Angelique Kerber Refuses To Dwell On The Past As She Hits Reset At The Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Angelique Kerber Refuses To Dwell On The Past As She Hits Reset At The Australian Open

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As far as Angelique Kerber is concerned the past 12 months has been banished permanently from her memory as she shines at the Australian Open.

During 2017 she dropped from world No.1 to outside the top 20, failed to win a WTA title and managed to defeat only one top 10 player (Karolina Pliskova). It could be forgiven to think that it was the beginning of the end of Kerber’s dominance on the tour. Many feared the worst, but the 30-year-old has the determination and self-belief to turn her fortunes around.

“Last year was different. A lot of expectation and everything around. Let’s not talk about last year.” Kerber told reporters on Monday.
“This year our goal is from the first match to fight for every point and also try to improve my game in every single match.”

During the off-season, Kerber joined forces with Belgian coach Wim Fissette. Who has previously coached players such as Johanna Konta, Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka. The new partnership has got off to a dream start. Earlier this month Kerber won the Sydney International, ending her 15-month title drought. Now at the Melbourne grand slam, she has once again established herself as a contender for the biggest titles in the sport.

“It’s a new voice who is speaking to me. We sit down a lot of times and we are speaking about my game, where we can still improve a few things. It’s a different voice actually who is speaking to me.” The former world No.1 said about her work with Fissette.
“I think I needed the change and that’s why I decide to change everything. I think it was a good decision to do it.”

Scoring a one-sided third round win against Maria Sharapova, the German experienced greater difficulty during her last 16 clash with Hsieh Su-wei. A former two-time doubles grand slam champion that has been ranked as high as 23rd in the world. Kerber required more than two hours to prevail 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, over the 32-year-old. Securing her place in the last eight of a major first the first time since 2016.

Relishing in the fact she in now on a nine-match winning streak, questions are mounting about if she can match or even eclipse the form that brought her success two years ago. Back in 2016 Kerber claim a trio of WTA trophies, including the Australian and US open titles.

“I think it’s just the beginning of the year still, and of course I’m feeling good. I’m fit, and physically, mentally, I’m feeling really confident and very good. But let’s see what a year will bring.” She said.
“I just enjoy my tennis again, and I think this is the most important thing for me when I’m on court that I fight, that I play my game.”

The next test of Kerber’s resurgence will be 17th seed Madison Keys. A player who she dominates 6-1 in their head-to-head. She heads into the match as the lower ranked player, but as the one tipped for the win. Just one example of the incredible turnaround achieved by the world No.16.

Kerber is once again back competing at the top of the women’s tour. The question is how long is she staying there for this time?

Kerber’s Australian Open run so far
R1 – def. Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) 6-4, 6-0
R2 – def. Donna Vekic (CRO) 6-4, 6-1
R3 – def. Maria Sharapova (RUS) 6-1, 6-3
R4 – def Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 4-6, 7-5, 6-2,
QF – Vs. Madison Keys (USA) TBD

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Daniil Medvedev Searching For Confidence Boost Ahead Of Wimbledon

The two-time Grand Slam finalist says he is not the same player as he was two years ago when he last played Wimbledon.

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When it comes to playing on the grass this year Daniil Medvedev admits that the biggest issue for him might concern the mental side of the sport as opposed to the physical side.

 

The world No.2 kicked-off his grass swing last week in Halle where he was stunned in the first round by Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the Tour in 2020, that was the first time the Russian had played a match on the surface in almost two years. Short on matches, Medvedev is back in action this week in Mallorca after taking a wildcard into the tournament.

“I like to play on grass, I just need to get some confidence in my game on the surface, because we didn’t play [on it] for two years. Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now,” Medvedev told atptour.com. “It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance.”

Since he last played at Wimbledon, Medvedev surged on the ATP Tour by winning six titles with all of them being on a hardcourt. Furthermore, he also reached the final of the US Open in 2019 and the Australian Open this year. He is the first player outside of the Big Four to be ranked in the world’s top two since July 2005.

Despite his previous success on the grass, Medvedev admits he remains wary about playing on the surface and the conditions he may face.

“When I started playing on grass, I played in Challengers and even in [ATP] Tour tournaments on the outside courts, not on the central courts, and I can tell that the central courts are quite slow,” he said. “Especially the match I played with Gilles Simon at Queen’s [Club], we had rallies of 40 shots every second point. That is what makes it a little bit tougher.
“When I practise on practice courts, I feel like I am playing so good as the ball is so fast. Then I come onto the centre court to play the match, and the ball just stops after the bounce, and you have to adapt your game, so it can be tough. But I know I can play really well on grass.”

In Mallorca Medvedev has a bye in the first round. His opening match will be against either South Africa’s Lloyd Harris or France’s Corentin Moutet.

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Samsonova Battles Past Bencic To Win Maiden Title In Berlin, Gets Wimbledon Wild Card

The Russian qualifier has stunned the tournament with a run that also seen her defeat Madison Keys and Victoria Azarenka.

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image via https://twitter.com/bett1open

Liudmila Samsonova is the 2021 Bett1 Open champion after pulling off another upset by beating number five seed Belinda Bencic 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 in front of a capacity crowd on Steffi Graff Stadion under hot and humid conditions.

 

The 22-year-old underdog caps off what has been a fairytale run in Germany for the qualifier. Prior to the tournament Samsonova had never beaten a top 20 player in her career or reached a Tour final. Against Bencic she hit 28 winners to 15 unforced errors and won 66% of her service points.

” I was so nervous today even before the match and during the first set so after the first set I took a toilet break and told myself to play a more aggressive game and it worked,” Samsonova said following her triumph.

It was world No.12 Bencic who got off to a fast start by holding serve comfortably and than the following game setting up the first break chance with a return forehand winner before the Russian would double fault twice in a row to give the early break. At 3-0 the Swiss found herself again at double breakpoint and managed to seal the it en route to taking the first set in just 28 minutes.

However, the second set was the total opposite with underdog Samsonova holding serve and breaking the very next game with a powerful forehand winner. Like Bencic in the first set, she turned her lead into a double break and served out the second set.

The Russian carried the momentum into the third and deciding set earning a chance to break in the first game and the world No.12 would double fault to give the break. At 4-2 the world No.106 had a chance to go up a double break but Bencic managed to save it and hold serve before going on the offensive. The Swiss had two chances of her own to go back on serve but the Russian saved all three breakpoints she faced.

At 5-3 the Samsonova had two chances to seal the match and the title on her opponents serve. Bencic saved the first one but the world number 106 would seal the win on the second.

In her post match press conference Samsonova explained how once she levelled the match was able to close it out.

” I was trying to keep my game going and try to be aggressive on my first shot and my serve and on the return and that is what I was focusing on”.

The young Russian now has her sights sets on Wimbledon as she awarded a main draw wild card after the match.

“They just told me that I’m going to have the wildcard for the main draw, so I’m so happy,” she said.

Samsonova is the 10th first-time WTA champion this season.

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Victoria Azarenka, Aryna Sabalenka To Team Up For Olympic Bid

The two players say their main focus is on playing singles but a ‘great opportunity’ has presented itself.

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image via https://twitter.com/bett1open

The two highest ranked WTA players from Belarus are being considered as strong contenders to win an Olympic medal later this year after they recently confirmed plans to join forces.

 

Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka are set to play in the women’s doubles tournament despite only playing together five times before on the WTA Tour. The duo has illustrated their potential at the Bett1 Open in Berlin, where they clinched the title on Sunday. In the final the pair upset top seeds Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs 4-6, 7-5, 10-7, to claim their first ever trophy together.

We both brought a different level, mindset than a few years ago. It was important to play together to feel each other’s game, see what we can try, apply what works, what we can work on. Our priority is singles but it’s a great opportunity at the Olympics to team up,” WTA Insider quoted Azarenka as saying following the final on Sunday.

Whilst they are both best known for their singles game, they have also had previous success in the doubles. Sabalenka won the 2019 US Open and 2021 Australian Open alongside Elise Mertens, as well as three Premier titles.

“We’ll play at the Olympics. To win a title, it gives us a lot of confidence and we feel each other better and players will know that we are playing good with each other and it’s more confidence for us and more pressure for other players,” the world No.4 commented.

Azarenka has already enjoyed success at the Olympics in her career. In 2012 she defeated Russia’s Maria Kirilenko in straight sets to win a bronze medal. During the same year she won gold in the mixed doubles alongside Max Mirnyi. Making her the only Belarusian tennis player in history to have won multiple Olympic medals.

This year’s Tokyo Olympic tennis tournament will be held at the Ariake Tennis Park and will get underway on July 24th.

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