Australian Open Day 13 Preview: The Women’s Final - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Day 13 Preview: The Women’s Final

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It’s the number one player in the world against the number two player in the world. In an era of instability atop the women’s game, this is a rarity in a Grand Slam final. Both women are two-time major finalists hoping the third time is the charm to win their first Grand Slam title. Adding to the significance of this match, the number one ranking is also on the line. The past two decades have been dominated by big serving and big hitting women, especially on hard courts, so it’s refreshing to have two of the best defensive players square off in a major final. But it’s the improved offensive play from both players that has brought them to this championship match.

 

Simona Halep vs. Caroline Wozniacki

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I cannot remember a more traumatic road to a major final than the path Simona Halep has taken to arrive here on Saturday. The World Number turned her ankle during her opening round, causing speculation as to whether she would even be able to finish that match, let alone play again two days later. In her third round match against Lauren Davis, Halep had to save three match points in an almost four-hour match to eventually win 15-13 in the third set. And in the semifinals, Halep again saved match points and won an extended third set 9-7 to take out Angelique Kerber in an exhausting battle. After all that, it would be cruel for Halep to again go home without the trophy.

Simona Halep’s fighting spirit has been extremely impressive, especially considering her past reputation for becoming negative too quickly when falling behind in a match. Halep had quite a dramatic year in 2017. She was up a set and 3-0 in the French Open final against a relative unknown 20-year-old who had never won a tour title, but allowed herself to be hit off the court and have the title stolen from her. Over the summer, there were multiple matches where Simona was one match away from gaining the number one ranking for the first time, only to lose those matches. Halep finally got the number one ranking at the China Open close to the end of the season. It’s so nice to see a newly-anointed WTA number one not be overwhelmed by the crown, as Simona has more than proven she’s worthy of her ranking during this fortnight.

Caroline Wozniacki appeared in her first major final almost a decade ago at the 2009 US Open, but is still in search of her first major title. With a total of 67 weeks as the number one player, Wozniacki carries around the burden of being the best WTA player to have never won a Grand Slam event. Less than eighteen months ago, after struggling with form and injuries, Caroline arrived at the US Open ranked outside the top 70. But she has since turned her career around, with the end of 2017 being the peak of her career to date. A few weeks after winning the Premier event in Tokyo, she won the biggest title of her career at the WTA Finals.

Wozniacki’s tournament has not been as tumultuous as Halep’s, but like Halep, she did save match points along the way. In her second round match against Jana Fett, Caroline was down 5-1 before winning six straight games to survive. Her level has considerably risen since, comfortably winning the rest of her matches on the way to this final.

Halep may be the number one seed, but Wozniacki leads their head-to-head 4-2. Caroline has taken their last three meetings, with the most recent just a few months ago at the WTA Finals. Halep won only two games in that match. Both women should be eager to continue to thinking more offensive-mindedly on the court. The winner will likely be the player who dictates play. The winner will also likely be the player who better controls their emotions. Which woman is more ready to conquer the demons of their past and win their first major title? I’m tempted to question if Halep has enough left physically and emotionally after all she’s been through in the past 12 days, but she already bounced back from an almost four-match earlier in the tournament to easily win her next two rounds. Unfortunately I’m still not fully convinced Wozniacki will avoid reverting back to her more comfortable defensive mode in a big match like this, especially against a player who is as good at defense as she is. Based on the determination I’ve seen from the world number one in Melbourne, my pick is Simona Halep.

Player comparison

Simona Halep

Caroline Wozniacki

AGE

26

27

CURRENT RANKING

1

2

WTA TITLES

16

27

BEST GRAND SLAM PERFORMANCE

French Open finalist (2014, 2017), Australian Open final (2018)

US Open finalist (2009, 2014), Australian Open finalist (2018)
CAREER PRIZE MONEY
(not counting 2018 Australian Open)

$20,912,291

$26,856,094

 

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Five Ideas To Improve Tennis

From the rule of the fifth set in the Slams to the controversial medical time out, passing through the distribution of ATP points: how can tennis be improved? Let’s discuss it together.

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BY DAVIDE ORIOLI (translated from Italian by Tommaso Villa)

 

With the sport still stuck in the pits for who knows how long, the moment seems suitable to discuss how to change tennis in order to make it more palatable, televised, popular. Or even simply more coherent. Indeed, there are still aspects of the rules of tennis that are controversial and on which not only fans, but also tennis players and directors themselves, debate. In this article we want to go straight to the point proposing five aspects of the rules that could be improved.

All the institutions that govern tennis in recent years have attempted experiments, already implemented in some tournaments. The ATP for example, as everyone knows, is using the NextGen Finals to test some ideas such as the Fast4 (short sets for those who arrive first in four games, with tie-breaks on 3-3), the NoAd with a killer point on the 40 even, the No Let that plans to play the exchange even if the ball touches the net on the service, and so on, up to free coaching and towel management. These changes have already been experienced and therefore we will not deal with them in this article. Instead, we are going to propose five still little (or not at all) debated ideas, listing them to go from least to most significant.

5 – Change of sides during Super tie-breaks

As said, it is a minutia idea that will not change the history of tennis, but during the Super tie-breaks you should not change sides every six points. The rule makes sense in classic tie-breaks: change the side after the sixth point to make sure that both tennis players play at least one point on each side. For example, we think of conditions of low sun on the horizon that can disadvantage those who play against the sun, or wind against or in favor. Turning every six points guarantees at least one change of course during the tie-break, and further if (and only if) one proceeds to the bitter end. The rule is logical and correct, but for this reason in the Super tie-break it should be adapted to the length of the latter, therefore changing every nine points.

With the change at the sixth and twelfth point, in fact, there are two problems. The first is that the pace of the game becomes extremely fragmented, just at the height of the meeting. Super tie-breaks in which 12 points or less are played are very rare, below one percent, which means almost always having two field changes, one of which is perfectly avoidable. The second problem is the very regularity of the Super tie-break. Being the average duration of these around 17 points, in the end each tennis player will normally have played 11 exchanges on one side of the court and six on the other. A particularly marked discrepancy.

To explain it better, suppose absurdly that atmospheric events make one side so advantageous that those who play on that side of the net win the point 100% of the time. The system with which the changes are built at the moment ensures that up to 6 even, and even during the tie-break, nobody can win the set by exploiting that condition. It will proceed indefinitely on a level playing field, as corrected. With the current system used for the Super tie-break instead, this condition of fair balance is interrupted, and the player who is lucky enough to serve first on the favorable side of the court, will win the game for 10-6. Obviously this is an exaggeration to better explain the principle, but even if the advantage of playing on the one hand was minimal, it is still correct that both players take the same advantage of it. Also because the Super tie-breaks decide the result of the entire match.

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Fabio Fognini To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery On Both Ankles

Fabio Fognini is to have surgery on both ankles as he aims to extend his tennis career when the ATP Tour returns.

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Fabio Fognini (@ASB_Classic - Twitter)

Fabio Fognini will undergo Arthroscopic surgery on both ankles in Italy today after re-injuring them in training. 

 

The Italian took to social media to announce that he will have the surgery on both his ankles immediately as he looks to take advantage of Tennis’ hiatus.

In the post Fognini revealed that this is not a new problem he has been suffering from, “I’ve been having a problem with my left ankle for three and a half years now, it’s an issue I’ve learned to cope with,” Fognini explained.

“Then my right ankle started playing up in the past two years as well. I had hoped the various issues would go away during my two months break from the game because of the lockdown but, when I resumed training they were still there. 

“After medical examination and a long discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery on both ankles. I believe it is the right thing to do while the tour is on this enforced break.”

This is big news for the Italian, who is now 33 years-old and with his time on the tour running out this is a big risk but a risk worth taking in order to increase his longevity.

The timing couldn’t have been better for the world number 11 as he looks to take advantage of the hiatus in the tennis calendar and get himself fully ready for the 2021 season.

Since turning pro 16 years ago, Fognini has won 9 ATP singles titles and been a grand slam champion in doubles with his flamboyant style remaining consistent over the years and will look to continue this form after surgery.

Meanwhile a decision on the US Open is expected to be made in the next couple of weeks as the tournament organisers are hoping to still hold the tournament on the 31st of August.

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Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83

Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.

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Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.

 

Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.

Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.

After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.

Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.

The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.

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