Top Seed Caroline Wozniacki Eases Through As Radwanska Struggles In Auckland - UBITENNIS
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Top Seed Caroline Wozniacki Eases Through As Radwanska Struggles In Auckland

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Caroline Wozniacki (zimbio.com)

Caroline Wozniacki required less than an hour to book her place in the second round of the ASB Classic in Auckland after easing her way past Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-0.

The former world No.1 appeared tentative on the court during the early stages of the match before finding her range to dominate. Wozniacki, who was playing her first match since winning the WTA Finals, won 86% of her first service points and converted four out of her five break point opportunities. During a one-sided second set, the Dane claimed 25 out of the 32 points played.

“I didn’t really know what to expect, It was my first match (in 2018). I hit some crazy shots during the first few games and I was like ‘Wow, this is going well’ and then I would make an easy mistake right after. I was like ‘Ok we’re back where I thought we were going to start (the season).” Wozniacki said following the match.
“I kinda found my ground as the match progressed. Started to be more steady and go for the shots when I found the opportunity.”

Wozniacki enters Auckland with the outside chance of reclaiming the world No.1 ranking for the first time since 2012. In order to do so, she is required to win the title and hope for Simona Halep to go out before the quarterfinals in Shenzhen.

In the second round, the world No.3 will take on Croatia’s Petra Martic. A former top 50 player who is currently ranked 90th in the world. Wozniacki boasts a perfect 3-0 head-to-head record against the Croat, but their last meeting was back in 2012.

“She’s a good player. She serves big and she’s aggressive.” Wozniacki said of Martic. “I need to be ready and keep trying to find my rhythm and my way back.”

Radwanska fights back

Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska encountered a bumpy start to her season. The former Wimbledon finalist required almost two hours to see off Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. During the final set, Radwanska dropped her serve early on before breaking three consecutive times to move into the last 16.

Hitting four aces and converting six out of her nine break point opportunities, the Polish player is drawing positive from her tricky opening match win.

“It was a tough match for the first round, it’s always going to be tricky to play someone who’s a lefty,” Radwanska said.
“She was playing solid and confident on the court as well.
“I think you lose the match rhythm in the off season, it still was a good match and I’m happy with the win.
“These types of matches help me be more confident,” she added.

Radwanska, who won the Auckland title back in 2013, will take on America’s Taylor Townsend in the second round. Townsend fought back from a set down to defeat Christina McHale 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 in her opening match.

Wozniacki and Radwanska are two of only four seeded players remaining in the draw.

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities

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Image via https://x.com/WTAMeridaOpen/

A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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Iga Looks To Be In A league All to Herself At Paris

Iga Swiatek claimed her fourth Roland Garros title in Paris.

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(@Eurosport - Twitter)

Just call her Iga. No other identification is needed.

As the years go by, Iga’s notoriety is sure to grow.

She’s probably already earned a spot in tennis’ Hall of Fame.

Yes, Iga Swiatek is a name to remember. A hero in her native Poland, a superstar in the world of sports.

IGA WAS JUST TOO GOOD

Iga just added to her stardom Saturday with an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over little-known Italian Jasmine Paolini to win her third straight French Open title. This was Paolini’s chance to make a name for herself, but she didn’t have the game to make it happen.

Iga was just too good. She made it look too easy.

Paolini could hit some great ground strokes, but when she looked up a bigger shot was on its way back. Iga doesn’t look like a power hitter, but she is.

WINNING 10 CONSECUTIVE GAMES

The 23-year-old Polish Wonder finished the first set winning five straight games, then started the second set winning five more games in succession. The 28-year-old Paolini didn’t seem to have a clue on how to upend Swiatek.

It took just 78 minutes for Iga to win her fifth Grand Slam title.

She’s a lot like her French Open hero, Rafa Nadal.

She takes every match seriously.

SWIATEK OWNS THE RED CLAY

No wonder Iga owns a 35-2 record at Roland Garos. Or that she has won 21 straight matches. Or that she owns a 5-0 record in Grand Slam finals.

She only dominated opponents, except for Naomi Osaka in the second round. Swiatek escaped a match point in that one and didn’t look back.

Iga’s game should be just as superb on the green grass of upcoming Wimbledon.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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