Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova Make Winning Starts To 2018 In Shenzhen - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova Make Winning Starts To 2018 In Shenzhen

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Simona Halep (zimbio)

World number one Simona Halep and former grand slam champion Maria Sharapova made successful starts to their 2018 campaign after thrashing Nicole Gibbs and Mihaela Buzarnescu respectively to make the second round in Shenzhen.

Heading into her first round match, current world number one Simona Halep was heading into the 2018 season with some fine form, having just won the Hua Hin exhibition and playing some sensational tennis at the end of the 2017 season.

However Halep knows that if she doesn’t start winning more trophies, then this form may count for nothing on a fierce WTA circuit. However against Nicole Gibbs, she showed us the fierce tennis that we all know she is capable of as she only dropped five games against the American en route to the second round.

The Romanian only lost four points on her first serve as she broke the World number 110 four times as she booked her place into the second round of the Shenzhen Open.

Halep revealed after the match how much she enjoyed competitive action again, “It was a good match, I started with a victory, which means a lot to me. I look forward to the next matches and hopefully I can get better and better.”

Halep will have to be on top form again as she takes on Ying-Ying Duan in the second round, who is only 19 places above Nicole Gibbs in the world rankings.

The Year of Sharapova?

Maria Sharapova (zimbio)

However Halep wasn’t the only player on top form today, as the woman who beat her at the US Open last August, Maria Sharapova, produced a clinic to overcome Halep’s compatriot Mihaela Buzarnescu.

The multiple time grand slam champion hit 18 winners as she only lost three games to the tame Buzarnescu in a 6-0 6-3 demolition job.

Next for Sharapova is 2017 runner-up Alison Riske and the Russian knows the threat that awaits her in the second round, “She beat a crowd favourite yesterday (Wang Qiang), So I know I have a tough match ahead, but I just want to keep playing better, and keep improving no matter who is across the net.”

Sharapova set a real marker at the start of the season and knows that if she can compete for grand slams with the current crop of players like Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Jelena Ostapenko.

However consistency is crucial for Sharapova who lacked that in the sharp end of the 2017 season.

Here are the rest of the results from Day 2 of the Shenzhen Open:

Danka Kovinic def Maria Sakkari 4-6 6-2 6-3

Ekaterina Alexandrova def Stefanie Voegele 6-2 6-3

Timea Babos def Xiyu Wang 6-1 6-1

Zarina Diyas def Pauline Parmentier 6-3 6-4

Shuai Zhang def Anna Blinkova 6-3 6-4

Yafan Wang def Jasmine Paolini 6-0 6-4

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Maria Sakkari Appoints Witt As Coach For American Swing

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Maria Sakkari - WTA Washington 2023 (foto Twitter @mubadalacitidc)

Maria Sakkari has enlisted the help of Jessica Pegula’s former long-time coach in a bid to regain her form on the Tour. 

Greek media has confirmed that the world No.9 has begun a partnership with David Witt, who has also previously coached Venus Williams. Witt had worked with Pegula since 2019 before the tennis star decided to end their collaboration earlier this year. During their time together he oversaw the American win two WTA 1000 events, reached the quarter-final of a grand Slam on six occasions and peaked at a ranking high of No.3. 

Sakkari’s appointment comes after she ended her six-year working relationship with Tom Hill. Highlights of their partnership include winning two Tour titles, reaching a Grand Slam semi-final twice and spending more than two years in the top 10. 

“Tom, thank you for all the emotions, the support on and off the court, and the belief you had in me since day one,” Sakkari wrote on Instagram last month. “We grew together, and you helped me realize that everything is possible.

“Not only did you make me a better tennis player, but you also made me a better person. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and for always having my back! Good luck on the next chapter in your career.”

Sakkari is looking to get back on track after what has been a disappointing start to 2024. She had won just two matches in her first four singles tournaments played and is yet to face an opponent ranked in the world’s top 20. However, she faired better at the United Cup, where she won three matches in the team event, including victories over Lelylah Fernandez and Angelique Kerber. 

It is understood that Sakkari will be working with Witt at both Indian Wells and Miami. If their partnership is successful, it could be extended further into the clay swing. The other members of her team will remain in the same roles. 

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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai

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Fifth-seed Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3. Humbert had beaten Hurkacz en route to his title in Marseille. 

Hurkacz converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. Humbert saved three match points in the tie-break of the second set before converting his first set point to force the match to the decider. Humbert broke twice to seal the third set 6-3. 

“It was a great battle. I tried to battle for every point. In the tie-break I saved three match points, tried to do my best and thanks to those French fans for the amazing support”, said Humbert. 

Humbert set up a semifinal match against Danil Medvedev, who beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-3. Humbert leads 2-1 in their head-to-head matches, but Medvedev won their most recent match in three sets at the China Open in their most recent head-to-head match in Beijing last year.

“It’s going to be a great challenge against Danil tomorrow. We had a few great fights. Hopefully I will recover well to be ready for this match”, said Humbert. 

Aleksander Bublik was leading Jiri Lehecka 6-4 4-1 when the Czech player was forced to retire due to an injury. Bublik set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who was leading Sebastian Korda 6-4 4-3  when the Czech player withdrew due to injury. 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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