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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Jannik Sinner set to face Tommy Haas in Berlin’s exhibition tournament

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German veteran Tommy Haas will face 18-year-old Jannik Sinner in the Steffi Graf Stadium in Berlin in a match between two different generations at the German capital’s exhibition tournament, which starts on Monday 13th July 2020. The winner of this quarter final will meet 2020 Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem.

 

Haas reached his first Grand Slam semifinal in 1999 two years before Sinner’s birth.

“Jannik could be my son”, said 42-year-old Haas.

Haas hopes that the men’s and women’s tours will start next August.

“The tournaments in the USA had time to prepare for this. I expect the games to come. Of course, there are many new cases in the USA every day, but more are being tested”, said Haas.

Roberto Bautista Agut will meet Jan Lennard Struff in the second quarter final. The winner of this match sets up a semifinal against Matteo Berrettini. The Italian player beat Bautista Agut two days ago in Thiem 7’s tournament.

The programme of the first day also two matches of the women’s tournament. German Julia Goerges will face Anastasija Sevastova. Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova will take on Andrea Petkovic.

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Elina Svitolina Not Giving Up On Grand Slam Dreams

The 25-year-old tennis star speaks out about her chances of winning a major title in the future.

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Elina Svitolina (@usopen on Twitter)

Ukraine’s top player Elina Svitolina is hoping that she can one day emulate the likes of Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep by using her experience on the WTA Tour to guide her to Grand Slam success.

 

The world No.5 says the openness of the women’s tour makes her believe that she can still win a major title. Since 2018 seven different women have won Grand Slam titles with Halep and Naomi Osaka being the one players to have won multiple trophies within that period. As for 25-year-old Svitolina, she is yet to contest a major final. Although she did reach the semifinals of Wimbledon and the US Open last year.

Speaking to tennis website BTU, Svitolina says the diverse range of major winners is a confidence boost for her. Saying the key aspect for her to potentially succeed is maintaining a high level of physical and mental health throughout a two-week period at a Grand Slam.

“In recent years, we see that tennis players had different paths to victory. Someone won right away as soon as they announced themselves on the tour. Others patiently gained experience to finally win the major, for example, Simone Halep and Caroline Wozniacki. Different paths are also due to different styles of play,” she explained.
“It gives me hope and energy to work hard so that one day I can take this chance. The key point for me is to keep my best level for two weeks. This requires a lot of effort, both psychological and physical. Everything should work at the same time. And you need to add a little luck.”

Svitolina is yet to fully commit to playing at the next major event, which will be the US Open in August. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament will be taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and strict measures are in place with players being kept in what is described as a ‘bubble.’ Although some have reservations about playing in New York amid a rising number of Coronavirus cases in the country. On Friday health officials reported 66,528 new cases.

Prior to the US Open, the women’s Tour will officially restart on August 3rd at the Palermo Open in Italy. Although Svitolina says there are many ‘unanswered questions’ about returning to competitive tennis and the potential travel restrictions she may encounter.

“They (the WTA) organize video conferences every week, sometimes they invite ITF or USTA representatives, since the US Open is now in the centre of discussions,” she said.
“So, they inform us. But, I think, it all depends on local authorities. As we can see, the rules vary from country to country, changes occur every week. There are still many unanswered questions.”

Svitolina started 2020 by winning 11 out of 17 matches played before the sport was suspended due to the pandemic. At her most recent tournament in Monterrey, she won her 14th title by dropping only one set in five matches played.

Svitolina’s Grand Slams record

Year Australian Open Roland Garros Wimbledon US Open
2020 R32
2019 QF R32 SF SF
2018 QF R32 R128 R16
2017 R32 QF R16 R16
2016 R64 R16 R64 R32
2015 R32 QF R64 R32
2014 R32 R64 R128 R128
2013 R128 R64 R128 R64
2012 R128

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Stefanos Tsitsipas tops the Ultimate Tennis Showdown standing with win over David Goffin

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beat David Goffin 18-12 16-11 14-11 22-11 to secure the top spot in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown league ranking with a 8-1 record. A win for Tsitsipas means that he will face Goffin again in a semifinal re-match on Sunday.

 

Tsitsipas was forced to come back from two quarters down in the previous matches of this tournament. The “Greek God” raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first quarter. Tsitsipas used his winner x3 card to pull away to 15-4 with an ace.

Goffin clawed his way back to 12-17, but Tsitsipas held on his lead to win the first quarter 18-12.

Tsitsipas took a 13-8 lead in the second quarter. Goffin’s coach Thomas Johansson called a time-out asking the Belgian player to serve and volley on his winner x3 card. Goffin could not make the card count, and Tsitsipas took a 2-0 lead.

Both players drew level to 7-7 in a close third quarter. Tsitsipas used his steal serve card and won both points, the second with a volley off a fine pass. Goffin tried his winner X 3 card and got a chance on his first chance but he hit a volley long. Tsitsipas pulled away to a 13-11 lead with 30 seconds to go and held on to win the the third quarter 14-11.

In the fourth quarter Tsitsipas took advantage of his winner x3 card at 14-6 and pulled away to seal it 22-11.

“I am surprised myself. Let’s keep it going. It feels great. I just need to adjust my game accordingly, nothing to worry about, keep playing aggressive tennis, have everything under my control. I played a few points in practice, that helped me get more awakened”, said Tsitsipas.

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