Alizé Cornet beats Mona Barthel to reach the Round of 16 in St. Petersburg - UBITENNIS
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Alizé Cornet beats Mona Barthel to reach the Round of 16 in St. Petersburg

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Alizé Cornet beat Mona Barthel 6-3 7-5 to reach the Round of 16 of the Ladies Trophy in St. Petersburg for the second consecutive year.

 

Cornet went up a 4-0 lead en route to winning the first set 6-3. Barthel went up a 2-0 lead in the second set but Cornet reeled off four consecutive games. The French player, who reached the third round at the Australian Open, served out on her second match point, when Barthel hit her crosscourt return wide.

Cornet will take on either number 8 seed Daria Kasatkina or qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova to advance to the second quarter final of the season after losing to eventual finalist Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Brisbane.

Katerina Siniakova edged past Donna Vekic 6-3 2-6 6-4. Siniakova dropped serve in the third game to trail 1-2 in the opening set but got two consecutive breaks. She fended off a break point in the seventh game with a volley and closed out the opening set with a first serve.

Vekic earned a break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and sealed the second set with a double break, as Siniakova hit a forehand down the line long. In the decisive set Siniakova won a 13-shot rally and closed out the match with a two-handed backhand volley to set up a Round of 16 match against either Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova or Ekaterina Makarova. Siniakova, who finished runner-up in Shenzhen earlier this year, leads 3-0 in her head-to-head matches against Vekic.

Roberta Vinci, who won the biggest title of her career in St. Petersburg in 2016 to break into the top 10 for the first time in her career, beat Heather Watson, Danka Kovinic and Andrea Petkovic to get through the qualifying round and reach the main draw.

Vinci edged world number 101 Andrea Petkovic 6-1 4-6 6-3 to score her third win in for head-to-head matches against the German player. Vinci will face another qualifier Tereza Martinkova for the first time in her career.

Vinci will end her career next May at the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome.

“I like the atmosphere and the tournament as a whole. In general, great people work here. They always treat me very well and remember me. I decided to participate in this tournament because I really wanted to play here for the last time. This is a very beautiful city. There are many places to visit. In general I had a lot of good moments here. I spent wonderful weeks and played great matches. The tournament will definitely remain in my memory”, said Vinci.

Anastasia Potapva, winner of the 2016 Wimbledon Junior title, beat Tatiana Maria 6-2 6-4 to score her first win in a main draw in a WTA tournament. The 16-year-old player will face fresh Australian Open champion and world number 1 player Caroline Wozniacki. The other top seeds are Jelena Ostapenko, Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic. The most interesting first roun match will be Petra Kvitova vs Elena Vesnina and Julia Goerges vs Maria Sakkari.

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Billie Jean King Praises Grand Slam Semi-Finalist Nadia Podoroska For Coming Out

The Argentine recently marked her girlfriend’s birthday with an Instagram post which was also the first time she went public about her personal life.

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Tennis legend Billie Jean King has congratulated Nadia Podoroska on being her authentic self after the tennis star recently confirmed she is in a same-sex relationship with another player. 

 

Podoroska, who shot to the limelight at the 2021 French Open by reaching the semi-finals before being hampered by injury, made a low key coming out on social media. In an Instagram post, the tennis star uploaded a series of photos of her with her girlfriend along with the caption “Today I celebrate you from afar, but I feel you by my side every day of my life.’ The post was done to mark her birthday. 

Fellow player Guillermina Naya is Podoroska’s partner and the two have been in a relationship for some time, according to Women’s Tennis Blog. Naya, who is also from Argentina, is currently ranked 814th in the world but has been as high as 533rd. Although she has not played on the Tour this year. 

Due to injury problems, Podoroska was unable to start her 2022 season until July on the lower-level ITF Tour. Since then she has made steady progress by reaching the final of an ITF W60 event in Gran Canaria and more recently reaching the semi-finals of the Chennai Open in India. 

“I had been suffering from physical discomfort in one leg. I decided to stop in order to recover. Then I had a bone oedema, I couldn’t walk, and I had to wear a boot. Then I got a knee injury in the other leg,” she said of her injury woes during an interview with Clay Tennis.

The 25-year-old credits her girlfriend Naya for the support she received during her 10-month absence from the sport. She is the latest player on the WTA Tour to open up about their sexuality, joining the likes of Daria Kasatkina, Alison Van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen.

“Congratulations to WTA player ⁦⁦Nadia Podoroska ⁩ on her announcement. Living authentically takes such courage, but it is always worth it,” multiple Grand Slam champion King wrote on Twitter. 

In response to the post, the tennis star also paid tribute to King for the impact she has had on the sport. King helped form the WTA Tour and was a key figure in the fight to equal prize money during the early part of the Open Era. She was also one of the first world-class athletes to publicly come out as gay back in 1981. 

Whilst there are various female LGBT players in tennis, there are still no openly gay players on the men’s Tour. 

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ITF Chief Addresses Iga Swiatek’s Concerns Over Unsafe Scheduling

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The head of the International Tennis Federation is ‘sorry’ that Iga Swiatek will not be participating in the Billie Jean Cup and has vowed to work on making improvements to the 2023 schedule. 

 

The women’s world No.1 issued a statement on Monday confirming her withdrawal from the team event after taking a swipe at both the ITF and WTA over their scheduling. Swiatek said she had hoped to represent Poland in the Billie Jean Cup but its proximity to the WTA Tour Finals is problematic. The end-of-season WTA event takes place in Texas and ends a day before the start of the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow. 

“I’m disappointed that tennis governing bodies didn’t come to an agreement on something as basic as the calendar of tournaments, giving us only one day to travel through the globe and changing the time zone,” Swiatek said in a statement published on her Instagram account.
“The situation is not safe for our health and could cause injury.
“I’m going to talk to the WTA and ITF in order to change something. This situation is difficult not only for the players like me, but mainly for the tennis fans that support our sport.”

ITF chief executive David Haggerty has insisted that his organization has been working with the WTA but they were unable to find a more suitable date as the venue for the Tour Finals wasn’t confirmed until late in the season. The event is likely to return to China next year. The women’s tennis body has suspended its events in the country amid concerns over the safety of player Peng Shuai who previously accused a senior government official of sexual assault.

“The ITF is sorry that Iga Swiatek is unable to take part… and recognises that the schedule for the two major year-end events presents a challenge for players competing in both events,” Haggerty told the Reuters news agency.
“We have been working with the WTA to try to coordinate suitable dates.
“While we were able to confirm the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Glasgow back in June, the WTA Finals venue in Fort Worth, Texas was confirmed during the U.S. Open and restricted in terms of available dates.”

The tennis official adds that negotiations are ongoing to find a more suitable schedule for 2023 for players to play both events if they wish to do so. 

We are committed to working with the WTA on the 2023 schedule so that we have a better transition between the two competitions,” he said. 

Haggerty states that provisions would have been made for Poland to play their opening match in the 12-team competition as late as possible to accommodate Swiatek’s travel from America if she had wished to play this year. 

The WTA Finals will be held between 31 October – 7 November and the Billie Jean King Cup will take place from 8 November – 13 November. 

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In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title

Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. 

 

The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012. 

“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw. 
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”

Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week. 

“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.

There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open. 

Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20. 

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