A Review Of The 2017 WTA season - UBITENNIS
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A Review Of The 2017 WTA season

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Ubitennis.net reviews a memorable 2017 WTA season, which was highlighted by Serena Williams’ win over her sister Venus in the Australian Open, Garbine Muguruza’s win at Wimbledon, the consistent results of Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams, the breakthrough of Jelena Ostapenko and the comeback of Sloane Stephens at the US Open

The best players of the year:

Garbine Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza clinched the second Grand Slam title of her career at Wimbledon by beating Venus Williams one year after her win over Serena at 2016 Roland Garros. The 24-year-old became the first player to beat both of the Williams sisters in Grand Slam finals. She won the Cincinnati title and reached the semifinals or better at Brisbane, Rome, Birmingham, Stanford and Tokyo. She climbed to World Number 1 after the US Open to become the 24th player in WTA history to do so and is the second Spanish player after Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in 1995 to reach the top of the ranking.

Simona Halep
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During the China Open Muguruza was overtaken by Simona Halep, who became the fifth player to reach the top of the WTA Ranking this season after Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber, Karolina Pliskova and Muguruza. Halep missed out on her chance to reach the world number 1 spot twice this year, but reached the top of the rankings for the first time in her career at the third time of asking by defeating Jelena Ostapenko in the semifinals of the China Open before losing to Caroline Garcia in the final. The Romanian became the seventh player to reach the world number 1 without winning a Grand Slam tournament, but she had a good season highlighted by her second consecutive title in Madrid, as well as four finals in Rome, Roland Garros, Cincinnati and Beijing. Halep is the first Romanian and the 25th player in history to take the world number 1 spot.

“It was very emotional. I think it was the first time that I cried on court. It’s amazing that I could do this. It was the toughest year, but also the best year. I was injured and I did not believe I would even be in Singapore,” Halep said about becoming world No.1.

The most consistent players:

Venus Williams

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In a very unpredictable season where each of the Grand Slam tournaments was won by four different players and there were many champions in most of the major Premier events, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki stood out as two of the most consistent stars on the WTA circuit. Venus reached two Grand Slam finals at the Australian Open and Wimbledon and at the WTA Finals in Singapore. Returning back into the top 5 in the WTA Rankings, 12 spots better than in 2016.

At the Australian Open she came back from one set down to beat Coco Vandeweghe 6-7 6-2 6-3 to advance to her first Grand Slam final since Wimbledon 2009 and her first Australian Open final since 2003. In the title match she lost to her younger sister Serena, who made history by winning her 23rd career Grand Slam title before ending her season to give birth to her first daughter Alexis Olympia last September.

Venus beat Johanna Konta in the semifinal at Wimbledon, but lost the final against Muguruza. The US legend reached the world number 9 after Wimbledon. At the US Open Venus beat Petra Kvitova in a third set tie-break after 2 hours and 35 minutes in the quarter final to make her return to the top five of the WTA Ranking for the first time since January 2011. Williams was then defeated by Sloane Stephens in her first US Open semifinal since 2010.

At the WTA Finals in Singapore Williams beat Caroline Garcia in the semifinal before losing to Caroline Wozniacki in the final.

Caroline Wozniacki

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Wozniacki won two titles in Tokyo and Singapore and qualified for six more finals this year in Doha, Dubai, Miami, Eastbourne, Bastad and Toronto. At the WTA Finals in Singapore the Danish player of Polish origin lifted the biggest title of her career to move up to the world number 3 in the WTA Ranking, her highest year-end ranking since 2011.

Elina Svitolina

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Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina won more titles on the WTA circuit than any other player and was the first player from her country to qualify for her WTA Finals in Singapore. Lifting three Premier 5 titles in Dubai, Rome and Toronto, plus two International-level tournaments in Taiwan and Istanbul.

In Toronto she beat four top 10 players (Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki) en route to the title. She also reached her second Grand Slam quarterfinal at Roland Garros and reached the top-5 in the WTA Ranking for the first time in her career.

The Surprise of the year: Jelena Ostapenko

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The 20-year-old Latvian player won her first tour-level singles title and Grand Slam tournament at Roland Garros by beating Simona Halep in the final. She was the first unseeded player to win the French Open in the Open Era. Ostapenko went on to win another title in Seoul and qualified for the WTA Finals for the first time in her career and reached her career-high of world number 7 last October. She has played 26 three-set matches with a 19-7 win-loss record.

The Comeback of the year: Sloane Stephens

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The US player, who made her breakthrough in 2013 when she reached the Australian Open semifinals, won her first Grand Slam singles title at the US Open after defeating five seeds en route to the final, including Dominika Cibulkova, Venus Williams in the semifinal and Madison Keys in the final. The US Open featured four home players in the semifinal (Stephens, Keys, Williams and Coco Vandeweghe). Stephens ended the 2016 season in August due to a serious foot injury and underwent surgery last January. After missing the first part of the season, Sloane returned to the court at Wimbledon, where she lost to Alison Riske in the first round. Stephens beat two top 20 players Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber in Toronto to reach the semifinals. She beat Kvitova for the second consecutive week to reach her second semifinal in a row in Cincinnati. After winning the US Open title she climbed to world number 17 and ended the year ranked 15.

The Rising star of the Year: Catherine Bellis

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US teenager Catherine “Cici” Bellis reached the semifinals at Mallorca and Stanford, the quarter finals at Dubai and Rabat and reached the third round at Roland Garros and Toronto. She ended the 2016 season at world number 90 and reached a career-high at number 35. She ended the 2017 ranked world number 44. The 18-year-old player has beaten four top 20 players. Agnieszka Radwanska in Dubai, Kiki Bertens in Roland Garros, Petra Kvitova in Stanford and Svetlana Kuznetsova in Toronto.

Doubles team of the year: Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan

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The Swiss and Taipei team won nine titles at Indian Wells, Madrid, Rome, Mallorca, Eastbourne, Cincinnati, US Open, Wuhan and Beijing and ended the season with a 49-6 win-loss record. They advanced to at least the quarterfinal stage at every tournament they have played together this year.

The match of the year:

Jelena Ostapenko beat Simona Halep 4-6 6-4 6-3 Roland Garros Final

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Ostapenko came back from one set down to beat Halep and win her maiden Grand Slam title after the most exciting match of the 2017 Roland Garros. Halep rallied from a break down to win the first set. The Romanian player opened up a 3-0 lead in the second set, but Ostapenko bounced back by winning six consecutive games to win the second set forcing the match to the third set. Halep got a break in the fourth game of the decisive set to take a 3-1 lead but Ostapenko broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. The Latvian player reeled off the final five games to win her first career Grand Slam.

“I cannot believe I am a Grand Slam champion at 20. It’s amazing to be here. I have no words. It is my dream. I knew Simona was a great player, but I tried to play aggressively and everything turned my way. I fought for every point. I am glad it finished my way,” said a delighted Ostapenko in Paris.

The best team of the year: USA

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The US team beat Belarus 3-2 in Minsk to lift their 18th Fed Cup in history. The team coached by Kathy Rinaldi clinched the trophy after Coco Vandeweghe and Shelby Rogers beat Aryna Sabalenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in the decisive doubles match. Vandeweghe was the star of the US team as she won eight Fed Cup matches and became the first player to win more than six Fed Cup singles matches in a year since Petra Kvitova in 2011.

Vandeweghe enjoyed an impressive season at Grand Slam level reaching two semifinals at the Australian Open and at the US Open. She ended the season in the top 10 for the first time in her career after reaching the final at the WTA Elite Trophy Final in Zhuhai. The New York-born player hails from a sports family. Her mother is Tauna Vandeweghe, a 1976 Olympic swimmer. Coco’s grandfather Ernie Vandeweghe was a New York Knicks basketball player. Her uncle Kiki Vandeweghe and her grandmother’s brothers Mel Hutchins were NBA basketball players.

 

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REPORT: Madrid Open To Be Axed Amid COVID-19 Concerns In Latest Setback For Tennis

Hopes of Spain holding their top tennis event in 2020 are over.

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The world of tennis is set to suffer another severe blow with multiple media sources confirming that organisers of Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament will officially cancel their event on Tuesday. 

 

The Mutua Madrid Open will be removed from the 2020 calendar following a meeting involving tournament owner Iron Tiriac. Recently doubts have been cast on the event after local health officials called for it to be suspended due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Although the final decision was up to Tiriac and his team. It had been due to take place between September 12 to 20, following the conclusion of the US Open. 

“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September,” tournament director Feliciano Lopez told L’Equipe over the weekend. 

Spain has seen their rate of COVID-19 cases rapidly rise since the country ended its lockdown. According to El Pais, the number of cases recorded within 24 hours is eight times the amount compared to 40 days ago. Rising from 334 (June 20) to 2,789 (between July 29 and 30). On Friday July 31st there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

Held at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open is a key event for both men and women. It is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. Last year each of the singles champions took home €1,202,520 in prize money. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The demise of Madrid this year is another setback for what is becoming a rapidly thinning 2020 tennis calendar. Within the past two weeks China has confirmed that they will not be hosting any tournaments this year, Japan’s scrapped it’s premier women’s event and the Italian Open has been advised to not allow any fans to their event this year. 

As a result of the latest development, only two WTA clay-court events will take place after the US Open leading up to Roland Garros. They are both set to get underway on September 21st in Rome and Strasbourg. As for the men, Rome will be their only point of call. 

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Fate Of Madrid Open To Be Decided This Week

Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament looks to be in serious danger of getting the axe following recent developments.

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There will be a final decision regarding this year’s Madrid’s Open within the next couple of days but hopes of the tournament going ahead are low, according to its tournament director.

 

Feliciano Lopez has spoken out about the current situation in an interview with the L’Equipe newspaper on Saturday. The mixed tournament has been thrown into doubt after the local council said it would be “inadvisable” for the tournament to be played in September because of the “health risks involved for the public, organization, and players.” Spain is currently experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases amid concerns of a second wave. On Friday there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

“We were confident two months ago that the tournament would take place. The situation has worsened in the last two or three weeks in the Madrid region, not just in the city of Madrid, but in the whole region,” Lopez told L’Equipe.
“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September.”

A decision is set to be made within “two or three days” by tournament owner Ion Tiriac and Super Slam Ltd, the tournament’s licence holder. Tiriac is a Romanian billionaire businessman who is also a former tennis player. He won the 1970 French Open doubles title with compatriot Ilie Nastase.

Weighing up its chances, Lopez admits that he ‘isn’t optimistic’ that the Madrid Open will be able to go ahead. The event is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

We are not very optimistic now. We were very positive a few weeks ago. We have a very good protocol, everything is ready, we worked hard to make the event take place, because it is also very important to offer tournaments to the players today.” Said Lopez.
“Last week, we had meetings with the government. Their recommendation is to cancel all events now during the summer. Of course, the decision is ours, it will be Ion’s. We have to work with everyone, the government, the ATP, the WTA and make the best decision for everyone. But we must also listen to the recommendations of the authorities, see how the situation is developing this week.”
He added.

Held on clay at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open has been a combined event for the men and women since 2009. Last year Novak Djokovic and Kiki Bertens won the singles titles with them each taking home €1,202,520 in prize money.

Besides having the responsibility of the Madrid Open, world No.56 Lopez is continuing his career on the Tour at the age of 38. Questioned about the remaining 2020 season, the Spaniard admits there is a lot of uncertainty for all players. Tournament across Asia have already been cancelled due to the virus and recently the Italian Open was told at present they can’t allow fans to their tournament, which takes place the week after Madrid’s slot.

This season is already completely lost. But what will happen next year, when we still don’t have a vaccine? The situation will be exactly the same as now if we don’t have a vaccine! When is it going to end, I don’t know.” Lopez concluded.

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‘Think Of Others For Once’ – Nick Kyrgios Issues Warning To Rivals As He Withdraws From US Open

The world No.40 has once again took a swipe at Novak Djokovic’s ‘money-grabbing’ Adria Tour.

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Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has said he is pulling out of the US Open in respect of those in his home country as well as America who has lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The former top-20 player published a video outlining his reason for withdrawing from the event on the social media accounts of athlete empowerment brand Uninterrupted. During the video he once again made a swipe at Novak Djokovic and others over their ‘selfish’ involvement in the controversy-stricken Adria Tour. Which was criticised for a lack of anti-COVID measures before an outbreak of the virus among players and coaching staff occurred. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Vikor Troicki all got infected.

“You can’t be dancing on tables, money-grabbing your way around Europe or trying to make a quick buck, hosting an exhibition. That’s just so selfish. Think of the other people for once. That’s what this virus is about,” he said.
“It doesn’t care about your world ranking or how much money you have. Act responsibly.”

Kyrgios has stated that he isn’t critical of the decision made by the United States Tennis Association to hold the event this year. Which will have on offer 90% of the prize money that was available during the 2019 tournament. Under strict measures, the tournament will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history with players kept in what is being described as a ‘protective bubble.’

“I have got no problem with the USTA putting on the US Open and if players want to go, that’s up to them, so long as everyone acts appropriately and acts safely,” he stated.
“No-one wants people to keep their jobs more than me.’
“I am speaking for the guy who works in the restaurants, the cleaners and the locker room attendants. These are the people who need their jobs back the most and fair play to them.”

The announcement comes shortly after women’s world No.1 Ash Barty announced that she wouldn’t be playing due to coronavirus concerns. Another Australian player, Alexi Popryin, have previously said he would not attend the event. Furthermore, Chinese world No.29 Wang Qiang has pulled out due to ‘travel and safety concerns.’

“To those players who have been observing the rules and acting selflessly, I say good luck to you. Play at your own risk, and I have no problem with that,” said Kyrgios.

The withdrawal ends Kyrgios’ streak of seven consecutive main draw appearance at Flushing Meadows. His best rest was reaching the third round on four separate occasions (2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019). Overall he has won eight out of 15 matches played in New York.

This year’s US Open will get underway on August 31st.

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