth games of the second set.

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Wang Xiyu claims her first WTA title at the Guangzhou Open



China’s Wang Xiyu claimed her first WTA Tour title after beating this year’s Australian Open semifinalist Magda Linette 6-0 6-2 in the final of the Guangzhou Open. Wang Xiyu, US Open girls’ champion in 2018, dropped just one set en route to her first title. 


Linette beat Wang in their only previous match in the quarter finals in Hua Hin in 2020.   

Wang won 84% of her first service points and never faced a break point. The Chinese player hit eight winners to six unforced errors. 

Wang broke three times to take a bagel win in the second set. 

Wang earned an early break to open up a 2-0 lead in the second set. Linette won her first game before breaking back to draw level to 2-2, but Wang earned two more breaks in the fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-2 after 80 minutes.   

Wang became the fifth Chinese champion in Guangzhou following in the footsteps of Li Na (2004), Yan Zi (2005), Zhang Shuai (2013 and 2017), Wang Qiang (2018). 

The 22-year-old player is the third Chinese champion this year after Zhu Lin in Hua Hin and Zheng Quinwen in Palermo. 

“It was very exciting and it’s a very emotional moment because every player is really tough. It’s very difficult to be here on the last day. I am very happy to be here and I think I cannot say it because it’s very emotional. I wanted a title from the first day, event when I started tennis. It was really a dream for me. I think there are going to be bigger tournaments, tougher matches waiting for me, and I am trying my best like I did this week”, said Wang Xiyu.

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Team World leads 4-0 over Team Europe after day one in the Laver Cup in Vancouver



Team World took a 4-0 lead over Team Europe on Day one of the Laver Cup in Vancouver. 


This year’s US Open semifinal Ben Shelton came back from 1-4 down in the tie-break of the first set to beat Arthur Fils 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 in the opening singles match. 

“It’s different pressure, for sure. I love the type of pressure of playing for a team. In the back of your head, you don’t want to let them down, but the win is so much greater, when you get to do it for them and Team World, not just for yourself”, said Shelton. 

Francisco Cerundolo made a debut in the Laver Cup with a 6-3 7-5 win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. 

Felix Auger Aliassime scored the third singles win for Team World by beating French veteran Gael Monfils 6-4 6-3. Auger Aliassime broke Monfils twice to win five straight games from 4-4 in the first set. The Canadian player won 85% of his first service points. 

Auger Aliassime improved to 3-2 in Laver Cup singles matches with this win.  

“It felt nice. Last year it was an amazing win in London, but if we can win on home soil for the first time, that would be also cool. It was our first win for Team World. To do it with the crowd supporting us, and for me especially as a Canadian, it feels good. It feels good to get a first win under my belt here in the competition, and overall in my season it’s nice to get some wins”, said Auger Aliassime. 

Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul came back from 0-3 down in the Match Tie-Break to beat Arthur Fils and Andrey Rublev 6-3 4-6 10-6 in the doubles match. The first team to reach 13 points will win the Laver Cup. Two points will be awarded for each win on Saturday, and three for each win on Sunday.

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